Movie Review – Star Trek: Generations

Two captains. One destiny.” (Image stolen from the Memory Alpha)

“Who am I… to argue with the captain of the Enterprise?” – James KirkWell… the former Captain of the Enterprise, missing for 78 years?

Premiere: November 18th, 1994

Written By: Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore

Directed By: David Carson

Plot: In the year 2293, the first voyage of the Enterprise-B goes south when the ship has to perform a rescue mission. An energy wave comes into contact with the ship, taking with it a scientist that was rescued, as well as Captain Emeritus James T. Kirk.

In the year 2371, the Enterprise-D comes into contact with that same scientist – Tolian Soran. He wants to continue his observation, but Picard prevents him from doing so. Going mad, he kidnaps Geordi, trades him to some Klingons, and holes up on a planet where he can shoot a rocket into the sun, bringing the energy wave – the Nexus – over to him. Only one man can stop him… but he himself is emotionally shaken up, having lost his brother and nephew. So… what about two men?


Three hundred posts, give or take. Hot tamale, that’s… three hundred more (give or take) than I thought I would post back in February of 2013. Guess I got into this reviewing thing a bit, eh?

Two years ago, in an attempt to combat a lull in my reviews (because of a relative lack of content from Gravity Falls and Red Dwarf), I decided to take up reviews of Star Trek movies. It actually helped – a jog of my brain helped me start reviewing Steven Universe, and I managed to bang out five of the six movies over the second half of the year – only skipping Wrath of Khan because I reviewed it a year prior. My intent was to review the four TNG movies in December, but personal commitments led that astray, and my review of The Undiscovered Country wound up coming out on Christmas.

Now, I’m back reviewing the TNG films – and I’m about to formally move this blog over to WordPress. And what better way to start (and end) than reviewing the bridge between TOS and TNG – Generations?

Well, it’s a bridge weaker than the one in this film. Continue reading


Scullyfied Simpsons: "Homer to the Max" (Season 10, Episode 13)

Airdate: February 7th, 1999

Plot: One of the midseason shows, Police Cops, features an Ace-type detective named Homer Simpson. This gives Homer a burst of popularity because of the similar names. However, a retool turns the detective into a lout, turning Homer into the joke of the town. After a plea to the executives falls less than flat, he finally decides to sue them. After that court case is thrown out, he asks for a name change to Max Power. With that name, he gains the attention of the A-List in Springfield.

Review (SPOILERS): Can television characters become deeply ingrained in our national psyche? Of course. Can it get to the point where it affects the lives of people with similar names? Likely. This is the topic that the episode was trying to take on, I think. Unfortunately, it’s execution is quite a bit wonky, leading to a rather silly third act conclusion. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 20: "The Trouble With Trillions"

Bloggers note: FX Now showing every episode of The Simpsons isn’t too bad. The crop job, on the other hand…

Airdate: April 5th, 1998

Synopsis: The IRS notes some minor discrepancies in Homer’s taxes. (Read: Homer waited until the last possible second, made egregious claims, stuffed them into a manilla folder, and tried to sweeten the deal with mint candies.) Threatened with five years jail, Homer instead accepts a plea- work for the IRS to capture tax cheats. One such tax cheat is Mr Burns, who the IRS alleges took a trillion-dollar bill meant for European reconstruction post WWII. However, Burns’s critique of the government resonates with Homer, and the two (plus Smithers) flee. Forced to escape the country, they decide to hang out on an island… one called Cuba.

Review (SPOILERS): The IRS here in the States is a government entity that is ripe for comedy. Americans have always had a skepticism of taxes, and that lends credence to the IRS being the least-liked bureaucracy of the US government. Mocking them by being a bunch of crooked spies who manipulate the system for their own gain would’ve made for an awesome episode.

Unfortunately, this episode let’s that potential go to waste.

Instead, we get a standard “Homer gets a job” episode (don’t expect the frequency of these to lighten up anytime soon), one where this idiot is tasked with supposedly the highest cases in the IRS’s coffers, and one which borders on stupidity.

I think making Homer the wire for people with ties to him (Charlie, Mr Burns) was supposed to be a send-up of the IRS for being incompetent- why the hell would any agency send anybody with remotely close ties to these people under investigation? Still, to send Homer after the most wanted man in the IRS’s files sorta stretches belief.

