Red Dwarf Review: Series VII, Episode 1: "Tikka To Ride"

Airdate: 17 January 1997

Synopsis: So, apparently, the crew were not blown out of the sky by their future selves. A time paradox, however, trashed the Indian food. Lister, having a memory of the accident, suggests using the time drive to get 500 curries. He manages to swing Kryten by removing his guilt chip. Their time travel predictions are off; they wind up at the School Book Depository in Dallas, 1963… just as President Kennedy is passing by.

Review: Uh, no. I doubt I watched Red Dwarf. I think I stumbled across a bad fanfiction version of Red Dwarf.

Wait.

This is real?

Oh… crap.

Facepalms, facepalms everywhere.
 Well, let’s get to the obvious: this episode is pretty bad. We are but one episode in, and my hopes for the series have gone down quite a bit.
 
The big failure in this episode is character. Character is at the center of Red Dwarf. This series has effectively taken Lister’s character, and thrown it out the window. He might be the first victim. Through six series, we saw him develop beyond his slobbish character into a complex character with morals and virtues, who served as the true moral center of the cast, and could be quite mature and sensible. Here? He’s a curry-obsessed jackass. That’s all. I might be able to chalk it up to PTSD from the explosion… somewhat. Three years on, and Doug Naylor has forgotten to write for Lister. It’s bad. It makes the episode almost unwatchable, given the development he’s gone through.
The time travel is also very screw-y. While inter-series continuity is a bit weaker in Red Dwarf, this episode takes it to stupid new heights. The beginning of the episode makes it clear that there was a paradox caused by the fight in the previous episode, thus preventing the future selves from killing them. (It’s confusing enough to break a video camera). At the end of the episode, Kennedy gets involved in the same incident (long story)… and does not fall victim to the same effects. Hello, Doug? Also ticking me off is that “Out of Time” made it clear that the Time Drive did not travel through space? So, the question remains. WHY DID IT SMEGGING TRAVEL THROUGH SMEGGING SPACE TO SMEGGING DALLAS IN SMEGGING 1963-
 
It’s a TV show. Happy thoughts, dude. Happy thoughts…
…mmmm…
…that’s better. Anyway, credit where credit is due for this episode, I guess. I like the implementation of time travel and the effects of causality. With Kennedy alive, he gets impeached, the Mafia use J. Edgar Hoover as a puppet president, and manage to land in deep trouble with the Soviets/Cuba. It’s a pretty interesting take. I also liked the twist of JFK being the “man behind the grassy knoll”. Strangely enough, this is something of a callback to “Timeslides”. Remember when Kryten was talking about the photograph fluid?

“Well, we could go to Dallas in November 1963, stand on the grassy knoll, and shout “duck”! Uh, I’m sorry: I must have bypassed my good taste chip!”

Ironic, innit. Again, the good there is destroyed by the faulty time paradox.

I don’t know what to say about the ending. On one hand, I think it’s in character for our heroes to learn nothing from the experience. On the other, I shed no sympathy for Lister. Unlike the fine folks at Ganymede and Titan, I actually feel that Rimmer, Cat, and Kryten beating Lister to a pulp was somewhat excusable.

The biggest failing is that this episode really isn’t that funny. Too much focus is on drama. The balance is just off. It’s just a weak episode, and a bad sign of things to come.

Tidbits:

  • It’s worth noting that, in real life, had Kennedy ducked the bullet, he would’ve died soon after from Addison’s disease. His muscles had failed so much that he had to wear a brace. Had he not worn a brace, he might have been able to duck and avoid Oswald’s second bullet. (He might have died because the first bullet hit his trachea, but the bullet to the head definitely terminated his life.)
  • Kryten having his guilt trip works here. It just works better in “Polymorph”, where it’s somewhat crueler.
  • How come, if Kryten’s so smart, he wanted to eat a dead man? This episode is horrid at characterisation.
  • Again, THIS EPISODE FAILS AT CONTINUITY. Just figured I’d let that sink in.
Favorite Scene: While not as good as “Polymorph”, Kryten’s post-guilt-removal behavior is still pretty funny. ‘You bet your ass”, indeed.
Least Favourite Scene: Not scene, but by the end of the episode, I actually wanted to see Lister get beaten by his crew members. This episode was to him was “Rimmerworld” was to Rimmer: it destroyed his character.
Final Score: 4, only for the time travel aspect.
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