Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Red Dwarf VI Episode 6: "Out of Time"

The Grant Naylor era comes to an end and the Dwarfers discover that they have a dark future even though they don't know about Series VII yet. An episode that famously was written in such difficult circumstances that they had to build teleprompters into the set and the show was literally being written as the actors performed it, this episode concludes the series' messy composition. It starts largely as an episode about "unreality pockets", but turns into a story about the Dwarfers acquiring a time machine and being attacked by their future selves. The highlight of the whole episode probably comes with the morale meeting at the beginning, followed by the sequence in which Lister appears to be an android.
The idea of the time drive itself, which allows movement in time but not space, is an interesting and clever one, and effectively sets up Rimmer's entertaining line about the "heady medieval atmosphere of pre-Renaissance deep space", but I'm not sure how effective the idea of "evil future selves" is necessarily. It's just not quite a clear progression from anything else in the episode, I think, which makes the story feel a little unstructured, given that most of the episode is about the Dwarfers' despair at their predicament and how that's reflected by the unreality bubbles affecting their perception of reality.

The "droid Lister" concept gets some worthy jokes, including "Made in Taiwan" and Kryten asking Lister whether the box he was found on said "kit" or "paint before assembly" on the side. The "Kryten's head" joke in this one isn't terrible, largely due to Robert Llewellyn's delivery of the line "freak formation of mashed potato". This delivery similarly pays off for "And I want to see creases!" I also like Lister's confession about the tattoo: "I don't really love Petersen; he just got me so drunk that I didn't know what I was doing." The unreality pockets form a bit of a bizarre defence system though, disorienting potential discoverers rather than simply attacking them.

The rushed nature of the story is highly noticeable in how they approach the time drive ship, later given the name "Gemini 12" in "Tikka to Ride", which is obviously just a close up of Justice World, followed by a brief scene of them looking at the time drive installed in Starbug, followed by them back in the cockpit. It's all done very hastily. Kryten's behaviour after discovering that Lister's just a brain in a jar, particularly with a high pitched voice, seems to be what was built upon for Kryten's behaviour in Series VII as well. The appearance of the future Dwarfers is kind of funny, especially Kryten, but the best part is the current Dwarfers' reactions, particularly Rimmer's "Oh dear." The other standout line is obviously Kryten's incredulous "Herman Göring is a bit dodgy?!", the third joke about him in the show. "Better dead that smeg" is good, but "better anything than that toupee" might be even better.

I personally think that the original ending (at least insofar as it involved Rimmer's destruction of the Time Drive) should have been retained at the end of Series VI, and the cliffhanger should have been catching up to Red Dwarf; I don't think the "urine recyc" gag is terribly funny. Supposedly the cliffhanger, an obvious paradox, was to encourage the BBC to commission another series (which apparently they wanted to do anyway), but as it happened, due to a number of background difficulties, the show wouldn't return to television screens for another three years and two months. The same can be said for "Out of Time" as most of Series VI's episodes; there's plenty of entertaining humour, but unlike some of the best Red Dwarf the most interesting ideas aren't necessarily given sufficient attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.