What’s worse is that this angle is largely dropped by the third act. By this time in the episode, it’s just Homer, Burns, and Smithers (because Burns and Homer are allies, you see) going to a foreign country- this time, Cuba. While the Cuba set pieces are a bit quirky, it’s largely just there to serve as a rushed resolution to the episode.

To do so, pretty much every character in the show is mischaracterized, relying on “rule of stupid” to make the episode connect. Why didn’t Marge file taxes? Why does Marge not care about the fact that her husband aided and abetted a massive tax cheat? Why does the IRS hire an abject idiot to take on a high-profile case? Why does Burns let Homer inside of his mansion? Why would Burns be so stupid to inform a magazine representative that he committed “grand, grand, grand larceny”?

Each question just leads to further questions, collapsing in a vortex of stupid.

Again, it’s a shame- this episode could’ve really taken a sizable bit out of the IRS and it’s patterns of behavior. Instead, we get a stock “escape” plot that relies on characters making decisions that don’t necessarily correspond to their personalities.


  • This was the second episode written by Ian Maxtone-Graham, the first being “The City of New York Vs Homer Simpson”. In a 1998 interview, he admitted that he didn’t watch a single episode of The Simpsons before joining the staff, then proceeded to insult the fans. That’s a good sign of things to come. I’ll just add on this- Stuart Baird didn’t watch a single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation before he went on to direct Nemesis. That movie proceeded to give a massive blow to the Trek franchise.
  • Amazingly, I can understand why Lisa didn’t necessarily care that her father made off with a trillion dollars- it’s just a reminder that, as brilliant as she is, she’s still just a kid. Marge’s reaction is a bit more concerning- wouldn’t she be concerned that her father is now amongst the most wanted men in the world.
  • Amazingly, the first act wasn’t too bad. Sure, there’s some cartoonish stuff (did Homer’s sedan literally flatten two cars?), but there was enough comedy to offset it. Then Homer is sent to Burns’s mansion, and the comedy enters a steep decline.
  • Ironically, as this review goes out, President Obama has announced a warming of relationships between the US and Cuba.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 2. Homer gets a nice, cushy government job for egregious tax fraud. Nice.
Zaniness Factor: 2. Homer, Burns, and Smithers. Three Americans, with a trillion dollars, effectively declaring asylum in Cuba. That is all.
Favorite Scene: The movie in the photobooth is pretty awesome. “The film you are about to see is top secret, and contains adult situations.” “I say we just be snooty to Americans forever!”
Least Favorite Scene: Why did Burns allow HOMER, of all people, to enter the mansion? And why did he confess to him that he committed “grand, grand, grand larceny?”
Score: 4.5. Not egregiously terrible, just bad enough to fail.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 12: "Bart Carny"

Airdate: January 11, 1998

Synopsis: While at the carnival, Bart trashes Adolf Hitler’s limo. (“What did he do to you?”) Homer and Bart become carnies to pay off the debt, and befriend father-and-son carnies Cooder (Jim Varney) and Spud. After their booth gets shut down (thanks to, surprise surprise, Homer), the two begin living at Evergreen Terrace… ultimately pulling a trick (i.e: a faux act of kindness) that puts Our Favourite Family out on the street.

Review: This review is going to be very short. This is another episode that’s too dry on laughs, and with too weak a plot. I mean it. This plot is stretched out way too far, and there are too many dry spots in between.

Character was not as much of a mess as much as it was forgotten. None of the characters here were very entertaining. Why is Bart the straight man? Why is Homer an idiot? Why is he a pyromaniac? Why are the two partners in crime? Their characterisation is confusing and simplistic. Lisa also gets hit in the first act, although it’s not really bad: it’s there to remind us that as intelligent as she is, she’s still just a kid.

The plot was also dull as dishwater. Why is Homer working the carnival booth? Because, under the command of Grand Leader Scully, Homer must get into moronic antics that “move the plot” for an episode to pass inspection! Whatever.

The humor was a mixed bag. The gags at the fair during the sunrise were actually a little funny, although the gags at the fair itself, not so much. Homer explaining that the water in the dunk tank was dangerously low was just there to explain what would happen next: he gets dunked, and it’s cringeworthy.The glass boat scene was funny… then Homer and Bart did some slapstick, acting like partners in crime.

