Red Dwarf X: Entangled review

Review Pete Dillon-Trenchard 25 Oct 2012 - 22:05

Red Dwarf X delivers its best episode since the series opener. Here's Pete's review of Entangled...

This review contains spoilers.

10.4 Entangled

The last few episodes of Red Dwarf have - intentionally or otherwise - skirted the shores of controversy, with Taiwan Tony in Fathers and Suns, and an uncomfortable operation for Jesus (okay, not that one) in Lemons, sailing close to the wind for some viewers. I’m happy to report, then, that Entangled is unlikely to offend anyone – except, perhaps, people who eat garbage, who presumably have bigger problems to worry about than their portrayal here. 

In fact, Entangled starts as un-controversially as possible, with a classic Rimmer-Lister scene that feels like it’s wandered in straight out of the first couple of series. Over the years, Rimmer and Lister’s dynamic has evolved to the point where, whilst not treating one another exactly as equals, they at least recognise the fact that they’re both in the same boat. So to have Rimmer pulling rank and insisting that Lister follow regulations again feels like a bit of a strange throwback; I half-expected Rimmer to pull out a notebook and put Lister on report. Fortunately it’s also a very funny throwback, as Lister pricks Rimmer’s pomposity with mentions of the accident that wiped out the crew. 

Elsewhere, Cat runs into Kryten and sparks off one of the week’s main plot points, as the pair become ‘quantum-entangled’, giving the episode its name. It’s an interesting science-fiction concept from writer Doug Naylor, as Cat and Kryten find themselves increasingly synchronised and prone to coincidence. It’s an idea that’s also initially quite an amusing one, albeit one which inevitably suffers from a law of diminishing returns – as Rimmer points out later in the episode, it does start to get annoying, and like any joke (or at least, any joke not uttered by Stewart Lee) it’s never as funny as the first time you hear it; it certainly becomes more of a plot device than a running gag as the episode reaches its climax. That said, it’s a very impressive and perfectly-timed performance from Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules, which helps sell the idea. 

While Entangled is very much an ensemble piece, it’s nice to see Robert Llewellyn with some proper comedic material for him to get his panel-beaten head around, for perhaps the first time since Trojan. There’s a lot for him to do in the first half in particular, with highlights including the spoon-drying scene and the scene in which he confronts Lister, both of which have been heavily trailed by Dave in the weeks leading up to the series. 

Actually, that would be one of my main complaints about the first half of the episode; it feels as though we saw all of the funniest bits months ago. This is, of course, no fault of the episode itself, and it’s likely that the majority of the audience will be coming to these scenes for the first time, but it’s unfortunate that so much of the trailered material came from the same one, though a testament to how strong some of these moments are. 

And while we’re on the subject of Dave, is it just me who’s finding some of the ad break positions a tad bizarre? Last week’s Lemons cut out in the middle of a key scene, and this week’s in the middle of an effects shot. Obviously without ad breaks we wouldn’t have a series at all, but some of the choices feel unusual, to say the least. 

Going back to the episode itself, the opening scenes feel far less peripheral to the episode than some have in recent weeks, although again the scenes are all two-handers, with the crew not being united until over a third of the way through the episode. Whilst it does allow for some solid jokes and strong character exchanges, at times it does lend the show a slightly empty atmosphere. When the main four are finally together, however, they’re firing on all cylinders, with Cat once again stealing the evolved lion’s share of the laughs.

The main plot of the episode, with Lister losing Rimmer in a card game and having to find a way out of the explosive device around his groin, has shades of the action-adventure plots of series six, and the colony of BEGGs feels straight out of that era, in the best possible way (Indeed, guest star Steven Wickham played Lister’s GELF bride in Emohawk). It’s a short but memorable scene, with some superb costumes for the BEGGS. And once again, the set designers make the most of the small space available to them, combining with some rather pretty CGI to give the impression of a larger world. Although the scene does beg the question: How did Lister manage to lose Starbug and (particularly) Rimmer if he thought there was a language barrier..? 

