Saturday, 31 July 2010

Review: Dorian Gray

I can’t help thinking that this film gave me the wrong impression. Its whole anti-hero character structure is based off the Victorian tale from which it was adapted, and so this doesn’t really correlate with modern values. In fact, the main antagonist (other than the protagonist himself) is a pretty ok guy.
            So, we’re introduced to Dorian Gray, this guy with absolutely no back story or personality beyond having a mother and a father. He’s come to live in London and is painted by an artist who loves his image, while he falls under the influence of Lord Henry (Colin Firth with a smashing goatee) who is an opportunist, obsessed with life’s pleasures. Apparently, based on a conversation where Dorian says he would sell his soul to live forever, he is forever bound to the painting, which absorbs all of his evils and imperfections while leaving him untouched. It seems like an interesting idea, but the way it’s executed in the first part of the film means that it comes off as unendingly dull, and the interactions comically bad.
            Anyway, after the original artist sees the evil painting, Dorian (for some god-awful reason) decides that he has to die, and strangles him. He runs away, and we flash forward to twenty five years later, where everyone’s wearing a grey wig and Dorian returns, exactly the same as before. (Of course, nobody notices that 25 years of aging seem to have passed him by.) He falls in love with Lord Henry’s daughter, but Lord Henry, who seems to be the only one that has twigged, decides to burn the painting and the house that Dorian lives, so as to kill him. Dorian ends up destroying the painting himself.
            So, bad characterisations, terrible pacing (I was shocked to see what I thought of as a week was actually a year) and bad moral matching. This is not only a dull film, it is a bad film, and one you should avoid.


Review: Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

Published under the name Red Dwarf, most fans refer to this book by its joke road sign on the original cover, which is the title seen above. The book only very loosely follows the canon of the television series, mixing up episode plots to create a competent story in its own right, despite having many of the lines from the series. It also provides a little bit of a prologue to the series as a whole, that could easily be brought into the back of the TV series.
            The book is split into three miniature segments, themselves cut into very short chapters. The first segment is a prologue, the second is a mix-up of some early episodes and the third is after a supposed return to Earth. The prose is easy to read and easily blends in to the personality of the character being described, the narrator having almost no personality of its own. This makes the characters much more identifiable, as well as being a slight bonus for watchers of the series who can now see the interactions in a much deeper manner.
            Of course, it all boils down to this: is it a good book on its own? For me, the answer is yes. It’s got decent prose, a funny and enlightening story and the same deep sense of human understanding as the series. Does watching the series help? Yes as well, but it may be slightly annoying when one sees the differences in canon, one must realise that this is probably what the producers had intended in the first place.


Top Five Favourite Films

I’ve never covered film on this blog because it’s quite a daunting task; programming and film can be quite different in style and message. A lot of the time a film has to achieve in a few hours what a series can achieve in many more, although on the flipside there is often a much higher budget. Here is my personal Top 5 Favourite films of all time, in reverse order.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Written by John August and Roald Dahl, Directed by Tim Burton, Music by Danny Elfman. 2005)

Not a popular choice among the critics, as well as fans of both Dahl and Burton, I find this film’s style, humour and tone inescapable. As well as sticking as closely as is possible to the original novel, it also injects warmth and a message that manages to update the film for the modern age, contrasting with Dahl’s often strict (and today, fairly ridiculous) views.
            Anyone who hasn’t heard of this story, from the book, this film or the 1974 version, is a poorer man for it. Its simplicity is paramount to its success; it’s the tale of Charlie Bucket, who is one of five children invited to tour around the factory of the fictional chocolate maker, Willy Wonka. In this edition, Wonka’s attitude and general dissonance with the outside world is amplified, and as is his childish, whimsical nature. The crucial thing is that reasons are given for why he is like this.
            Elsewhere, Danny Elfman’s score is charming and variable, Burton’s artistic style is spot-on, and Johnny Depp gives us an… interesting character.

4. Sherlock Holmes (Written by Michael Robert Johnson, Directed by Guy Ritchie, Music by Hans Zimmer. 2009)

It is surprising that a film that, as of posting, I saw only three weeks ago is number four on the list. What is it about this film that I love? It’s a mixture of intriguing, witty mystery, swirled up with exciting but realistic action. The performances are superb and the soundtrack just flows.
            As from the title, the film is another adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes book, published by Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1880s and 90s. This time the elusive sleuth and his assistant, Doctor Watson, are updated with developed performances by a good fake-Brit by Robert-Downy Junior and comfortable Jude Law. The instant chemisrty between the characters means that whether you’re looking at a gambling problem, or a thick argument, it all feels slick.
             It’s best to approach this film, and any Sherlock story, without any knowledge of the plot, as to enhance the experience. Therefore, I’ll move on.

3.) Big Fish (Written by Danny Wallace, Directed by Tim Burton, Music by Danny Elfman. 2003)

Yes, my highest Tim Burton film is the oft-ignored Big Fish, which is unusual in Burton canon as it contains only two of his recurring cast members. A tale set in the American South during an unspecified time period, alternating between the modern day and a period around the Second World War. It tells the story of the dying Edward Bloom, as his son tries to discover whether the tall tales surrounding his life are true.
            In essence, it’s a wonderful exploration of one mans lie, focussing on all areas of everyone’s lives. Albert Finnley and Ewan McGregor both do a brilliant job as the protagonist, and Helena Bonham Carter gives a role that doesn’t feel like an unnecessary cameo.

2. The Truman Show (Written by Andrew Niccol, Directed by Peter Weir and Music by Burkhard Dallwitz. 1998.)

A tough call, my two top favourite films are quite close together. Coming in second by a thin margin is The Truman Show, one of Jim Carrey’s first dramatic roles. It was one of the first films, and one of the first pieces of media, to capture the idea of reality TV, and in this case it stands at its most effective.
            The film follows Truman Burbank, chosen by birth to be part of a completely immersive world, and his life broadcast 24 hours a day from the day he was born to the day he died. He is funny and generally accepting of this strange, 1950s style world, which is littered with oddities like circular traffic and people advertising mid-conversation. Around his early thirties, outside forces begin to make Truman start to see the oddities of the world around him.
            The entire film is a slick philosophical pondering on whether we truly know whether the world around us is real, a predecessor of sorts to The Matrix’s popularisation of a simulated reality.