I do see where the plot was going… and I wasn’t a fan. The exposure of the carnies as just a bunch of failures and conmen seemed predictable. There’s little complexity to the two. They’re just there to prove the stereotype of them being backstabbers and conmen 100% true. Previous episodes, when they had one-shot characters, gave them complexities, and helped develop our main characters. For example, I refer to Mr. Bergstrom, the substitute from “Lisa’s Substitute”, one of my favorite episodes of the show. There, not only is Mr. Bergstrom a quirky and fantastic teacher that turns out to be tragically underrated and underused due to the complexities of the American school system, but he manages to make Lisa realize the benchmark of a good education, while at the same time, truly question her faith in Homer. Cooder and Spud don’t do anything: they just act like conmen. It’s simple and predictable characterisation.

That’s the problem with this episode; it’s simplistic. Simple can be good, but the greatest seasons of The Simpsons were complex, deep… and thus, fantastic. This episode? Not so much….

OK, I’ll admit that the ending was fantastic.


  • This episode was written by veteran writer and notable recluse John Swartzwelder. He managed to write both the best episodes of the show (“Rosebud”, “You Only Move Twice”) and the worst  (“Kill the Alligator and Run” and the slop we have here).
  • This episode was also co-produced by Brian Scully and Julie Thacker. Gee, wonder how they got the job.
  • Marge shuddering is actually my second favourite joke in the entire episode.
  • Cool to see Krusty explain the joke of the “squirt gun” joke. And by cool, I mean stupid.
  • …and that’s it. This episode was uninteresting.

Jerkass Homer Meter 2.5

Jerkass Homer Moment: Not really jerkass, but Homer is such an idiot during the “bribe” scene with Chief Wiggum.

Zaniness Factor: 1

Zaniest Moment: I think they went too far with the “Dunk Tank” scene.

Favorite Scene: The resolution to the plot. For a poor episode, it’s actually pretty funny. Take that, ring toss!

Least Favorite Scene: Did we really need the gardening scene? Pointless openings would become the norm in later seasons.

Score: 4.

Red Dwarf Review: Series VII, Episode 1: "Tikka To Ride"

Airdate: 17 January 1997

Synopsis: So, apparently, the crew were not blown out of the sky by their future selves. A time paradox, however, trashed the Indian food. Lister, having a memory of the accident, suggests using the time drive to get 500 curries. He manages to swing Kryten by removing his guilt chip. Their time travel predictions are off; they wind up at the School Book Depository in Dallas, 1963… just as President Kennedy is passing by.

Review: Uh, no. I doubt I watched Red Dwarf. I think I stumbled across a bad fanfiction version of Red Dwarf.


This is real?

Oh… crap.

Facepalms, facepalms everywhere.
 Well, let’s get to the obvious: this episode is pretty bad. We are but one episode in, and my hopes for the series have gone down quite a bit.
The big failure in this episode is character. Character is at the center of Red Dwarf. This series has effectively taken Lister’s character, and thrown it out the window. He might be the first victim. Through six series, we saw him develop beyond his slobbish character into a complex character with morals and virtues, who served as the true moral center of the cast, and could be quite mature and sensible. Here? He’s a curry-obsessed jackass. That’s all. I might be able to chalk it up to PTSD from the explosion… somewhat. Three years on, and Doug Naylor has forgotten to write for Lister. It’s bad. It makes the episode almost unwatchable, given the development he’s gone through.
The time travel is also very screw-y. While inter-series continuity is a bit weaker in Red Dwarf, this episode takes it to stupid new heights. The beginning of the episode makes it clear that there was a paradox caused by the fight in the previous episode, thus preventing the future selves from killing them. (It’s confusing enough to break a video camera). At the end of the episode, Kennedy gets involved in the same incident (long story)… and does not fall victim to the same effects. Hello, Doug? Also ticking me off is that “Out of Time” made it clear that the Time Drive did not travel through space? So, the question remains. WHY DID IT SMEGGING TRAVEL THROUGH SMEGGING SPACE TO SMEGGING DALLAS IN SMEGGING 1963-
It’s a TV show. Happy thoughts, dude. Happy thoughts…
…that’s better. Anyway, credit where credit is due for this episode, I guess. I like the implementation of time travel and the effects of causality. With Kennedy alive, he gets impeached, the Mafia use J. Edgar Hoover as a puppet president, and manage to land in deep trouble with the Soviets/Cuba. It’s a pretty interesting take. I also liked the twist of JFK being the “man behind the grassy knoll”. Strangely enough, this is something of a callback to “Timeslides”. Remember when Kryten was talking about the photograph fluid?

