Over the last few weeks my daughter and I have watched and wallowed through the heyday of Red Dwarf, in other words series 1 to 6 – a total of 36 episodes made between 1987 - 1993. It's still difficult to believe: the BBC made a scifi sitcom on a shoestring budget with minimal special effects and no cgi cartoonery, but with tremendously witty and inventive scripts starring 4 eccentric and diverse characters up against various gimps, gimboids and smegheads which can still effortlessly hit the spot all these years later.
In S01E01 vending machine attendant Dave Lister survives the death of everybody on board the salvage spaceship Red Dwarf - and I mean everybody - to be woken 3 million years later from stasis by Holly the ship's original laconic computer to begin his adventures with asshole hologram Arnold Rimmer, snazzy mutant Cat and eventually the eccentric robot Kryten. It's their relentless sparkling interplay that made it all work, they made any period of history or situation funny. So many memorable bits! For instance who could forget Kryten's warning the buzzards and the lizards would be fighting over their gizzards in Gunmen Of The Apocalypse? Or Cat's shock after his call of nature in Backwards? Or What A Guy Ace Rimmer's continuous reluctant disappointment over his other-dimensional self? Or Lister's disgust at his corrupt bodiless future self in Out Of Time? And hundreds more up to episode 36, after that the opposite was true: who can remember anything on the same level from series 7 on? S07E01 was OK, borderline humourless bad taste but had a good idea and of course was the solution to the previous cliffhanger, then the serious nosedive into mediocrity began and it became only fit for the Smegging Garbage Pod. The major disasters were that writers Grant and Naylor had split up, the BBC decided it was worth throwing a lot more money at, Rimmer was replaced with Kochansky and Craig Charles had a few real life problems of his own.
A modern era British great: one of the few memorable things created in the '80's but destroyed by ego and myopia in the '90's. At least we have the first 36 beautiful episodes to replay, but as for the rest – Spin On!
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