Red Dwarf Reviews, Series III, Episode 6: "The Last Day".

Airdate: 19 December, 1989

Some say that he’s gone insane looking for his predecessor, and that he has no desire to watch Top Gear. All we know is, HE’S CALLED HUDZEN 10!

Synopsis (Spoilers): Lister receives a post pod from Kryten’s manufacturers, informing him that Kryten’s built in expiry date is almost here and that Kryten will undergo shutdown within 24 hours. Lister is stunned, but Kryten takes the news well. Kryten declares that, because he has lived a life free of vices and lived in servitude, he is going up to Silicon Heaven. Lister not only does not believe in a Silicon Heaven (although Rimmer tells him to respect Kryten’s beliefs), but Lister is angry over the fact that Kryten is being turned off just to sell more models. Lister decides to throw Kryten a party that he will never forget, and the gang share very weird secrets.

The next morning, Kryten comes to, and realizes that he can not turn himself off. However, he also learns that the new model, Hudzen 10, is on his way, and that if Kryten does not activate his own turn-off disc, Hudzen must terminate Kryten. The Boys from the Dwarf decide to gang up against Hudzen, who has gone crazy looking for Kryten. Kryten manages to defeat Hudzen using a lie involving Silicon Heaven.

Review: This episode is actually my third favorite from the third series (beaten out by the hysterical “Polymorph” and the tear jerking “Marooned”). This is a TV episode that manages to combine social commentary alongside wonderful humor. (I’ll get to another TV episode that does NOT do social commentary well later). Silicon Heaven and it’s criticism by Lister could be considered a bit of jab at the religious, but through it all, Kryten retains his faith in Silicon Heaven. Indeed, the message comes off as “believe whatever you want, as long as it does not result in your death”, or “you don’t have to be a fundamentalist to have faith, and cutting loose is not a bad thing”. Keep in mind, Red Dwarf criticizes the entirety of humanity, and it criticizes the behaviors of all sorts of humans, so being somewhat offended once is ordinary for the viewer.

This episode also excels in Character Development. We learn that Lister never knew his mother, and that he was orphaned. We learn that Rimmer’s mother, described a mere three episodes prior as “very prim, very proper, almost austere”, actually had affairs. This episode also shows an integral part of Kryten’s persona, and why he is the only character to (barring his series II debut) not want to anger Rimmer. (Although, this does lead to my one complaint about the episode: if Kryten rebelled against Rimmer in “Kryten”, isn’t he already damned by his standards for rebellion against humans?”)

And the episode is just hysterical. Rimmer revealing his first kiss? Hysterical. Hell, the entire party is brilliant. Oh, and Rimmer’s view on Kryten’s 24 hour notice? “That’s more than most of us get. All most of us get is ‘Mind that bus.’ ‘What Bus?’ Splat.”

Overall, a wonderful note to end the game-changing series III on.

Favorite Scene: The party. Every part of it is hysterical.

Score: 9

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 5: "Timeslides"

Airdate: 12 December 1989

Synopsis: Kryten discovers that the development fluid on Red Dwarf can bring pictures to life, and can cause the crew to walk in the images. After changing the events of an attempted assassination of Hitler, Lister realizes that they have a time machine, and decides to change events to prevent himself from going on Red Dwarf. Using the Tension Sheet invented by Rimmer’s old classmate (Fred “Thicky” Holden), Lister goes back to an old concert that occurred when he was in a band, Smeg and the Heads. Lister manages to change events to convince young Lister to invent the Tension Sheet.

However, due to Lister not entering Red Dwarf, the Cat was not brought aboard, and Kryten was never rescued. Therefore, Rimmer is all alone with Holly. Holly finds a TV special on Lister’s new life as an uber-rich rockstar and inventor. (To clarify, he moved his HOUSE to get away from the neighbors, brought Buckingham Palace and had it ground down to line his drive, and brought three million copies of his song to send it to number 1.) Rimmer wants none of it, because, well, he’s a smeghead. Rimmer tries to bring Lister back, but fails to do so. Therefore, he goes back to try and get his younger self to invent the tension sheet while in boarding school. Not spoiling what happens here, but you can all take a lucky guess.