“Well, we could go to Dallas in November 1963, stand on the grassy knoll, and shout “duck”! Uh, I’m sorry: I must have bypassed my good taste chip!”

Ironic, innit. Again, the good there is destroyed by the faulty time paradox.

I don’t know what to say about the ending. On one hand, I think it’s in character for our heroes to learn nothing from the experience. On the other, I shed no sympathy for Lister. Unlike the fine folks at Ganymede and Titan, I actually feel that Rimmer, Cat, and Kryten beating Lister to a pulp was somewhat excusable.

The biggest failing is that this episode really isn’t that funny. Too much focus is on drama. The balance is just off. It’s just a weak episode, and a bad sign of things to come.


  • It’s worth noting that, in real life, had Kennedy ducked the bullet, he would’ve died soon after from Addison’s disease. His muscles had failed so much that he had to wear a brace. Had he not worn a brace, he might have been able to duck and avoid Oswald’s second bullet. (He might have died because the first bullet hit his trachea, but the bullet to the head definitely terminated his life.)
  • Kryten having his guilt trip works here. It just works better in “Polymorph”, where it’s somewhat crueler.
  • How come, if Kryten’s so smart, he wanted to eat a dead man? This episode is horrid at characterisation.
  • Again, THIS EPISODE FAILS AT CONTINUITY. Just figured I’d let that sink in.
Favorite Scene: While not as good as “Polymorph”, Kryten’s post-guilt-removal behavior is still pretty funny. ‘You bet your ass”, indeed.
Least Favourite Scene: Not scene, but by the end of the episode, I actually wanted to see Lister get beaten by his crew members. This episode was to him was “Rimmerworld” was to Rimmer: it destroyed his character.
Final Score: 4, only for the time travel aspect.

Red Dwarf Review: Series VI, Episode 5: "Rimmerworld"

“For the crime of taking plot elements from previous episodes without substance, I sentence this episode to 200 hours of WOO. That will teach Grant/Naylor to be breadbaskets!”

Airdate: 4 November 1993

Synopsis: Rimmer undergoes a medical analysis from Kryten, and learns that he is predisposed to stress-related conditions. Meanwhile, Starbug returns to the Simulant ship that they had previously shot down to recover derelicts from the ship… the same behavior that got them shot down, caused an ill-fated wedding, and brought the Duke of Dork aboard Starbug. (Oh, those wackos never learn!) This time, they simply get threatened by a Simulant that managed to survive the destruction.

Fearing death, Rimmer does the honorable thing… and leaves the rest of the Dwarfers for dead as he takes the last escape pod on the ship. The other three manage to escape the Simulant, first using a time and matter transporter Kryten has come across. When that fails, it causes the crew to just belt for Starbug.

Whilst on Starbug, the crew realize that Rimmer took a pod from a ship meant to colonize a barren planet. He does so… with clones of himself. Cue the neo-classical set and costumes!

Review: A good rule of thumb would be the “cook all the way through” rule. You can make an episode which has the first 15-20 minutes full of comedy, yet if the last 10 minutes are weak enough, it makes those first 20 seem like a waste. Another good rule would be the “watch it without the comedy” rule, as comedy can often mask flaws in an episode that are unjustifiable.

This episode falls victim to both rules hard; so hard, that for the first time ever in my history of reviewing Red Dwarf, I can’t bring myself to give it a passing grade.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The first 20 minutes are pretty funny. However, it’s just there to provide jokes. Sure, the plot moves along. However, there’s little good comedy that’s directly connected to the main plot; most of it is the one-liners and the jokes that remind us that Cat hates Rimmer and Lister is a slob and all that.

The last 8 minutes of this episode, however, are tragically bad. Why? Well, let’s go down to Rimmerworld. Let’s have a guard from the Rimmers and the grand poo-bah of the Rimmers speak… and by extension, fail the episode.

