by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Welcome to the first of many of reviews all about the British comedy Red Dwarf. For those who don't know, Red Dwarf is a British Science Fiction comedy about the last human being alive. This is the first part of the reviews that will span all eight seasons as well as the Back to Earth specials. Perhaps when the next season finally comes out I will add it to my list of reviews.
Season 1 (1988)
Episode 1 - The End
Obviously shot for ten dollars the first episode of Red Dwarf eptimizes what the seires is all about... the interaction of Lister (the main character) and Rimmer (the bunkmate and supervisor). The episode is based around Lister getting put into suspended animation (for smuggling a cat on board the mining ship he works on called Red Dwarf) and being revived three million years later. The ship's computer revived Lister after a dangerous radiation leak killed off the crew but did so after radiation levels were safe. Lister is stuck with the computer (Holly), his dead bunkmate who is brought back as a computer generated hologram (Rimmer), and a man who evolved from his original cat (Cat). Nintey percent of the comedy is the interaction between the crew and doesn't rely on sci-fi story plots. As I said the series didn't get real money until the third season so all these episode are very low budget. The fact that the series survived until it had the money is a testment to the writing by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant.
Episode 2 - Future Echos
The ship has been traveling for three million years, gaining speed and it breaks the light barrier and the crew starts seeing themselves in situations that haven't happened yet. Rimmer sees Lister die in an explosion so there is that tension until its revealed that it was one of Lister's future sons that died (since they are seeing whats going to happen in the future). We do however see Lister with two babies which are explained in Season 2 and 3.
Episode 3 - Balance of Power
Life on Red Dwarf is unbearable with Rimmer constantly pulling rank and making Lister do work in order to get stuff he wants (like cigarettes). Rimmer has had the ship's little robots (skutters) hide them so he can dole them out as Lister does his work. Lister decideds to beat Rimmer at his own game and attempts to take a test and get promoted over Rimmer's position of 2nd technician. Rimmer is sure this will fail until it is revealed that Lister is going to take the chef's exam as opposed the astronavigation exam. This episode is pure excellence. It is storytelling at it's best. This is what early Red Dwarf is all about to me. It solely focuses on the characters and provides laughs without having to spend hardly any money!
Episode 4 - Waiting For God
As it turns out, Lister is god to the cat people. When the crew died in the radiation leak Lister's sumggeled-on-board pregnant cat was sealed in the ship's hold where they bred and bred for three million years until Felis Sapiaens emerged. The story of Lister's sacrafice (of not giving up the cat to the ship's crew for disection) and being put into suspended animation as a punishment was passed down and became the crux of their religous views. At the same time Lister is finding all this out a mysterious pod is found and brought on board. Rimmer is convinced its aliens that can give him a new body (he is a hologram and can't touch anything). This episode is the one and only time there appears to be another person on board the ship. There is an old cat-man who Lister visits as he is dying. The man is given absolution by his god (Lister The Stupid) before he passes away.
Episode 5 - Confidence And Paranoia
Lister gets ill from some form of mutate flu and his dreams turn into reality (along with two people who represent his confidence and his parianoia). These two people are unwanted by Rimmer and he does his hologramatic best to get rid of them. Lister is having a great time and doesn't seem to mind the attention of Confidence. In the end Confidence helps Lister look for the dead crew's hologram discs so Lister can bring back some one more interesting than Rimmer. After finding the crew's discs Lister plugs in his old girlfriend's disc and boots it up. A second Rimmer appears. Rimmer knew Lister would one day find the discs so he copied his own so there are now two Rimmers on the ship.
Episode 6 - Me2 (squared)
Rimmer moves in with the copy he made of himself and get along just famously... for a while. Soon the two clash and life becomes unbarable for the original Rimmer. Lister is annoyed with all the fighting so he decided to put an end to all of it by erasing one of the Rimmers.
So ends the first season of Red Dwarf. As I have said many times I feel the first three seasons are the best. I enjoy the fact that there is a lot of character interaction.