This is an SOS distress call from a Red Dwarfer's sofa. The crew are dead, wiped out 3 million and 24 years ago by a radiation leak. The crew are dead (Dave) - they're all dead Dave. Dave, they're dead. Oh wait, no they're just really really really old!
Most UK sci-fi shows are lucky to get to a seventh series so when Red Dwarf reached a finale in 1999 with series 8, two series after Rob Grant handed in his dollarpounds, I was sorry to see it end but also glad. True, the old dog had learnt some new tricks, but it was time to lock it in a darkened room with a deranged G.E.L.F. and let nature take its course.
Still, here we are, some 13 years and a small mini series later, back on the Dwarf for 6 more episodes. Considering it's been 24 years since the beginning it really isn't a surprise that Dave, Cat, Kryters and goalpost head are indeed looking a lot older - after all, without access to a cryogenic chamber, who hasn't changed in 24 years?
Unfortunately, the last human and his chums, like a posse of embarrassing uncles at an intergalactic wedding, are pulling a Shatner and acting like they have just been revived from a quarter of a century in suspended animation. But then again, maybe their 'retro style' is just what the genre needs. Lets face it the last British sci-fi sitcom to launch from BBC mission control was 'Hyperdrive' which was more HALarious than hilarious. Maybe an injection of classic comedy slapstick and British boyish wit is just what UK sci-fi sitcom has been looking for.
Episode one felt like a real blast from the past: The Cat is as smooth as ever, Kryten continues to break his programming and his service warranty and lets face it, it's good to see Dave's dreads, even if they are stuck on with safety pins. In episode 1, a distress call from one of Rimmer's dead brothers unleashes a bout of self-loathing neurosis that is classic Arnie - Arnold Rimmer BA (Before Ace).
Now it's just the four of them rattling around the dilapidated rust bucket that goes 'slower than the speed of dark'. No longer distracted by a non-scottish Kochanski or a resurrected crew, Dave and co have a chance to restore the reputation of a much beloved sitcom, one curry stain at a time.