Thursday, 11 October 2012

Review: Red Dwarf 10.2: Fathers and Suns

Lister and Kryten celebrate Father's Day. Den of Geek.
"Taiwan's a bit Chinesey"

This week saw a greater focus on Dave Lister, something we've been lacking since it was accepted that Chris Barrie was the show's biggest asset. It was certainly better than last week, even if the main sci-fi idea that drove it wasn't utilised as effectively as it could have been. Instead, the focus on character won out and it presented a new, more modern and certainly more interesting Lister that used his Ouroboros past in a really interesting way. I became worried after Back To Earth that Charles would never be able to recapture the essence ofd the character after such a long time, but he's proven me wrong with an excellent new take which makes sure that time is used and not ignored.
     It's Father's Day, and Dave is continuing a long tradition of writing himself a father's day card, getting sloshed and then having Kryten deliver it to him. Rimmer points out that he's been a terrible father to himself, and so one night he goes on a drunken bender and leaves a series of video messages for his "son" to follow. When Dave awakens, he finds that his "father" predicted exactly his behaviour - and is trying to force himself to get some qualifications. Meanwhile, Rimmer and Kryten have found a new AI on a derelict to replace water-logged Holly, and they install her - the new computer, Pree, is capable of predicting a person's behaviour based on security footage, and delights in having conversations for people before they've had them. When Lister's "dad" resigns from the Space Corps to force himself onto the recruitment undergrad program, his "son" then discovers that he's several years too old to join up (how the years have changed, eh?) Pree therefore suspends his oxygen rights, kicking him off the ship in a spacesuit. Without Lister on board, Pree declares their mission changed - now they have only to clean themselves up from space, and they prepare to self-destruct. Luckily, Dave arrives back and convinces Pree that his "son" is still a member of the Space Corps, giving him the power to shut her down.
Pree - beautiful, but deadly.
     The episode's best scenes are by far those surrounding Lister's daddy issues, and the ideas put forth are explored in a really interesting way. There's a distinct difference in personality between the two Listers, and that's entirely down to a subtlety in Charles' acting that basically puts most of his Series I and II stuff to shame; he drives this episode forward like Barrie did before him and it would be lost without him. His storyline shoves Pree so far into the background, and yet we don't really miss her. The stunning Rebecca Blackstone plays her with a great degree of skill and she can be quite hypnotising at times. I would have liked to see more of her weird predictive behaviour expressed in other ways before her sudden but inevitable betrayal, but if it's in exchange for some more of Craig's excellent monologue work in this then it's a fair deal.
     I'm struggling to find things to say, really; I'm not used to having to review things this relatively short. But suffice to say that I found this to be an improvement on last week. Trojan was a safe bet to get fans back into the series, but Fathers and Suns was the first glimse of a new Red Dwarf that doesn't try to ignore its age but instead celebrates it, taking elements of the seasons we hated and putting them to good use in fun and interesting ways. It cheered me right up after a tiring week, and I'm glad that Red Dwarf is still able to do that in the modern age.


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