Review: I have to say, this is the weakest episode of the entire season. Still a good episode, but some things just don’t line up. How come in one scene, Rimmer can’t move outside the confines of the photograph, yet in another scene, Rimmer suddenly pops up outside of the photographic barriers (although another photograph may have been used off screen). Also, how does Rimmer still remain a hologram when Lister doesn’t join Red Dwarf? Remember, Rimmer was brought back specifically to keep Lister company.

However, ignore those complaints (easy: rule of funny), and you have a fun episode. The scene with “Sham Glam” Lister is hysterical. The episode contains many funny scenes (such as Lister going back in time to Hitler’s assassination attempt). This episode also reveals that Lister can and IS sick of being trapped on a spaceship three million years in the future, which is some good character development. Plus, Rimmer’s jerkass behavior in this episode is hilariously cruel.

Favorite Scene: A few. I actually can’t choose, so I’ll list them.

  • First off, Rimmer learns about the circumstances of Listers Tension-Sheet Timeline death. He died aged 98 in a plane crash. Why a plane crash? He was making love to his 14th wife and lost control of the plane. Rimmer asks for photos of Lister’s new timeline. Thinking that Rimmer is talking about the plane crash, Holly gives a “What the Smeg” look.
  • Second off, Lister’s song. Simply put, “Om”. It’s quite creative, actually. The fact that, in an alternate timeline, Lister made it so “Om” went to the top of the charts is also hilarious.
  • Last, but not least, Rimmer explains why he is going to rescue Lister from wealth and fame. “It’s my duty. My duty as a complete and utter bastard!”

Not-So-Fun Fact: Graham Chapman, from Monty Python, was originally selected to play the TV host Blaize from the scene featuring the Lifestyles of the Disgustingly Rich and Famous. However, he died before filming began. (To add more irony, he died on the 20th anniversary of Python). Ruby Wax, a comedienne and the wife of Red Dwarf director Ed Bye, played Blaize instead.

Score: 7.5

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 4: "Bodyswap"

Airdate: 5 December 1989

Lister’s uniform on Chris Barrie’s body. The fans went crazy.

Synopsis: A series of events involving a rogue skutter and Lister’s desire for food leads to Lister accidentally triggering self-destruct via a vending machine. Only a senior officer can deactivate the self-destruct, and all of them are dead (Holly failed to update her database). Kryten recommends a mind-swap with a senior officer, so that the computer can recognize his/her voice. Ultimately, the self-destruct turns out to be a ruse, but it gives Rimmer an idea. Under the pretense of getting Lister back in shape, the two propose (and undergo) a bodyswap. However, Rimmer abuses Lister’s body by drinking, eating, and smoking beyond belief. The end result is that Lister puts on quite a bit of weight. Lister quickly gets fed up with it and forces Rimmer (who trashed Lister’s body even further) to change back.

However, Rimmer, already in heaven with the food that has been eaten, is not willing to give up so easily. In the middle of the night, Rimmer steals Lister’s body and takes off on Starbug, with a ton of junk food in tow, “promising” to be back in a month… maybe six weeks. Rimmer also declares that if Lister gains ground, Rimmer will commit “suicide”. The chase ends when Lister and Co. back off in a desolate planet, distracting Rimmer (via his gloating) and causing him to crash. Rimmer and Lister switch back again, with Lister banged up and forced on a diet. Rimmer then kidnaps the Cat’s body to try and get THAT body in shape (read, binge out).

