Red Dwarf Review: Series V, Episode 1: "Holoship"

Airdate: 20 February, 1992

The eponymous Holoship.

Synopsis (Spoilers): Rimmer is skeptical of a film whose message comes off as “love triumphs career”. As he criticizes Lister for loving it, an energy force takes him away. (Cat: “Let’s get out of here before they bring him back.”) It turns out that Rimmer was kidnapped by a Holoship, the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment features the cream of the crop in terms of personnel, and casual sex is not just shrugged off… it’s mandatory. Rimmer’s piece of heaven, he realizes that he can get on… after a strenuous intellectual competition against another hologram. If Rimmer wins, said hologram is turned off. Rimmer also falls in love with Nirvanah Crane (Jane Horrocks), despite love having been long criticized on Enlightenment.

He tries to take the test with the help of a mind implant that would drastically increase his IQ (against Kryten’s wishes). However, the implant fails, as Rimmer’s mind will not mesh with the mind of anybody else. He gets a surprise mid test… although that makes him reconsider his decision to join Enlightenment.

Review (SPOILERS AHEAD): Well, this and “The Deep End” both have a connecting theme: personal desires over love. For Mabel, it was her epic summer romance versus the well being of a merman. For “Holoship”, it’s the advancement of career versus the well being of the others. Both Mabel and Rimmer are separated from their lovers for eternity, yet are separated for totally unselfish reasons on their part.

Never have I put the words “Rimmer” and “Unselfish” in the same sentence before. And that is why I had to labor over whether or not this episode should be considered the best Red Dwarf episode of the series. (Ultimately, it went to another episode). For the first time ever, Rimmer officially crosses from the “Jerkass” trope to the “Jerk with a Heart of Gold” trope. It really shows just how complex the writing is: for a comedy where jokes about vindaloo and the laddish culture rank high up, Red Dwarf is really a character study. Starting in Series I with the callous and uptight character, Series II and III really began peeling away, showing him as an insecure figure. Series IV emphasized his negative features a bit more, if only to remind us that, as much as Rimmer was a sympathetic character, he was still a smeghead. Now, Rimmer has made the greatest move he has made thus far, and one of the greatest moves he may have made in all ten series.

Of course, in 1992, this episode was voted as one of the weakest episode ever, simply because it focused too much on character, with unfavorable comparisons made to Star Trek (what RD was trying to avoid). However, “Holoship” did make many a nod to this pathos: in fact, Rimmer was critical of the “man puts love ahead of career” cliche in the beginning of the episode. Ah, irony.

Plus, this episode is so hysterical. Most of the jokes are quotable, and those that aren’t are still funny. Highlights include…

  • “They’ve taken Mr. Rimmer. Sir, they’ve taken Mr. Rimmer!” “Quick; let’s get out of here before they bring him back!”
  • Crane: “Perhaps, if you’re not in any great rush, Mr. Rimmer, we could retire to my quarters and have sex for a few hours.” (Smash cut to the two in bed).
  • “[Under a mind patch] You could be reduced to a gibbering simpleton!” “Reduced?”
  • And once Rimmer is under the mind Patch…
    • “Assuming of course we’re not dealing with five-dimensional objects in a basic Euclidean geometric universe and given the essential premise that all geo-mathematics is based on the hideously limiting notion that one plus one equals two, and not as {Astemeyer} correctly postulates that one and two are in fact the same thing observed from different precepts, the theoretical shape described by {Siddus} must therefore be a poly-dri-doc-deca-wee-hedron-a-hexa-sexa-hedro-adicon-a-di-bi-dolly-he-deca-dodron. Everything else is popycock. Isn’t that so?”
    • “I wrote a Palindromic Haiku this morning! Perhaps you would like to hear it?”
  • Just don’t get me started on the “Binks to Enlightment” scene.
It’s a fantastic episode, and required viewing for any Dwarfer!
Favorite Scene: The scene after Rimmer and Crane have sex. Not because it’s funny (although it is), but because the acting shows the love in Rimmer’s mind rather than tells you.
Least Favorite Scene: Honestly, the interviewing scene, while not bad, was tedious enough to drag this episode down a bit. It was this scene that kept the episode out of the spot of my favorite episode of the series.
Score: 9.

Gravity Falls Review: Season 1, Episode 15: The Deep End

Airdate: March 15th, 2013

Just something you see everyday at the public pool.

Synopsis: On a very, very hot day (Authors note: this review was written just after a cold snap on Long Island, where I live. Stop tempting me, comedies!), the Shack gang go to the public pool. Mabel meets (and falls head over heels for) Mermando (Matt Chapman), who explains (in song) that he is… a merman who wants to get back to his family in the sea. Meanwhile, Dipper becomes a lifeguard to try and get to Wendy, yet has to deal with the stern Mr. Poolcheck.

SPOILERS: Both end in tragicomedy. Mabel’s ends in the “heartwarming” sense, while Dipper’s ends in the Red Dwarf sense.