Rimmer Guard: These three abominations stand charged on eight counts of gross deviancy. Not content with not looking like the true image, they flaunt freakish behavior such as charm, bravery, compassion, and… honor.

Rimmer Grand Pooh-Bah:  Are there no signs of normalcy in these wretches? No cowardice or pomposity? No snideness or snarm? Not even basic honest-to-goodness double-dealing two facedness?



-sorry. Let me recompose myself for a second.


That’s better. Anyway, that quote is utter proof that either Grant/Naylor didn’t watch some Red Dwarf before writing the script for this episode, or they were prevented by the BBC’s screwed up scheduling.

You see, that quote pretty much nullifies all of the development Rimmer has gotten up to this point. Yes, he’s a coward, an egoist, a nut, and all around odious. However, he was shaped into that character; his family was abusive (or at least neglectful), his school was insane (putting him through extra rugby practice), his friends betrayed him… even his pets attacked him! Most of his cowardice might come from trying to avoid a reaction that his abusive father might have given him (getting Astro-Nav questions wrong caused him to not receive food). It’s also shown that, as screwed up as he is, he also has some sort of code: he wants to succeed; he just shoots too high and is just too neurotic to prepare properly. It’s his frustration that manifests into smeghead behavior. Sure, a lot of his behavior is on him; it’s just that he has an excuse. Not a justification, but an excuse.

This episode seems to say “smeg it all” to all of that and more. What this episode says is that Rimmer is simply odious, and nothing more. There’s no pathos, no depth. It’s implied that this was part of the original Rimmer from the very start, as all the clones are not only just as odious as the original, but they embrace it!

Rimmer’s actions through the episode are stunningly awful. In other episodes, Rimmer would probably back down or cower. Now? He steals an escape pod. Remember when I did my “Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments”? Well, in hindsight, I should’ve knocked off Rimmer badmouthing Ace from “Dimension Jump”, moved 3 and 4 up one spot each, and put this in the Bronze spot. By the end of the episode, you wonder why the hell the rest of the crew went to save him.

The rest of the episode isn’t fantastic, either. Why was Rimmer revealed to be close to death when “Legion” showed him to be indestructible? Just for a gag about Chinese Worry Balls. Yeah, who cares about continuity? We need jokes about worry balls! How the hell was Rimmer able to hold up for the time he did upon entering Rimmerworld, as well?

It’s a shame, as there was a decent episode in here. Ignoring the continuity issues, the first 20 minutes are hysterical. Once the crew land on Rimmerworld, however, there’s nothing to distract from this episode’s faults… which are numerous.

Sadly, this is the first episode of Red Dwarf which I can’t pass. It’s tragic. And from what I remember… we’re coming close to the show’s Wilderness Years.


  • How could Rimmer even make clones? He has no DNA! He’s a hologram!
  • Continuing on the theme of episodes from this series ripping off episodes from other series, this episode is partially a rip-off of “Terrorform”. I can understand aping from “Polymorph” or “Back to Reality”. But “Terrorform”?
  • The Cat, the prince of fashion, thinks that his costume contains peach material. I’m going with more of an orange.
  • “If we wanted to stay in a state of perpetual agony, we’d let Lister play his guitar.” Yes, the same guitar that Cat smashed in “Emohawk”. Remember that? (“At least Lister’s guitar survived intact… not even Lister’s guitar survived intact!”)
  • Have Grant/Naylor lost creativity in creating obstacles? This series seems to be obsessed with Simulants.
Favorite Scene: Lister having “two conversations” with the Simulants and Rimmer (as the latter steals an escape pod).
Least Favorite Scene: Everything from the tribunal up to the last scene.
Score: 4.5

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 10: "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace"

Airdate: December 21, 1997

So apparently, burning a plastic tree turns it into a solid with presents still sticking out from it, possibly intact. Did Ron Hauge pay attention in Chemistry?

Synopsis: Christmas has arrived yet again for Our Favorite Family. This time, Marge wants to ensure that everybody wakes up at the same time (7:00 AM) on Christmas Day to open their presents. Who else but Bart would sneak down to play with his gifts? One problem, though; he burns down the tree. He manages to hide it under the snow, blaming thieves when the family wakes up to an empty den. The townspeople rally around the family and give them a whopping $15,000, which they promptly blow on a sedan (which wrecks). When Bart confesses about the tree, however, the town turns the family into social pariahs… again.

