Show Wars: Bodyswapping: "Bodyswap" vs. "Carpet Diem"

Welcome to SHOW WARS!

Special thanks to the Logo Design Tool for, y’know, existing.

In this new segment, I will be comparing two episodes from two different shows (or maybe two different seasons of the same show) with a similar theme or plot device, and seeing who executes it better. What better way to introduce the segment by comparing two episodes from (what I consider) the two greatest TV shows of all time?

It has to be a huge, strange coincidence that I discovered Red Dwarf and Gravity Falls around the same time. I first began watching YouTube clips of Red Dwarf around June of 2012, although I didn’t declare it a potential “favorite show” until Christmas (“Better Than Life” and it’s cruelly hysterical ending sealed the deal for me). Gravity Falls caught my eye in July of that year; “The Inconveniencing” was running for the first time. I was instantly hooked.

As such, these two shows get the first installment of “Show Wars”, with a rather conventional sci-fi plot being our first example.

The concept of Body-swapping is nothing new. Star Trek: The Original Series did it in its series finale, “The Turnabout Intruder”. (Said episode is considered one of the worst of the original series). It’s just that Red Dwarf and Gravity Falls add their own twists and humor to it to make it funny, relatable, or both.

Therefore, after the jump, in the ring today… it’s “Bodyswap” and “Carpet Diem”!

First up…

The Setup.

The main difference between Red Dwarf and Gravity Falls is that, while both are character driven sci-fi/fantasy comedies, Red Dwarf is closer to straightforward comedy with parodies of sci-fi cliches, while Gravity Falls approaches something closer to comedy-drama. As such, the setups involve character-based humor, the strength of the shows, as well as another strength each show has.

Red Dwarf introduces the Bodyswap with its strength; science-fiction parody and character-based humor. This time, we are introduced via an auto-destruct sequence, brought on upon Lister ordering a shake… while the wires are messed up by a rouge skutter. All the senior officers are dead, and Holly offers no help (she forgot to update the database, for one). Kryten recommends trying to place the mind of a senior officer into Lister to crack the code via a mind-swap. Ultimately, it’s useless (not only can the auto-destruct not be turned off by the senior officer utilized… but there was no bomb to detonate). Still, the episodes goes into a criticism that Rimmer has for Lister (for once); Lister, as nice a guy as he is, is a total slob. Thus, BODYSWAP!

We see how the character-based humor impacts this show, with every action given an equal and opposite reaction. The body swap is driven by Holly not having any ideas at all (actually, she has three; sit there and get blown up, stand there and get blown up, and jump up and down whilst yelling at her for not having an idea before getting blown up). The sudden placement of the senior officer is also perfect to give an idea on how somebody would react to being placed in another person’s body… as she freaks out about the fact that she is a man. Also, the sci-fi used is so over the top, it’s hysterical.

Gravity Falls introduces us with the more realistic sibling conflict propping up between Dipper and Mabel, as well as their characterisations. Brought on by Mabel’s nightly sleepovers and Dipper late night reading, the two decide to move out of the attic. They have to compete for a second bedroom… which contains an electron swapping carpet. One zap fight later, BOOM! Bodyswap! Of course, Gravity Falls is somewhat more grounded in its use of science-fiction, while Red Dwarf uses it for farce. Yet, the more important section to focus on is the characters. Dipper and Mabel’s conflict is very, very realistic; thus, it is very funny, yet also truly recognizable.

It’s a very, very tight score here, but ultimately, Red Dwarf pulls out a better setup… and it wins partially because of Holly’s “three available options” line.

Winner: Red Dwarf. (“We haven’t got a bomb! I got rid of it ages ago!”)

Lies and Deceit: Actions Committed Under the Bodyswap.

This is going to be somewhat shorter. Both of these are very, very similar at the base. Various abuses are committed under the bodyswap, revealing darker underbellies of the characters. The difference is whether it’s one sided or two sided, and the scale of the abuse.

That’s Rimsie!

Red Dwarf uses this episode to show just how much of a selfish, callous smeghead Rimmer is. I put this episode second on my “Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments” list. When I reviewed “Bodyswap”, I declared that this should’ve taken the number 1 spot in hindsight. He promises Lister that he will use the Bodyswap to get Lister in shape… only to gorge, smoke, drink, et al, all the way to putting on two stone. Impressive. After a brief switch back, Rimmer kidnaps Lister’s body and runs off in Starbug to an unknown planet! What a guy! This episode merely serves to reinforce the fact that Rimmer’s miserable life is hardly an excuse for his callous behavior.

