?So. Red Dwarf is coming back soon. As a long time fan, I’m sure I speak for many when I say I am both excited and a little dismayed. Excited because the show has been absent for far too long, and left on an awkward cliffhanger; dismayed because, well, I saw Back to Earth. But it’s not time to focus on the negative: instead let’s revisit some of the greatest bits as a sort of incantation against what could be to come. For the uninitiated, a quick rundown: Red Dwarf is the story of a small group of misfits three million years in the future, stuck aboard a mining ship and trying to head towards Earth. The show changed its status quo several times during its run, but the core group of characters were as follows: Lister, the slobby last human alive, a hologram of his officious former roommate Rimmer, the Cat, a humanoid creature that evolved Lister’s housecat, the proper android Kryten, and the droll ship’s computer Holly.
I acknowledge that this is sort of an impossible list, seeing as there is so much Dwarf to choose from, and I await the inevitable drubbing I am sure to get in the comments for the scenes I leave out. However, I feel like its pretty safe to say these scenes sum up both the show and each character well. Consider this an ultra-concentrated dose of Dwarf, all the choice cuts, completely free of smeg. Well, maybe not. There’s quite a lot of smeg here, actually.
5) Space Mumps, “Justice”
Lister’s scuzziness is his chief characteristic, and even though he didn’t have any control over contracting space mumps, the image of him at the 8:52 mark smiling while covered in pus and blood sums him up pretty well. I hope you aren’t eating Trix yogurt or anything.
4) The Vindaloovian People Despise All Humans!, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”
Lister is quite resourceful when it comes down to the wire, as he demonstrates here. Asked to prove that there are no humans onboard Starbug, he improvises by acting like a bored 8-year-old with a video camera.
3) Unrumble!, “Backwards”
On a planet where time runs in reverse, Lister suddenly realizes why the bar he is in is such a mess, and proceeds to take part in the greatest unfight of his life.
2) Lister Eats Dog Food, “Marooned”
Stranded on a barren ice moon, Lister finally starts to run out of options. After burning Rimmer’s books, Dave gets pushed to desperate measures. I know it’s not really dog food, but it’s understandable to think otherwise based on that reaction. The line after it is also a classic.
1) The Polymorph Attacks, “Polymorph”
I know we’ve posted this clip before, but it’s not only one of the funniest moments of Lister’s, it’s one of the best of the entire show. For those who haven’t seen it, know that this comes just as the evil shape-shifting Polymorph has invaded the ship. It seeks to feed on the emotions of the crew, and sets its sight on Lister. Chaos, as they say, ensues.
5) Dog’s Milk, “Kryten”
They say that British humor comes from treating the extraordinary as ordinary and that’s certainly true of this scene, in which Holly is alarmingly calm about some pretty distressing information.
4) Holly Becomes a Genius, “White Hole”
Hattie Hayridge did a great job following in Norman Lovett’s footsteps, and it’s a shame the writers there wasn’t more for her to do. In “White Hole”, her most prominent episode, she regains her genius-level intelligence only to be stuck with the endlessly irritating Talkie Toaster.
3) The NORWEB Federation, “Balance of Power”
The first season was far bleaker than the show would be come, and many of the jokes emphasized the loneliness of the Dwarf crew. The brilliance of this scene is in how simultaneously funny and depressing it is. There really is no one out there, at least not yet…
2) The White Cable, “Queeg”
An erratic Holly attempts to help Lister sort out a power problem. Of all the many things Holly does know, his inner workings do not appear to be one of them.
1) “Everybody’s Dead, Dave,” “The End”
Holly is kind of the most instrumental character in the show. It is he, after all, who brings Lister out of stasis 3 million years after the drive plate accident and chooses Rimmer as a hologram for Lister, much to Lister’s annoyance. This scene at the end of “The End,” the show’s first episode, is not only one of its most important moments but allows us the first glimpse of what Holly’s relationship with Lister will be, particularly in that great throwaway line.
Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat’s best moments are on the next page.
5) Rimmer’s Trial, “Justice”
For seasons Rimmer had believed it was he who was responsible for the death of Red Dwarf’s actual crew, and when he and his companions enter a penal colony equipped with an automated “Justice Zone”, he is immediately accused of mass homicide. It’s up to Kryten and Lister to prove that Rimmer couldn’t possibly be at fault, and of course they do so in the most humiliating way possible. Rimmer himself doesn’t do much here, but this more than anything else gives you an idea of who he is.
