Thursday, 4 October 2012

Review: Red Dwarf 10.1: Trojan

Howie and Arnie face certain doom... or do they? Digital Spy
"It's a Moose!"

I've been waiting for new Dwarf for a good two or three years. Of course, that can't compare with those actually conscious enough to have seen the last broadcast series, who've been waiting a whole damn decade and a half for some new action. But it's still been a pretty exciting time. When I first made this blog back in the halycon days of 2009, I couldn't have even dreamed that we'd be seeing new Dwarf, and when it was announced I doubted that I'd actually be here to review it. For me, this isn't just the return of one of my favourite TV shows. This is an acheivement, an honour, and something that I find very rewarding.
     Trojans is quite simply a statement of what Red Dwarf X has set out to acheive in this short series, and that is, admirably, to make us laugh in a way which we haven't done since Series VI. It was short, sweet and had within it a series of developments that managed to balance respectful references to the show's past and well-worn characterisations with brand new material reflecting a much more modern style of comedy. At first I was a bit wary, but soon the performances and the script actually won me over to it in a way that I really haven't felt since Rob Grant left the series. Spoilers will always follow.
     Rimmer has just failed his astronavigation exam again, and no technique will help him get over his anger. They find a ship called Trojan, a high-class Star-ship with a drive capable of vast travel across the Universe. Unfortunately the drive is dead in the water, but the ship is still powerful enough to receive a message from a hologram on a crashing ship, which turns out to be from Rimmer's brother, Howard, who is also a Hologram. Recovering from an attack of Resentment that nearly wiped his memory core, Rimmer decides to pretend to be the captain aboard the Trojan. When Howard arrives with his Simulant colleague Sim Crawford, he appears to be respectable and quite shocked at Rimmer's acheivements - until a resentment attack reveals that Howard is very similar to Rimmer after all. Crawford decides to rebel and use the ship to unite the sector's simulants, but Cat is able to download the Rimmers' resentment into her and she is disabled. Howard collapses and wishes his brother farewell.
Kryten and Lister weren't the focus, but they still
got stuff to do.
     This episode dealt with a lot of the problems innate in Red Dwarf's premise and converted it to a more modern setting. Aside from the aesthetic - plasma screens, hand-held devices and other such things - it also managed to perfectly balance all of the character beats. While Rimmer was the main focus, the other three characters got their own smaller personal stories that kept them busy and provided them with motivation in the central plot. Even if you pick out a few spots that weren't quite as well done as they could have been, this was a strongly written script. It dealt out the funnies in a way that both eased us back into even having Dwarf in the first place and managed to squeeze some character work in for good measure.
     No matter what you think, it's good to have Red Dwarf back on the air, especially when it's of this high quality. It feels like a privelage to still be here for Dwarf's return, and Trojan made sure that I wasn't disappointed. For every niggling doubt, every hang-up, every worry, Trojan had an answer and at points, I was laughing like a loon. I've missed ya, Dwarfie, and I'm glad you're back.


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