It’s a long, LONG story.

Gravity Falls does a two-sided, yet milder, example of this sibling rivalry… which backfires on them horribly. Dipper/Mabel is wrangled into a sleepover, which ends horribly for him. (Not the romantic comedies!) Mabel/Dipper, meanwhile, is taught all about male puberty via Stan. (“Goodbye, childhood!”) Both totally make sense for each’s character: after all, one of the main themes of Gravity Falls is that it is a coming-of-age story for Dipper (and, to a lesser extent, Mabel).

Again, you have two fantastic stories of deceit and lies. It’s hard to pick one…

…I’m going with Gravity Falls. As explained next, it helps build up the character dynamics beyond the sibling rivalry.

Winner: Gravity Falls (“SLEEPOVER!”)

Comedy Connections: The Character Dynamics and Character Conflict

Red Dwarf and Gravity Falls are both character-centred shows. As such, almost every incident in any episode will be created or impacted by the interactions between the characters. Likewise, there are no official antagonists in either episode: all the conflicts here are protagonist-driven.

Red Dwarf only has 5 characters… yet that’s more than enough for awesome character comedy. From “The End”, Rimmer and Lister have had this conflict based on the former’s odious behavior and the latter’s slobbish behavior. Switching bodies made it worse… yet it also made it more one-sided. Rimmer’s odiousness was cranked up, while also gaining Lister’s slobbish tendencies. If anything, this reinforces Rimmer as a hypocrite. It’s good, but still a bit too one-sided and biased. I’ll go back to this below.

It’s the conflict with the other characters and the development they receive that brings the episode up. When Rimmer commits Grand Theft Lister, Lister tries to convince Cat to do a bodyswap and chase after Rimmer in White Midget. The Cat not only offers to pilot the shuttle himself, but does so in a fantastic fashion. Sure, that shows that the Cat is more than just a fashion-obsessed guy. However, it also reveals that, at the very least, Lister and the Cat have a friendship bonded on their distaste for Rimmer’s behaviour. The Cat, normally too self-centred to care about anything, is willing to go beyond his appearance to try and help Lister. Kryten, meanwhile, gets development in this episode via the revelation that he is submissive to any and all human orders, thus confirming a personality reset that was revealed in “Backwards”.

That, my friends, is the face that reads “what the hell did I just see?”

Gravity Falls… oh, the development and interaction between the characters is fantastic! For one, we see the relationship between Stan and Dipper take a much more familial tone compared to the more aloof/callous nature in the first several episodes. We see this with him reading “Dipper” the infamous Puberty Book… only to shock Mabel in the process. This will set up several aspects of the next four episodes of the show, namely the B-plot of “Boyz Crazy” and the A-plots of the other three episodes. Another thing to look at would have to be Candy and Grenda’s relationship with Mabel. They seem willing to partake in Mabel’s crazy schemes, no matter why she’s proposing them. This sets up “Boyz Crazy” and Candy and Grenda drawing the line. We also see Candy and Grenda develop beyond just Mabel’s friends; Candy is more realistic and inquisitive (as seen with the Calling All Boys board game and her reaction to the electron carpet), while Grenda seems to take some offence to Candy’s scepticism (such as with the Calling All Boys game.)

Again, it’s a close one here. In the end, I still have to give this to Gravity Falls. Red Dwarf went the extra mile. Gravity Falls went an extra TWO miles!

Winner: Gravity Falls (“Kevin has the voice of a robot.” “DON’T RUIN THIS FOR ME!”)

No Habla Bodyswap: Understanding from the Outsiders

There are two types of bodyswaps; one where the voice migrates with the rest of the mind and one where the voice does not migrate. Both use the “voice migrates”. However, the implementation is different.

Red Dwarf is unusual in its application of the trope. First, some production notes. You see, the original plan was to have Craig Charles and Chris Barrie try and imitate each other’s voice. Barrie succeeded, for the most part. Charles, however, had such a strong Scouse accent that it became impossible for him to pull off Rimmer. Thus, the episode was done with them in their normal voices, the voices were re-recorded and swapped in editing, and the mostly-finished episode was shown to an audience- the first time an entire episode was filmed without an audience (this became the norm for Series VII).

Now, in-universe. Due to the mumbo-jumbo of the bodyswap machine, the voices were swapped, and everybody knew the voices were swapped. Comedy ensues.

