Red Dwarf Review: “Skipper” (Series XII, Episode 6)

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As you know, I’m not one for long farewell speeches, but I have written this…

see ya! – Rimmer, sending himself off to other hells.

Airdate: 16 November 2017
Written By: Doug Naylor
Plot: The Red Dwarf encounters an anomaly that plays with the dimensional theory of reality. For every decision the crew make, the alternative plays out in front of them. Of course, this turns out to be tied to Kryten’s attempts to repair a Quantum Skipper, allowing for somebody to hop dimensions. Rimmer takes ahold of this, in one attempt to find a universe where he’s not a failure.

Review:

Well, here we are. The end – not just of the series, but possibly of Red Dwarf. Sure, there have been murmurs about a Series XIII, but nothing’s guaranteed at this point. There is a very real chance that this review could be the very last review of a Red Dwarf episode on this blog (barring any future rewatches).

Five years, I’ve been doing this blog – the first review (a dreadful one, in hindsight) was that of “The End”. (What a way to start off, eh?) To give you some perspective, back then, I didn’t know who Steve Bannon was. (I still barely know who he is.) The only year without a Red Dwarf review was 2015, and that was because there was no more Red Dwarf TV to review. The possibility of 2019 being the second year without Red Dwarf… it’s actually a little moving, the more I think about it.

What’s probably stirring these feelings up is that, when you get down to it, “Skipper” does feel like Red Dwarf‘s parting salvo, just in case Dave decide to call it quits. Continue reading

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Red Dwarf Review: “Siliconia” (Series XII, Episode 2)

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“When you say “recalibrate”, what exactly does that entail? It’s just I’ve got a health condition that allows me to skip anything that involves torture.”  – Rimmer, bringing in the rather radical argument

Airdate: 19 October 2017
Written By:
 Doug Naylor
Plot: While reluctantly retrieving Lister’s guitar from the depths of space, Starbug and the crew are kidnapped by a Mechanoid liberation front, “rescuing” Kryten and arresting the trio. Accusing the trio of enslaving Kryten, the front proceeds to enslave them, all while trying to “convert” Kryten.

Review:

(Warning: This review deals with topics that are “poignant”, often sensitive. Any parts of the review that might give off a sense of insensitivity are completely unintentional. I reject extremism in all forms, there are issues in our society that need to be questioned and fixed, etc. That said…)

Red Dwarf is a show about a spaceship populated with odd men out.

Lister is the last survivor of the ship’s manifest, lucking out because he was punished in Stasis. Rimmer is the second lowest-ranked technician, being revived solely because of the number of conversations between him and Lister. Cat is the last survivor of his species, as well as probably the least traditionally “masculine” of the group and the largest source of comic relief. And last but not least, Kryten is the only non-humanoid of the quartet. In effect, he is a minority on board the ship.

Now, this is where reviewing Red Dwarf gets interesting. Consider the fact that our characters are not what many of us would call “elites”. Lister is a proud working-class slob whose moments of moral integrity are balanced out by a desire to live a simple life, Rimmer aspires to climb up to the middle class (and fails at doing so on a consistent basis), Kryten is a servant trying to break his programming, and Cat, well, doesn’t give a damn where he is as long as he has his clothes and others admiring him.

I bring this economic schism in the grand scheme of Red Dwarf up today, because this episode tries to go in a somewhat more political direction with Kryten’s character, tying him and the Dwarfers in with a liberation movement for mechanoids. Continue reading

Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact

 

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“Resistance is Futile” (Taken from the Memory Alpha)

 

“And you people – you’re all astronauts on some kind of star trek?” – Zefram Cochrane, reminding moviegoers what they paid obscene amounts of money to see.

Premiere: November 22nd, 1998

Written By: Ronald Moore and Brannon Braga

Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

Plot: The specter of the Borg still lingers over Captain Jean-Luc Picard – largely because he was kidnapped and assimilated by them for a while. Thus, when the Borg come back to attack Earth, he defies Starfleet orders to lay waste to a Borg Cube. Unfortunately, a Borg Sphere (seriously, what is with the Borg and simple geometry) comes out of said cube, and the Enterprise follows it into the past where they intend to assimilate all – not to mention, ruin the first contact between Vulcans and Humans.

The crew try and keep Dr. Zefram Cochrane on track when it comes to the launch of his epochal ship, despite him being a bit different from his idolized portrayal in the 24th century. Picard tries to take on the Borg, but slowly goes a bit nuts in doing so, much to the concern of Lily, a resident of Cochrane’s settlement who wound up on the Enterprise. In the mix-up, Data gets captured and is tempted by one particular Borg – the Borg Queen, who fancies herself the end and the start of the collective.

