There is a new series of Red Dwarf starting on September 22nd! We've been rewatching the show on a mix of Dave and Netflix, and I watched series I through III so much as a kid I can still quote great big chunks of dialogue verbatim. To celebrate, here are my top ten Red Dwarf episodes.
(I make no apology for the large number of episodes from Series I. It was the best.)
Series V; originally aired 5 March 1992. A wonderfully Rimmer-centric episode, this one sees the crew trapped on a psi-moon, a nightmarish place attuned to Rimmer's psyche. And, as another series V episode (Quarantine) proved to us, Rimmer's psyche is one scary place to be.
#9. The End
Series I; originally aired 15 February 1988. The very first episode of the very first series, it deserves a place on anyone's top ten list. Not only is there the classic 'everybody's dead' exchange, it also has one of my favourite quotes ever:
RIMMER: Last time I only failed [the astro-navigation exam] by the narrowest of narrow margins. ... I submitted a discourse on porous circuity that was too radical, too unconventional, too mould-breaking for the examiners to accept.
LISTER: Yeah. You said you were a fish.
Series IV; originally aired 21 February 1991. When the crew stumble across a DNA modifier, Kryten ends up getting more than he bargained for when his greatest wish comes true - he changes into a human. Lister is forced to give Kryten a pep talk on selling out - Once, many years ago, I went into a wine bar. Who knows where it could have lead!? - and explain that no vacuum cleaner should be giving a human a double polaroid!
Series I; originally aired 21 March 1988. The only thing worse than having Rimmer brought back from the dead to keep you company for all eternity is having two Rimmers brought back... This episode basically tells you all need to know about why Rimmer is the neurotic creep he is, with details about his family, upbringing, and the infamous Gazpacho Soup incident. My favourite quote comes from after the Rimmer break-up:
We later learn (S10,EP6) that young Rimmer is the kid from the Oak Furniture Land TV adverts - it seems exactly the kind of thing a pre-JMC Vending Machine Repairman Rimmer would be doing...
Series VII; originally aired 14 February 1997. With Rimmer having left to fulfill his destiny as Ace - Lister has begun to miss him. Kryten uses Rimmer's diaries to create 'The Rimmer Experience'.
This is also the episode which addresses all that UST aboard ship... It was the main reason I chose to pick Red Dwarf to write for a fic fest a few years back:
Sometimes Rimmer was convinced that it was all Holly’s fault. The idiot was deliberately overlooking a scratch on his personality disk, or a corruption in his data files, not unlike the time the jumped up calculator had let Peterson’s right arm try to murder him.(Being Dead) Not the Setback It Used To Be (1839 words) by Starrrz. Written for Queer Fest 2012, prompt: Any fandom, any character, a character returns from the dead with different ideas about their orientation or gender identity. Did they 'come back wrong' or are they just finally discovering who they really are?
#5. Parallel Universe
Series II; originally aired 11 October 1988. The invention of the Holly Hop Drive accidentally takes Red Dwarf to a parallel universe where society, instead of favouring males, is totally geared to the female of the species. This episode had a really big impact on me as a kid, highlighting the inherent hypocrisy of so many opinions about a woman's place in the world. (And this was 1988. Shame they hadn't saved some of that social commentary for the horror that was Series VIII...)
Plus it has the awesome Tongue Tied song. Check it out!
#4. Back to Reality
Series V; originally aired 26 March 1992. When the crew encounter a sea creature known as the 'despair squid', they suffer a group hallucination which reveals them to be totally different people, randomly thrown together to spend four years playing the popular total immersion video game, Red Dwarf.
The best thing about this episode is the Cat's alter ego, Duane Dibbley. It is surely no coincidence that Danny John Jules' character in Death In Paradise is named Dwayne. :)
#3. Balance of Power
Series I; originally aired 29 February 1988. Lister decides that the best way to get his hands on Kochanski's disk is to take the chef's exam, pass, and finally oust Rimmer from his position as the highest ranking (remaining) crew member aboard Red Dwarf.
Clare Grogan's stint as Rimmer in Kochanski's body is really fun, and the flashback to Rimmer's revision methods is brill: Where's my revision timetable? ... It took me seven weeks to make it. I've got to cram my whole revision into one night. This episode, to my mind, was the one which fared worst from the 1998 remastering process. Why would anyone want to get rid of the 'black card situation, end of conversation' line!?
Series IV; originally aired 14 February 1991. Camille, a pleasure GELF designed to appear as the onlooker's ideal mate, is rescued from a doomed ship. She and Kryten seem made for each other, even after she reveals her true blob-like visage, at least until a GELF from Camille's past catches up with her...
I love the exchange between Rimmer and Kryten, when the former tells the latter how much Camille reminds him of his sister-in-law, Janine:
Camille looks like your sister-in-law? What happened? Was she involved in some kind of horrific car accident?
#1. Waiting For God
Series I; originally aired 7 March 1988. Apparently it's one of the most unpopular episodes, which just shows that everyone else is completely wrong because Waiting For God is awesome. It's full of interesting titbits about Cat society, and how they came to worship Cloister the Stupid and Frankenstein, the Holy Mother.
I love how Lister's telling his cat about their future life on Fiji has corrupted over the following three million years into Cloister leading the Cat people to the promised land. The Cat priests wear the holy custard stains and sacred gravy marks, and their religious regalia include sausages and doughnuts. Not that Cat believes in any of it, preferring to talk about his feet. (Anything foot related always inspires the line 'let me tell you about my feet' in our house.)
I don't know why the show has never made more of the Cats - I mean, it couldn't have been all that long before Lister was released from stasis that the remaining (slightly more) sane Cats left to look for Fushal. They couldn't have got that far, relatively speaking. ...But it looks like this is finally about to be addressed. The episode summaries for the upcoming series tell us that in the final ep, Can of Worms, the 'Cat takes time off from being in love with himself to fall head over heels in love with a lady Cat with a big secret'. I can't wait!