By Caroline Dowse @toongirl83
To the delight of Dwarfers everywhere, the boys from the Dwarf returned in Red Dwarf XII, only a year after Red Dwarf XI. They filmed the two series back to back, which is why we haven't had such a long wait this time.
After a strong series XI, the pressure was on writer Doug Naylor to keep up the standard with XII - and he didn't disappoint. The first episode, Cured, saw the boys (yes, I know they're all in their fifties now, but who cares) travel to a moon-base to get some parts to fix Starbug. The base belonged to an organisation called United America, a group of countries led by the U.S. which according to Kryten wanted to end war by making every country on Earth sign a peace treaty.
"Any that refused to sign, they invaded," he said.
The base was home to a scientist, Professor Shaul Telford, who claimed to have created a cure for evil, and had used it on some of the most evil people in history: Hitler, Vlad The Impaler, Joseph Stalin, and a Roman empress called Messolina. Bizarrely, they were all living on the base with him. Not content with having a pop at our closest ally, Naylor also took aim at another high profile hate figure. After reading the list of evil people that had supposedly been cured, they found another name.
"Rupert Murdoch - not responding to treatment."
Overall, this was one of the strangest Dwarf episodes I've ever seen. Memorable moments include Hitler taking a selfie during dinner with the crew and the rest of the 'cured' evils, and Lister having an impromptu jamming session with the Fuhrer. Of the guest stars, Ryan Gage was brilliant as an overly camp Hitler - which is a sentence I never thought I'd write.
Danny John Jules was also great as the Cat. He got a lot more screen time in the last series and hopefully that will continue in this one. He was involved in a lovely twist at the end which revealed the Cat to be a psychopath and after a list of his bad points was read out: "narcassistic, selfish, no empathy", he fumed that the machine had missed out "handsome" . The Cat is quite a one dimensional character, but it's nice to see him being given a bigger part because Danny's performances deserve it. It's just a shame it's taken thirty years to do it.
If I had one criticism of this episode, it would be the middle part. After being alternately drugged/having their systems hacked, the boys were kidnapped by a mystery assailant and each woke to find himself facing his worst fears. Rimmer was buried alive, Cat was trapped in a water tank, Kryten's head was impaled on a mop and Lister faced castration by laser, strapped to a metal table like something out of a Bond film. While it was funny, they were able to get themselves out of it a little too quickly for my liking. Perhaps it was cut down to fit the running time, but it seemed a shame to me.
It's great to have the boys back though. Catch it on every Thursday at 9pm on Dave, or if you can't wait each episode is on UKTV Play a week before transmission.