Friday, 19 October 2012

Review: Red Dwarf 10.3: Lemons

Lemons truly are a remarkable fruit.
Red Dwarf - Series Ten, Episode Three - Lemons
Written 19/10/12
Spoilers from the off.

This isn't gonna be a traditional style review, because I missed it on initial broadcast and when I caught up with it I had very, very mixed feelings. On the one hand, the episode did a lot of things in a very interesting ways. On the other, it tried to execute a fun idea and did so in a way that robbed it of all rhyme or reason. That wasn't to say that I didn't enjoy Lemons, but I felt that the core premise of the story was one that was not only fundamentally unnecessary but one that was almost guranteed to come with the level of disappointment that the episode inevitably came with.
     The episode began on a promising note, with the standard style of weirdy technobabbly device to take us to Earth in the past. Our crew landed in "Albion", or England, in 23D, and then proceeded to completely ignore the opportunity to have the Dwarfers mess around with Romans. Instead, they got a quick-cut to India from the same time period, which was in a thousand ways anachronistic. So perhaps they fucked up a bit there, I can take that, I've seen the mess Stasis Leak caused and I'm still ok with that. It's what happens next that hammers the final nail into the episode's coffin. And that's Jesus Christ.
     More specifically, a Jesus Christ (who isn't the real Christ, but we only find that out at the end so bah) with a thick Geordy accent who speaks perfect English despite having been born in Judea (/Turkey) several thousand years before Modern English was invented. There was a fun bit of comedy background comedy with Rimmer, discussing the reason why his middle name is Judas, but did the episode use the fact that they were covering Jesus to do anything interesting? To make any satirical statements, mock ideologies, did it have any opinion on anything? Not one. Oh, it tried, of course, they always try. It had our Geordy Jesus breaking the ten commandments and sprouting off common criticisms of the Bible to a chorus of gasps (in India, where the predominant religion was Hinduism and thus this shouldn't have shocked anyone and what the fuck are Roman soldiers doing in India in the first place and argh) and it had Lister arguing the negative and positive aspects of Christianity's influence on the world, but... something was missing. It may not be very nice to say so, but so far it feels like RDX doesn't have the... what's the word I want... the intelligence to deliver that kind of comedy.
The Last Supper. With Dwarfers.
     In the past forthnight I've been too scared, too much of a fan, to actually say anything negative about the series. I knew it wasn't going to be as good as the olden days, I knew that, and I know that it's nowhere as bad as the Dark Days of the late nineties. But if you're gonna even go near that topic, it needs to be done with subtley and/or intense parody. Best example? Goddamned Waiting For God, the fourth episode of the series, which despite its failings on an acting and production front, manages to get across a more subtle, nuanced and interesting view on religion than Lemons ever even comes close to doing.
     I still enjoyed Lemons, in the same way that I've really enjoyed the rest of Series X so far, but I have a few underlying problems that make this otherwise ok series feel a bit stagnant. The Dwarfers don't end up doing anything interesting beyond the dialogue, and while a lot of the dialogue is very good it's nowhere near as polished as it was in previous series. For ever Moose scene there's a hackneyed Telephone joke, for every Lister-v-Lister convo there's an ill-thought-out robot. For every decent running gag, every fun scene or piece of background, there's a Jesus Christ from Newcastle. I'll still be enjoying Dwarf, but I will have to get used to this new style and hope that I've come to terms with it by the time the show ends.


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