Red Dwarf – Just the Shows I-IV

Created by: Rob Grant and Doug Naylor

Cast: Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, Norman Lovett, Hattie Hayridge

Synopsis: A sci-fi comedy series which follows the unfortunate situation as live by Dave Lister (Charles).   After being caught bringing a cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf, Lister is put into suspended animation.   He is woken 3 million years later finding the rest of the crew dead from a radiation leak which had only now dissipated enough to support life on the ship again.   He was revived by senile ships computer Holly (Lovett, before the character has a sex change and is played by Hayridge), who created a hologram to keep him company… of the man he hated most on the ship, pompous but useless Arnold Rimmer (Barrie).   In addition, there is a creature that evolved from his pet cat (John-Jules), and a service mechanoid Kryten (Llewelyn), whom they meet on their travels.


Given that our friends at Culture Shock Events have a Smegging Good Weekend coming up in the first week of February, this has inspired me to revisit the show and remember exactly why it is so loved.   So I went along, acquired myself a copy of the DVD set here mentioned, and spend a number of hours in absolute hilarity.

This film appreciates many of the absurdities in science fiction series, and lovingly lampoons many of these conventions.   In addition, it is done with such a level of British-ness that makes it unique from other series that fit within this particular genre.   There is a unique combination of misfit characters that as a whole make quite a good, if haphazard team, despite the odds stacked against them.   The best of these relationships is that between Lister and Rimmer, constantly butting heads, yet despite it all, being quite good friends, no matter how much they wish to deny it.

The other three main characters are perhaps where the most obvious gags come from, however.   My Bride has stated her favourite characters are the Cat and Kryten.   The Cat is a fitting portrayal if what a humanoid feline would possibly be like, full of vanity, obsessed with hygiene, and disinterested in anyone but itself.   Kryten certainly has a screw loose somewhere, and humour is mined from his desire to break from his programming, particularly when it comes to his many desires to disobey and insult Rimmer.   Both the actors behind these characters have a more demanding physical performance than the two leads, but are utterly convincing and they do it all with perfect comic timing.

Series I-IV are getting kind of old now, so the low-budget special effects are certainly obvious.   This works into the shows charm, however, as some of the conventions it lampoons are those of original Trek.   Whilst obviously of poor quality, this far from matters given that the quality of humour rarely drops.   The dialogue is sharp, witty, and often even insightful.   If this series has skipped you by before now, repair that problem immediately.

For those already converted, take a look again, and remember what great comedy is about.   Then look up the Culture Shock website to learn how you can meet Lister, Cat, and Kryten.

4 stars out of 5



Red Dwarf on IMDB

Series 1 trailer [youtube=]

Series 3 Opening Credits [youtube=]


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