The costuming literally gets hairier as the crew travel to the station and find Professor Edgington, played at first by Peter Elliott, ‘the film industry’s primary primate’, who has made appearances in everything from Congo to The Mighty Boosh. His reveal is an effective and amusing one, and it wasn’t just Lister half-expecting to see Kochanski emerging from stasis. It’s no surprise, given his experience, that Elliott makes a very convincing monkey, which presumably left more than one member of the studio audience wondering if they’d got a real one in. 

We do eventually get to see a female human aboard the Dwarf, in the form of Sydney Stevenson, playing the somewhat more visually-pleasing side of Professor Edgington. Stevenson is charmingly ditzy in the role, and brings an innocent sweetness to Irene that almost has you wishing, much like Rimmer, that she’d hang around for a little bit longer; as much of a goit as Rimmer can be, part of me couldn’t help but wish that in this instance he might get the girl (and then hilariously cock it up). 

However, it naturally isn’t to be, and while the nature of the character meant she couldn’t exactly become a regular cast member, it’s a shame that she had to meet her end quite so cruelly; for self-professed last human Lister to merely react to her passing by making a glib joke felt a bit jarring. 

Before Irene’s untimely demise came the tying up of the episode’s main plot, in a fashion which reminded me of a scene from my favourite Batman film, the 1966 one starring Adam West. Shortly after being attacked by an exploding shark at sea, Batman and Robin return to Commissioner Gordon’s office to try and work out who was behind the plot, and share the following memorable exchange: 

Commissioner Gordon: It could be any one of them... But which one? Which ones?

Batman: It was pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder...

Commissioner Gordon: You mean where there's a fish there could be a Penguin?

Robin: But wait! It happened at sea... Sea. C for Catwoman!

Batman: That exploding shark was pulling my leg...

Commissioner Gordon: The Joker!

Chief O'Hara: It all adds up to a sinister riddle... Riddle...r. Riddler! 

And of course, all four of them are correct. It’s a staggering leap, and one which I was reminded of here, with the crew suddenly abandoning the established absurd logic of the episode to gamble Lister’s gonads on a slightly laboured pun. The fact that they’re actually right in their assumptions is more of a massive coincidence than any actual... 

Oh, I see it now. Stand down, commenters! Wacky science saves the day, turning the insane into the just-about-plausible. And it’s actually quite refreshing to see; it’s not the sort of thing that Red Dwarf can pull every week, but here it makes for a satisfyingly absurd conclusion. 

Despite a few minor problems this is, to my mind, the best episode since the opener. It may not be as character-focussed, but it does makes for an enjoyable ensemble piece in which all four of the main cast - plus some memorable guest actors - get a chance to shine.

Read Pete's review of the previous episode, Lemons, here.

Follow Pete on Twitter here: @thegeekpdt and visit his website here: www.typeforty.co.uk

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Another terrible episode. RIP Red Dwarf!!!

Oh, Jason... The thing I love about you is your consistency ;)

I felt it was yet another weak episode. Some of the dialogue felt laboured, especially the exposition of the coincidence crystals.

The drying of cutlery (albeit in the spirit of the groinal attachment) served no purpose other than grasping for a cheap laugh. Rimmer's continuing descent into lecherous old man continued apace and again failed to generate any humour, whilst the references to health and safety were 10 years too late and felt more like comedy aimed at Richard Littlejohn rather than a comedy audience.

There has been the odd high point in series 10 but it still feels like a pale imitation.

'Despite a few minor problems this is, to my mind, the best episode since the opener' Have I just watched a different show? This episode was the worst in a disappointing series that's now a mere shadow of it's former self. The studio audience appears to be very easily amused as they were laughing the whole way through but I think I laughed three times. Season 8 was better than this poorly written, self parody of a show and that's saying something. It's time to put this show to bed once a for all.

