No matter what the critical response to Red Dwarf: Back to Earth was, the ratings were deemed to be extraordinary. Gaining the highest ever ratings for the Dave network, speculation was rampant and immediate concerning a tenth series. First word came out in June 2010, when the actors stated that more Red Dwarf would be made. However, nothing was confirmed then. It wasn’t until April 2011 when UKTV finally confirmed that Red Dwarf would be back for a full series.
The reaction was cautiously optimistic. TV series have been revived before due to strong interest. Doctor Who was brought back in March 2005, Family Guy was brought back two months later, Futurama was revived twice, etc. However, the quality of these revivals has been debated time and time again. While Doctor Who came back to rave reviews for it’s more character-focused plots, Family Guy and (to a lesser extent) Futurama got a more lukewarm reaction, accused of lacking the magic the original seasons had, or going in a more crass direction. On top of that, the past three installments of Red Dwarf have been blasted as being far weaker compared to the original six series. (You saw me getting more frustrated with the show as we ended the eighth series!)
So, would Red Dwarf get the same critique as other shows? Or would it be a return to form?
Well, before we dive in, let’s just see how the production went. This will be quick, because the fact of the matter is that it all depended on the budget… which was, yet again, barely there. Doug Naylor had to fight just to get a studio audience. Once the sets were dismantled, any extra scene had to be shot in front of a green screen- any episode containing these were aired to a studio audience, not taped like the other episodes.
However, this series did go “back to basics”. The Red Dwarf models were brought back (thank smeg), the sets gained vibrant colours again, Howard Goodall was brought back to do the music, Howard Burden was back to do the costumes… it really felt like the show was being returned to the “tried and true”. Granted, budget limitations constrained the episodes. Ambitious projects such as “Back to Reality”, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”, and “Dimension Jump”? Not done this time around. This was more like Series II- back to basics.
So, what was the end result? Was the show back to form? Or was it proof that Red Dwarf should’ve ended with Rimmer blowing the Time Drive out of the sky?
Well, here’s the episodes!
- Trojan: Rimmer gets an SOS call from a ship… where his brother is the ship’s hologram. He realises that he needs to beat his brother at his own game, and pass the astro-nav exam… the one that he failed several times.
- Fathers and Suns: Lister decides to help himself on Fathers Day, by trying to be a better father to himself. Makes sense. Oh, and Rimmer installs a new computer, Pree.
- Lemons: After a time-travel incident involving flat-pack furniture, the gang are sent back to 23AD England. They have to travel to India to get some potatoes to get a battery to go back to Red Dwarf.
- Entangled: A game of poker goes deadly when Lister loses Rimmer. He is given 24 hours to turn over Rimmer, or have a bomb that’s attached to his pelvis blown up. Oh, and Kryten and Cat become quantum entangled.
- Dear Dave: Lister gets in a love triangle with an old girlfriend and two snack dispensers.
- The Beginning: Simulants finally begin playing war games with the Dwarfers. This seems like the end for the gang… even Rimmer, who never accomplished any of his goals.