1. Pleasantville ((Written and Directed by Gary Ross and Music by Randy Newman. 1999)

Here we are. My favourite film of all time, Pleasantville is a cauldron of genres; an out-of-this-world adventure, a symbolic examination of human nature, and a chick flick, all rolled into one.
            Two 1990s teens are arguing over the remote; David is an obsessive fan on a 1950s sitcom called Pleasantville, while his sister Liz is a class whore who hates the show. When a strange repairman gives them a magical remote, both are transported into the show as two of its teen characters. While the world is black and white, events slowly occur which mean that colour starts to appear in the town, mainly due to Dave and Liz’s modern freedoms. What follows is an examination of philosophy, race and gender roles, and the changing face of the American family.#


Prologue: Red Dwarf: Series Seven and Eight

As there was a hiatus between my covering of Series Six and Seven, so was there a hiatus between their broadcast. The five years between Series Six and Seven saw a number of large changes for Red Dwarf.
            The producing/writing partnership that founded the series was known as Grant Naylor, bringing together the comedy writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who wrote several other series together. However, after Series Six, Rob Grant left to pursue other projects. This left Red Dwarf’s television story firmly in the hands of Doug Naylor, who had quite a different idea of where he wanted the series to go.
            Actors also found other priorities. Hattie Hayridge left permanently after her hiatus in Series Six, with Norman Lovett from Series One and Two coming in to replace her. Chris Barrie had found success with his other series, The Brittas Empire, and so only agreed to film in half the series. Series length was increased; Each series used to consist of six half-hour episodes, while the new series would be eight forty-five minute episodes. The budget was bigger, much bigger, and with the advances that half a decade had brought, it was better filmwork as well.
            It’s a terrible shame then, that Doug Naylor’s grasp of what amounts to humour is paramount to that of a small fruit fly. The new series was not only blatantly leaching on the past, it wasn’t funny. And that was the greatest crime of all.
            Regardless, two series were made and I’m going to review them. Most episodes of these two series aren’t considered canon, especially with the more status quo approach of the Back To Earth specials, but they aren’t that good either.
            On another note, I’m also going to start reading and reviewing the series of four Red Dwarf books that, while not truly following the series, do include more of their scenes and seem to contain what the producers would have ideally done had they had the time or the money. Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better than Life were both written under the name of Grant Naylor; After the split, both producers wrote their own sequels to Better than Life; Doug Naylor’s Last Human and Rob Grant’s Backwards.


Review: Sherlock: Part One

Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis were sitting on a train and decided that together, they would create a modern series regarding Sherlock Holmes. And here, in three film-length instalments, is Sherlock. Expectations were high for this series, having the creative input of two of the most successful writers currently in the BBC, as well as a large budget.
            Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch, who previously played Van Gogh and Steven Hawking), a neurotic, intuitive genius employed as an independent detective by the police, meets and ends up sharing a flat with former army doctor Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman, from The Office, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Love, Actually.) They investigate a spate of four suicides, all of which seem conclusive but that Holmes is convinced are murders. Using a series of clues and a GPS tracker, Holmes tracks down the murderer as a homicidal taxi driver, with only a few months left to live and a sponsorship by a man fascinated by Holmes, who goes by the name of Moriaty. 
            The story is a good effort and the characters are introduced seamlessly, with good humour along the way. Freeman is a bit wooden, but that fits in with the character’s noted experiences in Afghanistan, and his decision to kill the villain before Holmes kills himself in a challenge shows how committed he now is to the detective, as well as showing weakness of character. There’s also a well-developed Sherlock, neurotic an obsessed with understanding everything.
            Very good, Mr Moffat, very good.


Friday, 16 July 2010

Two Week Break

Right; just finished Series Six, and so now I'm going to Devon for two weeks! When I get back I'll be publishing my first review of Sherlock as well as resuming Red Dwarf.


Overview: Red Dwarf: Series Six

A lot of critics tend not to agree with me on the matter of the quality of Series Six, in comparion to the other three series in The Golden Age. I think that it's a work of mastery; a series that takes the best from all of the previous series as well as enjoying its bigger budget.
          Admittedly, the larger sets designs for Starbug are a bit jarring, but compared the the empty, echoing Red Dwarf the compactness of the ship provides many more oppurtunities for basic character comedy, something that we haven't seen since before the first reboot.
          The removal of Holly also means that Kryten is faced with all of the series exposition, but this, instead of lumbering him with being a basic plot device, instead enhances his character into something funny and useful. The Cat is similarly benefitted, now being endowed with "nasal powers" that really enhance his value to the plot after his lacklustre role in Series Five.
          And? The series is much more well plotted, with realistic scenarios to house the absurdity, and logical reasons (well, except in Emohawk)  for things to happen. And I appreciate that sort of thing. This, in my opinion, is Dwarf at its very best, and it's a shame that in two weeks, I will have to review the Post-Grant era.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Rimmerworld and Out of Time

Series Six, Episode Five - Rimmerworld
"Grind those balls, sir!"

What's this? An episode focussing on a specfic character? Why, this is brilliant! This series has never done anything like this before! And Rimmer! We've not had any focus on him at all. Well, I am admittedly exaggerating a bit; this episode manages to work on all characters while exploiting Rimmer's personality in a way that actually affects the story.
          Rimmer has just finished his medical check, and Kryten reveals that he's contracted a terminal hologrammatic illness which means that if he becomes highly stressed, he will have an "electronic anyeurism". He tells Rimmer to start a program of relaxation, and Rimmer agrees as long as Kryten doesn't tell Lister and the Cat.
          They've found the Simulant Ship from Gunmen of the Apocalypse, abandoned, and because of their extensive amounts of prisoner food, their ship is ripe for the picking. Kryten and Rimmer object, due to the dangerous nature of the Simulants. Lister then reveals that the ship has no fuel left as well, and so they all have to go to the ship, nearly triggering Rimmer's stress. On the ship, Lister further reveals that the ship is so unstable that they cannot use their weapons.
         They come across a working teleporter, and use it to load crates onto Starbug. One of the Simulants finds them and is understandably angry. Rimmer, having sneaked behind the simulant, leaves the crew by jettissoning off in an escape pod. The other three escape on the teleport. They accidentally travel back in time, telling Rimmer about his cowardice, thus revealing why he did it in the first place. Unfortunately, the escape pod is revealed by Kryten to be one from a seeding ship, and programmed to land on the nearest S3 planet. They find that he is about to pass through a wormhole, and becasue of time distortion, it will be 600 years before they can reach Rimmer from his point of view.
          Rimmer tells of how he started by using the cloning device in the pod, creating several clones to help him. When the crew arrive, the planet is terraformed and ruled by clones of Rimmer, who have them locked away with the original for being totally unlike Rimmer (cowardly, uncouth). The entire society has been brought up around Rimmer, but have exaggerated his qualities. They teleport back out, this time accidentally skipping into the future.
          Overall, it's an episode with good ideas that string together multiple lines of inquiry with some brilliant comical moments and Rimmer wearing a dress (Quite sure that's a negative aspect then...).
Series Six, Episode Six - Out of Time
"We're still in deep space, only now we're in deep space in the 15th century!"

