Great British Comedy-Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf - Science Fiction Comedy
Red Dwarf first came onto British television in 1988.
It was unlike anything attempted before in comedy - a melding of comedy and science fiction.
Science Fiction certainly has a lot of followers, as does comedy but could the writers attract both types of followers to the same show?
The short answer is "Yes" and they did it by keeping the comedy very funny but also by making the science fiction a central core of the show.
Red Dwarf is a great British comedy because it presented the viewer with the same line-up of characters every week and had them trapped in space trying to find a way to get back to earth. It regularly borrowed from other sci-fi shows like Star Trek, Blakes Seven and also doffed its cap at movies like Star Wars. Sci-Fi fans had more technological dialogue than you could shake a stic at but the clever part was in making it a comedy show - place three inept character and two clever ones together and see how they scheme to find a way out of this ugly red 'tin can'.
Red Dwarf (proper) ran for 8 series and Dave TV created a one-off series after calls from the public to bring the show back,
There were rumours of a new Red Dwarf series in 2012 - we are still waiting but series X of Red Dwarf should hopefully appear on British TV screens before the end of this year. The show is currently in post-production after photography and filming is completed - the attention to detail on the show has won over just shoving it back onto our screens and we can be sure that the show will be worth the wait.
Lister - The 'Repair' Man
Dave Lister awakens on the spaceship, Red Dwarf to discover that he has been in stasis for 3 million years and is now the only human being alive on the ship - everyone else has perished except him.
Listen, played by Craig Charles, a stand-up comedian is one of the funniest characters ever in a comedy show. He is the anti-hero, an ordinary bloke and of all the people needed to survive and get the ship back to earth, he has none of the talents needed to help himself or anybody else.
He used to be the ships repair man - but at a very low level, fixing the drinks machines for the rest of the crew. He was put in stasis because he broke the rules - luckily for him, stasis saved his life.
Throughout all of the series of Red Dwarf, Lister is in search of the perfect curry - a vindaloo preferably and he is the main character in the show because he is the only human being.
But he is not alone.
The Cat is the result of 3 million years of evolution, a human crossed with a cat played by Danny John-Jules as a smartly dressed man with all of the poise and wiles of a pussy cat. He even has long fangs to help with his mouse-catching. He is in fact an ancestor of Lister's own house cat, Frankentein.
The Cat moves in a way you have never seen before; Danny John-Jules is a dancer forst and an actor second so he was perfect for the role.
The Cat is also a very funny character, definitely more cat than human but he can talk like a human being so at least Lister has some more company.
So that makes two of them. But there is non-human life on Red Dwarf.
Rimmer - A Hologram of A Now Dead Human Being
Arnold Rimmer is the character responsible for most of the conflict on Red Dwarf. He is one annoying hologram. He existed as a human being before the crew were wiped out and is brought back to life as a hologram by the ship's computer, Holly, to help Lister stay sane after he realises he is the only human on the ship.
Rimmer believes himself to be far superior to Lister. Indeed, he believes he is far superior to most of the people he's ever encountered.
This makes him a rather annoying man and he will always be the butt of Lister's jokes. Of all the people to bring back to 'life', Holly could have done a bit better. Lister wishes Holly had brought back his old girlfriend, Kristine Kochanski and he spends the next several series hoping he can find her and that she might have escaped.
Chris Barry who plays Rimmer is an actor and also a very good impressionist. He is most famous for his own successful British comedy show, 'The Brittas Empire'. He left Red Dwarf briefly but returned in Series 8 after not appearing at all in series 7.
Kryten - The Ship's Android
Kryten the humanoid robotic servant with the oddly shaped head is brilliantly played by Robert Llewelyn.
He did not appear in the first two series except in a guest star role in series II but the writers could see the potential of the character and he appears in Series III to provide Lister with a project of sorts - Lister tried everything in his power to get Kryten to escape the shackles of being the Series 4000 Mechanoid.
Lister tries to teach him human traits to much amusement as Kryten has been programmed to always behave in a literal way to and to respect the commands of human beings.
Lister is the ultimate rebel on a ship with only 4 'creatures' and a human 'front faced' computer and he could just think 'what's the point?' but he doesn't. Every day he gets up and deals with whatever lies ahead of him, ultimately, he wants to get back to earth.
Holly - The Ship's Computer
Holly is the ship's computer. You see him (at first in Series I & II) and then her (Series III - VIII) on a computer screen - a very user friendly 'front end'. Holly can be asked about what actions are needed to correct things but mainly she looks after the circuitry on the ship.
Sometimes, she doesn't have a clue what to do and she admits it. This can be quite funny - she is one of the most intelligent computers ever created but on this ship she has no interaction except with 4 characters who can barely interactive with one another.
Red Dwarf Favourite Episodes
Red Dwarf ran for 8 series and had many 'classic' episodes across its 8 series but I have chosen my favourite shows as the Gunmen of The Apocalypse and White Noise.
Series VI- 'Gunmen of The Apocalypse'
The show is an amazing episode where Kryten has gotten infected with a computer virus which might 'kill' him so the rest of the crew decide to enter his mindscape to see if they can find and kill the virus.
They find themselves in a wild west town and have to be like cowboys - it is an amazing episode where you are laughing all the way through the episode but also worried about Kryten's ability to recover from the virus.
They enter his mindscape through a computer simulation linked to his brain. Lots of fun to be had by all! Lister's early game playing is featured in the first video.
Series IV - White Hole
The Series IV episode 'White Hole' shows Kryten's interactions with a humble toaster and Lister's frustrations at Talkie the Toaster - really funny!
When Lister sees it back in the galley, all back together after 'the accident between me, the toaster and a four thousand pound lump hammer' he can't believe it.
Kryten has put all four thousand pieces back together, all for Lister to enjoy some toast.
Lister has other ideas.
Red Dwarf X
So is Red Dwarf X much anticipated? You bet it is. As a long time fan, I can't wait to see Lister and Co travelling through the twenty third century trying to get back to earth. There will still be the same conflict, the same technological problems etc. What made Red Dwarf such a great British comedy? Aside from the characters was the actual ship itself.
Considering the set was built for a BBC TV series, it has great attention to detail and is not unilke Blade Runner in style. It also gives the viewer a string sense of the scale of the Red Dwarf spaceship - not so little anymore.
Thank you very much for joining this Red Dwarf geek in her little tribute - I hope you get a chance to see Series X when it hits screens soon. Red Dwarf was consistently funny, consistently well-written and its longevity was down to the fact that its viewing figures increased and fans stayed with it.
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