4) Rimmer’s Risk Story, “Meltdown”
Part of what makes Rimmer sympathetic is how obviously he tries to be liked. Here he simply ignores the fact that nobody cares about what he has to say. I think all of us have been there…
3) How Lister Lost His Virginity, “Marooned”
In an attempt to keep Lister distracted from impending starvation, he and Rimsy swap stories about how they were each deflowered. Naturally, Arnold kinda misses the point, both times.
2) The Rimmer Experience, “Blue”
Deprived of Rimmer, Lister actually begins to miss the smeghead, so Kryten develops a virtual reality simulation to recreate him. The thing proves to be a little too accurate in creating the “Rimmer Experience”, and it all culminates in a musical number that is both hilarious and kind of terrifying (though not as terrifying as the real “It’s a Small World After All”).
1) Ace Rimmer Vs. The Nazis, “Stoke Me a Clipper”
Ace Rimmer, the impossibly perfect alternate version of the Rimmer we know, is a fan favorite, and while he had already “returned” in a previous episode, this is the moment that epitomizes who he is, why we love him, and why Arnold J. Rimmer hates his smegging guts. Big hair, bad puns, and a jumpsuit you could see from space. What a guy.
5) “Perhaps I Didn’t Make Myself Clear…”, “Beyond a Joke”
It’s true that this episode goes very much south in the second act, but the first ten minutes or so are pretty solid. Kryten wants to celebrate his “anniversary” with Lister, but of course Kochanski has already scheduled a sojourn into a simulation of Pride and Prejudice. Not taking well to this, Kryten resorts to desperate measures to get everyone’s attention, acting as wish-fulfillment I’m sure to the many Austen-phobic among us.
4) Kryten Becomes Human, “DNA”
I never really got how Kryten could understand all sorts of information about cosmic phenomena and not grasp simple concepts like why humans have assholes. Regardless, this is a key moment, as Kryters finally gets to be completely organic but has trouble with a few basic biological issues.
3) Kryten Gets Jealous of Kochanski, “Ouroboros”
The standard line is that Series VII takes a dive after Rimmer leaves and the addition of Kochanski is not enough to compensate. While that’s true, I feel most people overlook one of this season’s strongest aspects, which is the way it develops Kryten. Having become more independent throughout the previous seasons, the mechanoid is now gripped with intense jealousy as he believes Lister will leave him for his dreamgirl. Robert Llewelyn is brilliant in scenes like this one and his performance helped to further the passive-aggressive android stereotype so familiar to us now. He also helps us get through some pretty dire material, especially later on.
2) A Little Present, Ma’am, “Only the Good”
The best joke of the flawed final episode of Series VIII. The Dwarfers are all imprisoned aboard a repopulated Red Dwarf, and Kryten is Kochanski are cellmates (seeing as he doesn’t have a penis and is therefore not technically male). If you haven’t seen it, you don’t need to anything else to get it, and if you have seen it there’s not much more I can add.
1) Kryten Learns to Lie, “Camille”
Probably my favorite scene in the entire series. Kryten is of course programmed to be obedient and polite but yearns to break out of that and be selfish like the humans he idolizes. Lister’s attempts to help him are the stuff of classic comedy. I love how pained Kryten looks, especially when he begs Lister to stop.
5) Jozxyqk, “Bodyswap”
It’s a dumb joke, but I love it all the same, mainly for the ridiculous noises that come out of Danny John-Jules’mouth, and also because that word would totally be worth like 350 points or something if you played it right.
4) Trout a la Creme, “Balance of Power”
Things to know about the Cat: he’s vain. He’s brash. He’s vain. And in the first season, he was almost terminally selfish, refusing to get too involved with any happenings onboard that threatened to interrupt his personal routine. Here he gets his fill of the fish of the day (eventually) and remains thoroughly unconcerned when Rimmer walks in and starts attacking himself.
3) The Riviera Kid, “Gunmen of the Apocalypse”
Rimmer, The Cat and Lister enter a Western VR game to rescue Kryten. They each choose different characters, and Cat becomes a glitter cowboy with stupidly good sharpshooting skills.
2) The Ideal Mate, “Camille”
The crew meets Camille, a pleasure GELF designed to appear as the perfect mate to whomever beholds it. Rimmer sees a pretty Hologram, Lister meets a spunky leather-girl, and then, (at 7:30 in this clip), the Cat gets his turn. See my above comment regarding his vanity.
1) Cat faces the Inquisitor, “The Inquisitor”
And let’s finish with the definitive Red Dwarf moment: Cat is asked to justify his existence, and when his superficial response is questioned, defends himself with one of the best lines uttered by a television character ever.