Boo hoo. The finale rolls around in this surprisingly brilliant series, which I think really squeezes the best out of the character comedy of Series 1-2 and the light attitude of Series 3-5. Not only that, but after this series, Red Dwarf went on its first hiatus, and there wasn't another series until 1998, by which time Rob Grant had left the project.
          Rimmer tries to make himself into the "morale officer," to make sure people can get their thoughts off their chests, although it is soon revealed that this is just an excuse to insult the crew. The ship ends up in a stellar fog, which the scanners can't penetrate. Kryten, upon medically examining Lister, finds him to be an inferior model android.
          Accordingly, Kryten treats Lister like dirt as they pass through unreality pockets, in which the laws of the universe change. Unfortunately, Kryten realises that they were in an unreality pocket when they took the examination of Lister. They manage to get through a minefield of unreality pockets and find at the centre a derelict that has working time-drive (that the crew might think could return them to Earth). It does work, but only travels in time and not space. Kryten says that while the drive is useless now, if they were to find a FTL drive, they could go to any place or time period.
           Another Starbug then appears, and they find that the ship is themselves from the future. Kryten only addresses them, as he thinks the shock will damage the three other crewmates. The future versions of the crew are evil, and have speant their time gorging on the bounties of the universe. They want to steal the drive from their former selves, ignoring paradoxes. They fight, with the past crew claiming the moral highground. When the future selves are forced back to their ship, they blow up the ship in a cliffhanger.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Gunmen of the Apocalypse and Emohawk

Series Six, Episode Three - Gunmen of the Apocalypse
"You only play Wimbledon because you're having off with that jailbait ball girl!"

This episode won an award. It's a classic; Red Dwarf at it's height of ambition. And yet it's one that drags away from the hard sci-fi element of the previous two episodes. It's as if the effects of the Series Five - Six interim never happened; that we're still in Series Three. It's just so out of place in the series as a whole that it's hard to compare it to the other episodes in Series Six.
          Lister is revealed to be playing frequently on an AR machine, and his main past time within the machine is to have sex. Kryten goes into one of Lister's game to reveal to him that the area they're in is a Simulant hunting zone. (The simulants, last seen in Justice, although given a better explanation here.) The simulants contact the ship and Lister and The Cat disguise themselves for the camera. Unfortunately, when the disguise proves too ridiculous, a simulant appears on the ship and unveils them.
          To make them better sport to hunt, the simulant knocks them out and upgrades the ship to be faster and more offensive. As a surprise move, Starbug simply shoots out their weapons. The ship then transmits a computer virus which locks Starbug onto a collision course with a moon. Kryten chooses to connect himself to the system so he can create an antidote program.
          Kryten tells them, before he goes under, to watch his dreams, and they do so, seeing that Kryten's fight against the disease is being personified in a Wild West environment. Unfortunately, they see that in this reality, Kryten is the drunkard town sherrif. To help him, they use the AR machine to enter the dream.
           In this reality they have special powers, which they demonstrate in a bar brawl. When they fight the Armeggeddon virus, which takes the form of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, these powers are removed, but they provide enough of a distraction to give Kryten enough time to create the dove program and steer the ship back on course.
           It works very well not only because it contains the sci-fi setup of this series as well as the mad make-believe of Series Two. And that's not a bad thing. It's not the most witty of episodes, but it works on many other levels which make it just as entertaining.

Series Six, Episode Four - Emohawk - Polymorph II
"Explain to me why the winners in all the wars of history were the ones with the shortest haircuts?"

The question arises... did Series Three's Polymorph need a "sequel"? Or are the producers just running out of ideas? It would have been at least a bit better if the Polymorph's productions were original; in fact, they are simply previous variations of the character. Despite that, the beginning has an interesting scenario and is worth the effort alone.
          Rimmer tries to scramble the crew in an emergency drill to make sure that the crew are safe, but they are having none of it. A power surge is knocking the ship off course, and the ship responsible is revealed to be Space Police, who want to execute them for looting derelicts. They escape into the Gelf zone (GELFs, last seen in Camille, Genetically Engineered Life Forms) which houses tales of Gelfs skinning people alive. They land on a safe planet, but their oxygen generator is broken. Approaching one of the friendlier tribes, they find that they have the parts they need - in exchange for Lister's hand in marriage.
          Lister marries the Gelf and gets the part, but escapes. The Gelf father sends his pet, the Emohawk, after the escaping crew. The Emohawk is basically a domesticated Polymorph, designed to collect and store emotions, which are the currency on this planet. Nevertheless, there is some fun slapstick, and the emohawk manages to take Cat's "cool" and Rimmer's cowardlyness, transforming them into Duane Dibley and Ace Rimmer respectively. Ace decides to sacrifice himself and Duane to save the rest of the crew, but the other two manages to intervene.


Review: Red Dwarf: Psirens and Legion

Series Six, Episode One - Psirens
"Ah; Smug Mode"

And so begins Series Six of Dwarf, in which we've had... wait! Reboot Number Two! Differences with this reboot? Well, Red Dwarf, the ship, has apprently been stolen; the show now takes place entirely on Starbug, which has a got a roomier set design.
          Lister wakes up, amnesiac, to discover Kryten. He explains that the crew have been on in deep sleep for two centuries. Lister is repelled by Kryten's description of his personality and traits, and knows very little about where he is. Then Kryten resets Rimmer, and his memories come back immediately.
          There's some exposition and we learn about Red Dwarf's predicament. In their 200 years, they've managed to catch up to Red Dwarf, which is on the other side of an asteroid field. They get a video message from the asteroid field which shows evidence of Psirens, gelfs that are designed to look like whatever the person they see desires. Unfortunately, they also then eat the brain matter of whoever they find.
          They get a series of messages which are obviously Psirens, including Kristine Kochanski. Then, they send two illusions; the first is a fireball heading towards the ship (Kryten sees that the radar has no reading and therefore convinces the crew of its nature) and then the illusion of the radar pattern as the real fireball hits the ship and makes them land on the asteroid.
          Lister has to leave the ship and use a bazookoid to free the ship, where he is confronted by a Psiren in the form of one of his old friend's sister. Eventually another Psiren dressed as Kryten comes along and they kill each other. As he returns, it seems that two identical copies of Lister have come on board. They get both Listers to do some assorted tasks, and when one Lister plays the guitar well, he is shot immediately.
          Unfortunately, the Psiren isn't that injured, and manages to stumble away into the cargo decks. (They weren't there before...) The Psiren makes itself into Kryten's creator and crushes him in the trash compactor, and then goes off to eat The Cat and Lister. Kryten survives, and jumps onto the Psiren, killing it.
          All around, a good episode. It's got good exposition, comedy and it's got a harder sci-fi streak while still being lighthearted. Holly's gone, and now The Cat gets a look-in as Starbug's chief pilot. The smaller space also allows for a greater amount of character-based dialogue than before, and it's refreshing to see Lister get some development.

