Month: December 2013

Red Dwarf I, episode 3: “Balance of Power”

"...alone."

Red Dwarf I, episode 3: “Balance of Power”

Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor; originally aired 29th February 1988.

Well, that wasn’t quite as short a break as I’d hoped for, but I have assignments to avoid writing. Anyway, I’m three episodes in now, so if I want to make these episode-by-episode run-throughs even remotely informative or entertaining I’m going to have to narrow my focus to specific details about each episode rather than rambling about their place in the greater scheme of things. That is what I’ve been rambling about, isn’t it? Even I’m struggling to pay attention. But here we go.

WHAT HAPPENS?

It’s another Lister v. Rimmer episode this time around. You could argue that with the limited budget and lack of substantial characters or set pieces, pitting these two against each other was really all Grant and Naylor had up their sleeves at this point – after all, most of these early episodes revolve around some sort of conflict between the two – but why not? These were killer characters even then. In “Balance of Power” it finally hits Lister just how lonely he is: all his friends and co-workers are dead and the only companions he has left are a senile on-board computer, a self-centered cat and his least favourite person in the universe. It’s a feeling of ennui and isolation that manifests nicely, if a little mawkishly, in a flashback to a night out with his mates, with appearances from Kochanski and Rimmer. Three million years later, only he remains – and Rimmer, of course.

Speaking of Rimmer, in a particularly blue moment Lister begs his deceased bunkmate to let him switch disks (remember, Holly can only support one hologram at a time) and spend some time with Kochanski, his kinda-sorta-maybe flame from back when everyone wasn’t dead. Being the berk he is, Rimmer naturally refuses; but, hang on, is he really being that unreasonable? Regardless, as an officer of higher ranking Rimmer has the power to turn down Lister’s demands, so Lister decides to stick it to him where it really hurts: take the exams required to outrank Rimmer and supercede his authority, tipping the titular “balance of power.”

Also, Cat eats some fish. That’s about it for a B-plot. Some good jokes, though.

SOME CONTEMPLATIVE SMEG

  • Lister’s plan, in theory, is pretty much perfect: Rimmer is a total shmuck for authority figures, bowing to anyone and anything if they rank higher than him, so if Lister took on any role above him – even chef – Rimmer would have no choice, by his own doing, but to obey and switch the disks. But Rimmer has a trick up his own sleeve – or Kochanski’s, rather – providing some neat comedy towards the end. Seeing Rimmer indignant at Kochanski’s remaining breast, then immediately changing his mind after giving it a quick fondle, is a truly unsettling moment and perfectly symbolic of Rimmer’s double-standard nature, frequently fluctuating between honour and smegheadedness.
  • Once again the show plays with the concept of death and ways of actively overcoming it.
  • Back to my earlier point, is Rimmer being unfair here? It’s worth a thought. His thinking is that once Lister has Kochanski, there’ll be no need to switch him back on, which makes sense. On the other hand, Lister would still be a nervous wreck around her (as we see later in the episode); Kochanski herself would be pretty shaken by the situation of having been dead for three million years; and given that you can walk right through them, even if Lister did pull, how much does he think he’s going to be able to do with her? And what’s to say Kochanski wouldn’t be as authoritarian as Rimmer in such a stark situation? Still, probably better company than Rimmer all round.
  • The flashback scene is actually pretty nice: a bit of camaraderie, some good laughs with Rimmer’s memory-drug… it’s like a condensed sitcom-within-a-sitcom, the show Red Dwarf could have been, had it not been for that whole pesky radiation business. Reminds me of that bit in Dracula where the narrative switches to the captain’s journal, fleshing out how Dracula came to England. Necessary? Perhaps not, but worth a look. Arguably this scene does have a point, hammering home the weight of Lister’s isolation: last man in the universe, last man at the disco. Also a nice touch ending such a sentimental scene with a vicious little stinger gag like that, just to make sure this thing doesn’t get too mushy on us.
  • I haven’t studied media studies in a while, but I was taught that the general rule of sitcom writing was that you start at a state of equilibrium where everything’s dandy (or fairly normal, anyway), move to a state of disequilibrium via some conflict, event, misunderstanding or whatever, and eventually return to the dandy equilibrium by the end of the episode. A lot of sitcoms actually subvert this and end with things still up in the air, as Red Dwarf does here. I wonder if there was any temptation on the writers’ part to actually run with the ending and have Lister actually pass the exam? We’ll never know. Unless we ask them, of course, but they’re probably busy and I don’t want to be rude.

