Red Dwarf Review: Series VII, Episode 6: "Beyond A Joke"

Airdate: 21 February 1997

Synopsis: Kryten gets so jealous, his head blows up. The rest of the group need to find a second droid to help repair him, or something. They come across a simulant, that tries to show Kryten why he was created.

Yes. This went to air.

Review: The fine folks at the Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede and Titan (which is something like a Dead Homer Society-type blog) have dubbed this episode “Barely a Joke”, for its supposed lack of good humor and dull plot. Is it that bad?


A decent problem here is Kryten’s character. Again, Kryten continues to be overtly jealous. Sure, it’s justified: I’d be a bit miffed if somebody forgot the anniversary of me meeting my best friends. However, it goes to irrational levels in Jane Austen World. Once he commandeers a tank to destroy the Jane Austen World scenario, all sympathy for him is gone. You want to see Kryten shoved out an airlock at that point. Yet the crew go on and praise his lobster… yet apparently, ketchup sends him over the edge. Once his head’s restored, his character gets mildly better. I did like the reveal on his backstory… or at least, I tried. The nega-drive, though…

…let’s just make this clear. The Kryten from Series III-VI was not pompous. Overbearing? A tiny bit, but he was dealing with idiots. Ridiculous-looking? A little. But his main character trait was being a relative bastion of sanity on a ship of fools, only held back by relatively dated technology, his prior loneliness aboard the Nova 5, and a relative aloofness compared to other humans. It helped give him depth, and provided humor. This episode is essentially saying that all of Kryten’s actions this season, the jealousy, the selfishness, the screechy behavior, were all ingrained in his personality and that he was meant to become a druggie. Doug Naylor has effectively destroyed Kryten’s character, for the sake of tension and to do a “drugs are bad, okay” story.

However, the big, overlying problem in this episode? It’s probably the most boring episode in Red Dwarf history. There are few decent jokes in the first half. It’s pretty much a dead zone from the simulants on. The joke about PMT is bad, the heads/tails joke goes on too long, the Vietnam joke is boring and explained to us, the GELF costumes are horrid… It’s a boring, boring episode, meant to make a simple note about drug use.

Oh, and there are way too many plots in this episode.

The saddest part by a mile? This episode was co-written by Robert Freaking Llewellyn. Yes. Kryten himself wrote this episode. Now consider this; he wrote this episode to give himself less involvement. Edits done by Naylor made it so that he had more involvement than ever before. I’m starting to really hate Doug Naylor now. He’s destroyed (or mishandled) two characters, has not used a third to her full potential, sacrificed comedy in favor of boring plots, and seems to be acting like a smeghead to the co-writers. No wonder why Norman Lovett would eventually swear off any future involvement with the franchise.

This is incredible. Series I-V had a 100% pass rate, and VI only had one duff episode. Even that duff episode was pretty funny. Here, a solid 50% of the series is bad. Thank god we only have 2 episodes left.


  • Kryten’s head exploding is one of the single worst special effects in the history of the show. You actually see the dummy head. Remember when the show’s editors used to care a little? I don’t, either.
  • …I have nothing else. This is the most depressed that Red Dwarf has ever made me.
Favorite Scene: I will admit that the scene with the Cat trying to decide what century Kryten came from was decent, if a bit too long.
Least Favourite Scene: From the moment the simulant appears, there is pretty much nothing funny about the episode.
Score: 1. We’ve sunk that low. I might amend it down to a 0 if Series VIII doesn’t sink lower.

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