Movie Review: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

“The battle for galactic peace has begun…” (Screencap from Wikipedia, poster by John Alvin.)

Premiere: December 6th, 1991

Synopsis: The moon that provides the Klingon Empire’s energy suffers a major disaster, releasing ozone onto the planet. This potentially condemns the empire to a maximum of fifty years, should the planet not reign in it’s military expenditures. The Federation is ready to broker a treaty between them and the empire, and sends Captain James T Kirk and the Enterprise out to make a truce. Thing is, Kirk doesn’t trust the Klingons – something about them stabbing his son and wrecking his old ship doesn’t endear them to him.

Just after a series of awkward talks between the Klingon Ambassadors and the Enterprise (appointed ambassadors), the latter ship fires on the former’s ship, killing the Klingon Chancellor. With no knowledge of who did it, Kirk and Dr. McCoy stand trial and face life in prison, and the two forces appear on the brink of war.

Review: Well, it took far longer than I expected (again, my apologies), but here we are. The last movie solely based off of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the last film produced during Gene Roddenberry’s lifetime (he died a month and a half before the premiere, but got an advance screening two days before he died).

After the utter disaster that was Star Trek V, nobody was sure what to do with Star Trek VI. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was the franchise’s 25th anniversary, and that TNG had done alright in the ratings so far, Paramount probably would’ve sunk Star Trek into history. After waffling around as to what the plot would be, the end result is actually a genuinely moving film – an arguably overlooked classic in the Trek canon.

(Warning: spoilers. Proceed at your own peril. Or disappointment. Hey, it’s a movie.)
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Not Another Top (X) List: Top 11 Best Episodes of Red Dwarf (So Far)

Merry Christmas, and welcome back (again) to…

NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!

At the beginning of our Christmas Spectacular Thing, we took a look at the top 8-ish worst episodes of Red Dwarf. By the end, the questions you were asking were probably… 
  1. “Why the hell did you not go completely mad?”
  2. “Why look at the bad of this show?”
  3. “Why was Red Dwarf still your favourite show, even after you reviewed this tripe?”
To all three of those questions, I present this list. You see, when Red Dwarf was at it’s lowest, during the doldrums of Series VII and VIII, I thought back and actually asked myself these questions.

The thing is that, even with those 16 maligned episodes in Series VII and VIII, and with the more lukewarm material that came afterward, 35 of the first 36 episodes of Red Dwarf were some fantastic television. At worst, those episodes were a bit off, but not too bad. On average, those episode were some funny, somewhat deep television. At it’s best? Simply put, at it’s best, Red Dwarf is some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

Where else could you see an odious failure of a man revealed to be a man with neuroses, a man held back by the worst that life had to offer? Where else did a seemingly one-dimensional fashionista have some of the best dexterity in the history of TV? Where else could one see a loopy computer pull the occasional trick up his sleeve? Where else could a subservient robot use his order to manipulate the system, and almost crack his programming due to the surroundings he faced every day. And where else could a man who seem to be satisfied with the simpler things in life, an utterly unmotivated slob, actually hold deep-seated values, and coincide the negative side of his id with actions that make him one of the kindest people in fiction?

And what other show would pack it all in with comedy that hits both ends of the scale? Jokes about modern pop culture and sex flow into jokes about historical figures that few may have even known about.

That’s why Red Dwarf is so brilliant. Through the doldrums, I never forgot about the brilliance of the best episodes.

I picked out 11 episodes that I feel are required viewing for any fan of Red Dwarf. OK, these are mainly my favourites, but you get the idea. I was originally going to do 10, but I realised that would exclude an episode that I feel needs to be on the list. These episodes are the best that Grant/Naylor have to offer. The highest parts of the list are some of the best TV I’ve ever seen.

Now, as with my “Worst Episodes” list, my opinions may have changed since I reviewed them, albeit not by too much.