Review: In my last post, “Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments”, hijacking Lister’s body ranked in at #2 (only getting beaten out by Rimmer’s final interaction with his brother in “Trojan”). It deserves it. In fact, after closer analysis, I could make a good argument that this should have been the #1 moment of jerkassery. Rimmer at least was bullied by his brothers, which could explain why he was a jerkass to Howard at the end of “Trojan”, although it FAR from mitigates his jerkassery in that episode. Here, Rimmer acts like a slimeball to Lister, who has been relatively civil to Rimmer for the past two series. One could argue that is was revenge for Lister destroying Rimmer’s chest and indirectly burning his wooden soldiers in “Marooned”, but Lister felt bad for those events happening. Rimmer feels no remorse for a single action in this episode. At all.

On one hand, you feel for Rimmer. The poor smeghead has not eaten nor touched in years, so you expect him to go on a binge once he gets a body. However, once Rimmer steals Lister’s body and puts the gun to Lister’s head, all sympathy for him goes out the window. In fact, in that moment, Rimmer manages to switch firmly from Anti-Hero to villain. He actually manages to rival Bender from Futurama in terms of selfish insanity.

Hell, when the Cat (read, the character that DEFINES vanity) considers this deranged, you know your character is damn near low. Speaking of The Cat, his character (starting with “Backwards”, but I forgot to mention that there) starts to develop somewhat, with him gaining a friendship with Lister, and being a damn good Starbug pilot.

Rimmer also receives no repercussions for being a slime ball. Instead, Lister is put on a minuscule diet, and is forced to deal with his injuries.

Otherwise, this seems like an open-and-shut review. The episode is, for the most part, quite funny, and overall, pretty enjoyable. It’s not the best of the season. One could argue why a mind swap could give people different voices, but I argue that it is not important, and it is still fun to see Chris Barrie and Craig Charles doing actions that normally the other would do.

Oh, and fun maths fact. Rimmer apparently made Lister gain “two stone” in about a week. For those that have no knowledge of British weight slang, that is about 28 pounds, or 12.7 Kilos. That’s… impressively bad.

The episode is not the most memorable of the series (much like “Timeslides”), but still, with Red Dwarf III being as good as it is, it’s still good enough for an 8, a great score.

Favorite Scene: Holly comes up with three solutions to self-destruct accidentally being launched. They are…

  1. Sit there and get blown up;
  2. Stand there and get blown up, and;
  3. Jump up and down, shout at her for not thinking of anything, then get blown up.

Rating: 8.

Not Another Top (X) List!: Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments.

I’m too uncreative to make a “Top X List” image, so I just stole one from “SNL/Wayne’s World”

For the first time in this blog, I have a top X List. I call it “Not Another Top X List” for the following reasons. “Not Another” is in because, let’s face it, damn near every other internet reviewer and blog has had a list of their top 10s/5s/whatevers. The letter X is in because the variable could be different for every list. And the word List is in here for obvious reasons.

With the premiere of the first list, I may as well make the first one about the same show that provided my very first review post.

If you play your cards right, then he might just come home for dinner.

Ah, Second Technician Arnold Judas Rimmer. Rimsy. Arnie J. Old Iron Balls. The Smeghead. No matter what nickname you call him, he is quite possibly, the most beloved character in the history of Red Dwarf. A part of this is due to the writers (primarily the team of Grant/Naylor) making him out to be so sympathetic. His life has been constant failure after constant failure, and it makes you want to hug the man. That is, if he was real, and if he was not a hologram who has been dead for 3 million years.

However, the writers also like to emphasize that fact that, no matter what, Rimmer will always be a selfish, callous, pompous, arrogant, moronic smeghead. This is the same character that managed to ruin everybody’s fun by being all of those things that I have listed. Therefore, this list is dedicated to the moments that made you realize that Rimmer was a complete git.

Not that this is a bad thing, of course. In fact, these moments make him more of a well-written character, rounds him out, and makes the character hysterical. But still, if you were in the company of this man, you would want to punch him in the face… or terminate his hologram. Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 3: "Polymorph"

Airdate: 28 November 1989

Synopsis (Spoilers): A shapeshifting alien lands on Red Dwarf, with the ability to change into anything to, to quote Kryten, “suit its terrain and deceive its enemies.” This polymorph, however, sucks out negative emotions. Why? Also quoting Kryten, “IT’S INSANE!”