I don't think I'd have said it's the best one of the series so far...I don't think I've laughed at anything as much as I did at 'Lemons' last week...but it was definitely a good old slice of Red Dwarf. Loved the absurd logic of it all, it was marvellous. Thoroughly enjoying RDX :D

Hmmm, the episodes so far have been less than inspiring, it just doesn't seem like they have the old magic anymore, at least on a consistent basis across an entire episode much less a whole season, for the most part the jokes seemed forced and the deliveries overplayed, there's no evidence of that seemingly effortless lightness-of-touch that the 'Dwarf had back in it's 1988-99 heyday; the Lister father/son moments in 'Fathers and Suns' have been by far the standout moments in this season, but not much else... let's hope the last two are better, but judging by the hit/miss ratio since 'Back To Earth' in 2009, I fear the rest of X is going to be more miss than hit, a pity to see such a once-great show clearly past it's sell-by-date.

I remember reading that 'Only The Good' was originally not going to be the final episode of VIII, and a final episode titled 'Earth' was written but had to be scrapped because the CGI dinosaur in that season's episode 'Pete' blew their effects budget. I think it would have been better had Doug Naylor taken the 'Earth' script and expanded it to fit into either a 90-minute television special or three 30-minute episodes, and made THAT instead of what 'Back To Earth' became... it would have been a great way to end RD on a strong note, and before it's best days were behind it, which is what X is increasingly looking like!

Fairly sure it was ainsley Harriet who played the self in Mohawk was he not?

Gelf not self. Damn phone!

Ainsley played the GELF chief, Steve Wickham played the GELF bride :)

Just an oversite but the rimmer on red dwarf x isn't the same rimmer in series 1-7 as we know that rimmer became ace rimmer this rimmer is the rimmer that died at the end of series 8 so why was lister talking about what killed the crew in series 1 because this rimmer obviously didn't wipe the crew out

So far this series has been far better than it had any right to be. Some excellent jokes, design and plots. As someone who watched this show from the very beginning, I'm more than happy to see RD back on our screens in such a brilliant update. I've watched RD from the very first ep, and this series is far better than the lean 'kochanski' years.

Im an avid Red Dwarf fan and i have to conclude with some of the comments here that the show seems to have 'lost its magic'. Its great to see the series go back to its sitcom roots and i admit there have been some stand out laughs so far but it feels like the actors are just going through the motions with their lines and no sense of dynamism any more. Let the series ride out but i concur it is time to put the Dwarf to bed. Lets preserve the memories we have of the first 5 seasons which were true comedy gold.

We don't know which version of Rimmer this is. It hasn't been stated in the programme. Hints in both BTE and this episode suggest heavily that it's more likely to be the original Rimmer, returned for some reason - but... well, maybe the rest of the series will offer more clues, or maybe even a full explanation. Wait and see.

Loved every minute of it and cannot wait until next week. As with any new Red Dwarf episode the first watch is good but they grow on you the more you see them, it is when you see them the 2nd, 3rd or 20th time you enjoy them more and realise that it is indeed classic Dwarf!

I enjoyed it the the most out of any episode so far this series, but as a whole the series has been very mixed. What I can't agree with from the review are the positive comments about the BEGG costumes and Professor Edgington's character. Those costumes were appalling, in particular the masks, they seemed more akin to spoof masks a' la Garth Marenghi. And the acting and characterisation of Edgington... the audtions and casting team need to think hard about quality control, on the basis of the last two weeks' supporting cast.
Other than that, it continues to be nostalgically charmning rather than hilarious or original. They do have a strange habit of peforming certain set-piece scenes like live sketches, for example the Cat and Kryten discovering their synchronisation this week... they stand rooted to the spot delivering the dialogue almost to the audience. And last week the scene at the table, just as they meet Jesus. It seemed a little more natural when they did scenes like this in series 1 and 2.

I can fully agree with that comment chaps...