Review:

Well, Generations was a bit of a misfire to pass the torch. Not that I won’t ever watch it again, but it really was just a double-length episode of TNG. Really, the only things film-worthy were a) the cameo by Captain Kirk, who proceeded to fall victim to poor lair construction, and 2) the Enterprise-D getting trashed by the Klingons. Still, the movie made a decent profit, and a follow-up was commissioned.

With Johnathan Frakes in the Director’s Chair, Braga and Moore back in the writer’s room, and the franchise arguably just coming off its cultural apex (with Voyager and Deep Space Nine airing at the same time), the sequel finally embraced the cinematic atmosphere by doing a deeper analysis of the series’ most well-known and well-renowned antagonist – the Borg.

(Warning: minor spoilers for TNG are in this review. Continue at your own risk.) Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “They Saved Lisa’s Brain” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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“Oh, a sarcasm detector. That’s a real useful invention!” – Comic Book Guy. Standout quote. Glad it came in this wonderful season!

Airdate: May 9th, 1999

Written By: Matt Selman

Plot: Springfield’s culture, never particularly highbrow, hits a low point when a contest asking contestants to embarrass themselves collapses into a full-blown riot. In response, Lisa pens an open letter begging the townsfolk to better themselves. That letter catches the collective eyes of Springfield’s MENSA chapter, who encourage her to join. Despite a bit of terseness in the group, their concerns about Springfield’s culture gain more prominence when they inadvertently cause Mayor Quimby to skip town. Following the town charter, they take over as a quasi-junta.

Review:

OK, 21 episodes down, two to go in the tenth season. Only took me about two years to do so. And after that complete and utter debacle of the last episode, these next two might close the season out on a high note.

There is a sort of bizarre coincidence, though, that I’ve noticed. Despite this season overall being quite focused on Homer’s increasingly bizarre antics, the debut and penultimate episodes of the season take a closer look at Springfield’s favorite intellectual, Lisa Simpson, and examines just where she fits into this strange society. Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Can of Worms” (Series XI, Episode 6)

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“How do I break this to you… you’re a moron!” – Rimmer, to the Cat after his date.

Oh, Rimmer. Go easy on him. Let me handle this. Cat, man, you’re a moron!” – Lister, for once, agreeing with Rimmer. Bring on the giant meteor.

Airdate: 27 October, 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor

Plot: While cutting across an asteroid belt to get back on course, Starbug winds up coming across a largely deserted ship. It’s crew – a mercenoid and a prisoner. After some confusion, the crew take out the mercenoid, and the prisoner is rescued. Said prisoner, Ankita, happens to be of the Cat’s species. Cat becomes smitten with the very similar prisoner – assuaging his own anxieties regarding his love life (or lack thereof) – and goes on a date with her.

Unfortunately for him, Ankita happens to be a Polymorph who intends to deposit her eggs into the Cat. Ergo, the end of the Cat’s first date results in him becoming pregnant – thus becoming the third person on board Red Dwarf to become pregnant, and the second male.

Review:

Well, here we are. The last episode of Series XI. Hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 years since I began looking at this silly little sci-fi show – one that is more than the sum of its parts. And, so far Series XI has been rather solid. There’ve been no truly spectacular episodes, but I would argue that a couple of episodes have been great, and the rest, so far, have been good.

So, will Series XI continue the trend of stable quality? Will it break my expectations and be one of the most spectacular episodes of the series? Or will XI putter to the end?

Well, let’s start my analysis with the fact that this episode focuses on the Cat.

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Krysis” (Series XI, Episode 5)

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“Have you ever felt ‘I’ve wasted my life?” “You? Sure! Every single day!”  – Lister and the Cat, summing up a midlife crisis.

Airdate: 20 October, 2016
Written By: Doug Naylor
Plot: Kryten’s hit a rough patch in his duties aboard ship. The trio diagnose him with a midlife crisis – something that becomes readily apparent once Krytie dons a bright red shell (pictured above). To try and remind him of how far he’s come, the Boys from the Dwarf go to the Nova III, to analyze a similar mechanoid and see how he’s held up all alone… only to come across a mechanoid that has become a connoisseur of and participant in all the finest arts.

Review:

This episode should not work.

I mean, let’s face it – the plot here is pretty much the child of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Barely Beyond A Joke”. I disliked The Final Frontier, and “Beyond A Joke” is my second least favorite episode of the show (third if you count “Krytie TV” as an episode and not as an instrument of torture banned by the Geneva Convention). Point is – is the third time the charm for these plot threads on this blog?