BULLET TRAIN OF THOUGHT

  • No word on whether those 4,691 irradiated haggis were ever catalogued in the end, then?
  • Hermann Göring over Rimmer as a holographic companion? “Okay, he was a drug-crazed transvestite, but at least we could have gone dancing.”
  • The mild, irritating consequences of voice activation – in some ways, Red Dwarf was way ahead of its time.
  • So Lister and Kochanski only ever exchanged 173 words? And yet by series VII they’re supposed to have had a full-blown romantic relationship? Interesting how a show’s inner logic changes over time, isn’t it?
  • Cat’s shoulder pads… it was still the Eighties, folks.
  • Anyone else reckon the warning label on Lister’s record was a sly dig at the PMRC? All the cool rock bands were doing a similar thing at the time.
  • Underrated sitcom relationship: Rimmer and Holly. Norman Lovett’s deadpan delivery contrasts wonderfully with Chris Barrie’s full-on obnoxiousness.
  • Some marvellous physical comedy from Barrie – and as it turns out, it actually has some (very) loose connection to later plot.
  • “I hate everything.” Spot-on delivery.
  • I’d love to hear how Lister’s roast beef became a cake. Actually… maybe not.
  • More lovely, rambling conversation between Lister and Rimmer. Also, tip-of-the-hat to Craig Charles’ deliciously cruel reading of Lister’s taunt.
  • I still wonder why Rimmer is (initially, at least) so keen for Lister to get to the exam room. Maybe it’s just his own attitude to examinations, procedure and timekeeping contrasted against Lister’s laidback approach, but it does seem like he’s annoyed that Lister isn’t taking the exam yet – until he does his 180 and tries (unsuccessfully) to stop him.
  • Clare Grogan’s performance here is just fantastic. “I’m having a woman’s period.”
  • As gross as “Rimchanski’s” penultimate line is, I still like to use ‘squire’ myself in conversation. It’s just fancy-sounding, y’know?
  • Nice Eighties freeze-frame moment at the end there. I guess those were more common than I thought.

So all in all, I’d say “Balance of Power” is my favourite episode so far. The plot might be a little loose for some peoples’ tastes, but the humour makes up for it. Can’t be bad.

P.S. Still fiddling about with formats, as you can see. Think of this run-through of the first series of Red Dwarf as something of a first series of my own: messing around with the parts, seeing where they fit best. It might be a clumsy walk, but we’ll get somewhere great in the end. Hopefully. I mean, ramblers can fall off cliffs or walk into roads if they’re not looking, so all I have to do is… look. And maybe we should all look.

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5 Christmas-y non-Christmas songs

Taking a very short break from Red Dwarf to discuss something we all love: Christmas music. Wait, is that right?

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I’d get into the spirit of the season in about as alternative and obtuse a way as is possible to me – which isn’t much: I’m not a very interesting person. But see, have you ever heard a song on the radio or your iTunes library or, I don’t know, on your Spotify stream and thought, “is it Christmas already?” only to find that not only is it not Christmas already (although, on this occasion, it in fact is), but that the song in question wasn’t even a Christmas song in the first place?

No? Just me? Well, we’re off to a bad start here, aren’t we? Let’s just get to the point: here are five popular (or otherwise) tunes that sound like they could be Christmas songs with a bit of rewriting to have something to do with Christmas.

