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Friday, 9 November 2012
RED DWARF X – 'The Beginning'
Series X draws to a close with arguably the most action-packed episode in its history, partly adapted from the failed Red Dwarf movie's screenplay. "The Beginning" was certainly amongst the best episode of this series, but still not without some underlying problems. I wasn't a fan of rogue droid Hogey (Richard O'Callaghan) who sneaked aboard ship and proceeded to threaten the crew's lives with "a duel across time and space"; partly because it was a thin joke stretched to breaking point very quickly, and partly because it was another example of Series X's odd use of xenophobic caricatures (following the Chinese med-bot, and Taiwanese/French vending machines).
In general, "The Beginning" offered major changes for Rimmer's character. Even more so than "Trojan" gave us, with the reveal at least one of his illustrious Space Corp brothers is also a neurotic liar. Here it was revealed that Rimmer was actually the son of the family's simpleton gardener Dungo, which goes further to explain why Rimmer was such a black sheep growing up. I can understand why Doug Naylor has gone down this path, but I don't agree it was necessary and actually undoes a lot of what Rimmer such an amusing character. Making him the failure of a successful family is what informed so much of his personality, so making him a comparative success considering his real origin just isn't as compelling. It's unfortunate that Series X's main offering to the Red Dwarf mythos is to have undone what made Rimmer who he was. I don't begrudge him a moment of victory—formulating a strategy that saved everyone's lives, involving Hogey's "wibbley" gun (although he's been the hero quite a few times on the show, usually in finales)—but I didn't like that it came packaged in a story that upended so much of what made Rimmer special.
Will Red Dwarf return for a Series XI? I'm guessing so, if only because the ratings have been consistently strong for Dave, but maybe they'll wait to see how much money they make on DVD/Blu-ray sales before committing to more. It may also depend on how helpful Coronation Street will be, to allow Craig Charles months off to film another series. If it does come back, I'm happy with that. This isn't the show I adored as a teenager and it will never recapture the genius of Series III-V, but there are worse ways to spend 30 minutes every week.
9 November 2012 / Dave