Review: As I’ve mentioned before, the fine folks at Dead Homers Society are not exactly fans of Season 7’s “Marge Be Not Proud”. They argue that it was schmaltzy, sitcom-ish, clumsy, and quite slow. I am willing to agree with that; it does feel somewhat more like a “special” episode than anything else, and one that’s quite formulaic to boot.

However, Dead Homers also points out that “Marge Be Not Proud” is, at least by modern standards, comically efficient and funny. I’ll take it a bit further- “Marge Be Not Proud” is almost as funny as the rest of the episodes of that season; it’s just dragged down by the overt emotion and slower pacing. Maybe it was a parody of the “very special episode”, or maybe it was genuine. Who knows?

Why do I bring up that episode? Well, “Miracle” is essentially “Marge Be Not Proud”… with the schmaltz cranked up to “wham-o”, a good 50% of the comedy siphoned, and the cynicism turned up to outright unbearable levels.

Now, keep in mind, The Simpsons is in and of itself a rather dark series. However, it managed to set the tone at the right amount to not only make it hysterical, but also allow for character development and sweetness. Here? It’s just depressing and cruel.

I don’t think it would be as bad if the characters weren’t so screwed up. Blast “Marge Be Not Proud” for sapping up the characters and making Bart a bit too sensitive, but not only were the sappy moments still filled with funny lines, the rest of the characters were perfectly crafted for the plot. In this episode, not only do you have the entire town becoming just a bit too cruel to OFF for a lie Bart told, but the second the family wakes up on Christmas morning, Bart’s character just seems off. I mean, it’s alright to show some character development to try and not make Bart one-note, but the problem here is that it was controlled by the plot. Characters no longer control the plot; plot controls the characters.

Not to mention the first minute of this episode is dedicated to making Homer as much of a law-skirting buffoon as possible. There’s him kicking the heater (which spits out snow, not kidding there), parking across three handicapped spots (stolen from “The Springfield Connection”, only there, Homer’s jerkassery lands him in jail), masquerades as a cashier to steal gifts for Christmas (which I suppose might have been there to set up the irony of him blasting the “thieves” when he himself stole the Christmas presents, but was more likely there to show Homer acting reckless), and he falls off of the roof (stolen from “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, only dragged out).

I also loathe the “Liar Revealed” cliche; I’ve mentioned it several times before. This episode embraces that cliche, for the most part.

I do think the plot makes a little sense. Of course, people are going to be irrational if they find out about potential theft of cash. I do, however, think that going to Los Angeles to go on Jeopardy was a bit much (as well as done simply to get Alex Trebek on the show). At least they kept the Jeopardy bit relatively short (and decently funny).

The ending with the town “reimbursing their losses” is admittedly a decent idea, and fits in with the show’s tradition of mocking TV cliches. Too bad there were few laughs, and it required a good chunk of the characters to act, well, out of character (again, irrationality, but still).

It’s a shame, since this episode did have some funny lines. There’s Patches and Violet, the family buying an ill-fated car for more than it’s worth only to have it wreck, damn near every scene with Brockman (“Little Homer’s sausage?”), and anything with Alex Trebek. Still, it’s not enough to save this episode. The trope of “Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy” is in full effect (the episode tries to come off as a “very special episode” when everybody is close to being unlikable), there seems to be little sense of timing, and the show was just too dry. It’s a pretty empty episode, to the point where it’s almost unwatchable.

In other words, this is the first Scully-era episode that gets a failing score. And it won’t be the last.


