New Red Dwarf Tanks

Two thirds of the Red Dwarf series Back to Earth have aired so far. Frankly, I have to say that it pales greatly in comparison with the bulk of the series.

It pains me to criticize Red Dwarf, not only given the fact that I grew up on the show but also given the enthusiasm that Robert Llewellyn, who plays Kryten, has displayed on Twitter, his website, his podcasts and YouTube videos. The criticism that is already mounting seems to have hurt Llewellyn, as evidenced by one of his Twitter postings, "I have had literally 1000's of positive tweets, e-mails, you tube comments, forum postings, but the neg ones are often cruel."

I don't want to be cruel at all but, to coin a phrase of Rimmer's, I'm only being a realist when I say that Back to Earth is missing the elements that made the show great throughout its 1990s run. The plot, which shows the Dwarfers arriving in 2009 and finding out that they're only sci-fi characters, seems almost intentionally unbelievable, whereas there was a very strong element of the genuine throughout most of the Dwarf run. It almost seemed as if writer Doug Naylor wanted to make a Red Dwarf version of Star Trek IV, with the main characters going back in time in order to visit modern London, drive a "Carbug" and hunt down their creator instead of visiting modern San Francisco, riding the BART and chasing humpback whales.

If the third episode is hilarious (something the first two episodes are anything but) then Doug Naylor may be able to save this project in the way that Revenge of the Sith saved the Star Wars franchise. That seems unlikely though. Red Dwarf: Back to Earth likely will be remembered in concert with the chronically unappreciated Star Trek IV and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.