RED DWARF X: EPISODE 1 - TROJAN
Air Date: Thursday 4 October
Channel: Dave (UK)
Starring: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, Mark Dexter, Susan Earl, Lucy Newman-Williams, Bryan Bounds
The boys from the Dwarf are back and just as good as ever!
Lister and the Cat are addicted to a shopping channel, leading them into danger. Meanwhile, Rimmer is out to impress but can he pass his astronavigation exam?
Having started in 1988, created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, Red Dwarf built up a small fanbase that slowly but surely grew to fairly gargantuan levels following conventions and yearly events taking place to celebrate life on board the Jupiter Mining Corps ship drifting along in deep space, 3 million years in the future. Housing the last remaining human (although with many time shifts and plot twists it is difficult to tell) professional layabout David Lister, Rimmer - a suspiciously cowardly and penickety hologram of his dead bunkmate brought back to keep Lister sane (something that didn't always work), mechanoid Krysten who at various times has had his programming broken but still cannot help but serve, and a lifeform that evolve from Lister's cat known - fittingly - only as Cat. This ragtag team of four had to learn to survive, and, more crucially, stave off boredom by creating silly games whilst also coming into contact with many strange creatures and circumstances over the years - none of which were as sad or as pathetic as Arnold J. Rimmer! Polymorphs sucking out their emotions, stimulants trying to blow them to pieces and a psychopathic curry man are a few of the encountered obstacles the show presented over the years.
Despite the last full series airing in 1999, there has always been a great affection for the show and the cult following it garnered has only seemed to grow more faithful and supportive of the programme. Whilst it may not have achieved ridiculously large viewing figures, the sci-fi sitcom always held a special place in it's many fans hearts. After series six, large changes to the show made some fans switch off, and when Back to Earth was announced there was a flurry of excitement rippling around the internet - would it be as good as classic Dwarf? The short answer appeared to be no, and whilst still better than nothing, the lukewarm Back to Earth showed that something was missing; something had to be done to get the show back on track and back to it's former glory if it was going to return again.
Mercifully, Doug Naylor has very much pulled Red Dwarf back to what it once was, a frequently hilarious sitcom in space, with all of the fun and quantum physics that you could expect from its heyday.
In this first episode, after watching a shopping channel Lister and Cat found themselves in the thrall of a gadget called the 'Stirmaster' (essentially a small electric whisk). Whilst initially believing it to be pointless, both Cat and Lister became determined to obtain it and to spend two weeks stirring coffee. Meanwhile, Rimmer was attempting to once again pass his astronavigation exam, and with it becoming abundantly clear that was unlikely to ever happen, perhaps there was another way he could show his mastery and skills to someone? Rimmer's resentment of his brother's successes weighed heavily on his mind leading a resentment storm shutting down his system. The brilliantly bizarre issues and challenges were thus heaped upon the team: could they calm Rimmer's seething emotions and restore him to holographic life once again, could a face from the past help them out, and would Lister ever get through to the shopping channel to purchase his beloved 'Stirmaster'? Bizarre, postmodern and brilliant.
There was some really fantasic comic timing in Trojan and the chemistry between the crew was just as warm and apparent as it had always been (even when insulting Rimmer!). Each actor seemed to recapture their character with ease, as though slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes, and that endearing sentiment echoed throughout the whole episode - everything falling comfortably back into place. The only disappointment was that neither Hattie Hayridge or Normal Lovett joined them on their trip back to glory. Rimmer is slightly less despicable and has mellowed with age but for the better, Lister hasn't lost his slobbish ways, Kryten is still just as amusing as always, and the Cat magically doesn't appear to have aged a day!
The boys are back and with some great dialogue, running gags throughout the episode and honest to goodness hilarity, it is a heart welcome back for the haphazard crew.
In space, they can still hear us laugh!