Gravity Falls, meanwhile, made it so that nobody else knew about the bodyswap unless it was explained to them or they experienced it themselves. This also leads to hilarity, but also leads to more development for the leads, as they are forced to take a look at how the opposite’s personality has affected their lifestyle.

It’s a simple pick: comedy or plot? I choose plot.

Winner: Gravity Falls. (“Who wants to give my brother a makeover?”)

Two Faces: The Themes.

Both Red Dwarf and Gravity Falls are primarily comedy-focused shows. However, their paths beyond the comedy are vastly different. Red Dwarf is a show that is cynical, dark, and very much based on farce. Gravity Falls is also relatively dark and sarcastic, but it’s also more openly heartfelt.

Red Dwarf chose to focus on repression and/or hypocrisy. Those who feel kind to Rimmer could argue that thanks to both external and internal circumstances, Rimmer represses quite a few “Lister-esque” traits. Once he gets Lister’s body, he realizes that he can finally relax, and thus, pigs out. Those who don’t feel as kind could argue that he is a hypocrite. Rimmer claims to be this upper-class snob, yet when he takes Lister’s body, he turns into almost as horrid a slob as Lister. Either way, after two episodes showing a depressing backstory and a more sympathetic character, Rimmer reverts somewhat to a smeghead. It fits well with his character; while his backstory shaped his faults, he still could change course… he just chooses not to.

Gravity Falls focuses on relationships and, to a lesser extent, aging. Dipper and Mabel are traveling down separate paths, so to speak. This episode thrusts both of them into a situation that is typical of their age; the two tire of each other and want to separate from each other. The two are frustrated beyond ration; they resort to sabotage. Yet, by the end, they realise the close connection the two have with each other as well as what their separate lives are like (for good and for bad), and they put aside the differences. Sure, you could chalk it up to the status quo, but it works with the story; Dipper and Mabel, for all intents and purposes, will stick together. We also see that despite making a game out of who can suck up to him the most, Stan understands that the two need to escape from each other, and tries to “warn” Dipper about what he will go through in his teenage years… even if it hit Mabel instead. Of course, we have Candy and Grenda’s dynamic start to take shape for any appearances in Season 2, Dipper’s dynamic with the girls, and Soos’s dynamic with Stan and the Pines twins.

It’s a hard choice, but I’m going to have to give this one to Gravity Falls. The heart of both shows are the complex character of Rimmer and the dynamic of Pines Twins, respectively. Both work. However, Gravity Falls also took some time to develop the relationship between all the characters involved (in the A-plot, at least). “Bodyswap” is a funny episode. “Carpet Diem” is both funny and heartfelt. That being how it is, “Carpet Diem” gets the first ever “Show Wars” win.

Winner: Gravity Falls (“FORE!”)

Final Score: Red Dwarf (“What the smeggin’ smeg’s he’s smegging done?”) 1: Gravity Falls (“Ten suck-up points for this lemonade!”) 4.

So the show with the twins gets the win. Before you go on calling this a landslide, I would just like to put in perspective that both episodes were very close to each other in my eyes. Gravity Falls just had a more well-rounded script.

So, that’s it for the very first episode of “Show Wars”. The next few posts won’t be as fun: I have to decide whether to review another Season 9 Simpsons episode or plunge into the widely disliked Red Dwarf VII.

This is going to hurt.

Red Dwarf Reviews: Series III Wrap Up.

With Red Dwarf Series III out of the way, I might as well reveal that this is my favorite series to watch.

Granted, this is not the series of the highest quality (Series V was better by a thin margin), but this series is still brilliant from one end to the other.

This series managed to redefine what Red Dwarf was. The slow pacing and sitcom-y format of the first two series are both diminished in this series. It feels more like a science-fiction show, albeit with every cliche played for laughs or criticized.

And yet, the character development given to each of the characters is brilliant. This is the first series to reveal that Lister was orphaned at a young age, that Rimmer’s mother was just as off-calibre as his dad, that Kryten is a complete and utter suck-up, that the Cat can fly Starbug, and so much more!

The plots get a lot more interesting compared to series I and II. Backwards, much like it’s episodic predecessor, “Parallel Universe”, analyses the concept of dimensions, except time travel is involved. It’s sort of like a reverse parallel universe. “Marooned” does a BRILLIANT job at the “bottle episode” cliche, with humor and sobering moments all around. “Polymorph” is a brilliant send-up of Alien, with every character bouncing off each other once affected by the polymorph. “Bodyswap” just shows how the writers can make you feel bad for Rimmer one episode, and make you want to kick him the next. “Timeslides” is another interesting take on time travel, with something as common as a darkroom (more common at the time of the episode’s airtime) being used as a life-changing device. And “The Last Day” takes a brilliant look at religion and devotion to beliefs, offending none but sparing nobody.

If there was a defining flaw in this series, it was mainly that Holly was reduced to more of a gag character, in favor of Kryten. Kryten comes into his own within a few episodes, but Holly is still hilarious. (And to answer the question, I have no preference over which Holly is better). Other flaws include screwy logic in the episodes, but then again, Red Dwarf tends to skim the MST3K Mantra.

Overall, a brilliant series that was a sign of things to come.

Score: 8.75

Red Dwarf Reviews, Series III, Episode 6: "The Last Day".

Airdate: 19 December, 1989

Some say that he’s gone insane looking for his predecessor, and that he has no desire to watch Top Gear. All we know is, HE’S CALLED HUDZEN 10!

Synopsis (Spoilers): Lister receives a post pod from Kryten’s manufacturers, informing him that Kryten’s built in expiry date is almost here and that Kryten will undergo shutdown within 24 hours. Lister is stunned, but Kryten takes the news well. Kryten declares that, because he has lived a life free of vices and lived in servitude, he is going up to Silicon Heaven. Lister not only does not believe in a Silicon Heaven (although Rimmer tells him to respect Kryten’s beliefs), but Lister is angry over the fact that Kryten is being turned off just to sell more models. Lister decides to throw Kryten a party that he will never forget, and the gang share very weird secrets.

The next morning, Kryten comes to, and realizes that he can not turn himself off. However, he also learns that the new model, Hudzen 10, is on his way, and that if Kryten does not activate his own turn-off disc, Hudzen must terminate Kryten. The Boys from the Dwarf decide to gang up against Hudzen, who has gone crazy looking for Kryten. Kryten manages to defeat Hudzen using a lie involving Silicon Heaven.

Review: This episode is actually my third favorite from the third series (beaten out by the hysterical “Polymorph” and the tear jerking “Marooned”). This is a TV episode that manages to combine social commentary alongside wonderful humor. (I’ll get to another TV episode that does NOT do social commentary well later). Silicon Heaven and it’s criticism by Lister could be considered a bit of jab at the religious, but through it all, Kryten retains his faith in Silicon Heaven. Indeed, the message comes off as “believe whatever you want, as long as it does not result in your death”, or “you don’t have to be a fundamentalist to have faith, and cutting loose is not a bad thing”. Keep in mind, Red Dwarf criticizes the entirety of humanity, and it criticizes the behaviors of all sorts of humans, so being somewhat offended once is ordinary for the viewer.

This episode also excels in Character Development. We learn that Lister never knew his mother, and that he was orphaned. We learn that Rimmer’s mother, described a mere three episodes prior as “very prim, very proper, almost austere”, actually had affairs. This episode also shows an integral part of Kryten’s persona, and why he is the only character to (barring his series II debut) not want to anger Rimmer. (Although, this does lead to my one complaint about the episode: if Kryten rebelled against Rimmer in “Kryten”, isn’t he already damned by his standards for rebellion against humans?”)

And the episode is just hysterical. Rimmer revealing his first kiss? Hysterical. Hell, the entire party is brilliant. Oh, and Rimmer’s view on Kryten’s 24 hour notice? “That’s more than most of us get. All most of us get is ‘Mind that bus.’ ‘What Bus?’ Splat.”

Overall, a wonderful note to end the game-changing series III on.

Favorite Scene: The party. Every part of it is hysterical.

Score: 9

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 5: "Timeslides"

Airdate: 12 December 1989

Synopsis: Kryten discovers that the development fluid on Red Dwarf can bring pictures to life, and can cause the crew to walk in the images. After changing the events of an attempted assassination of Hitler, Lister realizes that they have a time machine, and decides to change events to prevent himself from going on Red Dwarf. Using the Tension Sheet invented by Rimmer’s old classmate (Fred “Thicky” Holden), Lister goes back to an old concert that occurred when he was in a band, Smeg and the Heads. Lister manages to change events to convince young Lister to invent the Tension Sheet.

However, due to Lister not entering Red Dwarf, the Cat was not brought aboard, and Kryten was never rescued. Therefore, Rimmer is all alone with Holly. Holly finds a TV special on Lister’s new life as an uber-rich rockstar and inventor. (To clarify, he moved his HOUSE to get away from the neighbors, brought Buckingham Palace and had it ground down to line his drive, and brought three million copies of his song to send it to number 1.) Rimmer wants none of it, because, well, he’s a smeghead. Rimmer tries to bring Lister back, but fails to do so. Therefore, he goes back to try and get his younger self to invent the tension sheet while in boarding school. Not spoiling what happens here, but you can all take a lucky guess.

Review: I have to say, this is the weakest episode of the entire season. Still a good episode, but some things just don’t line up. How come in one scene, Rimmer can’t move outside the confines of the photograph, yet in another scene, Rimmer suddenly pops up outside of the photographic barriers (although another photograph may have been used off screen). Also, how does Rimmer still remain a hologram when Lister doesn’t join Red Dwarf? Remember, Rimmer was brought back specifically to keep Lister company.

However, ignore those complaints (easy: rule of funny), and you have a fun episode. The scene with “Sham Glam” Lister is hysterical. The episode contains many funny scenes (such as Lister going back in time to Hitler’s assassination attempt). This episode also reveals that Lister can and IS sick of being trapped on a spaceship three million years in the future, which is some good character development. Plus, Rimmer’s jerkass behavior in this episode is hilariously cruel.

Favorite Scene: A few. I actually can’t choose, so I’ll list them.

  • First off, Rimmer learns about the circumstances of Listers Tension-Sheet Timeline death. He died aged 98 in a plane crash. Why a plane crash? He was making love to his 14th wife and lost control of the plane. Rimmer asks for photos of Lister’s new timeline. Thinking that Rimmer is talking about the plane crash, Holly gives a “What the Smeg” look.
  • Second off, Lister’s song. Simply put, “Om”. It’s quite creative, actually. The fact that, in an alternate timeline, Lister made it so “Om” went to the top of the charts is also hilarious.
  • Last, but not least, Rimmer explains why he is going to rescue Lister from wealth and fame. “It’s my duty. My duty as a complete and utter bastard!”

Not-So-Fun Fact: Graham Chapman, from Monty Python, was originally selected to play the TV host Blaize from the scene featuring the Lifestyles of the Disgustingly Rich and Famous. However, he died before filming began. (To add more irony, he died on the 20th anniversary of Python). Ruby Wax, a comedienne and the wife of Red Dwarf director Ed Bye, played Blaize instead.

Score: 7.5

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 4: "Bodyswap"

Airdate: 5 December 1989

Lister’s uniform on Chris Barrie’s body. The fans went crazy.

Synopsis: A series of events involving a rogue skutter and Lister’s desire for food leads to Lister accidentally triggering self-destruct via a vending machine. Only a senior officer can deactivate the self-destruct, and all of them are dead (Holly failed to update her database). Kryten recommends a mind-swap with a senior officer, so that the computer can recognize his/her voice. Ultimately, the self-destruct turns out to be a ruse, but it gives Rimmer an idea. Under the pretense of getting Lister back in shape, the two propose (and undergo) a bodyswap. However, Rimmer abuses Lister’s body by drinking, eating, and smoking beyond belief. The end result is that Lister puts on quite a bit of weight. Lister quickly gets fed up with it and forces Rimmer (who trashed Lister’s body even further) to change back.

However, Rimmer, already in heaven with the food that has been eaten, is not willing to give up so easily. In the middle of the night, Rimmer steals Lister’s body and takes off on Starbug, with a ton of junk food in tow, “promising” to be back in a month… maybe six weeks. Rimmer also declares that if Lister gains ground, Rimmer will commit “suicide”. The chase ends when Lister and Co. back off in a desolate planet, distracting Rimmer (via his gloating) and causing him to crash. Rimmer and Lister switch back again, with Lister banged up and forced on a diet. Rimmer then kidnaps the Cat’s body to try and get THAT body in shape (read, binge out).