Note before we start: I haven’t studied music theory since 2010, so I’m not particularly clued in to specific terminology and what makes what sound what. I might be a little vague at times as to exactly how these songs sound Christmas-y to me, so don’t pressure me on that or I might just cry, and nobody wants that.

1. GLENN HUGHES, “Why Don’t You Stay” (1994)

I thought I’d jump in with a deep cut. A really deep cut. Like, a gaping wound stitched up long ago with adamantium twine. What I mean is that Glenn Hughes himself might struggle to remember this song (which wouldn’t be surprising, given that he’s written quite a few since). But I remember – a little while back I decided to dig into Hughes’ solo catalogue, having already been a fan of his other work in Deep Purple and Black Country Communion. After listening to a fair few of his solo records I wouldn’t say that his 1994 effort, From Now On…, is my favourite, but it might just be one of his best. But that’s a discussion for another day. On to the Christmas.

One of the songs that I refused to like at first was the mawkish fourth track, “Why Don’t You Stay.” After a few more listens it grew on me because, well, it’s just a nice, unpretentious love ballad; but for some reason it also reminded me of East 17’s “Stay Another Day” – not a song I’m fond of, but one that is synonymous with Christmas and the winter period, which led me to think that this song might also fit into that style. Maybe it was the chilled-out nature of both songs. Maybe it was because they both had ‘stay’ in their titles. Whatever it was, there’s something about “Why Don’t You Stay” that says, “hey man, it’s winter: let’s wrap up warm, drink some wine and think about that woman who left you and won’t come back for all the money and goodly possessions you own. Or not. I’m not very good at this sort of thing.” Just imagine Mr. Hughes walking through a snowy woodland, reflecting on his past relationships with bittersweet melancholy, and we have a Christmas no. 1 contender right here.

Have a listen yourself HERE and see (hear?) what you think.

2. DEF LEPPARD, “Love and Affection” (1987)

The final track on Def Leppard’s 1987 (magnum) opus, Hysteria, is a sweet, poppy gem of a ballad that makes for a nice coda to the bombastic glam of the previous eleven tracks – as if the album, rather than going out with a bang or a whimper, decides instead to saunter out with a pleasant amalgam of the two. A ‘bimper’ if you will (we won’t), or perhaps a ‘whang’ (we definitely won’t). It’s a nice song, is what I’m saying, with one of the catchiest choruses on an album that includes “Armageddon It,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Animal.”

But what only came to me years after I bought the album is just how the track doesn’t just seem to wind down the twelve songs of the album, but the twelve months of the year as well. It’s so soft and warm (despite the cold, distancing lyrics), it’s like a woolen blanket wrapping around your shoulders: that little chord-change in the verse that lets you change your drunken swagger just a bit, those harmonised vocals like a choir of coke-fuelled angels, the bouncy chorus… sheer fun all the way, and so smooth and rich it’s like sonic chocolate. Let’s just pretend the lyrics are like that as well.

It’s HERE if you want to have a listen yourself.

3. CHEAP TRICK, “I Want You to Want Me” (1977)

Before I was even aware of the artist that had written “I Want You to Want Me,” I figured it was a Christmas song. Years later, I found out that it was, in fact, the American band Cheap Trick who had originally performed it. A few years after that I bought some of their albums and realised that they’re actually a pretty awesome band in their own right. It’s not surprising that “I Want You to Want Me” is one of their best-known songs – it’s catchy, polished and thoroughly pleasant, even if the lyrics are a tad questionable in that regards.

But what’s striking is just how Christmassy the whole affair is. Maybe it’s that choppy, descending glam-rock riff that reminds me of jingle bells; that ‘vwohb, vwohb, vwohb’ in the intro that recalls Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time;” Robin Zander’s syrupy-sweet vocals that cast my thoughts to a carol singer standing on a cold front porch in the mid-December chill; or that bouncy “didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I see you crying?” chorus hook that takes me back to Christmas morning when you were a child, elated at the presents soon to be unwrapped? And also someone was crying? I don’t know. Like I said, the lyrics don’t really fit what I’m going with.

