Three million years from earth and the mining ship red dwarf
and its four remaining crew of Lister, the cat, Kryten and
Rimmer continue their endlessly pointless voyage through the
we have here, oh faithful ones, are series five to eight of
Red Dwarf without a single extra, except subtitles. The
print is good, given the age of the show and audio is a vanilla
stereo. One of the things which I did notice in engaging in
this marathon Red Dwarf viewing was just how often
the same jokes were made time after time. With little in the
way of character development, and with the environment remaining
relatively static, the show can become a little repetitive.
Of course Red Dwarf was never meant to be watched in
this way, with roughly six episodes per season, spread over
four years, the length of time between original showings meant
that this problem was relatively hidden. That said, I did
think that the writing lost some of its spark in the last
two series, a feeling I had when the show was originally broadcast,
and one which this box set only reinforces.
That is not to say that at its best Red Dwarf is not
a 'must see' show of superlative quality, even at its worst
it was still a better comedy than most of its competitors.
In its defence the show continued to get large audiences right
up to the last show.
Series five, which was originally shown in 1992, kicks off
with Holoship, where Rimmer encounters a ship full
of holograms. Watching it again you can see that Red Dwarf
was still on its creative high, though I had forgotten about
the irritating laughter track. One of the good things about
old shows is the chance to see famous people in parts before
they had made it big. In this episode Jane Horrocks plays
Commander Nirvana - who Rimmer falls in love with and ultimately
gives up everything for.
Inquisitor opens with Thomas Allman being judged as a
worthless human being and eradicated from history. Well, if
the Inquisitor is looking for worthless lives you just know
it's only a matter of time before he catches up with the crew
of the Red Dwarf.
Terrorform gives the show a nice twist, if not its
best comedy, by having the crew rescue Rimmer from a planet
which has terra-formed itself into a reflection of Rimmer's
finds the boys discovering the frozen remains of Dr Lanstrom
who has contracted a holo-virus which gives her all sort of
malevolent powers, which she turns on the hapless crew. To
make sure that they don't infect the ship Rimmer puts them
in quarantine, though unbeknownst to them he has gone "quite,
penultimate episode of series five is Demons and Angels.
Kryten and Lister invent a machine that triples up objects.
This being the Red Dwarf, a great idea is about to
become a stupendously idiotic one. After a power overload
the machine creates two more Ships, one containing the better
half of the crews personalities, the other their worst half.
last episode of series five has every right to award itself
the title of a classic - every element that was great about
Dwarf is here in this almost perfect comedy. In
Back to Reality, the boys wake up and discover that they
have been playing a simulation of Red Dwarf for the
last five years and have still only scored four percent. Ok,
so we know that the writers would use this opportunity to
play around with the characters, but the creation of Cat as
Dwayne Dibley is nothing short of comic genius.
skip to 1993 for series six, which kicks off with the crew
loosing Red Dwarf and having to pursue the ship in
the Starbug. The episode, Psirens, is a reworking
of the Odysseus tale as the crew encounter a race that
uses its siren song to entrap travellers and suck their brains
Running short of supplies the crew think that their luck has
changed when they encounter what they think is an abandoned
space station. Instead of an empty station they meet Legion
who offers everything that the crew could wish for, his only
price is that they stay with him forever.
Gunmen of the Apocalypse is another high point for
the show; winner of an Emmy, the episode is a bit of a rerun
of Terrorform, except instead of having to travel through
Rimmer's mind, the crew have to enter Kryten's, which seems
to consist of a very funny and surreal wild west town.
Emohawk - Polymorph II the law finally catches up with
the crew in the form of a Space Corp enforcement probe which
has an issue with the boys stealing stuff from abandoned ships.
On the run from the law they make the desperate decision to
escape into Gelf space, a race that owes more than a passing
nod to the Vogons. When Lister reneges on his agreement to
marry the chief Gelfs daughter the chief sets his Emohawk
a bit of repetition has started to creep into the show with
Rimmerworld. The crew are off on another scavenging
mission to the Simulant's ship, which predictably goes horribly
wrong. Rimmer, in the heat of battle, turns tail and runs
abandoning his shipmates. After they have escaped the ship
Kryten, the Cat and Lister go looking for Rimmer only to find
him trapped in a world made entirely of his own clones.
last show of series six is another piece of inventive nonsense.
Out of Time finds the crew discovering another abandoned
ship, this time it has a time travel drive. After a quick
jump into fifteenth century deep space they are confronted
by their future selves.
seven and it's 1997, nearly four years have passed since the
previous series. This series is a little longer, at eight
episodes, and is spread across two discs. The gap hadn't done
the show any favours, for some reason a lot of the spark seemed
to have gone out of the show.
one, Tikka to Ride, and having been killed in the last
episode the crew are revived due to a temporal paradox and
discover that not all things have remained the same. On the
plus side Starbug is bigger, though at the cost of
the destruction of all the curry and lager onboard. To avert
a personal catastrophe Lister uses the time device to travel
back in time to order five hundred curries to replenish stocks.
