Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Red Dwarf VII Episode 6: "Beyond a Joke"

A tank blows up a gazebo and Kryten's head explodes. The funniest bit in this is the ludicrously huge explosion that occurs when the Gazebo in Jane Austen World is blown up by Kryten in the tank. The sight of Kryten dashing through the woods hunting down the Bennett sisters with a blowpipe is kind of funny as well. I also sort of enjoy the defensive way in which Lister insists that he wants "brown" ketchup with his lobster, "not tomato". Other than that I really don't know if there's much to say about this one. The plot is pretty nonsensical; it can't seem to make up its mind whether it's about Kryten's deteriorating relationship with Lister or if it's about filling in Kryten's backstory in a way that only makes sense given his Series VII behaviour, not his personality in any of the previous series.

There's not really that much to say about "Beyond A Joke". The plot is overcomplicated, and because of similarities to other Starbug action sequences in "Ouroboros" and "Blue" they all sort of meld together in my mind. Where did Kochanski and the Cat get the GELF costumes from? If Kryten was modelled on this annoying, fussy man, why was he not like that in earlier series in which Kryten was more "normal"? It's a daft episode which is not terribly amusing and tries to derive too much humour from the already overused GELF language joke and some gags about curry. Am I meant to laugh just because I see a jet of flame shoot out of Lister's mouth? I'm never sure whether I'm of the mind that "Hello wall, what do you think?" is completely stupid or actually kind of funny.

It's noteworthy that this episode was co-written by Robert Llewellyn himself and was originally meant to give Kryten a smaller role. If it had been set more in Jane Austen World it might have been funnier or had more potential, but as it is it just feels ramshackle and overstuffed with plot. In the commentary, Robert Llewellyn says something about the script going through over thirty drafts, and it shows; it feels like the writers tried to change the direction of the story too many times over rewrites and ended up with something that's more like a string of barely-related ideas cobbled together. A few other highlights, such as they are, might be Cat's ridiculous officer costume in Jane Austen World (although his lines about how "hot" the Bennett sisters are are a bit cringeworthy) and the way Kochanski says "I beg you, have the omelette with the big chips." I kind of like the incredulous way Kryten says "Crashed 'a bit'?" to Able as well.

Oh, the tank nerd in me should also point out that the tank Kryten uses isn't really a Second World War tank, despite the fact that he says it's from the "WW2 game"; it's a T-55, a model only introduced at the very end of the war. Kryten for some reason calls it a T-72, which is a tank from the Seventies. Then again, perhaps it was just the game that was wrong, not the writers?

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