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Red Dwarf: 10.6 “The Beginning” Review

Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.

Ironically the final episode of Series X was entitled “The Beginning”, telling the story of Rimmer’s troubling school days and how his, assumed, domineering father has been the root of his anxiety and cowardice. This was a pretty entertaining avenue to explore and paid off well in key parts of the episode. As well as this the crew were under attack from a Nazi inspired race who were in the pursuit of a rogue droid who’d stumbled his way onboard Red Dwarf.

This was a great way to end the season, following a quirky storyline packed full of jokes and the usual levels of sarcastic banter. The enemies in this episode also brought out some big laughs, particularly with the ‘sword’ scene. It was also nice to see Blue Midget stretch it’s legs, giving the crew a new setting to interact with, which worked out well during the climax.

Kryten was on form once again with his mime about winning a towel folding competition as well as his ship wide search of weapons, although the latter of these two was milked to near comedy death during Dave’s vigorous marketing campaign. Cat was also hitting the heights of humour, drawing on his feline nature by being fascinated by a piece of string on a stick. In all, this was a witty and enjoyable final instalment of the series that was well scripted and thoroughly entertaining.

So how has Series X faired on the whole?

Well, in many ways it feels like Rimmer and Lister have been playing pass the parcel each week when it comes to leading the story. Trojan and The Beginning have been two of the best episodes of the season and oddly enough they both fell under Rimmer’s guidance. Perhaps it’s because in both of these episodes we’ve seen an expanded cast of entertaining foes or perhaps it’s just that the plot is better structured around Rimmer. Either way it’s surprising to see that he’s slightly overshadowed Lister who, by tradition has always been the main character.

This hasn’t left much room for Cat or Kryten to get in as many laughs as they could have, which is a bit of a shame. Although, when either of these two has been given something to say they’ve produced pure gold, take the synchronization crystals for example, a brilliant example of how integral these two have been to the series since it began (or since series 2 when Kryten was picked up). Hopefully, if there is to be further series’ then we’ll see a slightly more balanced dialogue between all four characters and not just two.

On the whole, this has been a solid return for this classic sitcom with a variety of humorous episodes and some solid performances from the whole cast. There’s been a little inconsistency between some episodes, last week’s ‘Dear Dave’ was arguably the least humorous, but as a series it’s delivered. Having ‘Trojan’ and ‘The Beginning’ as two sturdy, entertaining bookends, gave the rest of series X a strong platform to work around. ‘Lemons’ was a deserving centre point for the show and helped keep the comedy levels of the season high, when other episodes in between didn’t quite reach the same level.

Individual episodes such as ‘Father and Suns’ and ‘Entangled’ may not have had quite as many big laughs as their counterparts but what they did do like the others was convey a sense of nostalgia to classic episodes of Red Dwarf. Characters such as Pree felt like an amalgamation of Queeg and Cassandra from past encounters on board the JMC ship. This combination of nods to previous series’ as well as a much more expensive set and use of quality CGI, have given series X a refreshing yet reminiscent feel, as if the crew had never been away. It’s adapted well for a show that began back in 1988 and with rumours already circulating of a possible series XI, fans will be pretty eager to see the ageing quartet get into more smegging adventures.

8/10

Scene of the Episode: Jump to conclusions – Looking back it may have seemed like a simple joke but this was definitely the biggest laugh in the episode. It’s a shame we didn’t see more of these characters because there was more comedy value to be gained from them.

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