Red Dwarf Review: Series VIII, Story 5: "Only The Good"

Airdate: 8 April, 1999

Synopsis: Don’t care anymore. I just want to see this series end.

Oh, alright. A micro-organism makes it’s way aboard Red Dwarf, thanks to a refugee from a derelict. Said microorganism destroys ships. For some strange reason, Rimmer goes into an alternate universe to try and find the cure for the micro-organism.

The crew are also on probation. A misunderstanding between Kryten and Lister gets Lister and Rimmer’s probation in jeopardy. Oh, and Death gets involved.

Review: It’s the last episode of the series (thank smeg), and for ten years, it was the last Red Dwarf episode ever made. And, yet again, it ends on something of a cliffhanger. What is it with Doug Naylor and cliffhangers?

This episode had a ton of potential for a finale: what if Rimmer was the captain of a ship? How would he run it? We sort of saw that during the first six series, where he was technically the most senior officer on the ship (despite being a dead second technician). However, there, he was balanced by the more rational Kryten and the more humanist Lister. We also saw him take some level of total control in “Meltdown”, where he becomes the leader of “Arnie’s Army” and leads them to a brutal pyrrhic victory.

Seeing Rimmer in control of a mining ship, even in an alternate universe story, might have been decent. Seeing the crewmembers in reversed roles might have been good. It had so much potential.

But not like this.

The big problem was that there was far too much material in this episode. Let’s go through the plot: Rimmer wants to be captain, he and the vending machine have a feud, Kryten gets confused about Kochanski’s “time of the month”, he pulls a prank on Lister after realising the misinformation he got, Lister and Rimmer have to drink pure alcohol, have to get hospitalised, try and escape, discover a deadly virus, go back to warn the crew they tried to escape from, get left behind, and try and find a cure for the virus… which involves going into the mirror universe.

It’s bad. I’m not sure what’s worse: “Krytie TV” for being a useless episode with no merit, or “Only the Good” for flushing it’s potential down the toilet.

This episode seems to confirm what we have long feared: this series was never about character. Lister, again, used to have some level of respect, and a strong moral center. Here? He tricks Kryten into holding a party for Kochanski’s “time of the month”. Nevermind the horrid minute or so that follows: it is the lowest Lister ever sinks. I could imagine Lister pulling a trick of that caliber on Rimmer, but on Kochanski?

All of the characters have been stripped to milk out another vulgar joke or utter slapstick… and yet we’re supposed to feel for Rimmer at the end of the episode. At that point, I was just glad that the series was almost done.

I used to care about this show. I used to care about the characters. When the crew faced death in “Out of Time”, I wanted Rimmer to make the ultimate sacrifice. We spent six series building him up. Now, I could care less. I felt for Lister in “Timeslides” because we still knew that he was a decent, if flawed, man trapped in a bad situation. Now, he’s so inconsistent, that I don’t care when he’s left behind to be eaten by a virus. I was genuinely scared for Holly when he was in a massive chess battle, or she only had seconds to live. Now, he can go with the ship. (No wonder why Norman Lovett quit).

I used to care. The characters didn’t revolve around the plot: the plot revolved around the characters. It was fantastic. It was the reason why I consider Red Dwarf one of my favorite TV shows ever. The same claims against this show could be used against other franchises well past their prime, like The Simpsons. At least Red Dwarf was put out of its misery for a few years.

Sure, the final minute is pretty stupid, but give it some level of credit. It sums up the series in a nutshell: it was a massive kneeing to the fanbase.

At least I can finally say… Series VIII is done.

Tidbits:

  • It gets bumped up a point for euthanizing this train-wreck of a series.
  • Another point is bumped up for displaying traces of a decent plot.
  • Even the acting seems to be off in this episode. Everything is exaggerated. It’s hurt the Cat, for one: he just comes off as irritating in his attempts to get into the hospital.
  • Oh, and Death? Played by Ed Bye, the director.

Favorite Scene: Let’s put it this way…

Least Favorite Scene: Kryten celebrating Kochanski’s biology. That is the worst Red Dwarf joke ever. It’s sexist, lowbrow, and just pointless.

Score: 3.

…wait a second…..

…my god…

…it’s over.

IT’S OVER!!! I NEVER HAVE TO WATCH THIS DISASTER OF A SERIES EVER AGAIN!

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