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Red Dwarf

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Cult Times #43
The Usual Suspects
The Premise: Dave Lister – an unhygenic, underachieving Scouser – is the only Human left in a lifeless universe, following a cataclysmic radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf. Stranded in deep space, three million years from Earth, he must cope with temporal anomalies, the odd genetic mutation and all sorts of other-dimensional weirdness.

He is aided and hindered by the vessel’s batty computer Holly; a hologram of Arnold Rimmer, his obnoxious, self-serving bunkmate; and ‘the Cat’, who evolved from a flea bitten moggy Lister had smuggled aboard. On their travels they rescue the unassertive service mechanoid, Kryten.

Background: Red Dwarf was developed from a sketch that creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor had written for radio called ‘Dave Hollins – Space Cadet’. The series was eventually sold to BBC North West. For Season Three Kryten became part of the regular cast and Holly remodelled himself as a woman resulting in subtle changes to the interaction between the cast. In 1998 the series was remastered and given a uniform look so the series could be sold as two 26 episode blocks to the USA.

First Run: 15th February 1988.

Number of Episodes: Fifty-two by the end of the 1999 season.

The 'Boyz': Lister (Craig Charles), Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Holly (Norman Lovett, (Hattie Hayridge), Cat (Danny John-Jules) and, from year seven, Kochanski (Chloë Annett).

The Bad Guys:
Lister’s confidence and paranoia; authoritarian Holly substitute Queeg; Hitler; the Polymorph (a monster that sucks out your emotions) and other Genetically Engineered LifeForms; Hudzen (a robot intent on replacing Kryten); various crazed simulants; the mutton vindaloo beast; an army of evil wax droids; the Inquisitor (judge and executioner of all life in the universe); nutty professor Dr Hildegarde Lanstrom; the despair squid; the Psirens; assorted evil manifestations of the crew; and most pernicious of all – Talkie Toaster™.

And Isn’t That...
Pop star Clare Grogan played Lister’s dream girl Kochanski until she was usurped by Crime Traveller Chloë Annett. Others include: EastEnders Anita Dobson and Paul Bradley, Survivors John Abineri and Denis Lill, Jenny Agutter, Nicholas Ball, Angela Bruce, Don Henderson, Geraldine McEwan, Koo Stark, Maggie Steed and TV chef Ainsley Harriot.

Overdone Clichés: Stupid space corps directives. The crew being unaware that they’re stuck in virtual reality.

Fashion Statements: Dreadlocks and curry-stained T-shirts for Lister; silly green suits and bri-nylon for Rimmer. The Cat is a fashion statement in himself.

David Sentence

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Better than Life
Holly is replaced by the malicious Queeg who insists on whipping the crew into shape. The funniest conclusion in the series history.

A very funny and sharp insight into the relationship between Rimmer and Lister when they get stranded together and the latter has to eat dog food.

Hilarious, mind-numbing horror, with a chance to see Rimmer as Rolf Harris.

Rimmer’s finest hour as he leaves Red Dwarf to pursue ‘all he’s ever wanted’. Even the Cat has some superbly funny lines in this one.

Bubbling Under: Most of Season Two, Timeslides, White Hole, Quarantine, Gunmen of the Apocalypse
Meltdown concentrated too much on the 2D ‘celebrity’ facsimiles and not enough on jokes, lame doppelgänger outing Demons and Angels was a disappointment given its potential, and regrettably very little of Season Seven came up to scratch.

Red Dwarf BBC2: Thursday 21.00; Sundays 21.00
UK Gold: See magazine for details

Photo © BBC
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