Have a listen HERE. I went with the studio recording as I think it illustrates my point better, but the live version (and the more popular version, I believe) isn’t too different and pretty easy to find (it’s pretty much every other version on YouTube).

4. THE UNION, “This Time Next Year” (2010)

This one’s a no-brainer, really. Christmas time and the end of the year are all about looking back on the past twelve months while looking forward to the next – along with intrafamilial tensions, bloated spend-all consumerism and the crushing reality that after a solid year’s efforts you’re still single and unemployed (fa la la la la…). But, as the chorus to The Union’s “This Time Next Year” says, “we’ll sit and look back and laugh at this, this time next year.” These lyrics are pure reflection and optimism, while the music is warm and catchy with an acoustic gospel vibe accented by Peter Shoulder’s soothing whisky-punch vocals. Not bad at this, am I?

HERE you go. Turns out it was also the official ChildLine Rocks Christmas single for 2010, so I’m clearly not that far off-course with this one.

5. WHITESNAKE, “Love to Keep You Warm” (1978)

Any effort I can make to educate people on the sheer, face-melting fantastic-ness that was pre-hair metal Whitesnake is energy well spent, as far as I’m concerned. This gem’s from their first full LP Trouble and, much like most of the other entries on the list, it’s a ballad. Weird that, innit? Early Whitesnake had strong elements of blues and soul in their music, which come together well here to produce a lean, smooth love song.

So what makes it Christmassy, exactly? Well, it’s got a jolly solo, it does have that. Plus the line “love to keep you warm both night and day” indicates both warmth and love, two things we seek and cherish around Christmas time – I’m not just making this up as I go along, I swear. You know, it must also be those descending chords in the, I suppose riff – you know, like with Cheap Trick. It sounds like the winding down of a long, fun party – or perhaps a long, fun year, like with Def Leppard. And–

Wait, am I tying this all together now? Okay, right then, how does it fit with Glenn Hughes and The Union? Er, well, it’s one of the more relaxed songs on the album, much like “Why Don’t You Stay” was on its parent record, so there’s that. Plus it has a strong soul/gospel influence, much like “This Time Next Year.” It even has whoo-oos in the background that resemble carol singers or a church choir, like the backing vocalists in the chorus for The Union’s song. Boom! Out of the park!

Get some love in your bones HERE.

BONUS TRACKS:

If we’re thinking even further, the only other obvious choices that come to mind are the oldies: songs like “Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” which have a winter theme but don’t specify Christmas. There’s a fair few of them as well. Otherwise, I don’t know, anything that makes you feel warm, fuzzy and wonderful inside.

Think I’m on to something? Think I’m completely off my rocker? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think. Sorry about the inconsistency of descriptions for each track, by the way – I’ll get better.

Red Dwarf I, episode 2: “Future Echoes”

Red Dwarf I, episode 2: “Future Echoes”

Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor; originally aired 22nd February 1988.

So now that we’re just about familiar with the premise of the show, thanks to “The End,” how does “Future Echoes” keep the Red Dwarf ball rolling? By threatening to kill off the one remaining human onboard and, possibly, in existence. Fair enough…?

Here’s the gist of it: travelling at light speed through an asteroid field, the crew begin to see ‘echoes’ of events  that have kinda-sorta already happened, although they haven’t really, with no chance of altering them because although they haven’t happened yet, they have. That whole ‘no chance of altering future events’ proves problematic when Rimmer allegedly views Lister being blown up and the latter, frankly not too keen on dying in a horrible explosion, begins to panic. Meanwhile, Cat eats some fish and gets a stomach-ache, while Rimmer revels in Lister’s misery, because it’s hard to write a substantial B-plot when your show only has four characters.

