Ganymede & Titan

SFX IV Review

SFX. Issue #115. March 2004. A rather nice picture of Eliza Dushku on the cover. Erect nipples. Yum. Sorry. Go to page 86. Review. As follows:

Red Dwarf
SEASON FOUR
A fourth outing of the cult science fiction sitcom only boys seem to like...
DVD RELEASE
1991 Dirs: Ed Bye, Paul Jackson
Starring: A scouser and his mates
Cert: TBC Running time: 180 mins
RRP: £19.99 Released: OUT NOW!
Reviewer: Steve O'Brien
The original template for Red Dwarf was actually - and hold onto your seat here - Steptoe and Son in space. What a different a budget gives you. The first two series were battleship-backdropped duologues mostly, better for comedy fans, worse for science fiction fans. But with a budget came bigger special effects, more ambitious SF plots, more characters and gradually everything that made the show a good comedy faded away leaving in its place a bloody good science fiction show.
That was Red Dwarf's fundamental problem. It was frequently a better SF show than it was a comedy. Its plots easily out-did Doctor Who and Blake's Seven for pure SF inventiveness but it was often too muggy and smuggy to really charm as a comedy.
The one good development in season three was the addition of Kryten and it's in season four he comes comfortably into his own, particularly in the episode "DNA" where the ever-brilliant Robert Llewellyn gets to perform sans make-up as Kryten becomes human. "Camille", in which all the crew get their perfect mate, is also very good, and Ace Rimmer's debut in "Dimension Jump" is great, if only because you wish he could crop up a little more often.
Look, if you're a fan, you'll buy it and if you're not you won't. But look at the Nation’s Favourite Sitcom top ten. It’s nowhere to be seen, is it...? (3 stars)
DVD Extras: A typically packed affair. The commentary features the entire cast and it's interesting to hear the real life interaction between them. There's a superlative Making Of documentary which is admirably frank (such as when Danny John-Jules was given a stern ticking off by visiting director - and alternative comedy pioneer - Paul Jackson, whom the cast were terrified of), some "Smeg Ups", 20 minutes of deleted scenes, raw fx footage, a couple of featurettes (with one odd one featuring Ainsley Harriot). (5 stars)
Chris Barrie actually knew writers Doug Naylor and Rob Grant through The Jasper Carrott Show and also worked with them on a show called Son Of Cliché. It was they who asked Barrie to audition for Red Dwarf.

OK: the good bits first. The praise of the extras is quite correct, particuarly singling out the documentary (which I much prefer to All Change, for some reason). The stuff about Robert Llewellyn coming into his own in the series is also well made; he has some great bits in III, but was essentially still working out the character, and struggles at times. ("Blue midget is TAINTED WITH AN ANNOYING VOICE FOR KRYTEN.") In IV he nails it right away, and is consistantly brilliant. And the point about the SF elements of Dwarf being important is also good; and often forgotten by some people who think that those elements of the show are just spoofs. (Certainly there is a parodic element in Dwarf, as evidenced by D.N.A., but this really isn't the general rule.) And full marks for giving Paul Jackson a director's credit.

However, the linking argument to this: that as the SF elements increased, "everything that made the show a good comedy faded away", is SILLY. Yes, it all faded away, apart from the fucking wonderful characterisation, situations, and erm, JOKES. (I'd list them here, but seriously: watch any one minute of the series and you'll bloody spot them.) I also think wishing Ace would crop up a bit more often is a bit silly too; he was in three episodes, and frankly that's all that was needed. I mean, which Rimmer is funnier on a long-term basis, and which one is it easier to care about? They could have done more with the Ace character, but the time was better spent elsewhere. Dimension Jump is great, but really, it doesn't deserve a status far above all the other IV eps.

And: "too muggy and smuggy to really charm as a comedy"? Certainly, there are characters that are smug, but that's where some of the best comedy of the show comes from; and if they mean the show, I certainly get no feeling in Dwarf that the writers are screaming "LOOK! AREN'T WE CLEVER!" And as for the mugging; I'm sorry, but I just don't see anything wrong with someone pulling funny faces in a comedy show. Seeing as it's, well, funny. Look at most other great comedy shows; there's the requisite amount of face-pulling. It's a GOOD THING, dammit. Indeed, combining the two: Rimmer's smug expression just prior to being told he's guilty in Justice is just fucking hilarious.

