On October 4, Dave will broadcast the first entry in a new six-episode series of popular sci-fi sitcom RED DWARF, and after the dreary disappointment that was 2009's three-part special – the fourth-wall breaking Back to Earth – I am overjoyed to report that Trojan, the first chapter in RED DWARF X, is a most welcome return to form.
Back to Earth should perhaps have been titled Red Dwarf Lite. It fell into the exact same trap as so many television shows that return after long absences, which resulted in a real nightmare for fans. It took an overly sentimental direction that did no favours for the convoluted BLADE RUNNER-inspired plot and striking lack of gags, descending into a lampoon of itself that ceased to feel like the aptly farcical breed of the show that audiences had come to love since the late 1980s. Evidently – and most thankfully – the tenth series does away with the forgettable mythology of the special and instead continues to entertain in the same spirit as the most memorable episodes.
With the return of a live studio audience, the palpable energy is back and gives the lovably bizarre characters the sense of so much more purpose than in the aforementioned special. Rather than looking like four ageing men (or at least a man, robot, hologram and cat-human hybrid) who do not want to be part of the revival, the chemistry between Lister, Cat, Rimmer and Kryten is as comfortably poignant as it has ever been.
Without giving too much away, Trojan is centred around the crew of the Dwarf receiving a distress signal from someone in Rimmer's past who has been referenced in previous episodes. It is this link to the history of the programme that makes it all the more enjoyable and gives the sense that there hasn't been a 13-year gap since the last proper series. It may be cliché, but so far the series feels less like RED DWARF resurrected and more like RED DWARF never left our screens.
Those involved have done a sterling job with the production values, ensuring that the visuals of the show are the best they have ever looked. The sets no longer look like an assembly of painted cardboard boxes and the CGI is some of the finest you'll see on British television, putting the majority of ITV's programming to utter shame.
With the fun, finesse and fervour reinstated, and one particular scene involving The Cat and his, er, navigation that is likely to go down as one of the all-time funniest RED DWARF moments, Trojan has rejuvenated a classic and provided ample anticipation and excitement for the rest of the season.
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