A red dwarf is a small, relatively cool star, with a surface temperature of less than 3226 degrees Celsius or 5840 degrees Fahrenheit. The most common star types in the galaxy, they have relatively low luminosity and are invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, such objects are far less interesting to us compared to the main subject of this entry, which, unlike the type of star of the same name, has a devoted and obsessive cult following and is the greatest sci-fi sitcom ever!
Red Dwarf is a British sitcom series created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor that ran on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999. The series does not involve an actual red dwarf, but a red Jupiter mining ship that, for unexplained reasons, is named Red Dwarf. The protagonist, Dave Lister, is the last human being in the universe. His companions are a humanoid cat, a borderline-senile computer, and a hologram of his dead bunkmate. None of this makes sense, but it doesn't matter because of just how good this series is.
Except Series 7 and 8, and that special they did a few years ago. Those were awful. But everything else was perfect!
Red Dwarf being a character-driven comedy, the ensemble cast are extremely well-developed.
- Dave Lister is a Liverpudlian slob, but in a really loveable way. He has an affinity for lager and Indian food, and will attempt to salvage vindaloo and poppadom at any cost. This single character trait is what precipitates the events of episode 1 of Series 7. He really wants to go back to Earth and start a farm, but even though Earth is three million years away, he seems unwilling to go back into stasis rather than put up with Rimmer and the Cat and probably die before the ship even comes close to Earth. He's just that awesome. Even once he managed to escape Red Dwarf he went on to host robot wars, a TV show about robots fighting, you know you'll never be that awesome.
- Arnold Judas Rimmer—snob, but in a really loveable way. For most of the series' run, he is dead; fortunately for Rimmer, death is less deadly in the future, which means he gets revived as a hologram. But death is also not the life-changing experience it used to be, and Rimmer remains a snobbish annoyance while being dead. Not many people can be annoying while dead; that takes an awesome amount of callousness.
- Cat—a member of the species Felis sapiens. (See? I remember what species he is!) He's very stylish and self-centred, but in a really loveable way. Also he's ... er, actually, that's about it. In fact, he's self-centred to the point of complete obliviousness. Whenever he plays a major role, half of the episode is spent on attempting to explain to Cat what is going on and what he needs to do. But he's just awesome!
- Kryten 2X4B-523P—an android who is neurotic and obsolete, but in a really loveable way. Kryten is an invaluable asset when Lister, Rimmer and Cat need common sense. I mean, everyone else is just so reckless and idiotic—I mean, so loveably wacky! He is perhaps one of the most popular character amongst fans, possibly because his neurotic, obsolete nature is something many fans identify wi—hey!
- Holly—the ship's computer. He's senile, but in a really loveable way. He has an IQ of 6000, which is only because the average intelligence of a computer his age is equivalent to that of a brand new Talkie Toaster. Just like many old people in real life, Holly attempts to appear cool by using colloquial language ("What's happening dudes?") and, just like many old people in real life, fails miserably. That's clever, right? Absolutely brilliant writing, isn't it? Isn't it so clever?!
Most of the show happens on the Jupiter Mining Corporation ship Red Dwarf. The ship is the size of a city, which is funny since it has all of the awful problems of a city as well, such as bureaucracy, broken-down equipment, filth, and slimy homicidal man-made creatures. In later series, Red Dwarf turns out to have a smaller shuttle, Starbug, which apparently is propelled by giant wires floating in space.
The series is clearly set in the future, which is evident because humanity is now a space-faring civilisation with highly advanced technology and curse words like "smeg" and "gimboid"! Isn't that so clever? Smeg. I can't stop saying that word; it's so funny! Smeg smeg smeg smeg smeg smeg smeg smeg. You know I keep a list of every single insult ever made? Would you like to hear it? No? I'm going to keep mentioning them anyway! I mean, they're all so fun! Do you know once Kryten called Rimmer "a piece of sputum floating in the toilet bowl of life"? Or that the Cat called Rimmer "Alphabet Head"? Or that Rimmer called Lister a "coward"? Wait, that isn't very futuristic or profane. But, you know how I said half of every episode is everyone trying to get Cat to be useful? The other half is pretty much everyone badmouthing each other. Isn't that delightful?!
Oh, and there's a radiation leak and everybody except Lister who is such a loveable slob dies, and Lister tries to get back to Earth. That's kind of important too.
Basically everything starts with that cadmium leak killing everyone, which is weird because cadmium poisoning isn't really a sudden thing but who cares? Lister is the most awesome last human alive ever! No, really, he is! I mean, he has this cat who's evolved over three million years into pretty much a human, except he's a cat, which makes no sense, but he's so cool! And there's Rimmer, who's dead, and dead annoying too (heh), but he can be really awesome too. So everyone's awesome.
So basically what happens in the series is that they're in a spaceship in deep space, trying to get back to earth, right? And they might be trying to have dinner, or talk about a movie, or torture themselves with a holiday photos slideshow. Then they suddenly encounter these crises that they have to deal with! I had to deal with my town almost falling into a black hole while I was cooking up a chicken vindaloo once! Wait, no I didn't. But after seeing this show, I'm actually kind of afraid that might happen!
And people say everything's just derivative of other movies like Alien and the Terminator and Westworld and Star Wars, but really it's not! Because they make fun of all of this pop culture stuff! It's all in the name of parody and satire, you know? Part of it's because it's so absurd that everything in those movies could happen to them in such an everyday futuristic setting, and part of it's just really dirty humour. But it's all so awesome! Who cares? I wish I had to justify my own existence before an insane megalomaniacal android or be completely erased from the history of the universe at every point in time and space! Actually, no, I don't. But still. Awesome.
So, yeah. The show was awesome. Except one of the writers left after Series 6, so everything went really downhill after that. Trust me when I say that.
- Duplicates The crew often encounter duplicate versions of themselves in spite of Red Dwarfs specially low budget effects. Most of them are either alternate versions or past or future selves; however, a notable exception is the episode "Me2", in which loveably narcissistic Rimmer creates an equally loveable and narcissistic duplicate hologram for himself. The result is complete narcissism, but also complete loveable awesomeness. Another episode, "Rimmerworld", begins with Rimmer stranded on a planet and returns to him 600 years later with thousands of clones of himself. For whatever reason, Rimmer seems to have a knack for attempting to populate the universe with his own self as much as he can. And it's awesome.
- Alternates. Lister, Rimmer, and Cat have encountered alternate selves numerous times, such as in a parallel universe where their selves are reversed in gender. Rimmer, being the narcissistic smeghead that he is, flirts with his female counterpart; Lister, being the relatively morally upright person that he is, has intercourse with his female counterpart and gets pregnant. Icky—well, at least it's awesomely icky.
- Virtual reality is also another way in which alternate selves figure in. In one particularly awesome episode, the crew appear to wake up from the events of the past five series, which turn out to have been a immersive video game. However, this in turn turns out to have been a hallucination, and the past five series were real after all. In conclusion, the plot went nowhere, but in an awesome way.
- Pasts and futures. Red Dwarf is based on scientific theories, but only loosely, allowing for the possibility of the wackiest of time travel scenarios. In one episode, the crew are able to travel back into the past—before the disaster that killed all of the ship's crew save Lister—and Rimmer attempts to save himself from certain doom. The way he fails is absolutely hilarious and awesome.
- Awesomeness. In every episode. Everybody does something awesome. Let me start with episode 1 of Series 1—