|“For the crime of taking plot elements from previous episodes without substance, I sentence this episode to 200 hours of WOO. That will teach Grant/Naylor to be breadbaskets!”|
Airdate: 4 November 1993
Synopsis: Rimmer undergoes a medical analysis from Kryten, and learns that he is predisposed to stress-related conditions. Meanwhile, Starbug returns to the Simulant ship that they had previously shot down to recover derelicts from the ship… the same behavior that got them shot down, caused an ill-fated wedding, and brought the Duke of Dork aboard Starbug. (Oh, those wackos never learn!) This time, they simply get threatened by a Simulant that managed to survive the destruction.
Fearing death, Rimmer does the honorable thing… and leaves the rest of the Dwarfers for dead as he takes the last escape pod on the ship. The other three manage to escape the Simulant, first using a time and matter transporter Kryten has come across. When that fails, it causes the crew to just belt for Starbug.
Whilst on Starbug, the crew realize that Rimmer took a pod from a ship meant to colonize a barren planet. He does so… with clones of himself. Cue the neo-classical set and costumes!
Review: A good rule of thumb would be the “cook all the way through” rule. You can make an episode which has the first 15-20 minutes full of comedy, yet if the last 10 minutes are weak enough, it makes those first 20 seem like a waste. Another good rule would be the “watch it without the comedy” rule, as comedy can often mask flaws in an episode that are unjustifiable.
This episode falls victim to both rules hard; so hard, that for the first time ever in my history of reviewing Red Dwarf, I can’t bring myself to give it a passing grade.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The first 20 minutes are pretty funny. However, it’s just there to provide jokes. Sure, the plot moves along. However, there’s little good comedy that’s directly connected to the main plot; most of it is the one-liners and the jokes that remind us that Cat hates Rimmer and Lister is a slob and all that.
The last 8 minutes of this episode, however, are tragically bad. Why? Well, let’s go down to Rimmerworld. Let’s have a guard from the Rimmers and the grand poo-bah of the Rimmers speak… and by extension, fail the episode.
Rimmer Guard: These three abominations stand charged on eight counts of gross deviancy. Not content with not looking like the true image, they flaunt freakish behavior such as charm, bravery, compassion, and… honor.
Rimmer Grand Pooh-Bah: Are there no signs of normalcy in these wretches? No cowardice or pomposity? No snideness or snarm? Not even basic honest-to-goodness double-dealing two facedness?
Wait… what? What? Why? What? No, NO! WRONG, RED DWARF! WRONG! YOU FAIL! COME ON GRANT/NAYLOR, YOU SMEGGING-
|“IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!”|
-sorry. Let me recompose myself for a second.
That’s better. Anyway, that quote is utter proof that either Grant/Naylor didn’t watch some Red Dwarf before writing the script for this episode, or they were prevented by the BBC’s screwed up scheduling.
You see, that quote pretty much nullifies all of the development Rimmer has gotten up to this point. Yes, he’s a coward, an egoist, a nut, and all around odious. However, he was shaped into that character; his family was abusive (or at least neglectful), his school was insane (putting him through extra rugby practice), his friends betrayed him… even his pets attacked him! Most of his cowardice might come from trying to avoid a reaction that his abusive father might have given him (getting Astro-Nav questions wrong caused him to not receive food). It’s also shown that, as screwed up as he is, he also has some sort of code: he wants to succeed; he just shoots too high and is just too neurotic to prepare properly. It’s his frustration that manifests into smeghead behavior. Sure, a lot of his behavior is on him; it’s just that he has an excuse. Not a justification, but an excuse.
This episode seems to say “smeg it all” to all of that and more. What this episode says is that Rimmer is simply odious, and nothing more. There’s no pathos, no depth. It’s implied that this was part of the original Rimmer from the very start, as all the clones are not only just as odious as the original, but they embrace it!
Rimmer’s actions through the episode are stunningly awful. In other episodes, Rimmer would probably back down or cower. Now? He steals an escape pod. Remember when I did my “Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments”? Well, in hindsight, I should’ve knocked off Rimmer badmouthing Ace from “Dimension Jump”, moved 3 and 4 up one spot each, and put this in the Bronze spot. By the end of the episode, you wonder why the hell the rest of the crew went to save him.
The rest of the episode isn’t fantastic, either. Why was Rimmer revealed to be close to death when “Legion” showed him to be indestructible? Just for a gag about Chinese Worry Balls. Yeah, who cares about continuity? We need jokes about worry balls! How the hell was Rimmer able to hold up for the time he did upon entering Rimmerworld, as well?
It’s a shame, as there was a decent episode in here. Ignoring the continuity issues, the first 20 minutes are hysterical. Once the crew land on Rimmerworld, however, there’s nothing to distract from this episode’s faults… which are numerous.
Sadly, this is the first episode of Red Dwarf which I can’t pass. It’s tragic. And from what I remember… we’re coming close to the show’s Wilderness Years.
- How could Rimmer even make clones? He has no DNA! He’s a hologram!
- Continuing on the theme of episodes from this series ripping off episodes from other series, this episode is partially a rip-off of “Terrorform”. I can understand aping from “Polymorph” or “Back to Reality”. But “Terrorform”?
- The Cat, the prince of fashion, thinks that his costume contains peach material. I’m going with more of an orange.
- “If we wanted to stay in a state of perpetual agony, we’d let Lister play his guitar.” Yes, the same guitar that Cat smashed in “Emohawk”. Remember that? (“At least Lister’s guitar survived intact… not even Lister’s guitar survived intact!”)
- Have Grant/Naylor lost creativity in creating obstacles? This series seems to be obsessed with Simulants.