So, here we are…

THE TOP 11 BEST EPISODES OF RED DWARF (SO FAR)


11. “Me2”


In my opinion, “Me2” is the first awesome episode of Red Dwarf. The previous few were pretty good, but this one set the tone for the rest of the golden era. It was a warning that this wasn’t your everyday comedy- it was one that would really explore character with every chance it would get. “Me2” is one of the first episodes to analyse Rimmer’s past- how he seemed like a black sheep, yet how his behaviour manages to annoy everybody… even himself. A deep look into his ego, plus some cool Lister lines? Yeah, that’s why I did a top 11- this is a necessity on any list.

10. “Polymorph”

Much like “Back To Reality” two series later, this episode goes beyond it’s initial premise- a send-up to Aliens- to give us fantastic character analysis. This is the first episode to actually show us just how tragic Rimmer’s childhood was. What, you thought Rimmer was lying about his horrid life to gain sympathy? P’shaw!

The humour is very well-balanced- taking the lowbrow with the highbrow, almost all of it hitting (one scene in particular kept the audience laughing for minutes). Of note are the “fixed” versions of all the characters, which are all perfectly done, from the acting to the comedy.

9. “The Last Day”


Much like “Me2” did to Rimmer, “The Last Day” did to Kryten- transforming a likeable character into a loveable one. Once the ship’s servant, “The Last Day” gives us a look inside Kryten’s set of values and beliefs. The idea of Silicon Heaven, while joked about, is never truly ridiculed. In fact, Kryten gets to see what his belief in Silicon Heaven really does- and it provides one hell of a conclusion. That, and the party scene is pure tragicomedy- giving deep insights into the families of Lister and Rimmer, and by extension, Lister and Rimmer themselves. There’s a reason why Series III is my favourite series- it provides awesome character examination.

8. “Dimension Jump”


If ever a character provided so much anthithesis to a character as Ace Rimmer has to Rimsie, I have yet to see. Ace Rimmer is quite possibly the perfect send-up to Arnold Rimmer: much like his environment threw Arnie J down the toilet, it propelled Ace to new heights. As Rimmer is the most despised person in the Red Dwarf universe, Ace is the most beloved. Seeing Ace and Arnie together is really just nonstop contrast after contrast, all to provide a great sense of tragicomedy for Rimmer. There’s a reason why Ace has stood out as a fan favourite.

What a guy.

7. “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”


The only episode on this list to win an Emmy, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse” is a star amongst the mixed bag that was Series 6. Breaking from the “Mad Libs” scripting that seemed to dominate the first two episodes of the series, “Gunmen” features a plot that both sends up the holodeck episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Westerns, yet provides plenty of originality and comedy to the subject. It’s fun, funny, adds a real sense of danger, and contains some of the most awesome scenes in the history of the show. In short- it deserved it’s Emmy.

6. “The Inquisitor”


Red Dwarf, at first glance, seems to be the most nihilistic show alive. I mean, the last humanoids alive are a slob, a failure, and a narcissist, aided by a loopy computer and a neurotic robot. Yet, when you think about it, this is a spot of optimism in the darkness of the show.

This episode confirms what we all know- sometimes, the loopiest people have the brightest plans. What else do you call Lister in this episode? The man who has “brains he never used” kicks himself for his relative lack of action, yet this encourages him to take considerable strides in order to take down the titular antagonist. That, plus more of a look inside Rimmer’s mentality, plus one of the most complex antagonists in the history of the show, puts this episode just outside the top 5.

5. “Holoship”

Ah, Rimmer. Human tragedy in a character if I ever saw one. He says one line that seals the deal:

“You expect something to go right for me? Arnold “Schmucko” Rimmer? Tosspot by royal appointment?”

“Holoship” shows Rimmer at his most complex, really delving into his neuroses, while also giving him an ending that reminds us why the character is one of the most beloved characters in TV history. Well aware of the fact that life has dealt him a raw hand (to say the very least), it gives him, for once, a look at pure sympathy. You understand why he makes the manoeuvres he makes in order to try and get a position of power on the ship. If only Commander Crane got just a tad bit more development (cut out the interview scene), this would’ve been in the top 3, hands down. Still, 5th out of 61? Not too shabby, I might say.

