When the Dwarf crew get a chance to return to Earth, it's not quite what they expect...
Set nine years after the previous series (and for the characters after a mythical ninth series that saw Kochanski apparently die), Red Dwarf is back in this 21st Anniversary special commissioned by UKTV channel Dave. And the good news is that not only is the show back, but it's funny again.
Losing the studio audience might have altered the way the series feels, but in fact it makes this three-part story work better. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments, as well as some nicely written scenes that provide a journey for each character.
Making a virtue of the limited budget by setting half the story on contemporary Earth, the new series takes on a post-modern slant before settling into a homage to Blade Runner (repeated viewings will no doubt show even more intricate set details) combined with elements of the Patrick Troughton Doctor Who story The Mind Robber. Even Blade Runner's tacked-on ending, using footage shot for Kubrick's The Shining, gets the RD treatment.
The pace of the first episode is necessarily slower than you might otherwise expect, given what's happened to the characters, but Back to Earth is well worth sticking with Ã¢â¬â and deserved to beat Skellig in the ratings!
It's also put all the pieces in place for a tenth season, and if it can keep up the quality shown in this special, Red Dwarf deserves to be back on our screens.