Time for another retrospective. Not Bones though, this time it’s Red Dwarf. Red Dwarf is a British sci-fi series that has been around since 1988. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor and skewers science fiction cliches in every episode. I was introduced to the show from the internet reviewer, Chuck “SFDebris” Sonnenburg, (Who is the focal point of me becoming a reviewer). One night I was bored and put on his review of Series 1 and was hooked, I then spent the entire summer watching up to Series 9 and was ecstatic to hear that in Fall 2012, there would be a new series. So, I plan on covering the entire series in the next few weeks of articles. I have seen them more than a few times, so these are based on my repeat viewings. So, today we start with Series 1.
Red Dwarf stars Craig Charles as Dave Lister, a lowly technician who, because of a radiation leak, is the last human alive. However, he has friends. Arnold J. Rimmer, a second technician, who was killed by the radiation leak, (that he caused) and was brought back as an insubstantial hologram, meaning he couldn’t touch anything, like Al from Quantum Leap, except deader. Holly, the ships computer with an IQ of 6000, although it’s degraded over the years and Cat, who is descended from a housecat, the same way humans descended from apes. They get into all sorts of shenanigans while traveling back toward Earth on the mining vessel, Red Dwarf.
The show began with “The End”. The episode is basically there to set up the premise of the show. Lister and Rimmer are technicians that repair the chicken soup machines on the ship. Rimmer is aspiring to become and officer, whereas Lister is content to lie around and slide his way through life. Lister has smuggled a cat on board, to take it to Earth with him, as he has a plan. He is going to get the console officer, “Kristine Kochanski” to go out with him, and then they retire to Fiji where he will have a sheep, a cow, and a horse. However, Lister hasn’t gotten her attention yet. The captain, Hollister, wants the cat, and when Lister refuses to give it up, sentences him to 8 months in stasis, where he is locked out of time, and forfeits 8 months of wages. Rimmer is studying for his astro-navigation exam and is planning to cheat on it. He ends up being sent to the medi-bay after fainting during the test. Within the next few weeks, Rimmer is asked to repair a drive-plate, which he fails to do properly resulting in a radiation leak that killed the crew. Holly keeps Lister in stasis for the next three million years. He releases him and Lister meets up with the now holographic Rimmer, and Cat. The episode ends with Lister intending to set the course for Earth.
The next episode is “Future Echoes”, which is a personal favorite of mine. During the U-turn back to Earth, they are seeing visions of the future. At first Lister sees visions of the near future, like a conversation he will have with Rimmer in the next few minutes. Then Rimmer sees Lister die in an echo. Lister is determined to avoid it, trying to stop echoes, but ultimately accepts his fate. He goes to where Rimmer saw him die and surprisingly doesn’t. He returns to his quarters to see himself as an old man, the older him tells him that he didn’t die, but his son did. He then tells him to go to the medi-bay with a camera and they see Lister walk out with twin babies. Rimmer asks how they get a baby without a woman, and Lister says it’ll be fun finding out.
The last few episodes aren’t my favorites. First is “Balance of Power”, where Lister tries to pass a test to outrank Rimmer so he can turn on Kochanski and go on a date, but fails. It’s not their strongest episode. Then, “Waiting for God”, where Lister finds that he is the god of the cat people and that they left after a holy war over the color of the hats, one side saying red, the other blue, but they’re supposed to be green. Overall, it was a pretty good allegory for religion. Next is “Confidence and Paranoia”, where Lister gets mutated pneumonia and his hallucinations come to life, including his Confidence and his Paranoia. In the end, they are both killed and Lister thinks he found Kochanski’s holodisk, that Rimmer hid, but it’s a copy of Rimmer. In “Me2“, Rimmer’s copy and him start to share a room, as you have to be the perfect roommate for yourself right? Nope! Rimmer and him get into a fight which leads to Lister having to deactivate one. He chooses the first Rimmer and makes Rimmer tell the story of his death, and why he said “Gazpacho soup”. It turns out that he said that because when he was invited to dinner with the Captain, he thought Gazpacho soup was supposed to be served hot, and made a fool of himself. Lister reveals that he turned off the dupe before the story and the series ends with Lister leaving the drive room promising to never tell the story.
So that was Red Dwarf Series I. Was it good? Of course it was! It had weak episodes but it had enough to get renewed for nine more, so it’s a good start. Next time, we cover Series II. I’m Michael and these are my random thoughts.
Love the way you write and love Red Dwarf – can’t wait for more of these!