4. “Thanks For The Memory”


While Rimmer may have gotten the lion’s share of character development during the course of the show, Lister in no way was left high and dry. This episode might be the first one to really look at the drawbacks of Lister’s character- one where his laddish behaviour cost him a chance at everlasting love. However, this episode has him share a part of his memory with Rimmer, who he almost never gets along with. That is a virtue that more than makes up for his vices. The mystery is cool, and the resolution is emotional. 4th best, my friends!

3. “Marooned”


Doing a Bottle Episode is a risky manoeuvre- you’re either going to fail hard, or you’re going to reach the stars. This episode hit the latter and then some, forcing two adversaries into a situation where they have to open up to each other.

The theme for the first two series was “Lister and Rimmer argue IN SPACE!!!!!” This episode is really the one that delves into their relationship- how, despite loathing each other, they have striking similarities. Both of them flesh out beyond their standard “good v. not good” tendencies in the first two series- Lister does something questionable, yet feels remorse about what he does. At the same time, Rimmer opens up to Lister, and performs probably the greatest act of selflessness in the series (at least, until Series VI). Add to that some wickedly funny comedy, and what we have is one for the ages.

2. “Back to Reality”


When I first reviewed “Back to Reality” in April, I gave it the “coveted” 10 score, calling it “The Best Ever Red Dwarf“. While placing in 2nd might not indicate it holding up in that regard, I still retain that it barely missed the #1 spot. It’s only held down by the fact that it’s not as effective as a “last episode of series” compared to “last episode ever”.

Otherwise, what else is there to say? This episode almost has it all- you have brilliant character development through the mirror image, callbacks to small jokes so they can be used as character developers, a deep analysis of the psyches of all four characters. Yes, even Cat gets fleshed out- beyond the flamboyant dandy is a character with no knowledge of what he really is, a character of insecurities and vanity. It made #1 in the two polls Ganymede and Titan did, and has placed in the top 3 in series polls constantly. It’s that memorable. In terms of objectivity, it really is the best Red Dwarf ever.

But why isn’t it #1? What episode could have possibly topped “Back to Reality”? Well, the “Gold” episode’s title is somewhat indicative of it’s placement, if only via slight hyperbole.

1. “Better Than Life”


This episode holds a special place in my heart- it was the episode that convinced me that Red Dwarf would be one of my favourite TV shows of all time. (Seeing it mere months after first watching Gravity Falls wasn’t too shabby of a coincidence, either.) Did that piece of pseudo-nostalgia colour my opinion? Maybe. (Read: hell yes.)

Still, even without that, it can’t be denied- this is one hell of an episode. “Better Than Life” is one of the first episodes that really dove into Rimmer’s pathos- his tragic, abusive childhood that implanted the neurosis that plague him today is really examined here. His relationship with his father is also revealed, setting the stage for his ambition and his talent (or lack thereof). The scenes that follow drive Rimmer deeper and deeper into tragicomedy, ending in him ruining a game that’s supposed to be a source of pure joy, and bringing down the others with him. How else do you explain this episode? Nobody hates Rimmer just because- they hate him because his neurosis manages to drive down everybody, and he tries to evade progression.

On a far lighter note, what else can you say about this episode? The comedy ranges from high to low, hits on pretty much all counts, character comedy is fantastic, the plot is brilliant, and the acting is phenomenal. Example of the latter: only Norman Lovett could make the screwed up situation he’s in deadpan.

“Oh, dear. You can’t take him anywhere, can ya?”

However, what seals this as my favourite episode of Red Dwarf? You know those two paragraphs above- the one where I said “Where else can blah blah blah”? This episode is a microcosm of those paragraphs. It’s brilliant, it’s hysterical, it’s tragic, it made me fall in love with the show… it’s Red Dwarf incarnate.

Honourable Mentions: “Justice”, “Queeg” (this one barely missed the list), “Quarantine”, “Lemons”, “The Beginning”.

Well, that’s it for Red Dwarf for quite a while. I’ll come back to this fantastic show, possibly in the spring, to re-review the episodes. I’ll review Series XI. I’ll do more “Show Wars” and “Top X Lists” with Red Dwarf.

But again, that won’t be until the spring… maybe the summer.

So, how are we going to go out the year? In silence?

Who knows? Keep clicking on this blog. Maybe I have one last trick up my sleeve.

Not Another Top (X) List: Ranking the Series of Red Dwarf (So Far)

Hello, and welcome to…

NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!
Last time, we took a look at the 8 worst episodes in the history of Red Dwarf, plus one that surpassed the 8 so far in badness that it ranked under the eight (know what I’m saying?) Since I expect the last list to debut on Christmas, I have decided to bridge the “bad” with the “good” by ranking every series of Red Dwarf so far, from worst to best. I think the start of the list is pretty predictable- it’s the rest of the series that might throw a curveball or two.
In addition, I have decided to add the “worst episode” and “best episode” from the season. Here’s the deal- the best episode from the best season might not (not necessarily “won’t”) make it to #1 on the “top episodes” list. Likewise, a “best episode” from a lower-ranked series might make it to #1 on the “top episodes list”.

Oh, and none of the DVD covers featured here belong to me.

Enough stalling… let’s begin!
10. Series VIII


  • The Verdict: Was it going to be any other series? With only two episodes to get over a 5-score, and one of those being part of a wretched story, this series statistically is the worst of Red Dwarf. Even if you disregard my scores, this series has everything at it’s worst- the humour is awful, characterisation is scattershot at best, the plots are stupid, the special effects are trash, etc. etc. The only redeeming quality from this series is that it put the series over the top for syndication deals. If only the BBC knew that home release of TV shows would become commonplace in the 2000s… we might not have had this trash.
  • Worst Episode: “Krytie TV”, the worst episode in Red Dwarf history. The fact that the master copy of this exists, and yet there are 100 episodes of Doctor Who missing and feared lost for eternity, is close to unforgivable. (Stupid price of tape in the 60s.)
  • Best Episode: “Cassandra”, the only watchable stand-alone story from VIII. Don’t buy the VIII DVD- just buy this one episode on iTunes. Your sanity (and wallet) will thank you.

9. Series VII


  • The Verdict: Series VIII’s slightly more respectable sibling. Slightly. This was the first one done by Naylor alone. I admire VII’s attempts at focusing on the dramatic aspect of the show, which was a decent risk. Sadly, what made the drama in the previous six series work was a) it didn’t replace the comedy (the good comedy, at least), and b) there were characters to care about. Rimmer was sent away, replaced with the tragically mis-written Kochanski, and Lister and Kryten were reduced to lows in their characters. The good news is that, from the next-highest ranked series on, we are dealing with “good” series.
  • Worst Episode: “Barely A Joke” – uh, I mean, “Beyond A Joke”… no, “Barely a Joke” worked well enough. Actually, “Barely an Editing Budget” could work as well.
  • Best Episode: “Epideme”, the episode with the lowest amount of the problems that plagued Series VII. Not perfect by a longshot, but still manages to come the closest to Naylor’s goal for the series.
8. Series XI/”Back to Earth”

  • The Verdict: Yeah, it’s just a 3-part movie. I’ll just link the review of the movie, say “it was alright”, and move on.
  • Worst Episode: “Back to Earth: Part II”
  • Best Episode: “Back to Earth: Part III”
7. Series X

  • The Verdict: You have to admire that, even without those circumstances, there was very little to hate about this series- nitpick at worst. It really felt like they took the standout elements from all of the series, for good and for bad, and put them together into this series that actually seemed to satisfy almost everybody. It also contained the first “awesome” Red Dwarf episodes in 19 years. If there’s any problem, it’s that this series hasn’t really settled into the mindset of what I think of when I hear the words “Red Dwarf episode”. That’s why it’s ranked lower than VI… albeit just lower.
  • The Worst: “Dear Dave”. This is what you get when you produce an episode of TV within a week.
  • The Best: “The Beginning”. Even if this isn’t the last series, I think this episode could serve as a decent end to the show. It’ll be in my own canon if XI is awful.
6. Series VI


