Remakes and comebacks are always in vogue, but unfortunately they almost always disappoint. Whether it’s that a brand new take on an idea just doesn’t quite work as well, or whether it’s an original team getting back together after a decade or more apart and the spark has gone, too often there just seems to be something wrong or missing. I suggest that this tendency should be called ‘George Lucas Syndrome’, in homage of he who epitomised how far you can fall from the heady heights of bygone triumphs.
Red Dwarf was the latest casualty last night, returning after many years away for a one-off 3-parter. It ran for 8 series originally, and whilst the last 2 tailed off really badly it was regularly a really great show. Last night’s return though was pretty disappointing - the lines were far less snappy, the acting pretty wooden and lacking chemistry, many of the gags are recycled and pretty weak, the episode is shorter (to fit into a 30 minute slot with commercials since the return is on commercial channel Dave, instead of a full 30 minute slot like it was when it was on the BBC), and seemed obsessed with special effects and trying to shoehorn a plot in there instead of just focussing on quality comedy. I wonder whether in this case it’s just age, or whether the absence of Rob Grant (this time it’s just Doug Naylor of the duo writing it) that makes it fall a bit flat. I think the lack of a live studio audience detracts too.
All in all, it reminds me of the attrocious millennium edition of Blackadder (Back and Forth) which suffered from the same problems and should never have been created. I was hoping that this return might be like Blackadders Christmas Carol, which was an excellent addition, but sadly it was not to be. It was only made worse by the fact that they showed some of the classic Red Dwarf episodes afterwards - the contrast really was quite stark.
I’ll watch the other 2 just incase, but really this is the way to remember Red Dwarf: