Red Dwarf: S08E01: Back in the Red (I)

WOW!!! Wadda show! Red Dwarf was back with a vengeance! And boy did I hate it! – I loved it too, and I was confused by it and enthralled by it, and tickled pink by the excitement of it! I could only review this episode after seeing the first three of season 8. It was that hard to get my head around.

Lister goads RimmerThe show opened with a shock, not just a little shock, but a massive whopper of a shock! Rimmer was back!!! He was also back with a significant ‘H’ missing from his forehead. Lister as lying on the top bunk of what looked like a prison cell and Rimmer was on the bottom. He was trying to persuade Rimmer to talk to him. Rimmer was very annoyed (we didn’t find out the reason for his annoyance until the end of episode 2 – all I can say is, Rimmer had absolutely EVERY justification for being annoyed – boy, I’d have killed the little shit!).

The banter between Rimmer and Lister was as fresh during this opening sequence as it has been throughout the previous seven series, but most of us were still reeling from the shock of seeing the two of them together, we were still thinking, ‘what the bloody hell is (this rather podgy looking) Rimmer doing without his hologram, where is Ace, where, for that matter is the rest of the crew!?’

Rimmer is about to blow his top!Anyway, Lister finally manages to goad Rimmer into talking after reminding him of his miserly ways and about the only girl Rimmer ever loved, Yvonne McGruder. Lister mentioned that he once went out with her. She was so sexually active that he suffered terrible carpet burns.

Rimmer finally blows his top. He tells Lister how irritating he is, “You could teach things to tropical diseases!Lister apologises for whatever it is that caused Rimmer not to speak to him for two days, “Look I’m sorry…. It was an accident!” He says.

NO YOUR NOT!” exclaims Rimmer, “You poured a whole tube of the stuff over me you disgusting feted piece of rotting congealed monkey vomit!

Ahh, at last yer talking to me.” Says Lister, pleased. “I new we’d make it up!

Then we flash back two days. Lister walks into Starbugs control room. (This continues from the last scene of season seven) He shows the rest of the crew his chest. Apparently his muscles have shrunk into place. He is not the Arnold Shwartzenegger he was, the nanobots molecular process, apparently means that something is build large and then it shrinks to its natural size.

As the Starbug enters Red Dwarf, the crew realises that the mothership is shrinking. It’s still many times it’s natural size but the speed at which it is shrinking worried the Starbug crew, especially when they are inadvertently sucked into an air vent. They notice that the walls are shrinking rapidly.

Thinks are tense as Lister solicits the views and options from each of the crew. Kochanski comes up with a plan to get then out of the air vent and into some large cargo bay. Kryten and Cat agree and Lister leans forward and asks Holly, “What’s your view Hol?

Straight up your nose when you lean in like that!” He says. Lister doesn’t need to know any more. He goes with Kochanski’s plan and they accelerate to full speed through the ever-shrinking air Conduit.

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Starbug is Rat-arsed!Kryten tells everyone that there is some kind of heartbeat up ahead. This is the introduction to one of the funniest Red Dwarf sketches we’ve seen. They see a large rat up ahead and manage to avoid it (and it’s open mouth). Their praise and self-congratulation is short lived however when just round the corner is another rat! This time it is facing the opposite direction. They are on a collision course, Cat tries desperately to avoid their impending collision, but it’s all too late. With a thud, Star Bug flies straight into the Rats BUM!

The little spaceship is going so fast that the velocity is also launches the hapless rodent. Starbug and rat traverse the air vent intimately coupled together. The faces on the Starbug crew as they thunder down the air vent up a rat’s bum will live in my memory forever. The poor old rat is still wondering what has happened when Holly comes up with one of his classic lines, “I hope we don’t get stopped by the cops! They don’t like it when you’re rat-arsed!” He says smiling. (Rat-arsed is British slang for being drunk).

Lister and Cat immediately pull back on the joystick and the inertia of the rat sends it flying off into a wall as Starbug turns a bend. The air vent is getting much smaller now and the ship suffers a series of collisions caused by the tight space. Then the main body is caught and the cockpit is launched free of the air vent into the empty cargo bay. The whole series of collisions was extremely violent, yet through it all, Kochanski was able to stand by Lister and Cat without so much as a hair falling out of place! Such is the power of 23rd century hairspray!

Re-united with his buddiesWhen they recover, they look up to find that they are met by some of Lister’s friends. Unfortunately shortly after that they are all arrested by the Captain (Hollister) and charged with steeling a transport and assisting stowaways (Kryten and Cat). Lister is frog-marched to his quarters where his restrained pending trail next morning.

Holly appears on the screen and the worried Lister asks what will happen if the Board of Enquiry find them guilty in the morning.

Well, they’ll probably have a pot of tea, a bit of a chat and go home I suppose!” The nutty computer answers. Then he tells Lister that if the he and his comrades loose they will probably get a couple of years in the brig… the brig on floor 13. Apparently this is a classified floor that no one knew about. It contained a group of psychopathic prisoners. It is known amongst the officers as ‘The Tank’. It has a population of 400 prisoners, which were being transported to a penal establishment on Adelphi 12. Holly assumes that the prisoners have all been resurrected by the nanobots too. Holly shows a picture of one of the more friendly inmates, a tattooed face appears which has been grossly deformed by various horrific face studs and ringlets. “Hi.” It says with an evil smile, “I’m nice!

Suddenly Rimmer (the resurrected Rimmer) appears. Lister complains to himself of the expected two years without lager, the two years without sex! “You hope!” Says Rimmer with his famous smug expression.

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Lister explains that Rimmer is deadLister explains the story of how he and the Starbug crew found themselves in this mess. He asks Rimmer to help them in return for some information that would help him with his promotion prospects.

Meanwhile, we learn from a conversation between Captain Hollister and the lovely Dr. Karen NEWTON that Red Dwarf has changed shape and three million years into deep space! Apparently it was classified information, but the good doctor learned this from the coffee machine on G Deck. They also discuss the fact that Red Dwarf seems to be built to its original specification. I.e. The specification BEFORE the Jupiter Mining Corporation made all it’s cupbacks (It now has a Quark Level matter/antimater generator, a ship-wide bio-organic computer network AND a kareoke Bar on C Deck).

When Cat is examined by the Doctor and Hollister they are amazed to find that although he is human, he has six nipples. Hollister asks what the female of the species is like. “Pretty easy to please in bed.” Replies Cat. “Especially if you play the piano!” They also find that his liver, kidneys and appendix are colour co-ordinated and he has a ‘cool’ heartbeat’ and up-beat pulse!

Rimmer agrees to help Lister and the others and rushes off to find a CD-ROM in the Starbug cockpit that will help him with his promotion prospects. Holly ably assists him.

Meanwhile in The ships medical centre, Kryten is being interrogated by the ships Chief Psychiatric Counsellor, Dr. Lucas. The dialogue is classic Red Dwarf….

“I think it’s about time we got together and had a really good natter.” Says Lucas sat across from Kryten.

My name is Kryten, sir.” Says Kryten.

Lovely,” says Dr Lucas, “We are doing well aren’t we.” He adds rather harmlessly but still in a patronising manner. “Now. You’re a RO..BOT.. aren’t you?” He adds with a cool smile. You immediately get the impression of a teacher trying to encourage a young mischievous boy to own up for kicking a football through the Headmasters window.

I was, the last time I looked sir. Yes” Replies Kryten helpfully.

And can you tell me when you were created.” Asks Lucas, “Can you remember?

2340 sir.

Very good.” Says Lucas making a note on his note pad. He looks up and smiles, “2340. Now that’s in the future isn’t it?

Yes, sir. I was created after you died.” Confirms Kryten.

Lovely. Lovely.” Says Lucas trying to hide a slight tinge of concern. “So I died, and you were created. And how long would you say I’ve been dead, altogether?” He asks. You can almost sense him thinking. ‘Great, I’ve finally got a mad one! Ok it’s a robot, but what the hell – maybe I can do a paper on it!’

You’re not dead anymore sir.” Says Kryten politely correcting the doctor.

Aren’t I.” Smiles the doctor amending his notes.

No. You’re alive again now sir. Can’t you tell?” Says Kryten.

Right. I was alive, died and started living again?” Lucas asks. He conspicuously doesn’t write this down on his notepad.

You have been most fortunate sir.” Confirms Kryten truthfully.

Haha, golly.” The doctor laughs a disturbed laugh, as if humouring Kryten. Then he asks if Kryten’s chair is screwed down.

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Kryten checks and confirms that it is.

Soooooooo, how did I suddenly spring back to life again?” Asks Lucas nervously.

You were rebuilt sir, by the itty bitty teeny weeny tinty little robots.” Replies Kryten completely oblivious of the hole he is digging for himself. “And the make this little noise. Iniminiminiminiminiminimini.

The doctor looks at Kryten (straight in both of his ocular cavities containing his long medium and short range optical sensors) and asks with a concerned expression, “Yes, just double check that chair Kryten would you. It is screwed down with really long long screws that go really deep into the ground?

Yes sir.” Replies Kryten.

The doctor then asks what Kryten’s original programming was.

Well I’m a sanitation droid sir. I’m programmed to do sanitation type things like washing cleaning ironing…

You also drive spaceships though don’t you, pretend to be the Science Officer and sit in that lovely swivvely chair and play with all those pretty buttons and press them all.” Asks the doctor knowingly.

Yes I do that too sir. That’s sort of thanks to Mr. Lister.” Helps Kryten. “He helped me to break my programming sir. Over the years, I have managed to develop some serious character faults of which I’m extremely proud. I’m even able to Lie to a modest standard. For example: You have a very fine haircut!” Kryten laughs as he unwittingly secures another nail in his coffin. “You see how good I’ve got. Also I’ve completely mastered pomposity, though I say so myself.” He continues, this time adding nails by the handful. “I’ve also developed several rudimentary emotions including fear. ‘Oh my god, it’s going to kill us!’, sadness, ‘oh my god, it’s killed us.’ Happiness, ‘oh no it hasn’t,’ surprise, ‘ooo I’ve turned into a frog!’ And just lately I’m proud to say I’ve mastered anger with rudimentary mindless violence.Kryten then violently thumps his fist on Lucas’s hand, thereby sealing his coffin as if with a hammer.

As a bonus, Kryten tells the pained doctor about his attempt to master ambivalence, but he concedes that he hasn’t quite mastered that one by adding, “I look like a dog with a caramel toffee.

The doctor looks seriously at the doomed Kryten and asks it what is his relationship to Lister. “I love Mr Lister sir, without him, I’d probably be normal!

Rimmer's cool with the ladies.

Doctor Lucas makes a recommendation that Kryten is ‘Restored to Factory Settings’.

Meanwhile Rimmer finds the CD-ROM containing the crews personal files and also two tubes, the luck and sexual magnetism viruses. He takes a swig of the sexual magnetism virus and walks down the corridor noticing the admiring glances of the female crewmembers. He smiles and the show closes as he mutters the words, “All the world loves a bastard.

This was a great opening show, though I have to admit needing to watch it two or three times before appreciating it’s full value.

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Red Dwarf  reviews are © 1999 – 2019 Tony Fawl.
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