February 2007

Red Dwarf

Alright, I thought I'd finally write about my total and complete obsession with Red Dwarf. It's been nearly 7 years since my last entry on this site. Lordy, what have i been doing?

I started watching this show in England when it first started in early 1988 and continued on PBS when I returned to the US. It's been off the air for nearly 10 years, but that doesn't change my feelings about it at all. I revisit it every few years and started again last autumn. I took out my vhs tapes and realized that I was missing series III-VI (out of VIII). I watched them, then hustled over to amazon to see if they were out on DVD yet.

This is the core cast of Red Dwarf:
Kryten, The Cat, Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer.

The answer was yes, sort of. The problem was that they are incredibly expensive. I ordered them out of sequence due to availability and cost issues, watching them as they came in (they all contain a bonus DVD full of terrificness like deleted scenes, smeg-ups (bloopers), interviews, raw fx footage, etc.) No stone was left unturned. I especially liked that they included the original ending to the show on the series VIII bonus dvd. I finally ordered the last grouping in December '06 (series III and IV - they came in sets of 2 series). It took forever to get here, then when the box arrived it was NCIS season 2. Argh. I sent it back and it took another 5 weeks to get here.

Dave Lister. The last human alive (at least until series VII). Played by actor/poet Craig Charles. I can't think of anyone else in this role. It was made for him and he wasn't even considered for the part until he asked for an audition after being consulted for his opinion on the character of the Cat.

The Cat. Species felix sapiens, descended from Lister's smuggled moggy, Frankenstein. This is what you get when you mix a cat with 3 million years of evolution. Performed by the very talented Danny John-Jules. Trained as a dancer, this was his first major acting gig which he won by sauntering into the audition half an hour late, acting cool and wearing one of his dad's 1950s suits.

Arnold Judas Rimmer. Embodies everything annoying about the human race. Brought back as a hologram after the Dwarf crew is killed by a radiation leak, which was his fault, to keep Lister sane. Played by one of my all-time faves, Chris Barrie.

I keep watching them over and over. Being a fan of science fiction and British sitcoms, I'm in pig heaven. I don't know how to describe this show very well. Let's just say the characters, the level of humor and the writing are of the highest order. Here's a brief outline: Dave Lister is the last human alives as a result of being put in stasis for 3 million years because he smuggled a cat onboard when he is brought out of stasis a hologram of his bunkmate and nemensis Arnold Rimmer is conjured up to keep him sane and his cat's kittens have evolved into a sapiens life form there is also Holly the ship's computer who may or may not have an IQ of 6000 and from there the adventures start and eventually they find Kryten and reunite with a Kristine Kochanski from an alternate reality and you really have to just see it for yourself.

Just one thing, though. I would have liked a little more -- or any -- explanation as to why the show ended at all on the bonus DVD interviews with Doug Naylor. I know that he's trying to make a Red Dwarf film OR another series OR a special, but 10 years of waiting? Do something, Doug!

Kryten. Series 4000 mechanoid. First seen in series II, where he was rescued by the Dwarfers and brought back on a permanent basis in series III. Robert Llewellyn plays him to perfection. I think he has the best lines in the show.

Kristine Kochanski. Ex-love of Lister, although she remains the object of his affection. Brought in on a permanent basis in series VII to fill the vacancy left by Chris Barrie as he left the show for a short time. Originally portrayed by Claire Grogan of Altered Images, she is played in the last two series by ChloŽ Annett. I think she's terrific, although much of the fan community seems to differ.

Rimmer (who has gone mad after being infected with a holovirus) and Mr Flibble. I ordered a Mr Flibble hand puppet. What a geek.

Update October 2007: Just back from attenting Dimension Jump XIV in Peterborough, England. This is the annual Red Dwarf convention and i had a great time. I got to meet and chat with Robert Llewellyn, Danny John-Jules and Chris Barrie. They were really nice guys. I hope to go the next one although, sadly, it won't be happening until sometime in 2009.

If you want to read more on Red Dwarf, check these out:

Note: All photos © BBC

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