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Red Dwarf is a British science fiction comedy, created and originally written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. It tells the story of Dave Lister, the last human being alive, and takes place on a space ship 3 million years in the future. A pastiche of science fiction in general, Red Dwarf is first and foremost an 'odd couple' type situation comedy.
In the show, the Red Dwarf is a gigantic spaceship belonging to Jupiter Mining Corporation. An on-board radiation disaster kills everyone except for Dave Lister, who was in suspended animation at the time. Three million years later, Lister emerges from stasis as the last human being alive.
Lister is the slob anti-hero with a marked Scouse accent and a craving for Indian food, such as vindaloo curries and shami kebabs, all of which are in plentiful supply on board the ship. He also enjoys a type of music called "Rastabilly Skank," playing the guitar, and singing -- much to the detriment of those around him. His primary desire is to return to Earth.
Lister endures a hologrammatic simulation of a deceased crew member Arnold J. Rimmer. Rimmer, Lister's room-mate before the disaster, is a smug, self-serving, mean-spirited, status-obsessed, occasionally neurotic, guilt-ridden loser, loathed by everybody on board. Despite twelve years aboard the ship and an overriding ambition to become an officer, Rimmer remains a chickensoup-machine repairman, the lowest job aboard the ship. It was he who actually caused the radioactive disaster by poorly repairing a drive plate on the power core, though he claims he would have been able to do a better job if Lister had not been imprisoned in stasis.
The facility for simulating dead crew members is so resource-intensive that only one such simulation can be maintained at a time. It is therefore reserved for high-ranking and/or essential personnel, but the ship's computer explains in an early episode that it believes Rimmer's company to be essential to Lister's mental health. Lister expresses incredulity, but later implicitly admits that the computer was right, telling another character, Kryten the mechanoid, that "driving Rimmer nuts is what keeps me going".
As the series progresses, Rimmer acquires a tangible physical form for brief periods of time due to various astronomical phenomena, and eventually acquires a "hard-light drive", giving him an effectively real -- albeit indestructible -- physical presence. In later episodes, Rimmer is also manifested as the superheroic character, Ace Rimmer, who hails from an alternate Universe where a pivotal humiliation led Rimmer to develop into a James Bond-like persona.
Also accompanying Lister on his voyage back to Earth is The Cat. The Cat is a member of the species Felis sapiens, evolved from a domestic cat which Lister had smuggled aboard three million years prior, for which crime Lister was imprisoned in stasis. The Cat appears as a typical biped humanoid with slightly elongated canine teeth; he retains a cat-like interest in fish and females, a heightened sense of smell, unbridled vanity, and cat-like obsession towards grooming and appearance. He also has six nipples.
The other principal character is Holly, the ship's computer with a supposed IQ of 6000 (visible as a disembodied head on the screens dotted around the ship). Holly runs most of the ship's systems despite now suffering from computer senility. Among Holly's systems are the service droids known as skutters that clean, perform engineering tasks and function as Rimmer's hands since he initially cannot touch anything non-holographic.
The crew are also joined by the service mechanoid Kryten whom Lister encourages to break his altruistic programming to lie, cheat, and steal in an effort to become more human. Kryten at one time did in fact break his programming, "borrowed" Lister's space-bike and left the ship. He was found smashed against an asteroid some light-years away, and was rebuilt with a new personality.
Lister's longlasting crush is Kristine Kochanski, played by C. P. (Clare) Grogan (formerly of 80's band Altered Images). She was killed along with the rest of the crew in the first episode, and several subsequent episodes revolve around Lister attempting to bring her back, either through time travel or as a computer-generated simulation like Rimmer. In various TV series and book incarnations, Lister has either admired Kochanski from afar or dated her for over a month. The discontinuity is never touched upon. In the seventh season, an alternative Kochanski from a parallel universe (played by Chloë Annett) joined the series as a regular character.
