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.

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