Series Six, Episode Two - Legion
"Just a bit of Bangalor Belly."

Generally regarded as the second-best episode of the series, Legion is inventive and risky. The humour is sparse in some areas, while it has some odd slapstick, mixed in with wit.
          The ship gets trapped by a ship, which appears to have no life. When they enter the ship, an odd man appears and introduces himself as Legion. His ship is covered in works of great science and art, as well as rooms which cater to each ship member's heart's desire. When the crew try to leave, it is revealed that Legion was composed entirely of the personalities of the crew, melded together. Kryten eventually diables him by knocking all of the other members unconscious.
          Aside from switching Rimmer to the new Hard Light function, this episode isn't as complex as the previous, but gives focus to every member of the group in a way that previous episodes didn't.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Overview: Red Dwarf: Series Five

A continuation of the quality of the previous series, Series Five showcases its parody of the way that most science fiction is an assortment of philosophical ideas placed in a Sci-Fi setting. This is the first series since the first reboot after Series Two that actually manages to make a decent balance between action, comedy and character, despite still having some of the light-headedness.
          The focus on Chris Barrie as the main character lead is starting to be a little jarring, as it's as if the other actors are beginning to work around him. Meanwhile, Holly has lost all exposition value due to the take-over of Kryten, and The Cat has been dropped to being nothing more than a one-line wonder every episode. While Cat's mannerisms may have been annoying in the first three series, they at least marked him out as a character; the problem with the softening of characters' polarisations is that they often come to fit the same, empty character type.
          Other than that, this is some funny stuff. This was the last series before the complications with Rob Grant and the penultimate series of the Golden Age. It was the last truely imaginative series, and we shall miss it dearly.


Monday, 12 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Demons and Angels and Back To Reality

Series Five, Episode Five - Demons and Angels
"The chances of it blowin' are about one in... 'big explosion'"

"peers out" Are you sure this episode isn't Rimmer centric? Sure? Ok, this is a full-group focus, with the main advancement being pressed lightly onto Lister, for the first time in two series. It's yet another interesting idea that looks at the basis of morality but never takes itself too seriously.
          Kryten has perfected a triplicator, which replicates matter into two copies with a limited lifespan. He tries it on a strawberry; Lister finds that one copy is divine and delicious, the other is filled with maggots. They try and reverse the process, but then find that Red Dwarf has dissappeared and two copies have appeared. From the readings on Starbug, they see that one is idealised and perfect while the other is degraded and evil.
          The Heavenly ship is white and pristine, with each member being a holy buddhist-style monk. Unfortunately they only have half of the triplicator on that ship, and so must explore the evil side. When they get there, they find that Kryten is a mad, blackened android, Lister is an insane pirate, The Cat is primeval and Rimmer is a frightening/hilarious dominatrix. They kidnap Lister and use some strange tech to control his remotely.
          After getting both halves of the replicator, they reverse the effects and return to Red Dwarf. (Status Quo is god, after all.) Lister gets some small lessons about evil, while everyone has a good laugh. It must have been fun to film, what with the sheer madness of the "evil" sides.

Series Five, Episode Six - Back To Reality
"Are you saying this haddock committed suicide?"

Perhaps one of the best known episodes of the entire series, bar the award-winning Gunman of the Apocalypse in Series Six, Back To Reality is an episode exploring the theme of virtual reality while, for the first time in a while, giving some character development.
          The crew discover, on an ocean world, the wreck of the ocean vessel SS Esperanto, which was supposed to be using the ocean to accomplish amazing feats of advancing evolution. (Something about cramming five million years of evolution in three years.) However, they scan and find that there is only one life form left on the entire planet. On the ship, they find many creatures, including ship members - and a haddock - that have killed themselves. Apparently, as Kryten finds out, there is a creature known as the Despair Squid which uses, as a defence mechanism, an ink designed to create intense dispair. They escape before finding any effects, after which the squid attacks their ship and they apparently all die.
          Then, they wake up, being told by an attendant (OMG IT'S TIMOTHY SPALL) that they've just woken up from a virtual reality game known as Red Dwarf, in which people are enveloped in the Red Dwarf premise. As they move to the recooperation chamber, they identify themselves; The Cat is Duane Dibley, an unstylish idiot, Kryten is Jake Bullet, Cybernautics ("Maybe that's just traffic control"). Lister and Rimmer are the Doyle brothers, sharing the same mother. Rimmer, "Billy", is still a failure, while his brother Lister, "Sebastian" is a high ranking police chief.
          When they leave the gaming building, they find themselves in a fascist state. A policemen reveals to Lister that in this reality he is one of the people responsible for keeping the state as oppressed as it is. Kryten kills the officer and the four go on the run in Lister's limo, while we are given the perspective of Holly. She uses override commands to make Kryten release an emotional stabliser, bringing them out of hallucination.
          They realise that everything they experienced was a hallucination to induce despair, in a reveal that was brilliant at the time. The episode really manages to really tap into the characters, and it's a welcome change from the light-headedness of post Series Two.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Terrorform and Quarantine

Series Five, Episode Three - Terrorform
 "It has an eye the size of a meatball"

We look at Rimmer. Again. But at least this time it's blended in with a more fantasy setting; something that is welcome after so much abstract.
          Kryten wakes up, heavily damaged and on an asteroid. He sends off his hand, a small robot, to get help from Red Dwarf. At first it scares Lister and The Cat, but they soon find Kryten and fix him. Kryten explains that he and Rimmer were out moon-hopping when Rimmer went to claim a moon, when the planet started to erupt around him. Kryten tried to go and get help, remembering Rimmer's look of fear.
           They track his light-bee and find that the moon in question is a Psi-moon, which terraforms to personify the mind. This planet has personified itself into Rimmer's self-loathing, and so is trying to kill him. Eventually they save him from the Self-loathing beast, but his lack of self-esteem means that the ship is sinking into the bog. The crew raise Rimmer's self-esteem to a point at which they can escape.
          An interesting and funny episode, with a good concept, it tries to advance Rimmer's background but fails, mainly because we've had all the background possible.

