Series VI. Let that sink in for a second. Red Dwarf, the show that few had faith in when Grant/Naylor shipped it off to various BBC offices, has made it through 6 series… more than many brit-coms.
So, it’s late 1993/early 1994. Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were obviously trying to land new ideas for their next series. Rumors were that they would go to more of a Series III-type format: there would be more Holly and more Red Dwarf focused stories.
Garant/Naylor bent to fan opinion… which is to say, they kicked Holly out of the show and got rid of the “small rouge one”.
What a twist!
Yes, Grant/Naylor decided to make another radical change in the show’s format, the first real shift since the Series III relaunch. The show formally leapt into Sci-Fi dramedy, a style that Series V had flirted with.
For the first time, episodes were connected with a long-run plotline; the theft of Red Dwarf by simulants. This style would dominate the show for the next three series; Series VII would continue with this idea of getting back Red Dwarf, while Series VIII started a new plotline… one that involves prison comedy.
If you thought the production on Series V was stressful with Julie May joining and leaving within 4 episodes, hold on! This series was effectively written on the set. Yes. Entire scenes were cued up and rewritten on the set. This was because of the proposed Spring airdate for Red Dwarf set by the BBC… one that never happened; the show was pushed back to October.
Well, the response?
I’m serious; fandom is split down the middle, even though this series has aged decently according to the Ganymede and Titan Silver Survey. Half of the fandom loves it for its sci-fi plot, it’s radical change of the formula, and the darker and edgier episodes (in an already dark show). The other half hates this season for what they declare are the following reasons; the reset of character, the basic formula for most episodes this season (done to relax the pressure on production), the running gags, and various controversial plotlines (such as Emohawk: Polymorph II).
Episode Rundown? Here goes!
- Psirens: With Red Dwarf stolen by Simulants, the crew are out to chase it after a 200 year deep sleep on Starbug. Their attempts are interrupted by a group of GELFs that telepathically manipulate individuals with their deepest desires.
- Legion: Food and supplies are down, and Red Dwarf slips further and further away. What better way to catch up than to be captured by a strange being?
- Gunmen of the Apocalypse: Starbug is taken over by a virus… just as Simulants board Starbug. The rest of the crew are forced to go into Kryten’s mind… and forced to go westward ho!
- Emohawk: Polymorph II: Starbug wrecks on a GELF planet. To get supplies needed to breathe in Starbug, Lister is forced to wed the daughter of the chief of the Kinitawowi tribe. When Lister bails on the union, the chief attacks with a domesticated Polymorph. Remember those guys?
- Rimmerworld: Rimmer takes an escape pod out from a Simulant ship to escape certain death at the hands of a Simulant. He lands on an uninhabited planet, and the makeup of the planet allows him to make copies of himself… right down to the treachery.
- Out of Time: The crew find themselves right next to, well, themselves… from 15 years in the future. Stunned to meet them, they find out about what possession of a Time Drive has done to the crew.