Review: Let’s cut to the chase with the main problem with this episode: the subplot. It’s another “Dipper has the hots for Wendy” plot. Every subplot like this goes the same way: Dipper acts like a smeghead to try and get to first base with Wendy, fails spectacularly, and learns something. Not that it’s totally bad- it keeps Dipper from being an “Einstein Sue” who controls the town’s powers, and grounds him in reality. But the basics of the plot are still the same as in “Fight Fighters”, “Summerween”, and “Time Travellers Pig”. The difference here is that it is limited to but a mere subplot, instead of the main plot. Plus, Dipper is still quite a bit likable here. Further, Mabel outright tells him that Dipper is reaching for Romulus here:

Dipper? Don’t you know what it’s like to fall in love with someone, even though it will probably never work out… but you’d do anything for that person?

Besides, the rest of the episode is pretty good. There’s nothing very illusion shattering or science-fiction style here, though, which is a bit depressing. Gideon arrives for a brief C-plot, which while somewhat pointless, also shows that Stan is perfectly willing to harm a child. Granted, said child is a sociopath who borders on insanity, but still. Grey and grey morality, much? Gamers, think Michael vs. Trevor in Grand Theft Auto 5.  One person is more insane than the other, but in the end, both are not people you would like to meet in real life.

The episode’s main strength is the main plot, where Mabel falls for Mermando, played by Matt Chapman (Homestar Runner). It brings Mabel into a unique variation of the “personal happiness or lover’s happiness” cliche… with a fairly normal merman. His character is sympathetic, yet does not have a whole lot of depth to it. Chapman, however, delivers Mermando’s lines in a way that is utterly brilliant. Plus, Mabel’s relationship with him feels quite natural, and is something of a comedic play on the desires of the target audience. It also reinforces that Mabel might be the best person in the Shack, and in the show.

This episode is also very much humor driven. Some jokes miss, but most jokes hit.

Overall, a decent, if not spectacular episode.

Favorite Scene: Admittedly, I loved the first scene, with the town being so hot, a squirrel burst into flames.

Least Favorite Scene: Most of the “Wendip” subplot is subpar.

Score: 7.5.

Authors Note: I think that I have been scoring a bit too leniently for Gravity Falls and Red Dwarf. Therefore, some episodes that I’ve reviewed in the past might have their scores knocked down a bit. Remember, a 4 or below is failure, 5 is passing, a 6 is decent, a 7 is good, 8 is great, 9 is excellent. and a 10 is a series best. Granted, most episodes of GF and RD generally fit in the 7-9 Range, and the score change will be minimal, but I am going to try and avoid the 4 point scale.

Red Dwarf Review: Series 5 Preview.

Well, after watching the embarrassment to comedy called Season 23 of The Simpsons, I must say, I am SO glad to go back to the boys from the Dwarf.

Series V of Red Dwarf was pivotal in terms of production. Why?

First off, producer and director Ed Bye packed his bags and quit, going to work on The Full Wax (starring Bye’s wife, Ruby Wax. (Side note: Wax played Blaze Falconburger in “Timeslides” from Series III._ Juliet May was brought on board as Director. Her previous experience included Top of the Pops (Americans, think American Bandstand, Solid Gold, and Soul Train rolled into a British package) and Heil Honey, I’m Home (a dom-com… about Adolf Hitler. Yes, that happened.) However, she couldn’t work with the sci-fi confines of the show, and left four episodes in. Hillary Jones also became producer, and stayed on during series V.

At the same time, Grant/Naylor decided to focus more on story compared to humor. However, the troubles with May caused two episodes, “Quarantine” and “Back to Reality”, to be produced in a hurry.

The budget was stretched to the limit. Remember, we’re dealing with a show on the BBC during the John Major era. Major (and his predecessor, Margaret Thatcher) took something of a meat cleaver to the BBC budget. Red Dwarf did not have a whole lot of wiggle room. Also, the original model for the Red Dwarf broke, so a new model had to be constructed.

Lastly, Grant/Naylor went to NBC in America to produce Red Dwarf USA… which never went past it’s two pilots.

Overall, production was a mess. And to top it all off…

… not only did Series V top the viewership on BBC Two, but Series V is now considered to be the best series. One episode in particular is considered to be the best of Red Dwarf

So, let’s go down the episode list!

  • Holoship: The crew of the Dwarf encounter a hologramatic ship, the Enlightment. Rimmer manages to get into the running to become a new face on the ship.
  • The Inquisitor: The eponymous character of the episode declares himself judge, jury, and executioner of the universe… and is taking aim at the boys from the Dwarf.
  • Terrorform: Rimmer is kidnapped, and winds up on a psy-moon, where his inner demons attack him.
  • Quarantine: Rimmer contacts a holo-virus, and is placed in Quarantine. (Duh). He goes insane, sending the crew to WOO. (Let me tell you, WOO ain’t fun).
  • Demons and Angels: The Dwarf is split in two, alongside the cast and crew. One side is a peaceful Mary-Suetopia where love is practiced. The other side represents some of the most sickening humanity ever descended.
  • Back to Reality: The crew hit the despair squid, die, and realise that… it’s too awesome to reveal right now. Just remember the name “Duane Dibbley”.
Ye gods, we are in for a fantastic series!