Series Five, Episode Four - Quarantine
"The king of the Potato People won't let me."

Saying that this episode is a classic is somewhat of an understatement. It is the funniest and more innovative episode of this entire series; combining the sci-fi aspects of the series with some good olod British absurdity, as well as the innocent cross-dressing. Oh, and this is a Rimmer episode. Again.
          The crew find a spaceship said to contain the hologram of the legendary biologist Hildegarde Wernstrom. Rimmer is decidedly annoyed that the crew follow the orders of Kryten over his, and so doesn't come along to the ship. Kryten leaves Rimmer with a copy of the Space Corps directives, which Kryten regularly quotes. When they go onto the ship, they find that Lanstrom has gone mad with a form of hologrammatic virus. Once she accidentally kills herself, they explore her work, which is composed of positive virusses that take the form of luck, sexual attraction and other concepts.
          When they return to the ship, Rimmer exploits the Directives and puts them in quarantine, giving them only the bare minimum. After a day they ask Rimmer for a recount, but they find that he has contracted the hologrammatic flu and gone mad. Using Lister's luck virus, they escape the quarantine and construct a device which cures Rimmer.


Review: Red Dwarf: Holoship and The Inquisitor

Series Five, Episode One - Holoship
"Lister to Red Dwarf: Displays evidence of spoiling for a rumble."

Fed up with Rimmer development? Don't worry, one more episode! Holoship comes across as another great development of Rimmer's character as well as containing one of the funniest sequences in this series. It also started one of this series' notable running jokes.
           The crew watch a mushy film in which the main character sacrifices his job for the woman he loves, despite not being able to be together. Rimmer says that this is adolescent tosh. Soon, a ship arrives that cn't be detected by the ship's sensors, which abducts Rimmer. There, he meets a beautiful hologram woman (Nirhvanah) who explains that the entire ship is a self-sustaining hologram. It contains some of the most intellectual minds in the galaxy, and the holograms have developped so as to see sex as excercise and to abandon all emotion beyond triumph. One hologram comes onto the ship to examine it, but is soon sent away in a hilarious talking down to by Lister.
          Rimmer wants to join this ship, to the light chagrin of the Dwarfers. He not only wants to do so for his own advancement, but because he has fallen in love with Nirvhanah. To do so, he must challenge one of the other ship members (who, it is revealed, is Nirhvanah herself). He gets a mind-patch to make him intensely intelligent, but that fails, and the challenge goes to recess. In between, Rimmer reveals to her that he is using the mind patch, and so without telling him she withdraws from the challenge, leaving Rimmer the winner by default.
          Upon learning that Nirvhanah was his challenger, Rimmer decides to resign from his post, to ressurrect her. His actions mirror those of the protagonist of the film at the beginning, and when he realises this he is visibly disgusted.
          This is just a good showing of how Dwarf is so much more than a comedy. It's witty, entertaining but also powerful, even with such a low budget and lack of serious thought. Rimmer is finally, after having his negatives magnified in Series Four, shown in a positive light.

Series Five, Episode Two - The Inquisitor
"Sorry to disturb you sir. Reality control."

Dude. This is not only an episode that deals with the meaning of true value in the universe, but also one with some extra sci-fi capers with Time Travel along the way.
          We are introduced to The Inquisitor, who Kryten explains is an android that took it upon itself to scan reality and delete all those who it deemed unworthy of life, replacing them with their potential genetic matchups. It arrives on Red Dwarf, judging each member using their own mind to judge their self-worth. Rimmer and The Cat are left alone, while Lister, the intelligent but lazy bum, and Kryten, who never broke his programming, are erased from time and replaced. Unfortunately for the Inquisitor, a future Kryten comes back in time and distracts him before they are truely killed, meaning that they are able to traverse the ship and reverse the events ofthe episode, killing The Inquisitor.
         A welcome addition to the sci-fi trapping of the series, as well as something deeper to ponder; what is YOUR self worth in the universe?


Taking a weekend break.

Instead of the promised Doctor Who Classic:Earthshock, I'll be taking a break until Monday. Next week, I'll be reviewing Series Five and Six, after which I'll be going on holiday and will have no posts until two weeks after. I'll also not be publishing my Alton Towers Gardens review, for various reasons.


Friday, 9 July 2010

Overview: Red Dwarf: Series Four

Series Four continues the style and theme of Series Three, while not actually bringing in everything particularly innovative. It is a mainly Rimmer based series, and due to Chris Barrie's excellent variation in character, this is not to its detriment.
          Luckily, Kryten is also utilised a lot more than before, his status last series as a mere intelligent hanger on. Here he provides the exposition as part of his natural dialogue, and his more mechanical tendencies serve as plot devices and solutions.
          Rimmer, Rimmer, Rimmer. Even in the episodes in which he isn't central figure, this series is a vision of his negative side, incarnated. Dull, obsessive, cowardly, greedy. All of these are showcased in this series, as well as a deeper exploration of the reasons for Rimmer's character traits. Unlike other series, which may reduce characters to a few base traits, Dwarf attempts to explain and elaborate on them, making deep characters.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Dimension Jump and Meltdown

Series Four, Episode Five - Dimension Jump
"What a guy!"

And it's another Parallel Dimension episode, but this time it's the opposite of what one would expect. It's another deep exploration of Rimmer as well as his potential. Chris Barrie is as good as ever.
          We see a point in Rimmer's past, in which his mother, oblvious to him being hung upside down from a tree, opens a set of results as to whether he will stay behind a year at school. We then go forward twenty years, where Ace Rimmer is good at everything and universally loved. He embarks on a trip to a parallel universe.
          We then come back to the Dwarfverse and all of the crew have planned to go fishing without Rimmer. He wakes up and finds them, and is deeply offended. Rimmer is then invited to the fishing trip. On the way his more obsessive tendencies start to gnaw at the crew. Then, Ace's ship crashes through time and throws Starbug off course. They crash into a planet and Cat is injured. Ace flies down to the planet and introduces himself to the crew, putting them in awe (well, everyone except Rimmer.)
         It is revealed that Ace was the one kept back a year, as the bullying he suffered as a result made him tougher and more intended to succeed. This episode, despite being one with multiple renditions of all characters, focuses definiely on Rimmer, and the contrast between what Ace is and Arnold isn't is striking enough to make the whole episode worthwhile.

Series Four, Episode Six - Meltdown
"I'm watching you Ghandi!" and "They're tieing Winnie the Pooh to the stake?!"

