“Kryten, set a course for Red Dwarf. The slime’s coming home!” – Rimmer, at the end of “The Beginning”.
This September, Red Dwarf returns for a new batch of episodes. Red Dwarf XI will mark the first series in four years, after Red Dwarf X‘s run on Dave led to rather high ratings and overall good reviews. The general consensus of Series X was that, while not as sublime as the earlier series, it was a return to form compared to the controversial previous three series.
As far as I’m concerned, Series X, while not perfect (“Dear Dave” can easily be skipped without worry), was overall pretty good. I’d place it on par with Series I in terms of quality – episodes are largely good, even if only two of them (“Lemons” and “The Beginning”) are great*. Compared to VIII, which only had one watchable episode (two if you count “Back in the Red (Part 1)”), and X truly was a return to form. Compared to II-V, it’s slightly underwhelming, although it does hold its own in terms of quality. (Besides, nothing’s gonna beat “Back to Reality” and “Better Than Life”.)
So, as you can imagine, waiting for XI is gonna be tough.
Fortunately, we have a release date – it will begin airing in Britain in September. This is what we know so far, along with some of my commentary. All of the following information was picked up on fan sites, the official site, the wiki, and Twitter…
- The first episode will be called “Twentica”. Second time in a row that a series started with a “T”. Just putting it out there.
- There will be an episode where the Dwarf boys go to America. There, they find out that electronics are outlawed. Kryten and Rimmer are effectively walking law-breakers. I have a feeling that this will either be the series premiere (i.e. “Twentica”) or the series finale. (Oh, and last time the crew went to America? “Tikka to Ride”. Here’s hoping this episode is better.)
- The Cat will finally meet a member of his species from the opposite sex. There, we will get a deeper look at the history of the Cat species. Safe to assume that this is the revival of “Identity Within”, a Series VII episode that was scrapped due to budgetary concerns (because “Duct Soup” was worth it, right, BBC?)
- There will also be an episode where everybody gets to be Kryten. Given what happened with the production of “Barely Beyond A Joke”, Robert Llewellyn will likely get very little screen time.
- Starbug will crash at least once over the next couple of series. It didn’t crash in X, so expect the thing to get wrecked at least half a dozen times over XI and XII.
- Lister will have some of his body parts stolen by a droid. That vaguely reminded me of a plot that was planned for Series I, “The Bodysnatcher”, where Rimmer would’ve stolen Lister’s dreads in an attempt to create a body which Rimmer can place his own consciousness in – ergo, quasi-reviving himself. (It was sunk and replaced with “Me2” – one of my favorite Red Dwarf episodes, though, so no worries.)
- Kryten will have a mid-life crisis and will look to join a younger crew. I’m getting a very “Holoship” feeling here. To have Kryten get half of the character development that Rimmer got in that episode would please me.
- No word on whether Chloe Annett will return as Kochanski. She had been brought in to make the show more marketable to Hollywood – a goal that I assume is redundant given the existence of Back to Earth. Oh, and the chances of Claire Grogan returning as Kochanski are close to nil.
- Also, the logo looks nice and refreshing. While I have mixed opinions of the “simple” style in fashion right now, I do like the fact that it’s a throwback to Series III and IV.
Looking at this, it looks like this series will be a bit closer to IV, V, and VI compared to the first three series – with more emphasis on sci-fi exploration compared to the focus on the “Dwarf-based” situations found in Red Dwarf X.
Now, what am I hoping for and expecting in terms of quality? Of course, I would really like these episodes to be among the best of Red Dwarf. Still, I’m trying to be realistic when it comes to this. Therefore, I think that this season will be similar to X in terms of quality – pretty good, maybe an underwhelming episode, maybe one that ranks among the greats. I think it will be a bit better than X, mainly because Doug Naylor got back into his groove. Even then, a few years between X and XI may have stalled some potential growth.
I’m excited. Chances are, you may be excited.
Time to party.
* If I were to give “Entanglement” a more appropriate grade, it would be a 7.5-8. It’s a good episode… just not a great one.