by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Welcome to the second review about the British comedy Red Dwarf. For those who don’t know, Red Dwarf is a British Science Fiction comedy about the last human being alive. This is the first part of the reviews that will span all eight seasons as well as the Back to Earth specials. Perhaps when the next season finally comes out I will add it to my list of reviews. Click here for the review of Season 1.
Season 2 (1988)
Episode 1 – Kryten
The new season obviously got more money than the first as you can quickly see with this first episode of the second season. Kryten, a service mechanoid aboard the Nova 5 has been alone for almost 3 million years and the Red Dwarf crew find him taking care of the remains of his crew. Kryten refused to believe that they were dead since it was built into his programming to serve. Lister tries to reason with the robot but Rimmer takes full advantage of Kryten’s subserviant programming. The episode climaxes with Kryten finally rebeling aganist his programming (and Rimmer) and taking off on his own (until he shows up again in Season 3). David Ross played Kryten in this episode only to be replaced by Robert Llewlen in the next season. David Ross did come back as the voice of Talkie Toaster (Your Chripy Breakfast Time Companion) in Season 4. In the book Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers Kryten is the reason the Nova 5 crashed in the first place (having cleaned the ship’s computer with soapy water).
Episode 2 – Better Than Life
A mail pod finally catches up to Red Dwarf with tons of mail including the interactive game Better Than Life. The crew put on the helmets and go into the world of the game through total immersion. Their every fantasy comes to life but soon Rimmer discovers that his own mind is so pathetic that it won’t allow nice things to happen to him. Things go from bad to worse and Rimmer’s mind ruins Lister, the Cat, and Holly’s experience as well. In the first and second books Better Than Life is a very dangerous game that keeps itself hidden from the player so that eventually they don’t realize they are in a game and they wither away and die in reality.
Episode 3 – Thanks For The Memory
Lister feels sorry for the unloved Rimmer in a druken night of revelations but when the crew wakes the next day they discover four days have gone missing and Lister and the Cat both have broken legs. They set out to find the ship’s black box which has been buried on a planet. They review the footage and discover that Lister transplanted his memory of a great love affair into Rimmer’s memory but thing go wrong (as ususal) and Rimmer wants everyone’s memory erased of the whole mess. This episode is probably my least favorite of Season 2 but it is still fin. Once again it shows that these first two season are very much focused on the relationships of the crew and not of some sci-fi contrived plot.
Episode 4 – Stasis Leak
This is one of the few early episodes where we get more than just the main cast in on the show. We have flashbacks and timetravel to when the all the crew of Red Dwarf were alive. The episode revolves around Rimmer and Lister trying to change the past by going through a crack in time. Rimmer tries to save his former self from the blast that killed the crew by convincing him to go into suspended animation (like Lister was). Lister is more concerned with getting with his old girlfriend and getting off the ship altogether. There are several scenes were split screen is done to get multiple versions of the same characters in a particular location. It is done fairly well and the final scene is just crazy with all these versions of each person showing up all at once.
Episode 5 – Queeg
I think this is probably right up there with Kryten as being one of the most popular of the second season episodes. Lister gets hurt and the Red Dwarf backup computer (Queeg) comes online to relieve the incompetant Holly of duty. Queeg is all business and no messing about and soon has the crew working for thier food and doing stuff by the book. This is a fantastic episode with a bunch of really good laughs and a final payoff that is both funny and touching.
Episode 6 – Parallel Universe
Holly invents the Holly Hop Drive which takes the ship into a parallel universe where they encounter another Red Dwarf but where history has turned out different. Mainly men and women have reversed roles. The crew meets their parallel sleves (all women) but the Cat doesn’t meet another female cat but a dog. Needless to say Lister sleeps with his parallel self and becomes pregnant. This explains the 2 babie we see in the episdoe Future Echos.
Join us next time for the 3rd season of Red Dwarf (my personal favorite).