Taking a Note, Taking a Dive

The general public has a short memory. Many are under the impression that a substantial number of professional wrestling fans still believe the artform to represent genuine competition, rather than being an entertainment medium consisting of matches with predetermined outcomes. This isn’t the case – aside from small children who might believe in Roman Reigns the way they believe in Father Christmas, fans generally accept that the matches are worked, and derive a whole secondary level of enjoyment from analysing and debating the storytelling decisions behind match outcomes and the backstage gossip that might have fed into them.

Even among wrestling fans, there’s something of a myth that kayfabe – the pretence that it’s a real contest – was rigorously maintained until the early 1990s, when Vince McMahon famously said that WWF was in the “sport entertainment” business and promotions like ECW or WCW ran angles based largely on breaking the fourth wall and acknowledging kayfabe (usually as an attempt to persuade the viewer that things had gone “off-script” and were therefore real). In fact, major breaches of kayfabe and exposes of the business go way back, with one of the most famous such examples being Marcus Griffin’s 1937 book Fall Guys: The Barnums of Bounce.

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Red Dwarf: Back to Mediocrity

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

LOOK THERE’S A HELL OF A LOT OF SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE BUT I AM TOO ANGRY TO CARE.

The end of Red Dwarf began with a promising first episode. I won’t pretend it was up to the usual standards of the series in its prime – it wasn’t – but it made a good effort. The events of seasons seven and eight were happily ignored, the crew were alone on a giant ship in the middle of deep space, they were interacting in a fairly funny manner during an encounter with a dimension-hopping squid that chose to take a nap in their ocean-sized water tank. True, there was a noticeable lack of Holly, and an overlong and overmaudlin scene to let us know that Kochanski had died again, but considering the depths the series had reached with its 7th and 8th seasons I can forgive all of this.

Things began to go south with the sudden and unexplained manifestation of a hologram of the ship’s hot Russian science officer after the four main characters are exposed to exploded squid juices. Suddenly, I was reminded of Back to Reality, an episode in which the crew apparently get back to Earth but are in fact hallucinating after an encounter with a mysterious squid. Given that this three-part epilogue to the show is called Back to Earth, and given that it begins with an encounter with a mysterious squid, I feel that I was justified at this point at feeling a certain amount of concern, a mild worry that everything subsequently onscreen would prove to be utterly inconsequential. The ability of the science officer to construct a deus ex machina portal to Earth using a mining laser and squid bits only increased my concern, as did the sudden leeching of jokes from the second half of the episode in favour of cleavage shots.

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