  • The Verdict: In hindsight, I think I might have been a bit harsh on Series VI. After all, the plot twist introduced was pretty damn cool, it really shook up the Status Quo of Red Dwarf, and we got to see a bit more of characters that were once reduced to joke fodder (read, Cat). Still, Series VI gets a relatively low position, mainly because it relied a bit too much on Mad-Libs style plotting, it had a botched “three-in-one” sequel, and it contained the one episode of the first 36 to fail. Alright, from here on, I stop complaining. This series is definitely a loveable one, if you don’t mind the difference in plot and (to a small extent) tone.
  • Worst Episode: “Rimmerworld”, e.g. the one episode of the first 36 to get a failing score.
  • Best Episode“Gunmen of the Apocalypse”, the only Red Dwarf episode to win an Emmy Award. Yes. An Emmy.
5. Series I


  • The Verdict: If you are writing a TV show, you better hope to whatever you believe in that your first season/series it’s weaker than at least a few other seasons/series- otherwise, you have a problem. Thankfully, Grant/Naylor hit the happy medium- producing a show that, while outclassed by at least four other series, was still pretty damn good. Sure, the show seems a bit “dry”, taking on a more “Odd Couple” feel compared to the rest of the show, and the acting/characters do seem a tiny bit off compared to the other series. It’s also aged. A lot. Yet, this series also brought us plenty of hints as to what was to come- the tragicomedy of Rimmer slowly being peeled away, Lister’s character slowly being refined beyond the “lad” he was in the first minutes, and the exploration of the world, albeit just a little bit.
  • The Worst: “Balance of Power”. Granted, my opinion on this episode has warmed compared to when I first reviewed it almost two years ago. Still, I never got why fandom gave it such high marks.
  • The Best: “Me2”. In my opinion, the first classic Red Dwarf episode. Rimmer development, ahoy!
4. Series IV


  • The Verdict: This series had a little bit for everybody: an episode about Holly, an episode that focused on Kryten (two, in fact), an episode focused on Red Dwarf, an episode that deviated from the format of the series, Rimmer development, Lister development, awesome Cat lines, excellent visuals and acting, and some of the better plots in the history of the show. Of special note goes to “Dimension Jump”, considered part of the “Red Dwarf trinity”, an episode that focused on Arnold facing his antithesis… Ace Rimmer, test pilot in the Space Corps. What a guy.
  • Worst Episode: “Camille”. It’s good, but it’s a bit less good than the rest. I’ll just say “cute” and move on.
  • Best Episode: “Dimension Jump”- the one with Ace. What a guy. Would’ve been tied with “White Hole”, if they focused more on Holly.
3. Series II


  • The Verdict: This was the first series of Red Dwarf I watched, and loved it. It’s similarities to Series I means that it has a bit of the “awkwardness” that I had- the dated effects and somewhat slow pacing. Those are easily balanced out by the exemplary character development- the demons that battle Rimmer are finally exposed, Lister’s heart of gold is polished even further, Holly gets an episode to really show the man behind the goofball computer, etc. Plots also expand beyond the ship itself for the first time, exploring more sci-fi elements more often such as time travel and parallel universes. Truly the first great Red Dwarf series.
  • Worst Episode: “Parallel Universe”. Still funny, but the sexual politics have just aged a bit too awkwardly. Not even “Tongue Tied” can save it this time around.
  • Best Episode: “Better Than Life”. This episode made me fall in love with Red Dwarf, being the epitome of tragicomedy, as well as sending up concepts that other TV shows took dead seriously.
2. Series V


  • The Verdict: On one hand, Series V did contain two awkward steps in “Terrorform” and “Demons and Angels”, neither of which did much for me, and may have foreshadowed later weaknesses in the show. However, the other episodes more than make up for those two episodes, the rest of these episodes being some of the greatest TV I ever saw. Rimmer is as fleshed out as he ever was or will be, given episodes that both portray him as lonely and bonkers. The madness of the adventures reaches new heights, with each one putting the crew in genuine danger. The last episode of this series is a massive shocker, with almost every fan declaring it one of the best episodes in the history of the show.
  • Worst Episode: “Terrorform”. Talk about beating the obvious in our heads!
  • Best Episode: “Back to Reality”. I make no bones about it- this episode should be in a sci-fi hall of fame… if one exists.
1. Series III


  • The Verdict: Surprised? I’ll explain. There are so many reasons why I picked III as my favourite series. The comedy? Fantastic. The plots? Beautiful. The tragedy? Tragically awesome. The visuals? Pretty damn good. Kryten is finally fleshed out, the Cat starts to get some development, Lister and Rimmer’s relationship is awesomely constructed, Hattie Hayridge’s spin on Holly is just as awesome as Norman Lovett’s take, etc. But still, why this series? Simply put, it’s the series that finally made Red Dwarf a giant in British TV history, and in sci-fi history. It changed the game- the show evolved from it’s “bottle” elements to a more “epic”, comic mood, while managing to make episodes that could work in either series. Without this series, we probably wouldn’t have gotten the epics that came later on, such as “Back to Reality” or “Dimension Jump”, and the characters that came with them. The end result is a series that, at damn near every moment, is just fun to watch. This might just be my favourite series/season of TV- it’s up there with Gravity Falls season 1, or The Simpsons Season 5. Simply put? Best. Red Dwarf Series. Ever.
  • Worst Episode: “Backwards”, but only because the backwards world logic is a bit off. Still, the comedy more than makes up for the slips in logic in this episode. If this is the worst episode from this series… there is little to complain about
  • Best Episode: “Marooned”. This is the original focus of the show- Lister and Rimmer’s bunk-mate troubles- at it’s finest, delving into the psyches of both characters so fantastically, and in a way that’s both tragic and hilarious.
I’m taking next Thursday as a “buffer period”, mainly because I have finals. So, on Christmas Day, we have our list of the greats- the ones that put Red Dwarf into the lists of greatest comedies of all time, and the greatest sci-fi shows of all time.
It’s the Best Episodes of Red Dwarf… so far.

Not Another Top (X) List: Top 8-ish Worst Episodes of Red Dwarf (So Far)

Note to self: invest in Photoshop!

Hello, and welcome to another edition of….

NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!

Oh, and it’s December! Time for our…

CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR THING!

Over the past two years, I took a look at Red Dwarf. I’ve seen the highs, I’ve seen the lows. I’ve seen the best, I’ve seen the worst. I’ve seen Duane Dibbley and the Polymorph. I saw Krytie TV and the Dinosaur. I’ve watched the characters evolve, devolve, and everything in between.

Now, until Series XI premieres (or until I get around to re-reviewing episodes), it’s the end of the road for our look at Red Dwarf.

When Red Dwarf was good, it was awesome. It’s characters, it’s plots, it’s humour were unparalleled in British Comedy, in science-fiction, in TV. The construction of a solid majority of the episodes is awesome, and quite a few episodes are perfection.

Yet, to say it’s not perfect would be an understatement. The bad episodes of Red Dwarf ranged from duff episodes to some of the worst TV i’ve ever watched. Now, debate can range on if and when Red Dwarf went down the tubes, if and when it recovered, and if and when the show’s legacy was tarnished by the weaker seasons.

Still, I feel fit to put in my top examples on when Red Dwarf failed to meet the high standards set by the cream of the crop… of if it just failed, period.

Now, a disclosure: this is not in the order that I graded them, nor could the episode that I may have noted was the worst episode ever at the time of review make it to #1 on this list. This is purely on reflection. My opinions may have changed since I originally reviewed these episodes, albeit only slightly.

Oh, and stories=episodes.

Ladies and gentlemen, X=8. After the jump…

THE TOP 8 WORST EPISODES OF RED DWARF (SO FAR)


8: “Rimmerworld”

Full disclosure: this is the only episode of the original 36 to make it onto the list. Bask in your minuscule claim to fame, “Rimmerworld”. There may have been episodes that got lower scores that are not making the list, but “Rimmerworld” has a special place. It’s the only episode of the Grant/Naylor 36 to get below a 5 score- read, failing. The comedy may have been decent, but the simplification of Rimmer to the point of implying that his callous behaviour was entirely ingrained inside him, rather than reinforced and fuelled by years of bullying and parental/familial/societal abuse, sets the tone for the next two series- one where characters were simplified or derailed for the sake of plot.

