There’s a reason why Angel only lasted five seasons. David Boreanaz — rapidly approaching forty-years fat — was playing a supposedly ageless vampire. Where once he had been able to pretend to be in his mid-twenties (helped by a late-twenties Sarah Michelle Gellar playing a 16-year old), it was rapidly approaching the time he should drop the fantasy and start acting his own age.
Character derailment had also set in. Wesley had gone through as much character development as he possibly could without building a coccoon and emerging as a villainous insect woman. Fred had gone from librarian-hot to some interdimensional blue chick.
And there really wasn’t anywhere for the plot to go.
Red Dwarf ran out of plot somewhere near the very end of the last episode of the second season. I remember it well. Proper Holly was there, as was the real Kochanski. It was all very lovely.
But they tried to squeeze another season out of it… and nearly got away with it.
And so they tried for a fourth… then a fifth… then a sixth. That ended with a giant explosion and we thought it was all over.
There was good stuff in those seasons — Mr Flibble, for example — but, on the whole, everybody agrees that it was pretty weak. One of the creators left and Chris Barrie went off to star in a film with Angelina Jolie.
And then they lurched some more life into it for a seventh season. The Chris Barrie episodes were gold, but — as if to tell fans that they could not be rewarded with a watchable show for nothing — they added a horrible new Kochanski.
But it thundered on, reaching all-new low points with Cat teaching the Blue Midgets to dance. Yeah.
Nine years on and they’ve released another installment. All of the actors look super old because they are all super old. Part of me thinks that this has been the best installment in quite a while, but another part wonders why they’re making new Red Dwarf. Because it’s easy? Because it’s going to make everybody swags of cash? Because we get to hear Sophie Winkleman use that wonderful accent for an hour or two?
That last reason alone is reason enough to make new Red Dwarf.
Okay, so my complaints are largely academic: the show seems tired and it feels like something we’ve already done time and time again. On the other hand, it’s a lot of fun. It’s not taking things too seriously.
Aha. I’ve got it. This seems more like a tribute to Red Dwarf than an installment (sort of like Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death). There’s nothing wrong with that — mind! — but it just seems like a bit of a pointless thing to do.