Red Dwarf XI Returns With Classic Comedy Clout In ‘Twentica’ (Review)

‘Red Dwarf’ is back, and it’s better than ever.

The crew of the mining ship ‘Red Dwarf’ have been through a hell of a lot. They’ve encountered shape-shifting mutants, parallel universes and time-travelling androids. They even survived a move from the BBC to Dave.

It’s been four whole years since we last caught up with Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and Cat at the end of Series X back in 2012.

And the first episode of ‘Red Dwarf’ series XI is worth the wait.

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Episode One - titled ‘Twentica’ - picks up with the ‘Red Dwarf’ crew aboard Starbug… and it’s not long before they encounter a hostile vessel on their radar. It’s simulants, they’ve got a hostage, and they want to negotiate.

“We cannot negotiate with simulants,” states Rimmer. “We cannot cave in to their insane demands. Under no circumstances are JMC personnel permitted to negotiate with the enemy.”

But he soon changes his mind when the hostage is revealed to be him.

“Of course, that’s what the JMC think,” he adds. “But who the hell listens to those pen pushers?”

It’s classic Arnold Rimmer, with comic actor Chris Barrie back on top form as the snivelling, self-involved Hologram. Thankfully, this isn’t the only moment in ‘Twentica’ which captures the awesome comedy of early ‘Red Dwarf’, with a sprinkling of jokes and one-liners that lift the episode to greater heights.

The episode itself is a pretty standard story - the simulants are led by Combat Droid 4 of Batch 27 (played by Kevin Eldon) and the hostage situation turns out to be a lot trickier than they thought.

Essentially, the ‘Red Dwarf’ crew are double crossed into having over the components the simulants need to travel in time… and after giving chase to the rogue droids, Lister, Rimmer and co find themselves in a version of 1950s America where all technology is prohibited.

Obviously, that includes Kryten and Rimmer.

But while ‘Twentica’ clearly channels familiar elements of time-travel sci-fi, it isn’t afraid to admit it. And with a touch of self-referential humour, Lister even comments on the simulants’ plan… and how unoriginal it really is.

“That’s a bit old hat, isn’t it?” he laughs. “How many times have we seen that before?”

The old ‘going back in time to change the future’ premise has been done to death. We’ve seen it in ‘Terminator’ and all its sequels as well as a myriad of other time-travelling sci-fi flicks. But nobody has done it quite so playfully as ‘Red Dwarf’.

That’s not to say that the episode is perfect.

Some of the jokes work better than others, and some just miss completely. There’s a lot of science-based jokes in this one - some of which are brilliant. Others just come off as a bit of eye-rollingly bad punning. But there are some real zingers here, and the episode is a real riot.

It’s the best ‘Red Dwarf’ we’ve seen in a very long time, and it’s great to see the boys back together again. Let’s hope the rest of Series XI keeps it up.

‘Red Dwarf’ heads to Dave on 22 September 2016.

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Picture Credit: UKTV

Are you looking forward to ‘Red Dwarf’ XI? Could it be as good as the original show? Leave your comments below… and follow Ryan Leston on Twitter, Facebook or my official Tumblr blog for more on the latest TV shows.