Another look at Rimmer (This entire series has just been about Kryten and Rimmer.) as his military tendencies mix in badly with a fun situation. A decent finale if a bit absurd.
        Rimmer is telling Lister and Cat an absurdly dull story about a game of Risk, and Lister tries to alert him to the fact that no one is listening. Kryten is perfecting his "Matter Paddle," which he found in the research labs. The paddle can home in on a planet with a breathable atmosphere, and they find a planet several light years away. Rimmer and Kryten go first and then send the paddle back.
        Both sides find themselves on a Waxworld, an old theme park made up of wax-based androids. When the humans left, the androids fought back against their programming, and a war began between the most evil people in history and fiction and the other, considerably smaller side, made up of pacifists and scientists.
         Rimmer takes on the pacifists and turns them into an aggressive war machine, appearing to go slightly mad. His main plan, however, consists of getting Kryten behind the lines to turn the planet's temperature up to the wax-droids' melting point.
         Does it work as a finale? Yes, in my opinion. It has a fun splattering of concepts, like the android theme park and Rimmer's light bee, as well as impressions of many different characters from history. Also, this is Marylin Monroe's third appearance on the show. Mad.


Review: Red Dwarf: Justice and White Hole

Series Four, Episode Three - Justice
"He's been on a ten-day hike through the combustion engines!"

This episode moves away from Kryten at long last, and it focuses more on looking at Lister in the first half and Rimmer in the second. It introduced the concept of Rogue Simulants as well as containing some interesting concepts.
          Lister has space mumps, which results on a large grotesque growth on his head. He laments to Kryten that no one but him has visited him during his time. Kryten slips the fact that a capsule has been taken into Red Dwarf that may contain a woman. He gets up immediately.
          The Cat starts the defrosting sequence on the capsule, when Rimmer then informs him that because the capsule was ejected from a prison ship on which the prisoners mutinied, the person in the capsule is either prison guard Barbara Belini or a Rogue Simulant, a sort of super-strong android that has devolved to detest humanity. Worrying about what the capsule may contain, they head to the prison ship from which the capsule was ejected.
          As they enter the ship, each is probed to test for criminal activity. While the other three are released (despite Lister confessing to some petty crime) Rimmer is convicted for seveal thousand years for negligence in the fixing of a drive plate 30 million years ago, resulting in the death of all but two life forms on Red Dwarf.
          Rimmer is trapped in the "Justice Zone," in which any act that contradicts the law is immediately punished by a similar offence against the offender i.e. Lister tries to burn a sheet at Rimmer's request, and his back sets on fire. Kryten convinces the central computer that Rimmer is extremely incompetent, and therefore is only guilty in his head. After they escape, they find that the capsule has opened and it is a Simulant. He chases them into the Justice Zone, and dies trying to kill Lister.
          This is a funny, but thoughtful episode that gives us a look at both characters while still showing us the concept of the Justice Zone and being a tightly scripted affair.

Series Four, Episode Four - White Hole
"I'm a computer with an IQ of 12000. Don't you see? I know the MEANING OF LIFE!"

One of the more absurd and sci-fi episodes of this series, this episode is inventive as well as calling back to earlier series.
          Kryten fixes the Series One snarker Talkie Toaster, this time voiced by the original Kryten. Kryten explains why he did so; he has increased his intelligence while shortening his run time. He plans to do the same with Holly. He does so, but instead of increasing her IQ to 6000 as predicted, it raises it to 12000, and she becomes a hologramatic head. Unfortunately, she only has three minutes left, and the ship is powered down.
          The crew find out what happened and now know that the power (including oxygen and food recyclers) is limited. After some bickering, they realise that time has started to repeat itself. This is because, as Holly tells them, of a White Hole, which spews time and space into the universe. Lister is able, with help from Kryten, to use explosives from the ship to knock a planet into the White Hole, resetting everything to before they came into its range.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Camille and DNA

Series Four, Episode One - Camille
"What vision of loveliness lies behind those doors?" 

Series Four follows on from where it left off, giving us some Kryten development, and certainly helping us empathise.
          Lister is teaching Kryten to lie, which is forbidden by his programming. After a few successes, he fails and commits that despite understanding the concept of a noble lie, he cannot do it. Rimmer then takes him Asteroid spotting on Starbug, and on the way they hit the distress call of a ship distranded on a planet about to explode. Kryten uses Lister's training to bypass Rimmer's cowardly orders and go down to rescue whoever is on the ship.
          On the ship, Kryten encounters what appears to be another 4000 series mechanoid called Camille. They seem to fall in love, but she reacts negatively when she finds that there are other members of the crew. Regardless, Kryten brings her on board. There, we find that each member of the crew see her as their perfect mate: Lister sees a pretty Scouse girl, Rimmer sees his sister-in-law (who shares his love of Lamp posts) and The Cat sees himself. Kryten, feeling betrayed, asks to see her true form, which is a big green blob. It turns out that she is a genetically enhanced life form designed to provide people with love.
          Kryten and the blob go out on dates, but soon her male partner blob comes along and Kryten sacrifices his love for her wellbeing.
          As noted throughout the episode, the plot is a basic sendup of Casablanca, but this doesn't affect the emotion of the story. For a half-hour episode it manages to fully develop Kryten's character and the main themes surrounding him. This episode also created the term GELF, which is used in the space of "alien" for the rest of the series.

Series Four, Episode Two - DNA
"Looking at kettles shouldn't give you a triple-polaroid!"

This is the second time in the series that we get to see Rob Llwellyn in the skin, and this is the only one in which he plays his main character. This episode also has a focus on Kryten, but after Camille it doesn't have the same effect, as well as being played more for comedic effect.
          Red Dwarf locks in with a ship built of unknown construction, and they journey around the ship, finding horrifically mutated skeletons. While Kryten and Rimmer look at the mutants, Lister and Cat come across a control room. Cat presses some buttons and accidentally turns Lister into a chicken. Kryten arrives and helps Lister return, but in asking Cat to experiment with the controls accidentally mutates him into a human.
          Kryten laments his lack of zoom function, radio nipples and better brain functions. He is also bewildered by his sexual organs and his fetish for machines, his mind not fully changed over. While Rimmer plans to create a body for himself using the machine, Lister persuades them that the machine is wrong, and manages to mutate him back. In experimenting with the machine, trying to create a sheep, Rimmer mutates a lamb vindaloo into a hideous beast, which is left to be defeated by a mutated Lister who is super strong, but unfortunately quite small.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Overview: Red Dwarf: Series Three