It’s another normal day on the ship. Lister is making food with medical utensils, and Kryten accidentally insults Rimmer’s “prim, proper, almost austere” mother. The day is altered when the Polymorph, initially disguised as a sausage, attacks Lister, turns into various objects, culminating into a 12-foot monster, and manages to suck out Lister’s fear.

With Lister all too willing to take on the Polymorph, the others decide to attack the monster and flee the ship. The Cat, fleeing from heat-seeking missiles (which are trapped in another room), has his vanity sucked out by the Polymorph disguised as an ego-stroking female. Kryten’s guilt is sucked out by the Polymorph disguised as Rimmer. Rimmer’s anger is sucked out when the alien is disguised as his mother, who proceeded to sleep with Lister and brag about it to Rimmer.

The malformed Red Dwarf crew hold a meeting to try and go against the Polymorph.

  • Rimmer suggests attacking the Polymorph with a major leaflet campaign and various fundraisers.
  • Lister suggests taking on the Polymorph, with consequences that include his death.
  • The Cat, reduced to a bum and without a lick of fashion, does not care, calling all the ideas good, while he says that he is a big fat nobody.
  • Kryten wants the idea to include everybody else dying.

The crew take down the Polymorph in the cargo bays (thanks to the heat-seeking missiles fired earlier), and the crew are returned to normal.

Review: How this episode got past the censors is beyond me. This episode had the infamous “shrinking boxers” scene which caused the studio audience to laugh so much, Chris Barrie had to wait 10 minutes to deliver his line. Take THAT, Sammy Davis Jr. kissing Archie Bunker. Another scene that made this episode raunchier then normal was the scene where an anger-free Rimmer suggests various names for their organization, and one acronym is a bit… weird. (Rimmer even says the acronym. I’ll just say that the word would never get past censors today.) To a lesser extent, there is Rimmer’s “mother” who brags about her quick tryst with Lister. She briefly mentions “alphabetti spaghetti”.

That does not mean that the episode is bad at all. Rather, this episode is one of the best in the show for a reason. It is just hysterical. The Polymorph as a villain is well developed, especially for a one-shot villain. The character is also the first alien-esque character in the show. To avert the cliche of aliens, Grant Naylor used the term GELF, with Holly even calling it “man made”.

The episode also shows why Red Dwarf mostly (but not always) can get away with cop outs and stupid decisions that other shows can’t get away with. In Red Dwarf, we expect nothing from this crew. The bar is so low, that we expect them to flee, and take the easiest way out possible. The decisions they make fit in brilliantly with their characters. We know Rimmer’s character, and his first instinct is to abandon the situation, a complete contradiction to his desire to lead.

I do wish that they had taken on Rimmer’s ego, but that can be mostly excused, as they took on the Cat’s vanity. Other then that, this episode is brilliant.

Favorite Scene: Do I have to choose? The meeting scene is probably the best of the long, long list.

Score: 9.5

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 2: "Marooned"

Airdate: 21 November 1989

A smeghead and a slob. Trapped on an icy planet. Oh, boy.

Synopsis: Holly steers Red Dwarf into a black hole field, causing the crew to have to temporarily flee. Rimmer and Lister wind up taking Starbug, where Rimmer regales Lister about the former’s interests in the military and his previous life as Alexander the Great’s chief… eunuch. While the two are talking, Starbug is struck by a meteor, and crash lands on an ice planet. They have little hope of being found, low food, and no warmth. Rimmer can “live” because he is a hologram, but Lister can only hope for survival. The two wind up talking to each other and learning more about each other.

