Guest reviewer: Simon Wiedemann
So, the latest episode of Red Dwarf, Siliconia; was it any good? Well, it started off small, with ‘everyday’, space age banter. However, the conversations were far from boring. The classic lighthearted tone was set immediately and all dialogue linked in with the grander environments and plots that were to come. The contrast from normal to odd and almost nightmarish was is in part what made this episode intriguing. These scenario changes progressed very well and impressively subtly, and came neither too late or too soon. Not only were Kryten’s reactions to his changing surroundings amusing, they simultaneously paralleled modern day social problems in a way that was deep, well thought out and unpretentious. As time went on, more and more connections between fiction and reality were made, in a way that was almost scary.
Whilst the way things went from good to worse was captivating, the way things turned back to normal seemed very rushed. Not only did the ending almost come out of nowhere, it was also quite unrealistic. Things went from terrible to great and there were no more issues to be dealt with, when really there should have been. It was kind of a childish ‘and they lived happily ever after’ plot device. Unfortunately, this seems to becoming a habit with Red Dwarf, now. The first episode of series 12 had huge adversities conquered in seconds and with next to no effort. I’m sure the creators of the program would have loved to make their work a good ten minutes longer, so as to make their ambitions more believable. In comparison, imagine a Doctor Who show only lasting 30 minutes. It would be very difficult to pull off.
Despite the many strengths of the comedic themes, the characters could have been fresher at times; Rimmer was often annoying, the cat shallow, Kryten sensible and Lister immature. Ring any bells? However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the characters were forced to change their ways, and because of this, there was some interesting character development. It didn’t last forever, but the journey was nevertheless engaging. The occasional reference to past Red Dwarf shows (for example Lister’s guitar and his music in general) created a sense of nostalgia and hope for things to come. Did this episode capture the magic of the ones all those years ago? In my opinion, I think it did for the most part. Perhaps the science fiction elements of the latest show weren’t as strong and unique as the now quite old ones, but they did at least make sense and invoke curiosity.