So, there's a new series with a bigger budget and a few new actors. Therefore, we can surely expect some higher quality episodes? Well, the quality in general stays the same; it's the feel of the sereis that changes, and I think that is for the better.
          Norman Lovett steps down as Holly, replaced by the more gender appropriate Hattie Hayridge. She doesn't manage to match the deadpan snark of Lovett, but she appears as a more competent and generally more benelovent computer system.
          Another addition to the crew was the return of Kryten, from the Series 2 premier. With a more subdued personality and a different actor, Robert Llwellyn, the character was, in my opinion, quite abused. it was easy at times to forget that the character existed at all, and it wasn't until the series finale, The Last Day, that he evolved into his helpful guardian personality more apparent in Series Four, Five, Six and Seven, although this can also be seen in part during scenes in the Series Three premiere.
          Series Three has episodes which all feature either a foreign setting or creature to deal with, moving away from the more sci-fi conundrems of early series to more typical trappings. Despite this, the series is clear that all foreign elements are either natural phenomena or man made creations, with no alien species in sight.
          In essence, the series' turn to a brighter atmosphere doesn't do it any harm. While the backdrop of the empty universe is suddenly shattered, the alternative opens a wide amount of potential for interesting environments and concepts, as well as more comedy.


Monday, 5 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Timeslides and The Last Day

Series 3, Episode 5 - Timeslides
 "I'm fed up of playing Durex volleyball!"

Another interesting speculative fiction episode that again looks at Lister and Rimmer as well as both of their backgrounds.
          Lister is endlessly bored with his life. Kryten finds that some of the developing fluid has mutated, and so the images developed in it become portals to the time of that photo. After experimenting with some old photos and an image of Adolf Hitler, Lister goes back to one of his old photos and makes his past self invent something called the Tension Sheet, making him immensely rich. Rimmer is left alone on the ship, and so goes back to try and make himself invent the sheet, but the sheet is instead invented by the original inventor, who shared a dorm with the young Rimmer.
           This is a great episode that while a little inconsistent with the laws of time travel, is still entertaining and funny.

Series 3, Episode 6 - The Last Day
"No Silicon Heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"

Aaaaand after almost an entire series, we finally get some character development for Kryten. And it works as a great finale.
          Kryten gets Lister breakfast, and Lister tells him that he doesn't need to serve anyone. Kryten then throws the breakfast in the bin, but Lister eats it anyway. The post arrives and the single letter shows that Kryten is out of date and that its new model is on the way. The gang team up to make Kryten feel loved, and then gang together against the replacement when he arrives. The replacement, however, is a super-strong and insane, meaning that it wants to kill them all. Kryten eventually uses his newfound ability to lie to trick the robot into thinking that there is no Silicon Heaven, which is a concept built into robots to stop them from going insane.
          This is a funny episode with interesting character development for Kryten especially, who has been neglected for most of this series. I'll do my series overview tommorrow on Tuesday.


Review: Red Dwarf: Polymorph and Bodyswap

Series 3, Episode 3 - Polymorph


Take the action of Episode One and the character drama of Episode Two and you get Polymorph, which manages to create an interesting scenario that taps into the psyche of all four characters.
          A genetically engineered weapon called the Polymorph escapes on to Red Dwarf. The Polymorph is a creature that can transform into anything, and feeds off of the emotions of the creatures around it. While rampaging around the ship, it takes Lister's fear, The Cat's pride, Kryten's guilt and Rimmer's anger. They finally manage to destroy the creature when misfired thermal energy balls kill it.
          This episode has it all. The action, the character dvancement, and, most important of all, it's an entertaining and funny episode.

Series 3, Episode 4 - Bodyswap

"I want my body back NOW!"

Another look into Lister and Rimmer, Bodyswap is a look at the freaky-friday story type.
          The skutters have rewired the ship, and the only system that hasn't been found is the self-destruct system. Lister accidentally sets it off, and so the crew need to find someone with clearance to shut down the sequence. They remove Lister's mind and replace it with that of a high-ranking officer, who tries to shut down the ship and fails. It then turns out that there isn't a bomb in the first place.
          Rimmer, stuck in a body without senses beyond sight and hearing, asks Lister to swap bodies with him so that Rimmer can make Lister healthier. Lister agrees, and they swap bodies. Unbeknownst to Lister, Rimmer takes this oppurtunity to feast, and Lister soon takes back his body after it is revealed that Rimmer has put more weight on.
          Rimmer, still lusting after a physical body, chloroforms Lister and steals his body. They chase after him and eventually they catch him. The episode ends with Rimmer stealing the Cat's body.


Sunday, 4 July 2010

Review: Red Dwarf: Backwards and Marooned

Series 3, Episode 1 - Backwards

"Wilma Flintstone is the sexiest woman who ever lived."

New Title Sequence! New Holly! Kryten! All of the cast changes are explained in a quick, Star Wars style flyby as the episode starts, beginning the period known as Classic Dwarf.
           The episode first focuses on Rimmer and Kryten, who are working on Kryten's driving test. On the way, they fly through a Time Hole, and end up in a universe in which the Big Crunch has begun, meaning that everything is backwards (They're also conveniently on Earth). Lister and The Cat follow on a supposed rescue mission, and for a period think they're in Bulgaria. They soon find themselves in a club where Rimmer and Lister are working, as "The Incredible Reverse Brothers" - "Watch... as he drinks a glass of water... FORWARDS!" While Rimmer and Kryten can only see the positive attributes of this world, their plan to stay here in the Backwards earth is cut short when they are fired, and then get in a reverse-bar crawl (the one they are fired for.)
          For an episode that has to introduce new characters and concepts to the series, it works well as a piece of speculative fiction. It also has very few scenes in the original ship, and this negligence of the vast spaces of grey makes it an overall more cheerful series. I'll talk more about the characterisations and the effects of Kryten in my overview.

Series 3, Episode 2 - Marooned

"You see the thing about black holes is, they're black. And the thing about space is, it's black. How am I supposed to see it?"

To make up for the lack of character drama in the last episode, Marooned takes a breather and develops Rimmer and Lister.
          Escaping from five black holes, Rimmer and Lister end up stranded on an ice planet, waiting for Kryten and Cat to rescue them. Rimmer shares some deep thoughts about his past life as Alexander the Great's cheif Euneuch, as well as his family life and his dependance upon military ideas. Lister talks about how he lives for excitement, while eating a tin of dog food.
          This was a welcome look back at the desolation of Series One and Two, while still sharing the warmth of Series Three.


Review: Doctor Who Classic: Attack of the Cybermen

It's 1985. Doctor Who is struggling against falling ratings, as a new Doctor, played by Colin Baker, didn't exactly impress in his first serial tacked onto the end of Season 21. Season 22 needs to be good, the opener even more so, to ensure that Who stays on the public radar.