Review: In my last post, “Top 5 Lowest Arnold Rimmer Moments”, hijacking Lister’s body ranked in at #2 (only getting beaten out by Rimmer’s final interaction with his brother in “Trojan”). It deserves it. In fact, after closer analysis, I could make a good argument that this should have been the #1 moment of jerkassery. Rimmer at least was bullied by his brothers, which could explain why he was a jerkass to Howard at the end of “Trojan”, although it FAR from mitigates his jerkassery in that episode. Here, Rimmer acts like a slimeball to Lister, who has been relatively civil to Rimmer for the past two series. One could argue that is was revenge for Lister destroying Rimmer’s chest and indirectly burning his wooden soldiers in “Marooned”, but Lister felt bad for those events happening. Rimmer feels no remorse for a single action in this episode. At all.

On one hand, you feel for Rimmer. The poor smeghead has not eaten nor touched in years, so you expect him to go on a binge once he gets a body. However, once Rimmer steals Lister’s body and puts the gun to Lister’s head, all sympathy for him goes out the window. In fact, in that moment, Rimmer manages to switch firmly from Anti-Hero to villain. He actually manages to rival Bender from Futurama in terms of selfish insanity.

Hell, when the Cat (read, the character that DEFINES vanity) considers this deranged, you know your character is damn near low. Speaking of The Cat, his character (starting with “Backwards”, but I forgot to mention that there) starts to develop somewhat, with him gaining a friendship with Lister, and being a damn good Starbug pilot.

Rimmer also receives no repercussions for being a slime ball. Instead, Lister is put on a minuscule diet, and is forced to deal with his injuries.

Otherwise, this seems like an open-and-shut review. The episode is, for the most part, quite funny, and overall, pretty enjoyable. It’s not the best of the season. One could argue why a mind swap could give people different voices, but I argue that it is not important, and it is still fun to see Chris Barrie and Craig Charles doing actions that normally the other would do.

Oh, and fun maths fact. Rimmer apparently made Lister gain “two stone” in about a week. For those that have no knowledge of British weight slang, that is about 28 pounds, or 12.7 Kilos. That’s… impressively bad.

The episode is not the most memorable of the series (much like “Timeslides”), but still, with Red Dwarf III being as good as it is, it’s still good enough for an 8, a great score.

Favorite Scene: Holly comes up with three solutions to self-destruct accidentally being launched. They are…

  1. Sit there and get blown up;
  2. Stand there and get blown up, and;
  3. Jump up and down, shout at her for not thinking of anything, then get blown up.

Rating: 8.

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 3: "Polymorph"

Airdate: 28 November 1989

Synopsis (Spoilers): A shapeshifting alien lands on Red Dwarf, with the ability to change into anything to, to quote Kryten, “suit its terrain and deceive its enemies.” This polymorph, however, sucks out negative emotions. Why? Also quoting Kryten, “IT’S INSANE!”

It’s another normal day on the ship. Lister is making food with medical utensils, and Kryten accidentally insults Rimmer’s “prim, proper, almost austere” mother. The day is altered when the Polymorph, initially disguised as a sausage, attacks Lister, turns into various objects, culminating into a 12-foot monster, and manages to suck out Lister’s fear.

With Lister all too willing to take on the Polymorph, the others decide to attack the monster and flee the ship. The Cat, fleeing from heat-seeking missiles (which are trapped in another room), has his vanity sucked out by the Polymorph disguised as an ego-stroking female. Kryten’s guilt is sucked out by the Polymorph disguised as Rimmer. Rimmer’s anger is sucked out when the alien is disguised as his mother, who proceeded to sleep with Lister and brag about it to Rimmer.

The malformed Red Dwarf crew hold a meeting to try and go against the Polymorph.

  • Rimmer suggests attacking the Polymorph with a major leaflet campaign and various fundraisers.
  • Lister suggests taking on the Polymorph, with consequences that include his death.
  • The Cat, reduced to a bum and without a lick of fashion, does not care, calling all the ideas good, while he says that he is a big fat nobody.
  • Kryten wants the idea to include everybody else dying.

The crew take down the Polymorph in the cargo bays (thanks to the heat-seeking missiles fired earlier), and the crew are returned to normal.

Review: How this episode got past the censors is beyond me. This episode had the infamous “shrinking boxers” scene which caused the studio audience to laugh so much, Chris Barrie had to wait 10 minutes to deliver his line. Take THAT, Sammy Davis Jr. kissing Archie Bunker. Another scene that made this episode raunchier then normal was the scene where an anger-free Rimmer suggests various names for their organization, and one acronym is a bit… weird. (Rimmer even says the acronym. I’ll just say that the word would never get past censors today.) To a lesser extent, there is Rimmer’s “mother” who brags about her quick tryst with Lister. She briefly mentions “alphabetti spaghetti”.

