Red Dwarf Review: Series V, Episode 5: "Demons and Angels"

Airdate: 19 March, 1992

Synopsis: Kryten creates a triplocator, a device that creates two additional copies of any object. However, it creates one copy that is divine and pure, and another that is vile and base. Thus, when Red Dwarf gets affected and the original copy is blown to smithereens, the crew have to board both the high ship and the low ship and collect both sides within an hour. The high ship contains everything perfect, such as well-lit rooms, kind crew members, and edible pot noodles. The low ship is broken and staffed by sadists, who want to torture Lister as much as possible.

Review: This episode could’ve worked.

Examining the high aspects and the low aspects of every character might have been a bit obvious (especially with Rimmer’s low aspects), but look at the potential! We could’ve taken a look at the high aspects of the characters for once – I point to Rimmer’s ambition, Lister’s kindness, Cat’s ability to take action, and Kryten’s scientific mind – and could’ve elaborated on how having these as a character’s only character traits is boring. We also could’ve elaborated on the lows, with each one being shaped to a character’s unique traits, such as Lister’s slobbishness, Cat’s vanity, Kryten’s OCD, and Rimmer’s ego. Sure, these have been elaborated on before, but seeing all of them at once at their lowest moments would’ve made for an impressive comedy of errors, as well as show us that, as bad as our guys are, they could be much more dysfunctional.

Thing is, we came close enough to that in “Polymorph”, where all their positive or negative traits were flipped and exaggerated. Instead, we are treated to high and low versions that are mostly stock characters. The high versions are perfect and uniform, with few differences. Give me PC-Rimmer from “Polymorph” before this guy any day! The low versions are but clichés with little connection to the characters they were based on. That’s the tragic part of it all; they could’ve done so much with these characters, and went for the same old route any other show would’ve taken.

Where this episode lacks in script strength, it more than makes up for in one-liner comedy and set design. There are a lot of jokes that, alone, are pretty damned funny. The set design is also pretty cool and colorful.

Yet, that’s not really what Red Dwarf is about. Red Dwarf is mainly about character comedy, of which there is little once we get to the highs and the lows; it’s replaced in favor of one-liners about pot noodles, as well as some of the most disturbing violence in the show’s history.

Overall, this is certainly an episode to watch if you want a few rapid-fire jokes. If you are looking for character comedy… well, there are far better options.

Favorite Moment: Holly’s warning to the crew.

Rude alert! Rude alert! An electrical fire has knocked out my voice recognition unicycle! Many wurlitzers are missing from my database! Abandon shop; this is not a daffodil! Repeat: this is not a daffodil!

Rimmer promptly responds by declaring that Holly’s unaffected. Fantastic character comedy there.

Least Favorite Moment: The entire torture sequence with the Low Dwarfers is quite uncomfortable to watch… and not in a good way.

Score: 6.

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