“This is an SOS distress call from the mining ship Red Dwarf. The crew are dead, killed by a radiation leak. The only survivors were Dave Lister, who was in suspended animation during the disaster, and his pregnant cat, who was safely sealed in the hold. Revived three million years later, Lister's only companions are a life form who evolved from his cat, and Arnold Rimmer, a hologram simulation of one of the dead crew.”
I love Sci-Fi. Even more so, I love comedy. So when Captain Chaotioca!! recommended Red Dwarf to me, this Anglophile gave it a slightly timid, yet altogether enthusiastic go. In an astounding stroke of luck, BBC America decided to air the first episode the following day.
I wasn’t immediately hooked, however I waited anxiously for the next episode, which was to be aired the following Monday. It only took about three episodes before I was in love. The show has so mush going for it. Marvelous actors, wonderful humor, excellent writing, thought-provoking plots, and what amounts to one of the best collections of characters ever. Granted, I haven’t met all of the characters, yet, but I’m working on it.
The Cat [aka Dwayne Dibbly] (Danny John-Jules)
This is just an intriguing concept. Lister’s cat, Frankenstein, spawned a species of humanoid felines. The Cat is the last of his race - a vain, egotistical Narcissist who is taken to constant primping, gloating, and wearing some really snazzy outfits. He takes backseat to the others a good portion of the time and receives very little character development (after all, there’s not much to develop), however his biting sarcasm, witty remarks, and outrageously cat-like behavior make him a favourite among the fans I know.
Holly (Norman Lovett/Hattie Hayridge)
The ship’s super-intelligent (::snicker::) computer, Holly was originally a slightly senile old man. Around about series three, he went through a change that I’m not sure was ever explained, in which he turned into a younger female who is, more or less, a total dingbat. But whatever form, Holly is a fun character, as well as a convenient tool for plot exposition.
Kryten (Robert Llewellyn)
A mechanoid who insists on referring to his fellow crewmembers as “sir,” Kryten takes great pride in the fact that he is programmed to never kill a human. Or he would take great pride in it if he were capable of such a sinful emotion. As the series progresses, he becomes increasingly more human, both in demeanor and appearance, though considering where he started, there was nowhere else to go. Kryten can be a bit annoying in his moral perfection, but his occasional zingers more than make up for it, simply because of the irony in his referring to the butt of his joke as “Sir” as he is insulting them.
David Lister (Craig Charles)
Curry fanatic, god of a race, peacekeeper extraordinaire, Lister is the only surviving member of the original crew. Funny, as he was the least motivated and least successful of the lot. Rank wise, of course. In his own way, he was very successful – he was happy, and that’s all that really matters to him. He’s a total slob (a good bit of his clothing has, through neglect, become ambulatory), puts chili powder or curry sauce on everything that gets near his mouth, actively works to irritate the living smeg out of anyone and everyone he doesn’t care for, and does not hesitate in admitting that he is a complete and utter bum. But that’s what we love about Listie.
Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie)
Yes, he’s a smeghead. Yes, he’s a self-centered, arrogant twit. Yes, he’s the kind of person I couldn’t stand to be around for more than ten seconds. On the other hand, he’s also my favourite character. I can’t help but feel terribly, terribly sorry for the guy. He is quite possibly the most pathetic character I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, having had a truly rotten childhood, topped in magnitude of sheer suckation only by Vince McCain’s, then having the bad luck of being killed twice. No one but no one likes him and he honestly doesn’t understand why. He tries, in his own way, to develop friendly relationships with people. He really does. Unfortunately, the only person who has ever recognized that was unable to exist in the same time and place with him. Even if I didn’t pity him, he would still be my favorite character, merely because of his role in the grand scheme of the comedy. Chris Barrie is obviously a brilliant performer with an enormous range of mannerisms, accents (oh, how I love it when he nails that impersonation of Kryten ::giggles::), and a huge personality scope that he employs as needed through out the course of the series. I, for one, would love to see him in more stuff.
Rimmer may be an emotionally charged, neurotic mess, but, zark it all, so am I. That doesn’t make either one of us a bad person.
Red Dwarf is produced by Grant Naylor. It airs on BBC America at 4:20 AM EST Tuesday through Friday (unless, of course, it’s been preempted by David Bowie. Grrrrr…)
Thanks to Sad Geezers.com and Red Dwarf on Heck If I Know for the pics.