Dave – 9pm – Thursday 19th October
Available to stream on UKTV Play from: 12th October
Created by: Rob Grant and Doug Naylor
Written and Directed by: Doug Naylor
A KREWFUL OF KRYTENS
“Our squeegees are loaded!”
In the run-up to series XII’s transmission, the fanbase were divided between excitement and apprehension at the prospect of this ‘gimmick’ episode, long-teased by Doug and the cast as “the one where everyone’s Kryten.” Would the script provide a plausible-enough in-universe reason for rubbering-up Lister (Craig Charles), Rimmer (Chris Barrie) and Cat (Danny John-Jules)? Would the audience be able to see beyond the uncanny look of the three usually fleshy smegheads? Would it be funny without being farcical?
In the wake of “Cured“‘s Dave premiere last night, episode XII.2 was immediately uploaded as an online preview ahead of next Thursday’s digital broadcast, and I can happily put people’s doubts in regards to all three areas to bed. Better still, I can confidently confirm that “Siliconia” is – with no sign of exaggeration – one of the biggest, boldest and best Red Dwarf episodes of the past two decades!
From unexpected callbacks to long-dangling threads (Lister’s jettisoned Les Paul from X.2 – “Fathers and Suns”), to whip-smart references to established genre concepts (Asimov’s laws of robotics), “Siliconia” is tightly written, perfectly paced, daringly expansive and dynamically directed (Mech-Lister and Kryten’s climatic “clean off” to the death was thrillingly edited to induce tension) without ever feeling safe or overtly-reliant on pre-established series mythology.
As the humanoids of the JMC’s space-stranded mining ship are recalibrated into bot-bods and forced to carry out every task they ever forced Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) to complete since rescuing him from the Nova 5, everyone’s favourite “Jenga-headed” diva droid is welcomed into a robot slave survivor group (“We don’t have funny-shaped heads!”), lead by the liberating task force known as M.I.L.F.s.
As well as giving Chris Barrie a prime excuse to crack out his top notch Krytie impression, the plot of “Siliconia” is the dictionary definition of a jaunt; never stagnant, always expanding and progressing down interesting and unexpected avenues. It takes the software-evading incarcerated trio down to the fiery bowels of the M.I.L.F.’s SS Vespacian, where a shady revelation sheds new light on their supposedly enlightened silicon captors…
This is Doug and the Dwarf firing on all cylinders, with evocative location work, new ideas compounding upon series lore, beautiful CGI, a cavalcade of complex make-up effects and rapid-fire laugh out loud gags (screwdriver lob; “Rimmering”; cullinder prop). I could bemoan that a big name guest star in the form of Zapped‘s James Buckley gets a little lost in the melee, while the plot-resolving effects shot did require a rewind-and-pause to clarify precisely what it was, but these are minor quibbles against an avalanche of awesomeness. Another four instalments of this quality and series XII will be in line to be crowned one of Red Dwarf‘s strongest series’ EVER.
CR@B’s Claw Score: