Review - Red Dwarf
“Everybody’s dead. Everybody is dead, Dave.” - Holly
Red Dwarf is a British scifi comedy that aired in 1988.
Dave Lister wakes up to find that the short stasis he was supposed to have has instead lasted 3 million years. The entire crew was exposed to a deadly scenario, and Dave is the only survivor. To try to prevent Dave from getting lonely, the computer generates a hologram of the person that Dave spent the most time with, his annoying colleague Arnold Rimmer. Dave is also joined by Cat, a human-form creature that evolved from Dave’s cat, and later Kryton, a sentient android.
Together they begin the long journey back to Earth, made even longer by the fact that the computer is so old it has gotten lost and has no idea where Earth is.
Red Dwarf is absurdist humour that doesn’t work if you ask too many questions about plot setups. For instance, how is it that a race of humanoid cats could evolve from a single litter in 3 million years? Don’t ask. In one episode the monster is a sentient vindaloo. Red Dwarf is a very soft scifi, but where it may not be consistent with physics, it is internally consistent. No matter how absurd a circumstance is, the episode treats it as a credible threat. The setups may be absurd, but the payoffs aren’t.
Through character development, the show explores many topics beyond simple scifi tropes, and it’s easy to see why the show has sustained a cult following for 30+ years. Exploring character failings and deconstructing scifi tropes, Red Dwarf fits perfectly alongside scifi comedies of today like The Orville and Avenue 5. However, comparing these double and single season runs against Red Dwarf’s original run, and several resurgences are not like for like. Red Dwarf pioneered scifi humour and showed that it could be funny and silly.
The performances from Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, and Robert Llewellyn make Red Dwarf the success that it is. Mostly silly as they run around facing the crazy things before them, the episodes that require a more dramatic tone hit even harder because of the juxtaposition. Red Dwarf is a crazy ride that will give you a good belly laugh.
Red Dwarf is a must-see for any scifi nerd.