Sounds easy doesn't it? Everything seems to be going to plan
until the crew gets involved with the assassination of JFK.
level of inventiveness unfortunately starts to slip away from
the show, a decline which is not helped by the departure of
Rimmer in Stoke me a Clipper, where the brave 'Ace'
Rimmer is mortally wounded after rescuing Princess Bonjella.
With his time running out he seeks out Red Dwarf's
Rimmer to replace him, trouble is Rimmer has a yellow streak
the size of a custard tsunami.
Ouroboro, sees the introduction of Rimmer's replacement
in the form of Lister's lost love Kristine Kochanski. Now
it's not Chloe Annett's fault, her performance was everything
that the producers could have ask of her, but the introduction
of a female completely changed the tenor of the show - from
a sort of Men behaving Badly, to a slightly odd romantic
Soup, a reference to an old Marx's brothers film, carries
on the idea of a love triangle between Kryten the jealous
one; Lister, the lusty one; and Kochanski, the rather disgusted
one. This is the 'getting to know you' episode where the crew
get stuck in a room and have to climb through endless ducts
to get out. It's a pretty so so episode with a very nice twist
in the ending.
revolves around the central theme of Lister missing Rimmer.
The show does have one really nice highlight in the form of
the Rimmer Ride. When Lister starts to miss Rimmer Kryten
makes up a fairground attraction which extols the virtues
of Arnold Judas Rimmer.
the new crew now settled in, it's time to start the usual
nonsense. Beyond a Joke sees Kryten trying to celebrate
the day that they rescued him from the Nova 5. Unfortunately,
due to a little problem with the lobster and Lister's desire
for brown sauce, Kryten's head explodes and the crew have
to go in search of a new one.
Epideme, the show is back to treading water and rehashing
old ideas. The crew find another abandoned ship, this time
containing one of Lister's old girlfriends - who infects him
with an intelligent virus, which the crew must go to extreme
conditions to get rid of.
So we reach the last episode of series seven with Nanarchy.
Having had his arm lopped off in the last episode, Lister
must rely on Kryten to use his nanobots to rebuild Lister's
arm, with unpredictable results.
couldn't have passed the notice of the writers that series
seven wasn't as well received as the previous series' and
it would be a further two years (1999) before they would revisit
the Red Dwarf universe. A re-imagining of the show
was offered, with the everything going back to the show's
original roots. But instead of the grey and claustrophobic
sets of the first series, which added to the sense of a slow
decline into madness, the mining ship Red Dwarf has
been recreated with all its personnel present and correct.
eight was another relatively long run, so like series seven
the shows are spread across two discs. The show also took
another change in direction. Instead of the loosely strung
together stories, the last series of Red Dwarf went
straight for a continuing interconnected narrative, and as
such the first three episodes are Back in the Red parts
One, Two and Three.
crew discover that the ship and crew, including Rimmer, have
been resurrected by the nanobots. Although it's a nice return
for Chris Barrie, you get the feeling that all of the actors
are just going through the motions. Robert Llewellyn gets
the lion's share of the one-liners, but they are too few and
far between to keep the show going.
would think that finding the ship and crew in one piece would
be a godsend; well it is until the crew are arrested and jailed.
The interconnected first three episodes look at their attempts
to extradited themselves from this unfortunate position, but
given how utterly ineffectual they are in every aspect of
their lives, you just know that this is a non-starter.
last episode on disc one is Cassandra, wherein Lister
signs the crew up to a suicide squad. The squad are set to
investigate an abandoned ship - haven't we been here before
- only to discover a computer that can predict the future
- including Rimmer's death in the following twenty minutes.
we come to the very last disc in the set. Krytie TV
finds the crew with a real chance of freedom; unfortunately
Kryten has decided to become the star of his own reality program,
which mostly involves filming people in the shower, not a
thing that is going to go down well with the captain.
up is the two-parter, Pete, which could have been condensed
to a much better single episode. In Pete the crew are
in their usual trouble, this time with the guards. As punishment
they are sent to investigate a derelict (I'm sick of using
the word abandoned) ship in which they find a time wand which
turns Pete the bird into a Tyrannosaurus
so we come to the last episode. Only the Good... and
the show comes full circle with the ship being destroyed by
a virus. Although the show had declined in its last season
there were still some good elements. Red Dwarf ended
in exactly the way it should do with Rimmer, partly out of
courage, but mostly out of stupidity kicking Death in the
a shame that Red Dwarf didn't learn a lesson from Fawlty
Towers and end on a high. That said I still think that
at its worst it was much better than most shows, and at its
best it was a comedic wonder to behold.
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