When it comes time to burn stuff for warmth, Lister is reluctant to let go of his Les Paul guitar, and Rimmer his military figurines. Lister, without Rimmer noticing, cuts a guitar-shaped hole out of Rimmer’s treasure chest. Thinking that it is Lister’s Les Paul, Rimmer decides to sacrifice his military figurines. Lister feels guilty that he made Rimmer burn something that meant so much to him, as the trunk provided the last link to Rimmer of his estranged father.

Kryten and the Cat find the two, and manages to bring them back. Holly then tells Rimmer that there was no black hole field; it was just five pieces of grit. Rimmer then realizes that Lister cut a hole out of his chest.

Review: A good Red Dwarf episode, for the most part, contains tons of laughs and constant comedy, alongside character development. While “Marooned” also contains this, there is also something else in this episode.

This episode (until series VII) is the most dramedy-focused episode in the history of the show, and some parts can bring you to tears.

It’s literally just Lister and Rimmer talking with each other for the most part. It’s an example of a “locked in a freezer” episode (a common TV cliche) that manages to pull off the aforementioned cliche well. The development Lister and Rimmer get is incredible. From the most minute details to great backstory reveal, it is quite rare to get the development in a comedy that Lister and Rimmer get.

In terms of tearjerker-ness, watching Rimmer burn something that meant so much to him, and then realizing why it meant so much to him, is among the most depressing things ever put in a sitcom. In my opinion, it is depressing almost to the level of Fry’s dog (prepares for flamers).

And Lister… god. He manages to be such a hilarious, and yet depressing, jerkass simultaneously. And yet he still feels bad for it. The look on Rimmer face when he finds out what Lister is done can only be described as pure anger. Put yourself in Rimmer’s shoes for a second. When he learns that Lister cut out a piece of his treasure chest, it goes beyond typical anger. Lister callously (yet, unbeknownst to Rimmer, unknowingly) ignored Rimmer’s feelings about his father just to save his own guitar which he can’t play for smeg.

And yet this episode is still hilarious. Lister and Rimmer talking about their first encounters with other women? Funny. Lister and Rimmer burning literature (not out of hatred, but for necessity)? Hilarious (especially when they have to say tootle-pipski to Shakespeare). The reveal about the grit on the screen? Hysterical.

This episode is just brilliant. It is one of the best in Red Dwarf‘s history. It ranked second on the Ganymede and Titan Silver Survey earlier this year, and it deserves it.

Favorite Scene: Do I have to choose? It has to be learning what the solders meant for Rimmer. It is, quite possibly, the most moving moment in the history of the show.

A VERY Close second place? Rimmer quotes Richard III

“Now….. something something something something.”

Score: 9.5

Gravity Falls Review, Season 1, Episode 9: The Time Traveler’s Pig.

Airdate: August 24th, 2012.

AAAAHHHHH!!!! PETE’S BACK!!!

Synopsis (Spoilers): During a funfair, Dipper tries to win a stuffed animal-thing for Wendy. Dipper, however, can’t throw, causing Wendy to have a black eye. A series of events manages to have Wendy go out with Robbie. Meanwhile, Mabel wins a pet pig. Also, a time traveler called Blendin Bladin leaves his time machine (tape measure) laying down. Dipper and Mabel use it to try and get the stuffed animal for Wendy. After many failures, Dipper manages to get the stuffed animal… at the expense of Waddles.

Mabel and Dipper get into a fight, and begin to mess around with time. They wind up in the present, where Mabel is in a severe funk over losing a pig. Dipper resets things back to the way they were before, Wendy goes out with Robbie, Mabel gets a pet pig, and Blendin goes to jail.

Review: Be warned. This is going to be long, and may cause all 2 of my readers to chuck tomatoes at me. Because…

God. I. Hate. This. Stupid. Episode.

Never expected somebody who likes science-fiction to say that he hates an episode that revolves around science-fiction and time travel, huh? Well, not in this case.