Comedy-wise “Future Echoes” is a huge step forward from “The End,” largely because the premise and principle (read: only) characters have effectively been established, so now they’re free to rattle about the ship and get on each other’s nerves. Without so much focus on setting up a story it opens up room for the little pockets of comedy that open up every now and then, adding warmth and colour to the weight of the themes of mortality explored in the episode, from Rimmer’s mention of his father’s “rather unusual suicide business” to his complaints about being dead to his thinly-disguised glee at seeing Lister genuinely scared – though being dead himself perhaps it makes sense that he should be the central figure of this theme. I’d actually argue that a large part of Red Dwarf‘s appeal comes not from the ideas it comes up with, but how it treats them with offbeat flippancy, particularly its light-hearted attitude towards death. On another show Rimmer’s schadenfreude would probably be condemned and he would be forced to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of life. But who’s going to teach him that lesson here? Lister’s busy trying to avoid death; Holly is fully focused on navigating the ship at light speed; and Cat’s only concerned with himself. No lesson learned there, then.

As for the sci-fi, for a creaky, low-budget studio sitcom, Red Dwarf sure plays with some pretty interesting concepts, although the future echoes do take a while to wrap your head around: because they’re travelling at the speed of light, the image of the event appears to them before the actual event. Is that right? Or do they only see an image of the event occurring before it occurs? Or maybe the image of the event and the event are the same thing? Maybe it’s like a plane travelling faster than the speed of sound, where you hear the plane after it’s already passed, except here the plane is the event in time and the speed of sound is the speed of light… except you can’t travel faster than the speed of light, can you? Okay, the plane having passed is the event occurring and the sound of the plane is also the event occurring… no, that doesn’t work either. Maybe the plane is the image of the event and the sound is the actual image.. you know what, I brought the plane analogy into all this; maybe I deserve to be confused.

Now for something else I’m trying out: the BULLET TRAIN OF THOUGHT, where I run through a bunch of stuff that came into my head whilst re-watching the episode, along with a few choice lines that I particularly enjoyed…

  • Is that a Shining reference with Dave’s bike in the opening scene? Doesn’t make much sense if it is.
  • The dispenser with the lisp. I shouldn’t enjoy that as much as I do.
  • I still struggle to wrap my head around Rimmer’s logic as to how he’s beaten the world record.
  • Holly gets some pretty decent lines in this episode, doesn’t he?
  • The smug, self-satisfied look on Rimmer’s face, coupled with that hairstyle… just priceless.
  • Robot goldfish seem like quite a good idea, provided you can make them watertight.
  • Lister’s reaction to Rimmer’s hairstyle… equally priceless.
  • “It’s gonna take 4,000 years just to turn around. You can’t do a three-point turn when you’re this close to light speed, you know.”
  • Some really nice comedy acting with Lister trying to chat with Future Echo Rimmer, weaved well into the actual chat moments later.
  • The future echo of Lister’s photograph seems a little contrived, but it adds a layer of intrigue to the story, so I’m okay with it.
  • “How old did I look?” “How old are you now?” “Twenty-five. How old did I look?” “Mmm… mid-twenties.”
  • Twisting your head around Lister and Rimmer discussing the future echo in the drive-room is always a good way to wake up your brain.
  • “I’m gonna eat you, little fishy!”
  • Anyone else hear a slight ‘ooh’ of realisation when Cat chips his tooth? I love realistic reactions from studio audiences.
  • Hindsight’s a funny thing: in a later episode (I forget which) Rimmer is informed that as his only function as a hologram is to keep Lister company, if Lister dies then he gets switched off. Wonder how smug he’d be if he knew that at this point?
  • “Emergency. Emergency. There’s an emergency going on.” Norman Lovett’s deadpan delivery really can’t be matched, can it?
  • Wonderfully subtle call-back with Rimmer’s hair at the end.

