Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Red Dwarf: Maybe it is time for a Reboot?

Last week, I just happened to be going through my stacks of video tapes, and I happened to rediscover my collection of earlier Red Dwarf seasons, and it made me think that perhaps the series needed an American reboot. And with a suggestion from Alan of Burbanked that I remake him a movie or television show for his blog birthday, it seems I do indeed have something to write about this week.

That's right. Mr. "I Hate Remakes" is proposing that a beloved television series of my youth be remade.



If you are unfamiliar with this series, the starting premise is as follows: Dave Lister, an ultra-slobby technician on the mining ship Red Dwarf, refused to give up a cat he picked up while on leave, and as punishment, he was ordered into stasis for the remaining 18 months of the mission. Unfortunately, during his time in stasis, a massive radiation leak killed every member of the crew and when Holly, the ship's computer, finally let Lister out of stasis, he discovered that he had been in stasis for 3 million years while the background radiation returned to a safe level. And since the leak, the ship has been moving away from Earth as well. Aside from Holly, who has gone a little barmy, Lister is also joined by the hologram of his weaselly former bunk mate Arnold Rimmer and a humanoid creature that evolved from his cat that has a penchant for fine suits and the mannerisms of James Brown. Together, they encounter strange phenomenon and face down the dual-edged blade of boredom and loneliness.

True, American networks tried in 1992 to bring the show across the pond with a couple of pilots which featured Craig Bierko as Lister, Chris Eigeman as Rimmer and Jane Leeves as Holly, along with Terry Farrell as the Cat in one of the pilots. I think that was the wrong time to do it, and ultimately, the fact that it didn't get picked up helped both Deep Space Nine and Frasier.

I think in the wake of the success of The Office and Life on Mars in their American incarnations, along with the remake of Battlestar Galactica, I think the time may indeed be right for an American version of this show to get off the ground.

I liked the humor of the original, but what really grabbed me were the concepts that were explored in individual episodes. There were a lot of interesting ideas featured on the series many of which received much fuller exploration in the Red Dwarf novels. So, if RD is redone for American audiences, I would hope that like Ugly Betty, it is an hour-long comedic show so the ideas behind individual episodes could get a more thorough working over.

And with advances in digital and practical effects over the past 20 years, the stories that Red Dwarf explored could be presented a little more realistically and some of the logistical problems with the series (like Hologram Rimmer interacting with objects) become far more workable.

As long as the people involved are respectful of the work Rob Grant and Doug Naylor did in getting a Slam poet(Craig Charles/Lister), a voiceover actor(Chris Barrie/Rimmer), a professional dancer(Danny John-Jules/The Cat), a standup comedian(Norman Lovett/Holly) and a professional singer(Clare Grogan of Altered Image as the original Kristine Kochanski) to work exceedingly well together, I'd be more than happy to see Red Dwarf return to the airwaves on American television (meaning it didn't turn into what McG wanted to do to Spaced).

I think an American Red Dwarf is due. I mean, just in October, Io9 was lamenting that there was a dearth of Scifi Sitcoms as of late, and as a concept, Red Dwarf could turn into one of those series that brings the rest of the American viewing public to the width and breadth of what Science fiction has to offer.

7 comments:

Megan said...

That's an interesting idea.

TJ said...

Red Dwarf was such a great show! I hope they do an American remake. If they aren't planning it, I'll sign the petition.

Oh, and Merry Chrismas!

Micgar said...

I hadn't heard of this show, but from your description, it sounds like a very interesting, entertaining concept!

As an aside-Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope you have a good one!

Semaj said...

yeah, I remember them trying to remake it a few years back.

And you make an convincing argument for a remake. This might be the right time for a remake, though I've only seen a few episodes of the old show.

Arjan said...

hmm I don't know about this one. I don't disapprove of US humor, but Red Dwarf was cool because it was British.

MC said...

Megan: I thought so ;)

TJ: I haven't seen a petition yet.

Micgar: I saw it on PBS and a couple of Canadian channels, so I assume that it is likely still bouncing around the American cable dial.

Semaj: I think there is indeed some wiggle room with the series now.

Arjan: I thought it was cool because of the premise more than anything.

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