The Boys from the Dwarf (do some weird shaky hand thing) returned to Dave this week for the start of the twelfth series overall and the third series, fourth including the specials of series nine, to be shown on the home of witty banter (are Dave still running with that tagline?) showing the continued misadventures of Dave Lister (Craig Charles), Arnold Judas Rimmer (Chris Barrie) Cat (Danny John-Jules) and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) as they travel through space. You know that already, and the above paragraph is not at all a case of the writer padding out the word count…
So series XII begins with Starbug’s steering is playing up – they can only steer left so they look to scavenge some parts or technology to help repair the problem. On their search they come across a research station owned by United America, a group who waged a war on war in a bid to stop all wars and the station was used to create a cure for evil. On board the station the crew find Professor Telford (Adrian Lukis) who professes–as that is what professors do–to have ‘cured evil’. Is evil something that can be cured? Is it a disease or illness? It’s something Red Dwarf has explored a number of times before.
His patients are Joseph Stalin (Callum Coates), Vlad The Impaler (Phillipe Spall), Valeria Messalina (Chloe Hawkins) and Adolf Hitler (Ryan Gage) who are now no longer the evil doers they used to be. There is some scientific waffle about how they managed to get these guys in to the 23rd century. Something to do with regressing descendents. All sounds a bit Assassin’s Creed.
Of course though, all is not as it appears to be.
The ‘simpler’ jokes land in ‘Cured’ quite well, the crew leaning to the left when turning in Starbug raised a grin (remember they could only take left turns) as did Kryten’s headless body bumbling about and walking into things. Hitler, and this is the third Red Dwarf episode to feature him or a variant of him, is fun (yeah, I wrote the sentence ‘Hitler is fun’). The newly cured Hitler jamming with Lister is one of the highlights but it is Cat who steals the show at with his understanding of a ‘pokey face’.
I suppose in a sitcom there is little need for jeopardy but you never really got the sense there were risks or anything at stake in the episode. It was quite predictable in the way it played out and there was very little character development. But again, is this what we watch sitcoms for? Dave’s reboot of the series has been somewhat a success. While many updating versions of older sitcoms – see Kevin Bishop’s attempt at Porridge – have been far from great, Red Dwarf has managed to retain the charm and humour of the original series, with the exception of maybe Back to Earth.
While we have not hit the heights of series one through seven yet, ‘Cured’ is a pretty decent series opener and provides enough laughs to keep fans of the show entertained.
Red Dwarf is airing on Dave every Thursday. Let us know what you think of the new season.