Well, if you count the second half of Gravity Falls season 2, then for the most part, yes.

But what about the fourth time? Does it work then?

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Give and Take” (Series XI, Episode 3)

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“I am now fluent in all the deceptive arts. I could work for FIFA!” – Kryten. Hey, that’s base level, Krytie. Manage a presidential campaign.

Airdate: October 2nd, 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor.

Plot: While scouting for a medical droid aboard an abandoned spaceship, Rimmer and Kryten come across what they suspect is the target droid. Lister and the Cat actually do come across said droid, who proceeds to perform malpractice in a fit of insanity. Rimmer and Kryten come to their defense and rescue them – although they destroy a pair of kidneys that were to go into Lister. With Lister’s kidneys removed, he needs to get the Cat to donate and for the rescued droid to rewrite the DNA. Unfortunately, that proves a tall order.

Review:

Hey, the Cat gets an episode! Sort of. Last time Lister and the Cat interacted, Lister learned about how Archimedes invented gravy after a bath fell on his head. What we saw there is their dynamic starting to take shape after largely being held off over the prior several series. This episode continues that trend – with Lister’s life in Cat’s hands. (Here’s hoping he had a will.) In fact, it’s probably my favorite of the season so far.

Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: “Twentica” (Series XI, Episode 1)

 

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This is first-degree toastercide!

“If that’s the penalty for toast, what the hell do you get for pizza?” – The Cat.

Airdate: 22 September 2016

Written By: Doug Naylor

Plot: In the depths of uncharted space, Starbug gets intercepted by a ship of Expanoids – a subset of Simulants. They pull a trick on the Dwarfers to obtain an artifact – the Casket of Cronos – that allows them to travel back in time to 20th-century America. There, technology beyond the Gilded Ages are prohibited, and scientists are driven underground to speakeasies. In order to free themselves, they must find a use of a machine part that was given to them by a doomed scientist.

Review:

Before I begin, I just want to say that there’s this incredible feeling I have in reviewing Red Dwarf as it comes out (in America, at least) for the first time. This, again, was the very first show I decided to blog about. As the years have gone by, I have come to admire the show more. And even though I wouldn’t place it at the top of my all-time favorites (The Simpsons, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls are a holy trinity of awesome animation), I still think it is one of the most overlooked sci-fi shows out there.

To get (virtually) brand new episodes for the first time in my fandom (Red Dwarf X came out just before I became a full-blown fan of the show) was something quite indescribable. I watched them all in a day.

With that said…  I begin my (silly) analysis of Series XI. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Tiger Millionaire" (Season 1A, Episode 9)

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Still a better advertising strategy than spoiling the results of your competitor’s matches.

Airdate: January 20th, 2014

Synopsis: Amethyst messes up a mission by punching the monster of the week, getting gunk all over Steven and earning her Pearl and Garnet’s scorn. The night after, Steven manages to track Amethyst down to an old warehouse, where a wrestling league is held. There, she moonlights as the Purple Puma – a ruthless wrestler that’s shooting up the ranks. Steven becomes struck by the aura of the whole thing, and becomes her assistant as “Tiger Millionaire” – a ruthless venture capitalist from the jungle.

Review: Full disclosure – I’m not really a professional wrestling fan. Don’t hate it, don’t really follow it. Most of the info and jokes about wrestling here, I got from brief skims from the TVTropes and Wikipedia pages. All I know is that WWE Smackdown airs on SyFy – by far, the most insane and idiotic programming move that doesn’t involve scheduling Dilbert after Shasta McNasty. (Nice job, UPN.)

So, this episode… in an actual sci-fi show. Easily among my favorite episodes from the front end of the first season. Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: "Serious Steven" (Season 1A, Episode 8)

Who designed this? Who? Who?

Airdate: January 13th, 2014

Synopsis: A massive accident at Funland (the amusement park where Steven and Connie almost got flattened by a roller coaster) weighs heavily on Steven, as two weeks later, they go to the Strawberry Fields, which used to be a battle site for the Gems. Characterized as Steven’s first “serious” mission, Steven tries to prove himself worthy to Garnet. This can only end badly, especially when a pyramid that they walk in flips over, thanks to Steven.

Review: Fans who started watching new episodes in Season 2 (ya know, half of the fandom, up to and including myself) might be a bit put off when they first see this episode. You see, we’re still in the part of the show where Steven is more like that kid that the Gems happen to have on their backs. With the gems treating this as his “first serious mission”, Steven has a hell of a lot of weight on his shoulders.

Most impressively, he’s hanging out with Garnet this time. A tall order for the ten-year-old, indeed. Continue reading