  • Just one, really. This episode seemed to eschew logic and physics when the tree caught fire. For one, the rest of the den should’ve caught fire. There’s no smoke coming from the tree, either. And instead of totally disintegrating, the tree melts into a wheel, with the presents merged inside. Also, how the smeg was Bart able to dig in one spot to cover up the remains of said tree and barely leave a dent in the snow?
  • Oh, I forgot. I know Homer is an idiot, but wouldn’t insurance have covered the car? Look, I know that’s a very minor point, but still. Bugs me a bit.
  • Flanders also says “there goes Christmas dinner” when seeing OFF after the truth is revealed… despite this being well past Christmas.
  • I did like the Springfield Shopper headline; “Angry Mob Mulls Options”.
  • This was written by Ron Hauge, responsible for one of my favorite Season 8 episodes, “Homer’s Phobia”. Kinda tragic that he can veer between that and this boring mess.
Favorite Moment: In an episode as dry as this, the Jepoardy bit was pretty funny.
Least Favorite Moment: I just can’t bring myself to even remotely smile for the entire first act. I can’t bring myself to do so. I can’t pick one moment in that first act that’s worse than the other; it’s just dull and stupid.
Zaniness Factor: 1.5 Note the demise of the Christmas tree above. Nothing in there makes sense.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 2.75. I’d give it a 3, but Homer’s jerkassery mostly evaporates by the second act. While not the worst act he committed in the episode, I pick him parking across three handicapped parking spaces. Why? Well, as mentioned above, Homer did that in “The Springfield Connection”, wound up starting a conflict with Marge, and Marge wound up arresting Homer. Here, Marge just goes along with the zaniness.
Score: 4.5. This episode just bored me.

Red Dwarf Reviews: Red Dwarf USA

Airdate: That, my friend, will never happen.

Synopsis: Ah, a seemingly typical day on the Mining Ship Red Dwarf. Android Kryten (played by Robert Llewellyn, what a familiar name) is new to the ship, and tries to make the most of his new assignment. Low-ranked technician Dave Lister (Craig Bierko, best known for The Long Kiss Goodnight) is slobbing around, like always. All he wants to do is get back to Earth, date the unattainable Christine Kochanski, and avoid Captain Tao’s command of “no pets”. His boss, the still lowly Arnold Rimmer (Chris Eigeman, The Last Days of Disco) wants to take his engineering exam to finally control people other than Lister and two “advanced shoeboxes”.

Things go south for Lister when Tao learns from the security tapes that there is a pet on board. Lister’s pet Frankenstein is exposed, Kryten blows up trying to hide the fact, and Lister is given a choice; surrender the cat and receive a reprimand, or go into stasis for 18 months, forfeit all 18 months worth of wages, and face the possibility of criminal charges when back at Earth. He chooses the latter… and winds up three million years in the future. What happened? Well, a drive plate blew, and the entire crew (save Lister, his cat, and Kryten’s head) were fatally poisoned; Holly (played by Jane Leeves from Fraiser) had to keep Lister in stasis until the radiation was minuscule enough to live in. Ergo, three million years. (“My baseball cards must be worth a fortune!”)

Not to worry, though; Rimmer is brought back as a hologram, and Lister’s cat was pregnant. Three million years later, and the Cat species has become human-like… although one remains (played by dancer Hinton Battle).

Review: Yes, it happened. There was an attempt to make an Americanised version of Red Dwarf by the NBC network, produced after Series V wrapped up. And, as you would expect, it’s pretty damn subpar.

I mean, it’s not a total write off; Robert Llewellyn does a damn good job, like always, as well as Jane Leeves. That, and the humor is not as dire as what the internet would have you believe.

Nothing else, though, really fits.

Really, the reason for this pilot’s failure? The casting and the characters. As I mentioned, Llewellyn and Leeves do fantastically, and Battle is pretty damn good himself as the Cat. However, Bierko and Eigeman just. Don’t. Work.

Let’s take a look at Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer. In the original version, Lister is played by Craig Charles. Charles portrays him as what he is; a lower class bum with no ambition. Charles plays his role to the hilt; slobbish dress, slobbish mannerisms, slobbish everything. (The Scouse accent didn’t hurt). It fits because that’s the show’s premise; instead of the somewhat charismatic heroes from other sci-fi shows (Kirk, Luke Skywalker, and Adama), we get a slob in our leading role. Instead of the refined, cultured Picard, we get lowly Scouser Lister. That, and Craig Charles emotes. His reaction when he realizes that he’s alone and that Kochanski is dead is that of quiet heartbreak through the entire minute before Rimsie shows up. (“Oh, hey! She was part of me plan… it was me plan. I planned it… So everyone’s dead? I’m on me own? It’s just me?). He’s perfect for the role.

