Red Dwarf Review: Series VII, Episode 5: "Blue"

Airdate: 14 February, 1997

“Sorry. Doug Naylor and the BBC offered me too much money to come back one more time.”

Synopsis: The effects of Rimmer taking off finally hit Lister when he realizes that he has to toss his stuff to make Starbug lighter, and he begins… gasp… missing him. Lister even begins dreaming about him, much to his disgust. He tries to get psychoanalyzed and some help from the other crewmembers. This, however, brings the battle between Kryten and Kochanski into play, with Kryten wanting to one-up Kochanski, even if it involves creating a TIV eerily similar to a certain ride at Disney World… except its intent is confirmed to annoy the riders.

Review (SPOILERS AHEAD- READ AT OWN CAUTION): Maybe it’s just because the previous episode took away my hopes for this series, but this is actually somewhat watchable… after the first few minutes, which are entirely pointless! Some of this comes from my opinion that, unlike “Duct Soup”, which was like watching a baked potato cook for 10 minutes, this episode actually contains more laughs along the way… yet, it also contains some psychoanalytic theory.

Lister and Rimmer’s relationship is one of the centerpieces of Red Dwarf‘s first few series. As much as they seemed to detest each other, being in close quarters seemed to make one used to another. They gained insights into each other’s life. Rimmer, for one, was based on denial because of his own failures: we saw Lister step up to heroics that Rimmer, deep down inside, recognized that he would never be praised for, and responded with ego. Tons… and tons… of ego. Lister, meanwhile, seemed to admire Rimmer for his ambitions in life: he just hated the fact that Rimmer was either too uptight or a bit of a bore. However, they didn’t ignore each other’s faults: far from that.

Now that Rimmer’s gone, Lister is trying to put old Rimsie on a pedestal. I can attribute that to a few things. One, in particular, is that Rimmer represents the time before the change. You see, Kochanski is still a relative newcomer, and she’s not really gelling aboard ship, especially with Lister. Lister wants to be reminded of a time before Kryten began bickering before the crew were trapped on a small shuttle.

However, now I have to recognize the scene that seems to bring this episode up in the eyes of fandom. That is… the infamous kiss scene between Lister and Rimmer.

Yes, before anybody asks, it’s a dream. Yet, the dream shows what’s going on in Lister’s mind. He sees an idealized version of Rimmer, one who is willing to have fun. It’s a defense mechanism: Lister wants a time before his life aboard the shuttle and the ship was altered, as mentioned above, and is trying to justify Rimmer being so annoying. Kryten, however, comes in and forces him to face reality: Rimmer is still a smeghead.

Now, on that note, we start to see Lister and Kochanski form a common bond over the loss of their friends/lovers/whatever you want to call them. It’s surprisingly deep, and while I can’t say that Kochanski is being written to her full potential (or anything close) yet, it is a step in her interpersonal development.

I’m really starting to see why Kryten hates Kochanski, and vice versa. For years, Kryten’s been the voice of reason and “Mr. Exposition” aboard Starbug. He’s also been something of a mother figure to Lister and the crew the past few years. It’s somewhat fitting that he gets jealous of Lister supposedly “growing up”, with Kochanski in the room, and that he feels the need to one-up Kochanski. Does it make the dialogue between them less annoying? Not that much. Stupid salad cream.

The biggest problems with this episode, and why it gets a relatively low score, would have to be its organization. The first 5 minutes should have been dispersed through the episode, at least: move the incident with the comet up to the beginning of the episode. The jokes about salad cream and ironing Kochanski’s clothing go on for far too long. Maybe more focus should’ve been on Lister yearning for Rimmer. Also, while not nearly as bad as “Oroborous” and “Duct Soup”, this episode still doesn’t deliver too much on the laughs, instead focusing on unnecessary exposition and explanation of the character’s feelings. Sadly, this episode would’ve probably worked if constrained to US-style time limits- 22 minutes. Remember when this show would make the most of its 25-30 minute run time? I don’t, either.

The saddest part about this episode? In any other series (except for 1, maybe), this would’ve been an easy contender for “worst episode”. Now it’s considered a high point of the series.

Tidbits

  • Kim Fuller actually co-wrote this episode with Doug Naylor. For those unaware, he also wrote for Spitting Image (alongside Grant/Naylor), Not the Nine-O-Clock News, and The Tracey Ullman Show, amongst other shows. He also wrote such prestigious films such as Spice World and From Justin to Kelly, both of whom were nominated for the high honor of winning several Golden Raspberry Awards.
  • Of course, there’s “The Rimmer Experience”. It’s a good sequence, I guess. It mainly brings back some of the character comedy that was lacking in previous episodes. The song is a tiny bit overrated, though. It’s worth noting that Howard Goodall actually sang in lieu of Chris Barrie.
  • …and that’s all she wrote for Holo-Rimmer (for 12 years, at least). Enjoy it.

Favourite Scene: Tie between Lister’s dream and “The Rimmer Experience”.

Least Favourite Scene: The first 3 or so minutes are the most terminally misplaced and boring moments in Red Dwarf history… up to this point.

Score: 6.5

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