This episode is like the antithesis of “The City on the Edge of Forever” from Star Trek The Original Series. The thing is, in “City on the Edge”, time travel was used to try and save the common good, yet there was also a selfish motive for Kirk, his love for well-meaning peace activist Janice Keller. Yet, the other option is quite clearly positive, making it possible to see why he would give up the love of Keller. In this episode, Mabel is JUST as, if not more, selfish than Dipper. Is she really flipping out… over a smegging pig? WHY WOULD YOU FLIP OUT OVER A SMEGGING PIG?

The worst part? She does not learn! She does not learn about the meaning of sacrifice the way Dipper had to learn. This episode makes her out to be an annoying, immature brat!

Oh, and Dipper’s not a whole lot better. Changing time and altering the past just to get a girlfriend? Holly from Red Dwarf put the idea of changing time best:

“What about causality, then? What about determinism? You just can’t go messing about with history!” -“Timeslides”

Congratulations, Dipper. A computer with an IQ that’s only the same as 12000 car park attendants knows more about causality than you. That’s incredible.

Granted, this does help kick-start a series of episodes where Dipper’s self-serving behavior manages to slowly overtake him and control his actions. Still, how come a boy that book-smart did not question the idea of causality once in this episode?

Strangely enough, Dipper’s selfish behavior in this episode is more justified. Not 100%, as he does come off as a bit of a smeghead, just more justified. To explain why, we have to compare to Star Trek again. Kirk’s selfishness from “City on the Edge” worked because he went into time travel with a purpose: to try and save the future and rescue Doctor McCoy. However, he falls in love with Edith Keeler, and has to decide on what seems to be his true love or the needs of the many in the future. Unlike with Dipper (who had to choose between impressing Wendy and Mabel getting a pig), Kirk’s stakes were much higher, and ultimately, when he sacrifices his selfish behavior, he does a good for the world (even though it initially provides a lot of bad for self).

Dipper’s stakes were much, much lower. Therefore, his selfishness could be justified. Mabel could have learned that you can’t always get what you want. But she does not. She almost is the villain in the episode, and if that is so, then the villain wins, hands down. The solution would be to have Mabel get Waddles before Dipper tried to impress Wendy. It’s a rather simplistic solution, but considering that the other option is for Mabel to have a pet smegging PIG while Dipper has to sacrifice a chance at love, it makes some sense.

The worst aspect of the entire series is the triangle that is forming between Mabel, Dipper, and Wendy. We see this more in “Summerween”, although that episode executes it better. When Mabel and Dipper’s friendship is pitted against Dipper’s desire for Wendy, it makes the episode that much worse. Oh, and the twins manage to ruin Blendin’s life. No comeuppance for that. Their actions screwed up a poor guy’s life.

And I will be blunt as can be here… I detest Robbie. Partially it’s because of the shipper deep in me, but Robbie is just a prick, put in to try and give Dipper some motivation to try and go out with Wendy. That is his raison d’être. Oh, I also hate Waddles. The pig contributes nothing to the plot. He is just there to screw Dipper over. Nice character, Alex! (Prepares for Waddles fans attacking me.)

This episode does not get a score lower than what it gets mainly because it contains some funny moments. The Oregon Trail reference was creative, and there are some call backs to prior episodes, as well as some funny foreshadowing. Also, the method of Science-fiction is pretty damn creative, and quirky. And I personally love Blendin as a character. He is just so sympathetic and still a bit funny.

Still, outside of the humor, the episode barely passes. Barely.

Favorite Scene: The Oregon Trail scene was pretty funny.

Score: 5

Note: If I got anything wrong in this review about causality, or if you disagree with me, please comment. I would just like to wonder if I got anything wrong, or if you have a different opinion as to who was in the wrong.

Edit as of 16/2/14: You might notice that I have changed the score of this episode. When I first reviewed it, I gave it a 4, which indicates a failure. Upon rewatching, I appreciate what the writers were going for in the Dipper-Mabel conflict, and now feel that I was too hard on the episode. I have decided to bump it up a point, and give it a pass.