THE ONE WHERE Lister loses Starbug and Rimmer in a card game and ends up with a groin exploder attached to his love spuds to make sure he pays up. Meanwhile, Cat and Kryten become linked by coincidence.
VERDICT Another cracking episode absolutely filled with comedy gems, that doesn’t belie in the slightest the production difficulties it was made under (see below). The gag rate is so fast you’re in danger of whiplash, and the barmy central plot twists and turns so much you never know bizarre situation you’re going to witness next. Who‘d have guessed an episode that starts with Lister losing Rimmer and Starbug at Poker would end up with a super-intelligent chimp turning into a super-stupid scientist? It’s all so wrong, it’s right… which kinda suits one of the subplots.
A few fans have been moaning that Cat hasn’t been well-served so far this series but that‘s rectified here big time. He has some of the best lines throughout, but he’s seriously smoking in the bridge scene when Lister reveals to Rimmer the truth about the card game.
Rimmer: “Lister, I’ve told you a million times, you gamble with low lives, there’s only one loser,” Cat: “In this case, there’s two.” Rimmer: “Who’s the other one?” Cat: “A guy about your height, your colouring, who goes by the name of you.”
Cat: “We’re all acutely sorry, bud. Apart from me and him and him.”
Cat: “I’m not here to help. Read my CV. Does not help. Does not clean. Will have sex with anything.”
Later, in one of the episode laugh-out-loud moments, Lister casually chops off his ponytail. Yep a good episode for the feline fashionista.
It’s also a great episode for Rimmer quoting rules, Lister being a slob and Kryten delivering extraordinary infodumps. On one level you could accuse it of relying on safe Red Dwarf comedy tropes, but this show proves there still a rich comedy seam to mine.
Only the frankly awful BEGG costumes and a few limper gags towards the end let it down. The “Irene-E” solution to getting Lister out of the groin exploder is clever, but not exactly funny; the extended joke about the professor nominating every button to press except the correct one is wearing a bit thin by the second button. It’s a shame the episode goes slightly off the boil in its the very last moments, but it finishes on a high note: ever since Rimmer put that crate in front of the airlock 20 minutes earlier you knew someone was going to stumble out of it. When the professor does, it’s almost like being repaid for patience, and Lister’s cheeky offer of a pen to fill in the accident forms is pure Dwarf.
BEHIND-THE-SCENES This episode was extensively rewritten the week before recording. Originally the chimp would have played a much larger role, but the production team didn’t realise that rules and regulations governing the performer meant that he could only “act” for a limited time before taking a break. Professor E was a very late addition to the script.
STUNT LEGS… These legs did not belong to the actress who played Professor E (who hadn’t been cast when it was shot) but to a model.
IT’S WOSSISNAME The chimp was played by renowned ape and monkey performer Peter Elliott, who choreographed the gorilla movement in Gorillas In The Mist and Congo (in which a character was named after him), and was also Bollo in the first season on The Mighty Boosh.
AND HE’S WOSSISNAME Actor Steven Wickham could be the only man in history in danger of being typecast as genetically engineered life forms with sexual interest in the boys from the Dwarf. In this episode he plays the BEGG chief and back in the series six episode “Emohawk: Polymorph II” he played the Gelf that married Lister.
HERE’S AN EXPERIMENT Read the following brilliant monologue from Kryten as if it were being narrated by the Voice Of The Book from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (preferably Peter Jones). It fits extremely well: “The staff were handpicked for their ability to be mistaken; for their gifts in fallacious analysis and defective reasoning. They were all outstandingly good at being consistently incorrect. There were a lot of referees, TV critics, weathermen, who were then re-educated in the sciences, to develop extraordinary new, erroneous theories, that would combine together to produce works of great genius… The whole idea turned out to be wrong. The man behind the idea was so depressed he attempted suicide. Naturally he failed, and he went on to live into his nineties.”
So many to choose from and we’ve mentioned loads already. But here are a couple more:
Rimmer: “What’s that smell. Has there been a fire in here?” Lister: “Just a small one. I put it out with me beer.” Rimmer: “For goodness sake, Lister, that’s terrible.” Lister: “Don’t panic, I’ve got another one.”
Kryten: “You’re up late, sir.” Cat: “Been hunting. Trying to swat this damned space weevil. Little sucker keeps outsmarting me.” Kryten: “Well they do have an IQ of two sir.”
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