So all in all, “Future Echoes” is a marked improvement over “The End,” doing what all good sitcoms should do by putting the sit- in the background and letting the -com do the heavy lifting. Some great lines and some interesting ideas – not bad stuff for a daft little sitcom. If I cared for giving these sorts of things numerical ratings, I’d give this episode a 7.5 out of 10. But I don’t, so I won’t.

Thanks for reading again. I’m currently trying out a few different formats to see which one works. I don’t want to go full-on AV Club-style thesis write-ups, but I don’t want them to be too sparse either. Some day I might find a happy medium. Until then…

Red Dwarf I, episode 1: “The End”

To be honest, I thought long and hard about how to kick off the writing process for this blog. The initial plan was to write an inaugural post detailing my past blogging experience, my decision to eventually quit blogging and my later decision to eventually (eventually) return to it, interspersed with personal musings on blogging as a whole and its relevance in an increasingly opinionated, over-blogged society. It would have been a work of bloggy genius to rival Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ in terms of sheer poetic beauty. It really would have been. Then I thought, “eh, this is hard, I’ll just write something about Red Dwarf instead and see if anyone takes notice.”

Red Dwarf I, episode 1: “The End”

Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor; originally aired 15th February 1988.

Let’s talk sitcom, shall we? Specifically, first episodes. Let’s agree that the role of the first episode of any sitcom, for the most part, is to set up the premise, characters and setting of the show. Futurama did it subtly, introducing a few core characters and the rough premise of the show by the end of its pilot, then developing that premise (while introducing more characters) in episodes to come. By contrast, 2012’s Anger Management does it by throwing every character and setting they have at you in the pilot and moving them about until a plot happens. So there’s no one way of doing it; and, as a big fan of both these shows, I can see the value in each method. So how about a show that quietlysets up a premise, setting and cast of characters, only to pull the proverbial rug from under your feet by killing most of the people you’ve just met halfway through the first episode? Enter Red Dwarf.

Or, exit Red Dwarf. Whatever.

Or, exit Red Dwarf. Whatever.

For those who aren’t familiar with how this goes down, here’s how it goes. Down. In the year… I’m not sure if it’s ever established, but sometime in the future, on the Jupiter Mining Corporation ship Red Dwarf, chicken-soup machine repairman Dave Lister is sentenced to six months in stasis for smuggling a cat on board. However, while in stasis, a radiation leak causes the entire, not-comfortably-in-stasis crew of 169 to sort of, well, die; so Holly, the onboard computer, keeps Dave in his state of suspended animation until the radiation levels have reached a safe enough level. Due to the half-life of the radioactive material this mild inconvenience takes three million years, at a time when the human race has either gone extinct or evolved beyond all recognition. For the remainder of his life Dave has three companions: the aforementioned Holly; his old bunk-mate and bug-bear, Arnold Rimmer, resurrected as a hologram; and the descendant of his old cat, evolved to a humanoid species much as homo sapiens evolved from apes. Got all that? Champion.

I can only imagine what the television-viewing audience of 1988, coming to this episode with no knowledge of what was about to happen, must have thought after it finished, particularly as Lister doesn’t even reach the stasis booth until about the halfway mark. I certainly didn’t expect it to take so much time, either, especially as very few, if any clues are dropped as to what might happen – though the funeral of the deceased crew-mate, George, and his subsequent resurrection as a hologram does set the tone somewhat, along with setting up Rimmer’s return. So plot isn’t too important here; instead, “The End” chooses to build character, focusing on what might just be this show’s greatest strength – the relationship between Craig Charles’ Lister and Chris Barrie’s Rimmer. Antagonism plays a big part in sitcom humour (something that’s been thoroughly lost on the writers of The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men in recent years) and the aloof resentment between this two lets the jokes just slip out naturally. The scene where they sit in their room after George’s funeral is relatively simple in execution – it really is just the two of them talking to each other – but it allows the two to build each others’ characters by the slings fired at them. Rimmer’s hard truths show Lister to be naive and simplistic in outlook, whereas Lister’s taunts and barbs reveal just what a petty individual Rimmer is. It’s those subtle shifts between dislike and hate that help to keep things tense and claustrophobic despite the sheer size of their two locations – the ship; and the empty universe. Which is what this show is about, really: very personal relationships on a very impersonal cosmic plain. But more on that later.

