A Red Dwarf Community
Thursday 9:00 PM on BBC Two
Because it's the best sci-fi sitcom ever created, that's why. It may seem like a daunting task to catch up with a show that's been running since the late '80s, but this is a UK sitcom so 10 Seasons worth of entertainment amounts to 61 half hour episodes of unrivalled brilliance. I'm planning to, if I can whip up enough interest, run through a complete Red Dwarf re-watch with episode reviews, which could amount to two episodes per week for 12 weeks to cover Seasons 1-4, followed by Seasons 5-6 during the Christmas hiatus and finishing up with Seasons 7-10 during summer 2015, ending just in time for Season 11 to air (in the UK) in autumn.


So what is the show all about?
Well, the show is about the trials and tribulations of the last known human in the universe, Dave Lister. Lister is a slacker who is coasting his way through life as a third-technician (lowest rank) on the Jupiter Mining Corporation Ship Red Dwarf, squirrelling away his meagre pay until the day he can retire and run a farm on Fiji. Things don't go according to plan however, when the ships captain discovers that Lister his broken strict quarantine rules and brought an unregistered cat, called Frankenstein, on to the ship. To avoid having Frankenstein dissected by the ships doctor, he stores the cat in the ships hold and he is then placed in stasis as a punishment for breaking the rules. Whilst in stasis Lister's bunk-mate and supervisor, Arnold Judas Rimmer fails to correctly replace a damaged drive plate which results in the death of all 1,170 members of the crew, including himself. When Lister is finally released from stasis by the ships computer, Holly, he discovers he is alone on board a ship that has been drifting in to deep space for three million years whilst the radiation dropped to a safe level, alone that is except for the hologram of his now dead bunk mate, Rimmer, and a life form known only as 'Cat' that has evolved from Frankenstein and her (at the time unborn) litter of kittens. Chaos ensues as Lister and the small unconventional crew strive to get back to Earth to fulfil Listers dream and finally run a farm on Fiji.



Want to hear more about this unconventional crew?
Well, as mentioned above Lister is a life-long slacker, a piss-poor guitar player – despite what he thinks – and he actively avoids any form of responsibility. He is, however, kind, happy, selfless and loves a good curry. He's smarter than he seems and he strives to help those around him, as long as it isn't Rimmer in need of his aid! Lister is portrayed by self-styled poet Craig Charles and as the show progressed and Listers status as a well-loved 'every-man' grew he was even honoured by UK television network UKTV when they renamed a channel after him and it's now that same channel, Dave, that has commissioned Seasons X and XI of the iconic space-based sitcom.
The almost complete opposite of Lister is his bunk-mate Rimmer, played by impressionist Chris Barrie, brought back as a hologram after his ineptitude wiped out the remaining crew members he ensures the other crew members holodiscs are safely hidden away so that Lister can't swap him for someone else. He's a narcissistic, bureaucratic coward who strives for more responsibility whilst being completely unable to handle it. A lover of organ music and an avid lamppost spotter, Rimmer probably goes through the largest transition as the series progresses as he strives to become a better person.
Then there is the enigmatic yet simple Cat, introducing seasoned dancer Danny John-Jules to the world of television, a descendent of Frankenstein and the last know member of his race still residing on Red Dwarf. Cat is shallow, fashion obsessed and self-centred, spending most of his time trying to avoid the other crew members whilst grooming, sleeping and hunting for things to claim as his own. Cat also grows as a character during the run of the series finally becoming an integral part of the crew and an accomplished pilot.
Almost-finally there is Holly, the ships computer. Starting out with an initial IQ of around 6,000 the three million years of drifting in space with no one around to converse with 'he' develops “computer senility” resulting in some less-than appropriate decision making. Initially played by stand-up comedian Norman Lovett and later played by comedienne Hattie Hayridge, Holly is integral as the expositioner and explainer for the more unique episode plots as well being an important character in his own right.
Kind-of finally there is service mechanoid Kryten 2X4B-523P, played by Robert Llewellyn and introduced permanently from Season III, Kryten is “programmed to serve” and loves nothing more than spending an afternoon ironing the linens. Initially a strict rule-follower Lister slowly teaches Kryten to break his programming and become a less-than convincing liar.
Finally-finally there is Kristine Kochanski, played by Chloe Annett from the characters permanent introduction during Season VII, she is intelligent, naive and the object of Listers enduring affection. Initially introduced during the inaugural season as an unfortunately deceased love interest for Lister, she was finally brought back for Season VII as a replacement for the departing Chris Barrie.

During the shows first couple of Seasons there was a real-life animosity between Barrie and Charles, which gave the on-screen adversary between the two conflicting personalities a palpable edge. But before the two were even cast it was somewhat of a miracle the show was even commissioned. The creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor had been pitching the idea for some time at the BBC in London, but the executives were more-than sceptical about a sitcom in space. In was only when, a few years later, that the idea was pitched to the newly formed BBC Manchester that the show finally got a chance. Once given the go ahead the creators set about casting a group of “actors” as equally rag-tag as the characters they were due to portray. A poet, an impressionist, a stand-up comic and a dancer were all brought together to fill the shoes of of our intrepid crew and thus, history was created. Now, 26 years and 10 Seasons constituting 61 episodes later the show is still going strong, still attracting new fans and, whilst I'll admit that I miss the original sets from the first few Seasons, is still adapting and evolving as both filming techniques and the shows budget improve.




So what does this rag-tag band of misfits get up to whilst on their journey back to Earth?
Oh so much more than I can concisely convey here in the annals of TV.com history. But to give you a run down of some of my favourite events, they jump dimensions, fight an emotion draining shape-shifter, become imprisoned on a simulant prison ship, marry a Gelf, lose Red Dwarf, contract a holo-virus, lock wits with “The Inquisitor”, visit a backwards Earth, encounter a despair squid, do battle with their future selves, get themselves downloaded into a video game, give Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists something to think about, fight against a curry monster, discover that the “Quagaars” aren't all they are cracked-up to to be, fight a war against wax-work villains, encounter the distorting effects of white holes, give a dinosaur diarrhoea and knee The Reaper in his crown jewels. And believe me when I say that this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Need more convincing? Seriously?
The astonishing level of invention on display throughout the shows currently ten Season lifespan is unparalleled by a sitcoms standards. Filmed in front of a live studio audience, there is no overbearing laugh track to endure – this certainly isn't a CBS multi-cam sitcom – and the reactions are genuine and honest. The show finally received the recognition it deserved in 1994 when it won both the Best BBC Sitcom Award at the British Comedy Awards and a Popular Arts Emmy for the Season 6 episode 'Gunmen of the Apocalypse” (which is excellent by the way). The show already holds a place in the hearts of millions of people across the globe, holds a place on any respectable list of all time greats and has the power to make me laugh despite what shit happens to befall me as I live this concept we call life. Yes I am biased when I say that “Red Dwarf is the greatest sitcom ever made”, but I'm not ashamed of my bias I'm proud of it and I fully expect the vast majority of you to disagree with me, but I do hope that I have convinced some of you to join me as I re-watch the series and post some reviews and convert some of you to Dwarfers.


Thank you for reading and, as always, if you've enjoyed reading this, or any other post in the TV.com Communities please don't be too shy to click the heart.
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