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It's good to have the guys back, but. . .
on April 18, 2009
After waiting ten years for a Red Dwarf reunion, hearing rumours of another series or even a big-screen movie, fans' anticipation level for "Back to Earth" was VERY high. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who, after viewing this 3-part episode, was left wondering if the wait was worth it.
While it is nice to have most of the cast back (including a too-late and too-brief turn by Chloe Annett), the magic that made Red Dwarf such fun is laregly missing. It starts off promisingly enough, with Lister making Rimmer the butt of another in a series of practical jokes. But when the main plot kicks in, a sinking feeling of deja vu sets in. "Back to Earth" appropriates the plot from an earlier, better episode, "Back to Reality." I won't give it all away, but if you've seen the earlier episode, the "twist" ending of this one won't come as a shock at all.
The other, only slightly lesser problem is that very little attempt is made to maintain the series' continuity. It's been ten years (nine, according to an on-screen message) since the crew was left hanging at the end of "Only the Good. . .". When "Back to Earth" begins, Rimmer is inexplicably a hologram again, Kochanski has been written out of the show, and the ship is back in deep space with the 4 lead players in place like nothing has changed.
So, you're thinking, this guy's given it 3 stars...is there ANYTHING good about it? Well, yes. For starters, everyone looks like they've barely aged, which is just short of miraculous considering the first episode of Red Dwarf aired 21 years ago. And even though the script gives them little of note to work with, the actors slip back into their roles with ease. Production values are generally high, although a CGI skutter in place of the old animatronic one will make long-time fans cringe.
As a long-time fan, I'd certainly be thrilled if this led to a revival of the series. I just hope the writers can come up with some fresh and FUNNY ideas, or they should let Red Dwarf rest in peace.