Friday, November 9, 2012

Red Dwarf X: "The Beginning", and the series as One Glorious Whole

So that's that. "The Beginning". The last episode of Red Dwarf X, which certainly leaves it open-ended for future seasons, episodes, and/or specials.

Setting aside the major plothole of RDX, which I'll get to in a moment, I liked this episode. The jokes were good, the story was good.
I liked the idea that they are constantly getting threatened by Rogue Simulants, to the point where it bores them -- whether it's Lister's meta-confidence that he's going to live to 171 or not.
I really appreciated the scene of Cat being Cat, playing with a string, calling back to the yo-yo scene of the olden days. Maybe the first scene of Cat acting "like a cat" rather than "a 3-year-old with sharp teeth and unique fashion sense" since Series 3.
I thought the jokes were very classic Dwarf interactions.  Thumbs up on this episode, and a good way to go out.  And even a post-credits scene to end on a funny note.


Minor episode-specific continuity things:

I'm not sure I believe Rimmer's Dad's Message.  I think he recorded it expecting for weasely Arnie to watch it in advance; it's surprising that it took this long (I'd think Rimmer would have watched it even before the radiation leak happened, when he thought his dad was still alive [but was dead, as we saw in "Better than Life"]).  I think he was simply disowning his embarrassment of a son -- although, as it turns out (from "Trojan", SXE1), brother Howard may have just been a better liar about his accomplishments after leaving home.

Rimmer's last words: "Mummy mummy mummy!" (or "Mu-"). Offensively forgetting that his last words -- caught on tape and seen by Lister (albeit a few hundred years ago, so we can forgive him for forgetting) -- were, of course, "Gazpacho Soup".

But this point leads into something I said in an earlier post regarding...

Real Series Continuity

This Rimmer is a hologram of the Arnold J. Rimmer from the original series.  The one who was responsible for the deaths of 1167 (give or take 1000) crew members by failing to seal the drive plate properly.
The last time we saw this version of Rimmer (aside from "Back to Earth", which arguably takes place after Series X or not-at-all) was in "Stoke Me A Clipper" (S7E2), when "our" Arnie left to don the mullet wig and become the next Ace, and the Cat and Kryten were led to believe that he was no more.
But, if he is "back" from taking his turn as Ace, then he certainly hasn't learned any lessons.

And we know that at least "Ouroboros" (S7E3) has to have happened in Series X continuity, because there's a whole episode devoted to it, as mentioned in this blog entry where I stitched together Lister's personal geneological history.

So here is the theory (which I did mention a few posts down, but here it is a little more fleshed out):

At the end of S7E8, "Nanarchy", the crew (Lister, Cat, Kryten, and Kochanski) find themselves in a "dust storm" which turns out to be the disintegrated bits of Red Dwarf, after they discover a watch containing their old pal Holly.
But this is where Series 8 and Series X's universes diverge.
Mercifully, Series X can be seen to erase Series 8 from its miserable existence.

In this universe, instead of finding Holly, they find a hologram disk.  By the typical luck of the Red Dwarf crew, this hologram disk is the backup copy of Arnold Rimmer, last seen in Me2 (S1E6)!
They have to piece together exactly what happened themselves, since Rimmer obviously knows nothing, but they manage to convince the nanos to reconstruct the Holly-less (and crew-less!) Red Dwarf, with some serious upgrades (more computer screens, better vending machines, but still no weapons).
Somewhere along the way, Kochanski gets lost, or maybe finds another way to return to her home universe -- but not explicitly killed, since there are a few references to looking for her throughout Series X. Other than this minor question, this is a rather smooth ("with a capital SMOO") explanation of how we got here, to a Holly-less, Kochanski-less, but old-school-Rimmer, modernized ship.

(one more note: They also must have retained Legion's (S6E2) knowledge of how to convert Rimmer to Hard Light, and taken some time out to get that squared away -- or maybe the nanos did them that favor. I'm sure Arnie was pleased)

My overall impressions of Series X

So, I went into Series X with low expectations.  After being "not very fond" of Series 8 and Back to Earth, I thought this was going to be more of the same horribleness.
But I must say, this far exceeded those expectations. As far as writing, pacing, and jokes, at least 4 of the 6 episodes were up to old Series 5 and 6 standards. Continuity could use a little work, and I do miss the Rob Grant touches of the early seasons, but a lot of these cynical reactions are just a result of living on the internet for so long.  
This definitely isn't the best of all the series, but it ranks high enough to watch it again. 
And I'm certainly looking forward to the BluRay extras (already on my wishlist, although it's coming out in R1 a little late for the holiday season...)

On the arbitrary Ossian Scale of Rating Things, I'd rate Series X as a solid GRRRR

I might come around to some more Red Dwarf Overanalysis posts on the blog; stay tuned.

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