The byline of "the cult science fiction sitcom only boys seem to like" rankles as well; it would appear to ignore the rather large contingent of female Dwarf fans. And why single out Dwarf, anyway? BREAKING NEWS: A SF show has a larger male audience than female. MORE ON THIS SHOCKER AS WE HAVE IT. Yeah, yeah, I know: it's a joke. But it doesn't really make that much sense, does it? Even my jokes work better than that.

Believe it or not, though, even I think everyone is entitled to an opinion. EVEN IF IT'S WRONG. But the bit that I find really amusing is in the last paragraph of the review of the main feature. For a start: Nation's Favourite Sitcom, eh? If you can't even be bothered getting the name of the show right, it's not a good sign. But more importantly: is he really saying that any sitcom that wasn't in the Top Ten isn't really that great? I mean, this is wrong for precisely 567 different reasons. Amongst which are: the fact that the voting is skewed in favour of more mainstream stuff (and in masses of other ways, too), the fact that there is obviously more than 10 (or even 50) sitcoms that are "fucking brilliant", the fact that Dwarf entered the chart at 18 anyway, ahead of fucking tons of acknowledged classics... The argument is clearly ridiculous, and I really don't understand what the reviewer was trying to do.

But then, which is worse: slagging off Dwarf, or breaking UK COPYRIGHT LAW yet again? We're great.

Comments

Muggy and smuggy? Steve O'Brien might not know much about sitcoms but his review is a joke.

Posted by Peter Curvis at February 23, 2004 06:40 PM

Oh, I forgot to mention: "The one good development in season three was the addition of Kryten".

HMMMMMMMMMM.

Posted by John Hoare at February 23, 2004 06:48 PM

And the budget was never significantly increased; it was just utilised better.

Posted by Ian Symes at February 23, 2004 06:52 PM

How about Ace Rimmer as a main character? 2 Rimmers! Yeah! Yeah! think of the excellent reviews it would have got! Then maybe RedDwarfville: Ace Rimmer The early years.

Posted by Peter Curvis at February 23, 2004 07:00 PM

The budget actually went *down* for the sets compared to III, didn't it?

I actually left out details of the budget because I didn't know whether the overall budget for the series went up in real terms or not. I think I rememember that it didn't, but I wasn't sure.

Posted by John Hoare at February 23, 2004 07:02 PM

"It was frequently a better SF show than it was a comedy".

This strikes me as a much worse review than the one in Dreamwatch. Attacking Dwarf's comedy credentials is ludicrous : For example, Epideme has a great SF plot - but is nowhere near as funny as Marooned, which is clearly the better episode.

And Ace Rimmer? Call me crazy, but my favourite Ace episode might just be Stoke Me A Clipper...

I cannot believe I just said that.

Posted by Pete Martin at February 23, 2004 07:34 PM

Clearly, the erect nipples are the best part of the mag. Instead of using the 'Top Sitcom' as a guidline, maybe they would be better off looking at DVD sales, I don't know one fan who actually views Dwarf as more Sci-Fi than Comedy.I would also say in my circle of friends, there are probably more female fans than male. Having said that I suppose a review is as good as an advert so at least Dwarf gets mentioned.....As for the two Rimmers, It's Smoke a Kipper from me and It's Smoke a Kipper from him, ok, maybe not....

Posted by Cpt-D at February 23, 2004 09:11 PM

"And Ace Rimmer? Call me crazy, but my favourite Ace episode might just be Stoke Me A Clipper...

I cannot believe I just said that."

No, I agree with you there. It has an inherent poignancy well beyond the capacity of Doug writing on his own.

Posted by jesley carrion at February 23, 2004 09:29 PM

Stoke is desperately average compared to Emohawk.

Posted by John Hoare at February 23, 2004 09:44 PM

in your opinion :)

Posted by Drzymala at February 23, 2004 10:07 PM

Yes. It's the only one I've got.

Posted by John Hoare at February 23, 2004 10:12 PM

I love how EVERY SINGLE NEWS STORY turns into either:

a) A discussion about the "merits" of VII/VIII,
b) A discussion about WHO IS BETTER, Rob Grant or Doug Naylor

or occasionally:

c) How great Meltdown is.

Posted by John Hoare at February 23, 2004 10:18 PM

I had trouble getting past the 'Erect Nipples' bit

Posted by Cpt-D at February 23, 2004 10:41 PM

Series VII and VIII blow chunks.