Bierko’s Lister is just costumed clean enough to not really match. He looks like a well-maintained, relatively decent-looking man, albeit an everyman. Granted, he’s no Picard, but what made the original Lister so fantastic was that Lister was such a slob. This guy’s Lister is just a bit too dry. That, and he has a little bit of trouble emoting. When he mourns Kochanski, he does so in a somber, stoic manner. (“This wasn’t the plan. The farm was the plan.”) When it comes to realizing he’s truly alone, he yells at the top of his lungs. (“I’M GONNA GO NUTS HERE ALL BY MYSELF!”) Ultimately, there’s not a lot of energy here.

Arnold Rimmer, meanwhile, is played by Chris Barrie as an ambitious, yet tragically incompetent, egoist with few redeeming qualities. Barrie plays his character to the nth degree; it’s perfect! Eigeman’s Rimmer is nothing; he’s a bland character. Most of his annoying tendencies are told instead of shown. Thus, Eigeman has little to work with. He’s just a typically mildly annoying worker.

That’s the problem; the characters are distilled to dry, typical sitcom characters, leaving little in the way of character comedy, which was what made the original Red Dwarf so fantastic!

Character dynamic is also tragically impacted because of this. The dynamic between the original Lister and Rimmer was fuelled a little by the British class system. Lister and Rimmer are on the lower class of society; both are working class vending machine repairmen. However, Rimmer wants to climb the class ladder (despite being inhibited with his own personality failures), while Lister is perfectly content with being resigned to a lowly technician for eternity. While not as important, Lister wanted to date Kochanski, yet was prohibited due to class differences; this was presented as tragicomic, because the original Kochanski felt like she was a cool girl to go out with.

The US version dries the characters up so much that none of them are interesting. Lister and Rimmer now come off as typical workmates, and Kochanski and Lister now seem like a typical sitcom couple full of Unresolved Sexual Tension.

The lack of character also led to more of the humor being plot-based. By plot-based, I mean your typical American sitcom humor. This I didn’t mind: I watch a good amount of American comedy, and I appreciate it’s appeal. Still, the positives of the humor were dried out by the large, large amounts of poorly-done exposition. Exposition is a necessary evil; it’s a pilot episode. Even “The End” had some exposition. However, the way it was presented in the UK version was through the characters and their traits. Here, it’s just spouted at us.

That’s the problem in a nutshell; the American script lacked the charm and development of the original show, and what we were left with is just bland.

Production values also weren’t great, either. Granted, the original 6 series of Red Dwarf didn’t have the best production values, but not only were they still pretty damn good, whatever weaknesses were in the effects and music could be excused a bit; it was 80s BBC! Here, you’re talking about NBC: it was the highest-rated network in the late 80s/early 90s! (Granted, their budget must’ve gone to Seinfeld, but still!) Yet, they not only used paintings to set up the Red Dwarf (which reminds me; why does Red Dwarf here have a mall and a football stadium in a mining ship), but they also reused special effects from the UK version. Again, this episode never made it to air, so I’ll give it that they were subbing in some special effects until the pilot was given clearance. That, and the quality of the episode posted online is subpar (it’s transferred from a VHS). Still, why cut corners?

Also, Howard Goddall’s score in the original was simply fantastic. Even the slow-moving first two series had an entertaining, well-constructed soundtrack. Here, everything is bland and lifeless. The theme song is one of the most boring theme songs ever made.

They also tried to mash some plot elements from other series (some of which were not even close to conception, let alone production, yet) and episodes into the first episode. There’s the time drive from Series VI, the fall of the cat race from “Waiting for God”, the introduction of Kochanski from Series VII, Kryten’s intro from Series III, etc.

It’s not the worst American adaptation of all time, let alone the worst sitcom. (Coupling and Emeril are the winners, respectively). But, it’s just so bland!

Obviously, in the end, Red Dwarf USA never made it. The original does air on some PBS stations, such as Dallas’s KERA and Washington WETA UK subchannel; look out for Series X on your local PBS station this summer.

Favorite Scene: Kryten’s reaction to being told what to do is to have his head explode. Three million years on, and Kryten’s head is still waiting to be repaired. His reaction? “Well, I’ve been reading that fire exit sign over there!”

Least Favorite Scene: I’m too bored to pick.

Score: 4. I gave it some leeway because, well, it’s a pilot.