One interesting aspect of the Red Dwarf universe is that there are no sentient aliens, although there is a large and bizarre mix of intelligent life within the Red Dwarf universe. All of these organisms, however, are in one way or another derived from Earth, a result of developments in robotics and/or genetic engineering during the millions of years the ship has been isolated.
The first series aired on BBC2 in 1988. Seven further series have so far been produced, and a film is currently in pre-production. The idea was originally developed from the Dave Hollins: Space Cadet sketches introduced on Grant and Naylor's 1984 BBC Radio 4 show Son of Cliché.
Rob Grant and Doug Naylor wrote the first six series together, before Grant left in 1996 leaving Naylor to write the next two with a series of new and less well-known writers, notably Paul Alexander.
Series I and II were BBC productions, series III was made by Paul Jackson Productions, and all subsequent series were made by Grant Naylor Productions. In practice these changes were only cosmetic; all eight series were made for and by the BBC. At the beginning of series IV production moved from the BBC's Manchester studios to Shepperton.
The theme tune, incidental music and chart hit 'Tongue Tied' was written by Howard Goodall.
A period of four years elapsed between Series VI and VII. The show was apparently not expected to last beyond five series, indicated by the closure of major plot elements and continuity during the first two series. However, Grant and Naylor were contractually obliged to make eight series for the BBC. When the series returned, it was filmized and no longer in front of a live audience. Although critics praised the higher production values for Series VII, when the show returned two years later for Series VIII, it had dropped use of the filmizing process.
In 1998, on the tenth anniversary of the show's first airing (between the releases of Series VI and VIII), the first three series of Red Dwarf were remastered. The remastering included reformatting the series in widescreen, applying film grain techniques and more critically replaced model shots with computer graphics, cut small pieces of dialog and changed music and sound effects. Red Dwarf Remastered was met with a generally poor fan reaction, no further series were remastered and the later DVD release reverted to the original versions.
A pilot episode for an American version was produced for NBC in 1992, though never broadcast. The show followed essentially the same story as the original UK pilot, substituting American actors (including Craig Bierko as Lister, Chris Eigeman as Rimmer, Hinton Battle as the Cat and Jane Leeves as Holly) for the British; the one exception being Robert Llewellyn, who reprised his role as Kryten. The pilot was unsuccessful.
A later pilot consisting of scenes from the first pilot edited in with new footage (and featuring Terry Farrell as a female Cat) was also unsuccessful.
However, the comparison between the UK and US shows is interesting: the anti-hero, slobby pantheist Lister was replaced with a muscular hunk when he is translated for American TV. When Lister learns that three million years have passed in the UK show, he says "I've still got that library book..."; in the American version he says "My baseball cards must be worth a fortune!"
It is also interesting to note that the multi-ethnic cast of the British original (John-Jules is black, Charles bi-racial, and Barrie and Llewelyn white) was replaced by an entirely Caucasian one for the second US pilot (the first pilot still had a black Cat), leading John-Jules and Charles to dub it 'White Dwarf'.
Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
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|Last Airing||Jan 01, 1999|
|Format/Time||Color / 30 Minutes|
|Upcoming Airs||Not currently airing|
Arnold Judas Rimmer
Rupert Bates.... Bodyguard / Trout á la crème (4 episodes)
Mac McDonald.... Captain Frank Hollister (1999)
Craig Charles.... David Lister
Tony Hawks.... Dispensing Machine / Caligula (7 episodes)
Norman Lovett.... Holly (1988, 1997 -)
Hattie Hayridge.... Holly (1989-1992)
Jake Wood.... Kill Crazy (4 episodes)
Clare Grogan.... Kochanski (4 episodes)
Chloe Annett.... Kristine Z. Kochanski (1997 -)
Robert Llewellyn.... Kryten 2X4B 523P (1989 -)
Mark Williams.... Peterson (3 episodes)
Danny John-Jules.... The Cat
Graham McTavish.... Warden Ackerman (1999)
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