Red Dwarf, a review


rd-whatRed Dwarf (1988-present) is a sci-fi sitcom that has so far run 10 seasons, with the 11th in progress. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and stars Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, and Chloe Annett, as well as Hattie Hayridge and Norman Lovett as the shipboard computer.

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All the episodes of all 10 seasons are available on DVD in both region 1/NTSC and region 2/PAL. You can get season 3 on Hulu (If you don’t know where to start, try Backwards or Polymorph) or 56 episodes with Hulu Plus. You can get season 10 for $11 on Google Play. All seasons are on Amazon Instant for between $11-$15 depending on how many episodes are in the season, slightly more if you want HD. iTunes has it for roughly the same price. Vudu has seasons 1-10. Facets has seasons 1-4 rentable as discs.

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Star Trek is a show about a well-educated, good-looking, high-ranking officer deftly maneuvering about space, surviving tricky tangles with ill-meaning creatures and having it off with the most luscious ladies in the universe. In Red Dwarf, you’re more likely to find a soup vending machine repairman forced to shag a yhetti  to prevent the explosives strapped to his bunkmate’s groin from blowing his balls off.

David Lister haplessly winds up aboard a mining spaceship called Red Dwarf and left with the lowest rank on the ship. He bunks with his superior officer, Arnold Rimmer, who kicks the bucket after a radiation leak wipes out the whole crew. Luckily, Lister is saved by the fact that he’d been locked in stasis as punishment for smuggling a cat on board. Luckier still, his cat survived and bred a whole new species of cat-people. Unluckily, the shipboard computer Holly brings back Lister’s smegging bunkmate as a hologram to keep him company.

Cruising the galaxy in a giant spaceship, eating curries, and neglecting laundry, Lister and Rimmer are joined by the surviving member of the cat race, who they never attempt to name, and adopt a serving robot they stumble across on a spaceship where the crew were also wiped out (he’s not much better off in the Dwarf).

The humor is crude. The language, colorful, but largely because of bizarre metaphors and made-up swear words. The characters, strangely lovable. All the sci-fi tropes are played with, but the characters’ depth is not sacrificed. A truly marvelous show that has spanned the decades.

If you don’t like low-brow humor, you may or may not like it, it’s hard to tell, because I really don’t like low-brow humor, but I absolutely love Red Dwarf. Give it a couple episodes and decide for yourself.

personallyPersonally, I think the best episodes are toward the middle, around season 4. If you’re just starting out, perhaps start with the episode Justice. There’s no real reason to watch them in order. Skip Back to Earth: no laugh track, no laughter. My favorite episodes are Backwards, Demons and Angels, and White Hole. Although, season 10 was really good, too. Fan favorites are Polymorph, Quarantine, and Back to Reality.

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5 thoughts on “Red Dwarf, a review

  1. I am slowly working my way through the episodes in proper airing order. I love how they tweak a lot of science fiction tropes to humorous effect. I also love, and in a way admire, the character of David Lister. He is a lazy slob, but he manages to survive. He is just good enough at whatever turns out to be necessary to keep going. Not bad for someone who is the last human alive, and could easily at any time decide it’s all pointless and end himself.

    • Hi, Richard. What I like about Lister is that despite any deficiency in hygiene or book-smarts or ambition, he has that pure human instinctual morality that the other characters lack. I think his human-ness comes through most in that last scene of Justice (have you gotten that far yet?) where he’s trying to sum up the moral of the episode.

      • Finally got around to “Justice” – and you are absolutely right! He may not have “intelligence” as we usually think of it, but there’s a lot of “wisdom” in him.He *understands* things, even if he doesn’t *know* them.

        Did that make sense?

      • Yes, completely! I just started reading Robert Llewellyn’s behind the scenes of Red Dwarf book (The Man in the Rubber Mask) and it’s crazy to see how similar Lister is to the actor Craig Charles who plays him. Apparently, as the years went on, the writers would make the characters more and more like the actors who played them.

  2. Pingback: Richard Herring’s Obscure Watch List – Part 3 | Anglonerd

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