Friday 26 October 2012

RED DWARF X – 'Entangled'

Friday 26 October 2012

written & directed by Doug Naylor

Better than last week's sour time-travel romp "Lemons", but "Entangled" was more of a structural mess—flailing around awkwardly trying to find a shape. There's nothing wrong with ambition, but this episode just didn't know what it wanted to do. It started with the promise of Cat (Danny John-Jules) and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) becoming "quantum entangled", prompting synchronicity and coincidences (harkening back to the "luck virus" in Series V); there was then some business with Rimmer (Chris Barrie) pestering Lister (Craig Charles) about spaceship Health & Safety; then a leftfield story about Lister losing Starbug and hologram Rimmer to Biologically Engineered Garbage Gobblers in a card game; which in turn prompted a mission to try and annul the deal, before Lister's privates are destroyed by a groin-exploder the BEGG attached to his crotch; which then led to the crew discovering the Erroneous Reasoning Research Academy space station (or ERRA—so many acronyms!), where the device was created by an inept scientist called Irene (Sydney Stevenson) who's since devolved into a chimpanzee-type creature. Got all that? I've got a headache, I know that much.

As you can no doubt tell, "Entangled" lacked focus and clarity in every respect—although perhaps that was the intention, given the title. There was a good story to tell with Lister losing Rimmer to aliens (with terrible make-up), I'd probably have enjoyed an episode fleshing out a variation on Series V's "luck virus" (which was repeated straight after this episode—coincidentally?), and might even have found pleasure in a straightforward "Marooned"-style story with Rimmer getting upset about Lister flouncing safety regs all day, but to cram them all into a half-hour just didn't work.

I hear that the whole Irene storyline was a late addition, too, once producers realised Peter Elliot (the actor playing the chimp) couldn't legally perform as that character for the time required. And that showed, because the actress brought in to play the unfunny Irene was awful and just didn't fit well. Mind you, a whole episode about a geeky girl falling in love with Rimmer (too similar to "Holoship"?) would have been fun, so you can chalk Irene up as another subplot that might have worked in isolation.

There were some jokes and moments that worked—Lister snipping off Cat's ponytail to provoke a reaction from him, Rimmer's wrong-end-of-the-stick conversation with Lister over his card game forfeit, Kryten drying cutlery with his back-end exhaust, and the final moment with dim-witted Irene accidentally killing herself by falling out of an airlock seconds after admitting she has a crush on Rimmer—but for the most part the unruly story suffocated everything in its path.

Nothing was given enough time or space to breathe, so I quickly lost interest, and there wasn't enough memorable jokes to make me forgive its plot deficiencies. "Entangled" desperately needed a few rewrites to narrow the focus down to the stronger subplots, jettisoning the others instead of letting them clutter. As it was, this episode felt like Doug Naylor had a handful of random ideas he decided to throw together, hoping a few instances of foreshadowing would make it appear cohesive.

There are two more episodes left of Series X and, well, I'm enjoying the repeats Dave show immediately afterwards. There was "Quarantine", "Demons & Angels" and "Back to Reality" last night—sharply written with plenty of jokes, telling interesting and witty stories. Those were the days.

25 October 2012 / Dave