7: “Tikka to Ride”


Ah, now that they’ve taken a beating to Rimmer’s characterisation, why not Lister’s? It’s not like the writers actually cared about how the viewers felt! Or should I say writer, as this was the first one without Rob Grant. Yes, the terrible tone for Series VII was set when, in this episode, Lister was reduced to a self-centred, food obsessed git- so horrendously written that I didn’t care if he got beaten by his crewmates. It was all just to kill JFK via a time paradox that contradicts itself within the same episode. Oh, and it erases the logic of the “time drive” established in “Out of Time”. Look, I know it was three years, but come on! Futurama was off for the same amount of time, and it still kept some level of continuity! Admittedly, exploring JFK not as this civil rights icon but as this chauvinist pervert could’ve made for a great episode. Too bad the script is pathetic.

6: “Ouroboros”


Never has such a character been miswritten as Chloe Annett’s portrayal of Kristine Z Kochanski. Effectively proving true every cliche of “a woman in a ship full of men”, the writers failed to use her to the fullest potential. This would’ve been bad enough, but the rest of the characters were wrecked to accommodate the plot, and the plot twist is pointless, holding no bearing on future episodes (except for “Fathers and Suns”, although that episode, at least, was funny). Plus, Lister’s reaction to the paradox is at least a bit disturbing.

5: “Only the Good”


Wanna kill a show off by giving your fans one final “smeg off” while insulting their intelligence? Try having an episode with a barely tangible plot, obnoxious characters, actors that seem to have finally recognised how bad the show has fallen, wasted potential, dodgy sexual politics, and an ending that is so stupid, “The Beginning” makes jokes about it’s stupidity and pointlessness. Of note is Kryten celebrating Kochanski’s “time of the month”- in my opinion, the single worst gag in Red Dwarf history. Oh, and this was the last episode ever for 10 years. This episode was the one that BBC Two called time with. I’ll take Rimmer shooting the time drive in lieu of kneeing Death in the pelvis, thank you very much.

4. “Duct Soup”


Ah, “Duct Soup”. We really needed to desecrate more characters for the sake of pseudo-comedy, so why not take a sledgehammer to Kryten, the kindest soul on the ship? Or, in this case, a jealous ass who puts the crew in danger just to prevent Kochanski from hooking up with Lister. That, plus not a whole lot of funny character comedy and a boring plot, does not a good episode make. At least Kochanski got to hit Kryten with a wrench as revenge, but it was too little, far too late.

3: “Back in the Red”


Admittedly, Part 1 of this three parter isn’t too bad. Granted, I wouldn’t rank it as part of the all-time greats by a long shot, but it had decent pacing and passable characterisation. Then Part 2 happened. Once the Dibbley Family shows up, you can tell that nobody was going to give a smeg about quality this season. Let’s see… the rat gag, Dibbley Family, the magnetism virus, claymation, Power Sauce (WORST PUN EVER), Cat’s dance with the Blue Midget… welcome back to the Red Dwarf, everybody. This series also had the highest ratings of any Red Dwarf series. Let that sink in for a second.

2. “Beyond A Joke”

This made it into the final episode. This was their best foot forward.

A common joke about this episode is that it should’ve been titled “Barely a Joke”. That’s more of an apt title. Kryten’s jerkassery in Series VII is cranked up to new levels of insanity in this trainwreck of an episode. Every joke is either stupid or explained to us. The plot is terminally boring and stupid. And for what? A lesson about not using drugs. This wouldn’t have ranked so far up the list if this episode wasn’t written by Robert Llewellyn himself. (I blame Doug Naylor for every fault with this episode- how no one called for his dismissal after this disaster is beyond me.) Oh, and as pictured above, it contains the worst special effect in the history of Red Dwarf. Series VII? Everybody involved was only in it for the paycheque.

