Oh, that was great. Red Dwarf, back where it belongs: Small cast, no huge dependence on special effects, and a live audience. The energy was there, a little slower perhaps by twenty-plus years of age, but it's like a GOOD older wine after spitting out three glasses of a bottle that's been sitting next to the water heater downstairs.
The design changed almost every year in the older run. I remember they justified most things without really dwelling on it. For example, Kryten's accident requiring him to be reconstructed, though that conflicts with later references to him having "always" looked like that. Or suddenly having a different quarters set, but acknowledging that they'd just moved into the officer's quarters - even though the corridors outside changed almost every year anyway. They've always had another set for stuff to happen in on the Dwarf, be it the drive room, science lab, and now apparently a bridge..? The Space Corps never stayed the same between episodes anyway, and they've already spoofed Trek uniforms anyway ("Holoship"), so why stop now?
Anyway, this first episode didn't leave the weird look on my face that Back to Earth's first episode did. I recently re-watched BTE in the run-up to this series and while a lot of the componenet for what made Red Dwarf great were there, it just doesn't work without a studio audience. Spending the latter two episodes on location just made it worse. Really looking forward to the rest of this series!