As you can probably tell I'm a huge Dwarf fan. I've met the cast & crew a number of times and was on set for RD VIII and, as you can imagine I was counting down the days until Back To Earth on Dave.
Lets face facts, Red Dwarf had to evolve - it has done in the past and simply returning the show to the screens as it was in 1999 would be a mistake. (And while I'll happily defend VIII to its detractors it definitely wasn't Dwarf at its best)
TV has changed hugely since RD was last around. It was once the only science fiction being produced for UK TV but thanks to Dr Who's return Sci-Fi is now king again. Also shows are now expected to have involving characters with engrossing arcs - think Lost, Heroes, Life On Mars & Who
A new Dwarf needed to entice a whole new generation of fans just as Who has done and I think that's why we saw the Dwarf we got this weekend.
The characters & plot had more emotion, there was more of an element of drama than in the old gag-a-minute Red Dwarf. Look at the superb scene of Lister visiting Kochanski's grave. Very, very touching and an great echo of the more emotional character based moments of Series I & II of Dwarf. (Think of the old scenes in the Observation Dome) In fact I think what we saw last weekend was what RD would have become if series I & II had evolved naturally rather than the shake up of series III that we did get.
I loved it.
Yes it was lacking in gags but the sheer joy of seeing these characters live again was brilliant. Yes there were some cringy moments; Kryten's entry and Rimmer humping the table but there were also moments of gold - the put downs of the TV sales man, the Blade Runner style photo investigation and the comic book shop scene. Also how amazing did the show look considering its budget was less than 3 episodes of Series II back in 1988!
The big mistake was airing it in three parts rather than as one glorious whole - it needed a tighter edit however, this was Red Dwarf for the post 'New Who' generation and I'd welcome more of it.