Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Red Dwarf Season 4

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Welcome to the 4th review 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. Click here for the review of Season 1, 2, and 3.

Season 4 (1990)

Episode 1 - Camille
Kryten finds Camille, a mechanoid just like himself (except a female version) and quickly becomes attracted to her. When Kryten brings her back to the ship Camille appears differently to each crew member. Camille is a Pleasure Gelf, genetically engineered to read a person's mind and appear to that person as their 'perfect' mate. When the gig is up and Camille tells Kryten what she really is (a green glob looking thing) he still shows interest and the two have a romantic relationship. In the end Camille's boyfriend shows up and Kryten tells Camille to go with him and the two part ways. This episode sets the tone for me for the rest of the season. While it is funny, it doesn't hit the same spot that the 3rd Season does.

Episode 2 - DNA
The crew find a ship that can transform DNA into anything else by changing the DNA code around. Lister is turned into a chicken and a mouse, while Kryten is turned human. In the end the crew has to fight with a half hot Indian curry monster and only Lister can defeat him (with the help of Leopard Strength Lager). This episode's laughs come from Kryten's new human form. It is the same actor our of makeup. There are some classic lines in this episode but the whole monster at the end was just so-so. This episode typifies a fundamental change in the focus of the series. Lister's goal no longer seems to be getting back to Earth, but just bumming around space. The episode wraps up neatly at the end and they just seem to loose interest in the fantastic technology on board the ship.

Episode 3 - Justice
The crew lands on Justice World, a penal colony where you cannot commit a crime (because it happens to you). There is a great court scene where Rimmer is sentenced for mass murder. The crew also have to deal with a crazy Simulant on the loose. I guess I don't have a lot to say about this episode. The concept of Justice World seemed to be the focus of the writers episode but they needed to add the Simulant to add some excitement to the episode. I don't think they really needed to. The whole storyline of Rimmer's innocence / guilt would have been enough to sustain the episode.

Episode 4 - White Hole
This is probably the deepest concept Season 4 has to offer. The premise is so good it forms a very large part of the Red Dwarf book: Better Than Life. The crew reroute Holly's circuits and she becomes super smart (at the cost of her having only a few minutes to live). The ship is headed for a 'white hole' and will be destroyed unless they can do something about it. The story is great but it suffers from the time constraint. I think the writers saw this and that is why it is in the book. Talkie Toaster makes a return (looking and sounding very different) and is voiced by the actor who played Kryten in Season 2. This is probably one of the most enjoyable shows of the season. The end of the episode is a little bit of a let down but over all it's enjoyable.

Episode 5 - Dimension Jump
This is the best episode of Season 4. It is also Chris Barries' favorite episode (as well as a large portion of Red Dwarf fans). An alternate version of Rimmer; a smart, brave, and overall fantastic human being dimension jumps into the petty, geeky, and mean version of Rimmer's universe. We also see alternate versions of all the other characters as well. It is a refreshing addition of characters and situations as we get to know Ace Rimmer. Arnold Rimmer hates Ace and assumes Ace got all the breaks and that's how he became such a great guy. As it turns out Ace Rimmer was kept back at school when he was young and that's what made him the man he is today. If you are ever going to watch only one episode of Red Dwarf from Season 4, this is the one you should watch.

Episode 6 - Meltdown
Kryten fixes the Matter Panel that allows the group to travel to nearby planets. They travel to a wax android theme park planet. The wax droids have been left to themselves for millions of years and are out to exterminate each other. Rimmer steps in and goes nuts with power as he takes command of a rag tag band of wax droids. Rimmer is getting to utilize all those skills he honed playing Risk. In the end the big battle happens and Rimmer is victorious. This final episode was delayed in it's broadcast because of the war in Iraq. The BBC didn't want people think the episode was trying to make a statement.

Join me next time for Season 5.

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