“Welcome to M-Corp – a pay-per life, virtual integrated environment. Most people who come stay forever!” – M-Corp representative. What a soothing thing to learn!
Airdate: November 9th, 2017
Written By: Doug Naylor
Plot: An update to the Red Dwarf‘s software reveals that the ship – in fact, the whole of the JMC – have been purchased out by M-Corp, a mega-corporation that has also brought out the whole of Earth. They inject a virus into Lister that eliminates his ability to see anything not made or employed by M-Corp – read, the Posse. Desperate for any contact with his friends, he decides to enter the M-Corp’s core, which is the poor man’s “Better Than Life”… and much like that game, almost kills him through his id.
On February 15, 1988, at 9:00 PM GMT, BBC Two debut a brand new science fiction series. Entitled Red Dwarf, it revolved around two polar-opposite bunkmates – the fastidious and acerbic and incompetent Rimmer, and the warm-hearted yet lazy Lister – aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. They were the bottom of the rung, much to Lister’s contentment and Rimmer’s contempt. Within 30 minutes, Rimmer made it so that they were the last men standing – Lister’s warm-heart towards his cat kept him alive in stasis, while Rimmer’s incompetence wiped everybody else out and damned him to an eternity with Lister as a hologram. A fitting fate, in hindsight.
Anyway, Red Dwarf has changed through the years – Series II showcased a shift to more expansive settings, Series III-V showcased a shift to an ensemble Star Trek parody, Series VI took on a more action-based route, VII was closer to dramedy, VIII was a prison comedy (results may vary), Series IX was basically The Movie, X-XI were closer to III-V, and XII is more of a social commentary than anything – ironically following somewhat in Star Trek‘s footsteps.
In fact, XII has been peculiar as it has made the Red Dwarf universe a little less lonely. Sure, the crew have faced many other characters before (the Enlightenment, the Simulants, the GELFS), but what always stood out through most of the series is just how despairing the scenario for the crew is. Earth is three million years away, and any returns have been in part through time travel (be it 1988 Nodnol or 1924 America). Series XII, meanwhile, has brought us Telford’s base, the Mechanoid Liberationists, and unfortunately for me, the Enconium. Lacking in those episodes is the aura of loneliness and despair that had once made its way through the earlier series of Red Dwarf.
In some ways, that’s not a bad thing – shows evolve, more so today compared to 1988. But it does make you wonder if there’s still a point to the series, if maybe the show’s transmission is running dry. Well, “M-Corp” does go quite a way to try and restore that sense of despair, all while mixing in that sense of social commentary present in Series XII – and this time, going more pointed than the show has ever gone before. The result is an episode that I can safely say is the best of the series, and possibly a contender for the best of the Dave era.