Does not help
Does not clean
will have sex with anything!

Apparently, it will be revealed in the last episode, which from the sound of it will be heavily based on Rimmer (which means it's going to be a good episode haha)

You complete and utter racist.

I agree 110%, i remember watching the very 1st ep on my 14inch colour portable tv in my bedroom when i was 12 in 1988. Been hooked ever since. Even though i loved series 7 and 8, series 10 is by far back on form. Thursdays has become my fav day of the week, well for this six week run lol

Agreed

Quote: "I’m happy to report, then, that Entangled is unlikely to offend anyone".

Unfortunately, nor is it going to please too many. This was easily the weakest ep of the new season. Nothing much seemed to happen and what did, it was mostly recycled.

The opening bureaucratic bit seemed strange and out of place after all this time. And the Beggs were just warmed over Gelfs.

But the most disappointing aspect of all is the one for which I had great hopes - quantum entanglement. I expected some intellectual comedic cleverness with at least a passing nod to the science of entanglement, but it was not to be. It was so badly handled in fact that I don't know why they even bothered (for the sake of a single lame joke).

This ep was definitely a big letdown after the previous strong eps. And I wish they'd hurry up and find Kachansky already, instead of teasing us each week. At this rate, she'll probably turn up in the last minute of the last ep of the series!

I think this one was far from the best of the series (My vote still goes to the first episode, Moose).
The one bit that spoilt it for me was rimmer walking through that door. How is that even possible. He has a light bee (Small Physical presence joke) and that wouldnt have been able to pass through the metal. All they had to do to bypass this was to have a small vent for the lightbee to pass through.
Please correct me if I'm wrong... Hard or soft light he wouldnt be able to pass through a completely solid object?
Anyway, thought I'd reply to this particular post as we seem to be in minority that this was the weakest episode in a so far very good series. Not a bad thing. :)

Hang on..... First 5???

6 surely??? ;-)

He would be a complete and utter racist if it wasn't for two important facts: 1) Ainsley Harriott DID play the GELF chief in that episode, and 2) Ainsley Harriott DID play the GELF chief in that episode. I know that's technically only one fact, but I thought it was so important I should mention it twice.

You thought that was terrible?? Go watch another show....your opinion is meaningless!! You have nothing constructive to offer to this....please go away.

Great episode....so funny. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very well-written.

So, you're supporting racism?

Er... What? You are an idiot.

By now, the overall formula for Red Dwarf X (RDX) is pretty obvious, but the details for each episode take the show to a new level. There's a paradox, or some complex situation revolving intricate detail ("Fathers and Suns" having the most of it, and accurately done), and the "revival" of the show just feels right.

"Entangled", save for the BEGGS, feels like it'd fit right into series 5 (RD's best). Their presence does feel like series 6, but if "Entangled" were a part of series 6 it would have been the year's finest by far.

This is the first year since Rob Grant left the show where RD feels like RD, without much of anything in the way of regurgitation or rehashing. RD7 was a joke, RD8 had potential (but as it gave the finale 1 part and the horrible "Pete" story 2 episodes...), "Back to Earth" felt right but felt like such a pallid imitation and rehash...

RDX really gets everything right. The formula is there, the acting is top-notch, the plots have complexity (and accurately done)... Which is interesting, since RD7's "Oroboros" (wrong spelling, sorry) was pretty much naff, "Fathers and Suns" takes what was created in that story and hits a home run or three with the "I fathered my own son" idea...

And may Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn get awards for their fantastic synchronized exchanges.

Jason, HOW do you think it's terrible? Please add some insight and reasoning. WHY is it bad?

I can think of a few nitpicks, but I'd rather read what you have to say first. You might be right, but I was cracking up. For such a "terrible episode", it's a heck of a lot funnier than most of series 6 through 9 combined... and it's ironic that I'm not explaining that opinion as well... but you first. :)

It'd be nice to read WHY he thinks it's terrible first...

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