I was introduced to Red Dwarf, the seminal BBC sci-fi comedy, by a friend. He had the series on DVD and was hesitant to share them with me because he was afraid I wouldn’t like them. According to him, if I didn’t like the show, he might not be able to stay friends with me. He was not kidding.
I’ll admit it was touch and go there the first couple of series. The show was super low budget the first 12 episodes (6 each series) and the sets were drab and dull and the acting rough in patches. But there was a certain charm to the show and I love any kind of British comedy. Monty Python, Bean, it’s all good stuff. So I stuck with it and was rewarded with a rich, intelligent, absolutely hilarious sitcom based in space about the last human survivor in existence, David Lister.
Dave is accompanied by the hologram of his former bunkmate Arnold Judas Rimmer, the life form that evolved from his cat after three million years while Lister was in suspended animation, and starting in series three, an android named Kryten. I think the addition of Kryten in series three, plus the creation of newer sets and stronger writing, is what made the show take off.
We also had a disembodied fifth member of the Red Dwarf (the name of the ship through which they travel the deep reaches of space together) crew, a computer named Holly, played by a male or female, depending on the series. Holly claimed to have an IQ of 6,000 but always acted like she/he was dumber than a box of rocks.
Many fans feel the show’s heyday was series 3-6 and that series 7 and 8 represent a drop-off in quality. I will not argue this because I agree with them. And considering the show seemed to be dead and buried after series 8… well, the writing was on the wall. 1999 saw the close of series 8 and that was it for a long, long time.
There was a lot of talk about a movie featuring the beleaguered crew of the Dwarf but nothing came to pass. It was all talk and once the internet picked up there were fan sites and forums begging and praying for some more Dwarf.
Ten years went by before we saw a new series. It wasn’t the film nor was it a full series but the three part mini-series Back to Earth put the Dwarfers together again. The recent Series X proves the show is here to stay. What kind of TV program leaves the air for a decade then returns in full strength?
Only the immortal Red Dwarf.