That does not mean that the episode is bad at all. Rather, this episode is one of the best in the show for a reason. It is just hysterical. The Polymorph as a villain is well developed, especially for a one-shot villain. The character is also the first alien-esque character in the show. To avert the cliche of aliens, Grant Naylor used the term GELF, with Holly even calling it “man made”.

The episode also shows why Red Dwarf mostly (but not always) can get away with cop outs and stupid decisions that other shows can’t get away with. In Red Dwarf, we expect nothing from this crew. The bar is so low, that we expect them to flee, and take the easiest way out possible. The decisions they make fit in brilliantly with their characters. We know Rimmer’s character, and his first instinct is to abandon the situation, a complete contradiction to his desire to lead.

I do wish that they had taken on Rimmer’s ego, but that can be mostly excused, as they took on the Cat’s vanity. Other then that, this episode is brilliant.

Favorite Scene: Do I have to choose? The meeting scene is probably the best of the long, long list.

Score: 9.5

Red Dwarf Review, Series III, Episode 2: "Marooned"

Airdate: 21 November 1989

A smeghead and a slob. Trapped on an icy planet. Oh, boy.

Synopsis: Holly steers Red Dwarf into a black hole field, causing the crew to have to temporarily flee. Rimmer and Lister wind up taking Starbug, where Rimmer regales Lister about the former’s interests in the military and his previous life as Alexander the Great’s chief… eunuch. While the two are talking, Starbug is struck by a meteor, and crash lands on an ice planet. They have little hope of being found, low food, and no warmth. Rimmer can “live” because he is a hologram, but Lister can only hope for survival. The two wind up talking to each other and learning more about each other.

When it comes time to burn stuff for warmth, Lister is reluctant to let go of his Les Paul guitar, and Rimmer his military figurines. Lister, without Rimmer noticing, cuts a guitar-shaped hole out of Rimmer’s treasure chest. Thinking that it is Lister’s Les Paul, Rimmer decides to sacrifice his military figurines. Lister feels guilty that he made Rimmer burn something that meant so much to him, as the trunk provided the last link to Rimmer of his estranged father.

Kryten and the Cat find the two, and manages to bring them back. Holly then tells Rimmer that there was no black hole field; it was just five pieces of grit. Rimmer then realizes that Lister cut a hole out of his chest.

Review: A good Red Dwarf episode, for the most part, contains tons of laughs and constant comedy, alongside character development. While “Marooned” also contains this, there is also something else in this episode.

This episode (until series VII) is the most dramedy-focused episode in the history of the show, and some parts can bring you to tears.

It’s literally just Lister and Rimmer talking with each other for the most part. It’s an example of a “locked in a freezer” episode (a common TV cliche) that manages to pull off the aforementioned cliche well. The development Lister and Rimmer get is incredible. From the most minute details to great backstory reveal, it is quite rare to get the development in a comedy that Lister and Rimmer get.

In terms of tearjerker-ness, watching Rimmer burn something that meant so much to him, and then realizing why it meant so much to him, is among the most depressing things ever put in a sitcom. In my opinion, it is depressing almost to the level of Fry’s dog (prepares for flamers).

And Lister… god. He manages to be such a hilarious, and yet depressing, jerkass simultaneously. And yet he still feels bad for it. The look on Rimmer face when he finds out what Lister is done can only be described as pure anger. Put yourself in Rimmer’s shoes for a second. When he learns that Lister cut out a piece of his treasure chest, it goes beyond typical anger. Lister callously (yet, unbeknownst to Rimmer, unknowingly) ignored Rimmer’s feelings about his father just to save his own guitar which he can’t play for smeg.

And yet this episode is still hilarious. Lister and Rimmer talking about their first encounters with other women? Funny. Lister and Rimmer burning literature (not out of hatred, but for necessity)? Hilarious (especially when they have to say tootle-pipski to Shakespeare). The reveal about the grit on the screen? Hysterical.

This episode is just brilliant. It is one of the best in Red Dwarf‘s history. It ranked second on the Ganymede and Titan Silver Survey earlier this year, and it deserves it.

Favorite Scene: Do I have to choose? It has to be learning what the solders meant for Rimmer. It is, quite possibly, the most moving moment in the history of the show.

A VERY Close second place? Rimmer quotes Richard III

“Now….. something something something something.”

Score: 9.5