John Nathan Turner, producer since Season 18, has revolutionised the show. For this season he decides to put his plans into action. They change the previous format of 25 minute episodes to a more lengthy 45-minute variety, similar to today, as well as moving it back to the Saturday spot.

Colin Baker had been introduced in Season 21's episode Caves of Androzani, in which he regenerated from Peter Davidson. Uniquely, he got a first-impressions adventure, which didn't prove all too promising - this new doctor was violent, rude and generally unlikable. It was up to the production team to make the first true adventure of Baker's Doctor into something worth watching, and so thought was given to an Eric Saward script that shone light on one of Saward and Nathan-Turner's famous monsters, the Cybermen. Eric Saward was also the script editor on the series, and so he had the episode attributed to his wife, under the psedonym Paula More.

So, when we look at the episode, what do we find? Well, it's a mixed bunch. There's some quality here, but it tends to be dissolved in a lot of misunderstanding and melodrama, as well as too much fan-pleasing. I'll try and break down the plot for your convenience.

The Doctor and Peri find an alien signal in 1985, a year before the events of the first Cyberman story, and The Doctor hopes to find some poor alien trapped, he instead finds an empty signal box. Meanwhile, ex-Dalek Mercenary Lytton organises a bank raid with three cronies, and plans to blow the bank up from benath. His cronies find, however, that Lytton is instead leading them to a  Cyberbase in the sewers - time travellers from the far future that want to destroy earth to stop the events of the first Cyberman story, which destroyed their home planet, Mondas. The Doctor gets involved along the way, and there's this all-female race, and it's complicated.

The script could have done so much more with the actors and the scenarios had they just had a better budget and didn't have John Nathan-Turner. While the episode did manage to stir up some revival for the series, the damage had already been done and the viewing figures would continue to steadily decline.

The commentary on the 2entertain DVD of this story is quite good, with most of the main players (well, the ones that aren't dead) using their snark, aged-driven wit to look over the story with a little more light-heartedness than it is apparent the actors do in the original story. Colin Baker is my favourite Doctor, but this was not his finest hour.

Next week, and I review another JNT Cyberman story, Earthshock.


Review: Day and Night

Day and Night - The Killers

I had never remotely heard of The Killers before their hit with "Human." That's a song that deteriorates with age, and when I listened to the whole album, a certain amount of annoying smugness becomes apparent. The absurdity also present in this music isn't used well; comparable to Conrad Poohs and His Dancing Teeth.

The first three songs are the best on the album; light, absurdist rock with a jokingly deep message that works well with well-written music and excellent lyrics. And then it falls strongly down hill. The rest of the songs are forgettable, deeply repetitive and annoying or simply bad.

If you thought "Human" and "Spaceman" were good, then I wouldn't reccomend this album to you, on the basis that the early wit is soon changed over for droning, obfuscating tripe.


Saturday, 3 July 2010

It's Moffat, dear Watson

The man on the left is Steven Moffat, the showrunner of Doctor Who, and one of the best comedy drama writers that the show has ever had. He's revolutionised the new series and has combined the best bits of the old series' charm and the new series' format and fandom.

And now he's teamed up with the genius that is Mark Gattis (known for roles in The League of Gentlemen and writer for Doctor Who as well as making a cameo in Series 3) to write a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes, with new boy Benedict Cumberbatch as the detetive and Martin Freeman (The Office, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Love Actually) as Watson. It looks brilliant, and I'll be reviewing it here on Audenshaw Reviews.


Overview: Red Dwarf: Series Two

Series Two is a swansong, of sorts, to the early concepts that littered Series One. The large, empty ship, the polarisation of the characters. But it brought with it the bounty of new ideas, smoother characterisations and a sense of knowing what its doing. This series was made almost entirely of "What if" situations - "What if the crew were the opposite genders?", "What if you could transplant memories?" Only a few of the episodes managed to fulfull these questions to their full potentials, but all had fun exploring them.

The first thing you notice is the wider scope. The producers had decided that basing all of their episodes on the same empty ship had only finite potential, and so it was the next logical step to make the series cover planets and asteroids as well. This included the advance of technobabble, and a lot of more conflicitng sets. It provides some freedom from the dull greys of Red Dwarf, as well as introducing foreign elemants to the usual four players. It also gave the characters some valuable personality time using the greater technology avaliable, using basic ideas channelled through the tech, which is what true Sci Fi is about.

This series also saw the end of many elements present from the beginning. At the end of this series, the production team had their first ReVamp, and so many things were lost in Series Three. The Cat's polarised behaviour, the original sets, the madness of Chris Barrie, Norman Lovett as Holly, as well as the original title sequence were all lost in the transition. The feel of the empty universe would never be visited again until rare moments in Series Eight.


Review: St Damien's Choir

Uh, wait. One sec. Why's my name of a list? Oh, there we go.
          Yes, I, as a musical student, was invited to a talent-scout-induced concert in which ten students from St. Damiens School came up on stage and sang some songs that weren't intended for a choir. Here we go.
          The first song was "Shine" by Take That. The song choice is a logical one; a song designed for four men does logically extend to ten, and the voice variation allowed for a wide variety of notes that couldn't be created by the piano backing. When they finished, I thought they had done a good job, although the last few shouts of the chorus were less singing and more whiny shouting.
          Then there was the, er, more illogical choice of "Haven't Met You Yet," by Michael BublĂ©. My first reaction was, Why does it make any sense for ten boys of varying vocal range and quality to sing a song sung by one very good Canadian? It doesn't, but despite some jarring discreapancies, it stood as adequate entertainment. After that finished, the overly posh music teacher from St. Damien's did some... wait for it... MASS PARTICIPATION! You heard me right, folks! Why is it that every educational event thinks that what people under 16 want is to uniformly chant and clap?!?! "coughs"
          Anyway, so then she said, "And now a final song," and I thought, this could be at least pleasant. Then she said that only three of them knew the song. I thought it could work, three singers isn't the end of the world. And then the piano bloke started, and it was a very strange. And then they started singing. It felt like the world was ending. I knew those lyrics. This was, "I'm a Believer," by the Monkees, a cherished part of my younger childhood. And they were not only singing with the wrong notes, they were also whining it instead of singing. This wasn't singing. This was criminal.
          One and a half songs out of three isn't bad. For the very little practice they admitted doing, and the fact that the oldest one there was 14, they had a high quality. But from a more objectified analytical standpoint (ooh big words) it just doesn't cut it.