By Will Barber Taylor.
In the opening episode, the posse finds itself in an alternative America where modern technology is outlawed making both Kryten and Rimmer illegal. The Dwarfers infiltrate the tech savvy underground and try to bring down the authoritarian regime
Red Dwarf has always been one of TV’s best science fiction series. A mixture of absurdist humour and brilliant imaginary science, the show has grown over the past thirty years into a show that doesn’t just tell good jokes, it also tells darn good stories. The series eleven opener, Twentica does both beautifully.
Beginning with a great gag about whether it would matter if The Dwarfers saved Rimmer or not, the episode moves onto the main segment of the episode. The Expenoids, led by 4 of 27 (Kevin Eldon) have used time travel to warp Earth’s history and make technology illegal. With science and technology illegal, humans are unable to defeat the Expenoids as they did in the future. Creating an idea that could fill a Hollywood blockbuster is one thing but to fit it perfectly into a half an hour comedy show is another, yet Doug Naylor does this perfectly. The concept of underground “science bars” and modern science being prohibited in the way alcohol was in the 1920s is a wonderful joke which Naylor’s script plays to its full advantage.
Equally wonderful is the set design; in the 1950s segment, the grim and disturbing atmosphere we see feels akin to Blade Runner. To see the Expenoids stomping through the dark of the night is both comic and satisfyingly disturbing enough to help make the episode neither comedy or science fiction thriller – it is both. The sets combination between the scfi thriller and the absurdist comedy is at the centre of why Red Dwarf works so well – it can tell a good scifi story whilst at the same time mocking it for being clichéd.
As always, the main cast are great with Chris Barrie’s Rimmer particularly shining in this episode. His attempt to get into the underground science bar by appearing stereotypically English and using “whom” extraneously is brilliant. Kevin Eldon is also great as 4 of 27 with a deft and dry sense of cyber humour that never fails to impress. Hopefully, we will see more of both him and the Expenoids.
To conclude, the first episode of the new series of Red Dwarf is great. Carrying on the style and substance of the previous series with some even more impressive CGI effects, Red Dwarf is back and better than ever.
With thanks to Dave.