Naylor and Grant need each other.

Meltdown is utterly brilliant.

Posted by Cappsy at February 24, 2004 08:21 AM

Meltdown pisses all over Camille, DNA and Justice

Posted by Drzymala at February 24, 2004 10:01 AM

You should review for SFX.

Posted by Cappsy at February 24, 2004 10:25 AM

well, imo its a far funnier ep than the 3 eps I mentioned

Posted by Drzymala at February 24, 2004 10:32 AM

Series VII is aproximately 492 times better than Series VIII. Every other series is better than both of them, but I'd argue that Tikka and Stoke aren't that bad.

Posted by Pete Martin at February 24, 2004 10:34 AM

For the record, VIII is one of my favourite series although I feel it would have been better at 6 episodes and not stretched and the Blue Midget dance scene was, I think awful...VII I felt was the weakest, but it had some great moments....Meltdown is still one my favourite episodes....And I think everyone probably feels Grant & Naylor were better as a team, But I wouldn't knock either of them as individuals....

Posted by Cpt-D at February 24, 2004 12:29 PM

What's wrong with Camille, DNA and Justice? Justice, in particular, is one of my favorite episodes. There's some great stuff there. I also very much enjoy DNA, although the Robocop stuff at the end always seems to be a bit hackneyed and uninspired.

Posted by Austin Ross at February 24, 2004 01:22 PM

> What's wrong with Camille, DNA and Justice? Justice, in particular, is one of my favorite episodes.

Never said there was, I just said IMO Meltdown is far funnier

Posted by Drzymala at February 24, 2004 01:50 PM

Worst reviewer *ever*...

Yours comic book guy-ingly,

-:¦:-
¸.·´ ·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:- Ruth -:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

Posted by Ruth at February 24, 2004 02:46 PM

But that isn't your opinion, so shaddup.

Posted by Gorgonzola at February 24, 2004 04:11 PM

-:¦:-
¸.·´ ·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:- Armando -:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*


Just checking.

Posted by Armando at February 24, 2004 04:12 PM

> Never said there was, I just said IMO Meltdown is far funnier

That's true, but I think the first three episodes of IV are unfairly viewed as inferior to the rest of the series. Even if they aren't as good as the other episodes, it seems to give them a bad reputation when they're really quite good.

Posted by Austin Ross at February 24, 2004 04:22 PM

they're good episodes, I agree, I just love Meltdown, alot of people don't like it but it always makes me laugh

Posted by Drzymala at February 24, 2004 04:48 PM

I'm starting to think the majority of fans like Meltdown. Maybe we should get a poll going.

Posted by Cappsy at February 24, 2004 05:27 PM

well, I've always known ppl say how crap Meltdown is, I've never seen why, but each to their own :)

Posted by Drzymala at February 24, 2004 05:40 PM

Each to thier own, yes. UNLESS THEY'RE WRONG!

Posted by Cappsy at February 24, 2004 05:48 PM

I don't mind if people don't like it, I just don't know why they don't. I think its a classic, clayton mark! nuff said! :D

pleasure to meet you dear boy

SHUT UP!

:D

Posted by Drzymala at February 24, 2004 06:06 PM

A true classic, Matt. Agreed :)

Posted by Cappsy at February 24, 2004 06:21 PM

Meltdown is superb--there are also quite a few excellent outtakes from that particular episode.

"There's an aircraft overhead, as well, Sartre."

Posted by Austin Ross at February 24, 2004 06:33 PM

I think everybody's right, except me.

Sorry, wrong series I know :) Just thought it fit :)

I like Justice and meltdown best of series IV.

Posted by Paul (TRD) at February 25, 2004 10:07 PM

Wow, that's baaaaaaaaaad journalism right there. How bizarre. RD is in the Top 20 and it was the most watched BBC2 program of all time. What on earth is this reviewer's problem? Very weird. Perhaps he moonlights at the Daily Mail?

Posted by ThunderPeel at February 26, 2004 03:51 AM

Post a comment


(Required)


(Required, but will not be made public)


(Optional)

Remember personal info?




<trackback>

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://admin.ofla.info/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/213

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 'SFX IV Review' from Ganymede and Titan.

Navigation

Quick Links

Latest Comments

Search

Google

G&T Web

News Archive

Syndication