1. “Pete”


Well, this happened. “Pete”, AKA the two-parter where the crew fight a dinosaur that evolved from a bird, all the while Lister and Rimmer wind up in Hollisters office over and over and over AGAIN! Part 2 is near universally considered the worst ever Red Dwarf episode, with the two polls taken by Ganymede and Titan placing this at the bottom of the list. The plot is stupid, the gags go on way too long (we get it, Hollister will see them in 10 minutes), Kryten’s plot is as basic comedy as possible, the logic makes no sense, the characterisation is off at best, the basketball scene is stupid… it’s a train wreck of an episode. I make no hyperbole when I blame this two parter for knocking out the franchise for 10 years. Or, do I give it credit for knocking out the franchise for 10 years? Eh, whatever. It takes the “gold” “medal”, so to speak.

Now, that’s your basic top 8 list there.

But, WAIT, the few people that read this blog cried out! Why did you call it 8-ish? Isn’t there another episode you despised? You know, Series VIII, deals with reality TV, all that jazz?

Unfortunately for us, yes.

0. “Krytie TV”

Putting in a screencap from this episode would have required me to watch the episode again. I barely made it through the first time.

I’m stealing a page out of the Goosebumps review blog Blogger Beware and putting this under the top 8. Actually listing this in the 8 spots I’ve allocated would validate it as a Red Dwarf episode, something that this failure of television does not deserve. This does not deserve to be in the same show as “Holoship” and “Better Than Life”. This episode is so bad, so undeniably wretched, that I think watching it gave me an ulcer. Characterisation is trash, the plot is stupid, the episode is sexist on both ends, and the ending is probably the worst seven minutes in Red Dwarf history. Even the B-Movie parody isn’t so “funny” as much as it is hypocritical, given the quality of every episode listed here. I wish never to hear the phrase “You Got Kryterred” again. It’s one of the worst episodes of television ever made (only beaten by episodes that actually put it’s viewers in harm’s way!) To paraphrase George Lucas, if I had enough time, money, and a sledgehammer, I would purchase all of the master tapes of this episode and pulverise them.

Dishonourable mentions: “Nanarchy”, “Dear Dave”, “Emohawk: Polymorph II”.

I’ll be weeping for the next week or so. 

My Christmas Gift to You!

Well, it’s December! That means two things:

  • It’s the end of Matt Smith’s run on Doctor Who. Sorry.
  • It’s CHRISTMAS!!!! Or, for those Politically Correct types:
Image stolen from the Political Correctness Gone Mad page on TV Tropes. My apologies to TV Tropes.

It’s the season of giving, to reunite with family, to listen to nonstop Christmas music on the radio (which probably started on Halloween), to stuff yourself with food, to go to church/synagogue/mosque/etc., and for all of those TV shows to air cheesy specials from past and present!

Given that this is the blog’s first Christmas, I’d figure that the best type of celebration involves one where you watch me go insane. Therefore, for this very first “Geek Zone Christmas Spectacular Celebration Thing”, we will be taking a look at….

…wait for it…

… Season 23 of The Simpsons. No, that’s not a typo.

Season 23 of The Simpsons is probably the worst season in the history of the show. Sure, Season 11 ain’t going to win any golden prizes, and most of anything past season 9 is subpar, but I will give most of those seasons credit: up until season 20, those seasons had traces of nostalgia in them. I got into the show at season 16, and enjoyed watching until sometime into season 21. Even after that, I kept watching into season 23, although I got less concerned if I missed an episode or two.

Season 23 has none of that. It was partly insane, partly hipster-esque, tried to be relevant when it wasn’t, took the easy way out, showed a world of sunshine and rainbows when the classic era would’ve showed a world gone mad, ect. The end result was, for the most part, either insane or boring. At the end of the season, after watching the finale, I decided that the show was too far gone to continue watching on a regular basis. While I HAVE watched episodes since (on occasion), I was much more active in deciding not to watch the show. (I have watched season 25, sort of as a time killer, and from what I have seen, it is marginally better. Marginally.)

Watching season 23 as a whole would drive me insane, so I have decided to pick the three most infamous episodes of the season. I might throw in a bonus episode, the one good episode of the season, but don’t count on it.