Red Dwarf - What a Show!by Caroline Seawright
December 6, 2000
As you may or may not know, Red Dwarf is not about small, rouge coloured humanoids who run around, swinging axes, looking for gold and spending most of their lives under ground.
It is, in fact, the name of a very red, very big space ship from the Jupiter Mining Corporation, a fictional company in the future. The ship was, of course, named after star types - the star type that seems to be most frequent in the universe is known as a red dwarf. Other stars are white giants, white dwarves, blue giants, blue dwarves, yellow giants, red giants, super giants, etc...
Inside the ship, there is everything that you'd expect to find on a space ship. Crew quarters, officer quarters, quarentine areas, medirooms, bars, clubs, mess halls, engine rooms, the bridge, ship-to-planet run abouts - the works.
Everything ... except a full crew.
Somewhere along the line, all but one of the crew died. (3 million years ago!)
Even worse, the human race no longer exists. (That's what happens, they suppose, when you're 3 million years ahead of your time.)
And the worst thing of all - the last human was David Lister.
Along with him is a hologram of one of the dead crew (Arnold J. Rimmer)... a creature evolved from Lister's cat (The Cat) ... a mechanoid with an over-active guilt chip and a head shaped like a novelty condom (Kryten)... a senile computer who's into having head-sex-change operations ... and, in a later series, a woman from another dimension (Kristine Kochanski)... desperately trying to get home.
Name: David Lister
Rank: Third Technician
Status: Barely Human
Played by: Craig Charles
Dave Lister is the last human being alive. Supposedly, since the human race was very probably extinct quite a while back, during the time Lister was in stasis - the last three million years. If the human race hasn't been extinct, then they're now a race of super-humans. To them, Lister would be the equivalent of pond scum... but, then, to most people three million years ago, Lister was that already.
Lister's occupation, to put it nicely, is space bum. He's supposedly third technician, but after the accident that wiped out the rest of the crew (including the girl he was in love with, Kristine Kochanski), Lister really didn't have much of a job left to do.
His superior, the then dead, hologrammatic Second Technician Arnold J Rimmer, was a burocratic, small minded individual who continued to try to make Lister work by hiding his ciragettes. He 'rewarded' Lister for his work by giving him a cigarette, and penalised him by not giving him any. This plan was given up when the Cat found the cigarettes, spoiling Rimmer's plans.
Lister's only plan is to get back to Earth with a cat, to buy a little farm on Fiji, get a sheep and a cow and breed horses. (With horses and horses, of course, not with a sheep and a cow!) Unfortunately most of Fiji was (three million years ago) three feet under water, thanks to a volcanic erruption. The other major disruption to the plan is that Kristine was going to be in it. She was going to wear a white dress and ride the horses (even though he never told her this). But, anyway, she's dead. Though Lister's still going to do his best to get her back, and to stick to his plan!
Along the way, Lister happily (and lazily) slobs his way around the universe, as the remainder of the crew try to get back to Earth, with Lister happily consuming gross amounts of blisteringly hot curry.
As Rimmer once said:
"Morning, Lister! How's life in hippy heaven you pregnant baboon bellied space slob! Ah! What's the plan for the day then? Slobbing in the morning, followed by slobbing in the afternoon then a snooze before the main evening's slob? God, you're a disgrace to the species!"
Name: "The Cat"
Rank: "Most Handsome Guy on the Ship"
Status: Ship's Cat
Played by: Danny John-Jules
Not one of the crew, the Cat is actually a creature who evolved from Lister's cat. He is, being a cat, the best dressed entity in the galaxy. Totally shallow and self centered, he's obsessed with fashion, being cool, looking great and making sure that he has lots of beauty sleep.
Lister's pregnant cat, Frankenstein, had been safely sealed in the hold when the radiation killed off everyone on board, so the cat and her kittens were safe. Over the three million years, their race grew and evolved. Near the end of the three million years, two religious factions left Red Dwarf in search of the Promised Land - Fruchal (Fiji). Only a few remained, the Cat's parents and an old priest. His parents died, and the Cat was left. He is now, after the death of the priest, the last known survivor of his race - felis sapiens.