Worth a thousand words.

Worth a thousand words.

Of course, the result of the twist is that the first half of the episode is dedicated to setting up said premise and the second half reels in its aftermath; to that extent, not much else happens in the episode that doesn’t fit into this narrative vein. More time is spent on planting seeds for the show ahead – the Cloister story, for example, which gives Cat a bit of back-story whilst setting up the future episode “Waiting for God” – with little wiggle room for rumination on all the death around them. It could be said that Lister acclimatises to his situation pretty quickly, actually: he walks about, registers some shock, eats some person-dust, then holo-Rimmer shows up and the great tragedy at the core of the show is largely forgotten about (for now). Which might be a good thing, to be honest – instead of dour reflection on his situation, we get an optimistic promise of heading back to Earth and, more specifically, Fiji, assuming either of them are still there. The concept is pretty ridiculous in and of itself, but it does provide a focus to the show, which is nice. The wonderful Cat is also introduced, but his presence in this episode (and much of the first series) is more of a comic relief to the relative tensions between Lister and Rimmer. More on him later as well.

Of course, this is a sitcom, so there’s always that big question that often (you’d be surprised) gets overlooked: is it funny? Well, kinda. There are a few chuckles, but once the first scene and initial (and very funny) conversation with Lister and Rimmer ends, the jokes are kept to a minimum while the plot slowly puts itself together (though Rimmer’s incident in the exam room is an inspired bit of wordless comedy-acting from Chris Barrie that really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated). Once the twist arrives, there are a few more jokes while the Cat gets some time to shine (even if his quirks take time to get used to – time we aren’t really rewarded with in the minutes remaining), but for the most part this is a formative episode. It makes sense why many sitcoms these days premiere with two episodes rather than one.

Still, here’s to the future. In Red Dwarf‘s universe there’s precious little else to look forward to.

Pictured: slime, slowly coming home.

Well, that was a bit long, wasn’t it? Now for some of that bloggy run-off we love so much – the bloggy depot, if you Jerry Cantrell fans will:

  • “Lister, D. Third technician. Offence: obstructing a superior technician by humming, clicking and being quiet.” Of course the show would open with Lister and Rimmer getting on each other’s nerves like that: perfect introduction to the core relationship of the show. Sheldon and Leonard have nothing on these two (last Big Bang Theory slam of the post, pinky swear).
  • 169 people on board Red Dwarf? I would have thought a ship that size would have required more people to run it, especially if they can afford to have two people on board just to fix the chicken-soup machines.
  • Does anyone know what Rimmer calls Todhunter at the very end of the first scene? I’ve watched this episode about a dozen times and I still can’t decode it.
  • I wonder how many viewers expected this to be a charming little workplace sitcom when it first aired, about a bunch of mates having wacky adventures together in space? Aaaand boom, they’re all dead. This ain’t The Big Bang Theory, man (though the decrease in quality over time is comparable – I might write something on that someday. And oh yeah, I lied).
  • Speaking of Futurama back there, the two shows have some startling similarities in terms of premise that I’ve never noticed until now. I wonder if anyone’s written anything substantial on that?
  • “Three million years?! I’ve still got that library book.” A very sitcom-y reaction to complete and utter time displacement, but I buy it.
  • I’ll have to check at precisely what point in the show the whole Fiji thing is dropped completely from the storyline. I don’t think it’s very far in, actually.

So thanks for reading this first post. Sorry it’s a bit unfocused and rubbish. I’ll be writing about the rest of the episodes in this series, followed by series II, III and so on. There’ll be other stuff as well – music posts, mostly.