Red Dwarf Review: Series II, Episode 6: "Parallel Universe"

Airdate: 11 October, 1988

Synopsis: The Boys from the Dwarf have nothing better to do to start the episode (like most others). The Cat is using the dream recorder to try and find a dream which involved him, three girls, and a family sized tub of banana yogurt. Rimmer calls the Cat out on his chauvinism. This prompts Lister to call Rimmer out on HIS sexist behavior. Rimmer tries to justify his use of hypnotism on females, despite being told that this is akin to trying to conquer aliens by Lister. Also, Rimmer can not use pick up lines.

Their nothingness is broken by an announcement by Holly: he has invented the Holly Hop Drive, which can transfer any object to any other point in space. Thanks to a few mishaps, they do not go to their intended destination, which was Earth. Instead, they wind up in a parallel universe, where, as they board that universe’s Red Dwarf, there is one big difference. Not only are the genders of Rimmer, Lister, and Holly swapped (played by Suzanne Bertish, Angela Bruce, and Hattie Hayridge respectively), but so are the gender roles. Women landed on the moon, Wilma Shakespeare wrote the great plays of her era, and Men burned their jockstraps. Outside of the Cat’s counterpart being a slobbish, kind male dog (Matthew Devitt), the rest of the characters are the same as their counterparts. Deb Lister is a lager drinking, slobbish tomboy; Arlene Rimmer is uptight, with rather strange sexual morals; and Hilly is just about as loopy as Holly.

With the Holly Hop Drive needing 12 hours of repair (not helped by Holly and Hilly falling in love), the two go to the ship’s disco, where the characters have unique relationships with each other. Deb and Dave get along rather well, although Dave is put off by Deb’s attempts to impress him, which involve drinking a six-pack and belching the whole of “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. Arlene tries to come on to Arnold, with the same tactics that Arnold uses to get women. The Cat is not a fan of the Dog’s dance skills. The party goes on all night long for Deb and Dave, while Arnold belts toward the male’s ship.

The next morning, the two Lister’s wake up with hangovers… right next to each other. They eventually piece together that they had relations the previous night. As the two Rimmers come aboard to gloat, Arlene tells Dave that he hopes HE gets pregnant. Suddenly, the truth comes out…. in this universe, MEN get pregnant. As Dave grills Deb on her lack of concern, Deb goes on the defense, declaring that Dave should have used protection. Dave then learns that Holly fixed the hop drive, and that they have to go back to his universe. As he is reminded of a scene from their incident with the Future Echoes where Lister was seen with twins, his pregnancy test comes back… with hilarious results.

Review: Well, this episode was a weird way to end the series.

We get to see how far into the Jerkass zone the characters can go in this episode. Arnold Rimmer is probably as unlikeable as he gets in the show thus far, with his complete and utter disregard toward women. The alternate Rimmer manages to be even MORE unlikeable then Rimmer is (especially when she declares that she hopes Dave gets pregnant), which shows how far the characters can go. Deb also comes off as quite unlikeable when she tries to defend herself after being grilled by Dave. Since the two characters are supposed to be opposite sex clones of the male Dwarfers, it makes the episode quite disturbing. Then again, the episode did try and provide a commentary on the troubling sexual politics of our world, so that’s can be excused a bit.

Also, the actors that play the female counterparts are wonderful at what they did. They manage to capture each of their characters PERFECTLY. Even Hattie Hayridge does wonderfully in her role as Hilly.

The humor does age a tad bit, but it’s still decent. A scene that I like in particular is the Cat teaching the Dog how to dance, and the Dog’s reaction.

Normally, I would give this episode a 6, but there is one scene in particular that props up the entire thing to an 8 score.

The song appears at the very beginning of the episode. Much like the Conway Twitty gags in Family Guy (especially from the FG episode “The Juice is Loose”), it’s pointless and a time consumer. However, unlike Conway Twitty, effort was put in here, and it has a thin bearing on the plot. Also, it’s suddenness is just hysterical! Charles Augins (Queeg from “Queeg”) actually directed the video. How popular was the song? An R&B remix, sung by Danny John-Jules, was released in 1993, and it reached #17 in the UK.

Favorite Scene: Three guesses, no prizes.

Score: 8.

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