The Cat's religion said that the holy mother of their race was Frankenstein, who had been saved by Cloister (or Clister, depending on the faction) the Stupid. Cloister was their god. It was said that he would return and take them to the Promised Land, where they'd set up a hot dog stand and wear funny paper hats.
It was lucky that the Cat wasn't very religious - he finally met his people's god who, well, didn't exactly measure up to standards.
The Cat lives on the ship, content with his hold-full of many tailored, flashy and good looking suits, his multiple full-length mirrors and hoping to eventually find a small group of girls (say seven or eight) to settle down with.
The Cat agrees that these are his best features:
"You're totally egocentric, you flee at the first sign of trouble, you only look after Number One, you're vain, you're selfish, you're narcissistic and you're self-obsessed."
Name: Kryten 2X4B 523P
Rank: Service Mechanoid Series 4000
Played by: Robert Llewellyn
Kryten, a mechanoid created by Diva-Droid International, was never one of the original crew - he was picked up from a derelict ship called the Nova 5. At that time, he had a little bit of trouble with his programming - all he wanted to do was serve. Lister did his best to help him break out of it, to become a rebel ... and it ended up with Kryten flying off on a space bike and smashing himself (and the bike) to bits!
Later on Lister repaired him, and now Kryten looks after the 'boys' from the Red Dwarf, and carries out his cleaning duties with great relish. He still lives to serve ... and his secret fantasy is to clean! His only vice is to occasionally watch an mechanoid soap opera called 'Androids'.
One of the more interesting, if confusing and depressing, part of Kryten's life was when he, once, briefly turned into a human. He did not enjoy having something he described as having the 'last chicken in the shop look', nor was he pleased that his nipples didn't tune into the radio or control his bodily temperature. And he was most upset that human eyes didn't have a 'zoom' function. Thankfully, that sad tale is far behind him.
Life for Kryten was going along quite well ... until a parallel universe Kristine Kochanski entered his life. The two got along like cats and dogs!
Jealous that Kristine would steal Lister away (though it doesn't seem very likely from anyone else's point of view), Kryten is letting a darker side of his nature show - he will do almost ANYTHING to keep the two apart... even going so far as to lead the crew on a wild goose chase while the ship heads into danger, just to keep Kristine from having a bath in Lister's room!
Other than this, Kryten, his three spare heads, various spare limbs and other bodily attachments have made themselves at home with the crew, doing (and loving) all of the menial chores that the others wouldn't even deign to think about.
"I haven't got the software to cope with this! I was created to serve - I serve, therefore I am! That is my purpose - to serve and have no regard for myself."
Name: Arnold Judas Rimmer
Rank: First Officer
Played by: Chris Barrie
Lister's dead superior and bunk mate. He died in the radiation leak that killed off the rest of the crew of Red Dwarf, and was brought back by Holly, the ship's computer, to help keep Lister sane.
The problem with this arrangement is ... Rimmer and Lister were not exactly the best of friends. Lister thinks that Rimmer is a complete smeg head. Rimmer thinks that Lister is an utter slob. They tend to spend most of their time insulting each other. Though Rimmer _does_ keep Lister sane - driving Rimmer crazy is the only thing that keeps Lister going!
Hate each other as they may, Holly was right:
"Jean-Paul Sartre said, 'Hell was being locked forever in a room with your friends.'"
Apart from all this, Rimmer actually has the potential to become the most liked, the coolest, the smartest, the most skilled and the sexiest guy in all the known (and unknown) multiverses.
Despite the fact that he enjoys hammond organ music... despite the fact that he loves things such as 20th century telegraph poles and morris dancing... and despite the fact that he's quite petty and always wants to go by the book, he has the potential to be Ace Rimmer!
With all Rimmer's bitterness, snidiness and negativity (from his bad childhood experiences, mostly), he can actually be a hero for a change! Not a sad git, not someone that everyone love to hate - he can be a man who everyone looks up to!
Many thanks to Lydia Crowe for some of the Rimmer images!
My Red Dwarf mini site has information, photos and more.
Red Dwarf Images Copyright © 1989-2000 Grant Naylor & the BBC All Rights Reserved
© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2000 - present
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