If you’re going to borrow the clichés, then borrow from the best – and Doug Naylor does so in this opener to the eleventh series of Red Dwarf, with more than a tip of the hat to Harlan Ellison’s classic City on the Edge of Forever, as well as what almost feels like a Bugsy Malone homage. It’s an ensemble piece, from the opening encounter with the simulants with all four crew reacting precisely as you’d expect onwards, and the laughs derive as much from our remembering the many hours that have come before as the quality of the gags now.
It’s very much a plot-driven episode; whereas early Red Dwarf (and quite a bit of Red Dwarf X) felt like a faster version of John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon’s Dark Star, this is more of a caper show with comedy leads. That’s not a bad thing – and some of Red Dwarf’s finest episodes could be described as that – but it’s only really with the last scene between Kryten and Lister that things feel totally back to normal.
The production values have been ramped up, thanks to Baby Cow’s involvement, and the model work is definitely stronger – all of which bode well for the rest of the show. A little more character interaction, and this could be one of Red Dwarf’s best seasons yet.
Verdict: An effective opener. 7/10