Pete: Part I

Right. Pete, then. An episode that’s infamous for its lack of rigorous logic, rather silly plot line, and lack of any coherence whatsoever.

This is going to be fun. Although there’s absolutely no science fiction category that I can twitter on about for two hundred words before the review, so I’ll just have to get started right away. The format of this review will be slightly different from the others, in that I’ll be going through the episode and addressing things point-by-point.

One:

The very first thing that springs to mind is the bad logic with the fact that Lister and Rimmer are even entering the Captain’s office. They are prisoners, at this point, in a high-security prison on a starship. Ultimate authority over them would be the head of the prison (Mr. Ackerman), who would find the punishment suitable for their crime. Even if Mr. Ackerman did speak to the captain of Lister and Rimmer, it seems very doubtful that they would enter the Captain’s office.

There is also a distinct sense of pantomime in the acting here, particularly prominent in Rimmer and Ackerman. What happened to the subtle Red Dwarf I used to know? The Red Dwarf that brought us Nirvana Crane?

Two:

The best punishment that the captain can think of, with all the possibilities that technology has brought humanity, with all the advancements we have made in human suffering over the years, the best punishment he can find is a game of basketball against the guards? I want Rob Grant and his sensibilities back, please. Also, written on the uniforms, are “Cons” and “Guards.” Uh…okay. I don’t know if they would want to spend money on actually buying uniforms for basketball. I could understand it if there were two teams, but spending money on a shirt that says “Cons” is just plain silly.

Three:

We’re back again with Mr. MacDonald, and nothing has happened aside from penis gags and basketball. Eight minutes have gone on, and the only thing that has to do with the plot is a brief mention of a skutter smuggling items to Lister. Whatever happened to the fine art of grabbing someone’s interest and holding it throughout an episode? Mr. Naylor and Mr. Alexander have grossly padded this monstrosity out, unfortunately.

Four:

The bunkroom scene. Mr. Naylor, apparently, thinks that just having the two in the bunkroom will bring back the “bunkroom scene” vibe, when it was clearly the dialogue that made those scenes so memorable, not the set. Who could forget their arguments about aliens, or Rimmer trying to persuade Lister to swap bodies? Most people, on the other hand, could probably forget a bucket and spade.

The episode could have started with this bunkroom scene. Messrs. Naylor and Alexander could have trimmed eleven minutes from the episode, which is nearly half the episode – and it would have been much stronger for it.

Five:

The survivors aboard the S.S. Manny Celeste were, according to Kryten, “operating on a different time stream.” How, then, could Kochanski pluck the time wand from their frozen, operating-on-a-different-time-stream fingers? I know Dwarf hasn’t always been based on absolute science, but it seems to me as though this scene could have been rewritten to make it at least slightly more interesting.

Six:

Kryten smuggled the time wand back to Red Dwarf in his head; apparently, everyone else on the ship is a complete idiot. This is what Damon Knight called a “second-order idiot plot,” which states:

“A plot involving an entire invented SF society which functions only because every single person in it is necessarily an idiot.” [1]

Seven:

The programmable virus ate the skin of potatoes. Two possibilities are present, here, then: either the virus would eat the skin off Rimmer and Lister, leaving them a helpless mass of muscle and flesh, writhing in agony on the supply bay floor, desparate to escape their vile fate, or it ate potato skins and nothing else. It’s all or nothing, folks.

Eight:

Why would the Captain even reach for the hand of a man who was previously using it to hide his genitalia from view?

Nine:

When Kryten restores Baxter’s chicken piece to a full, live chicken, it struck me as odd that it would be a fully-fledged chicken from a single piece of chicken meat. It would either be a bloody mess of uncooked meat and feathers on his plate, or, other people’s chicken selections, bones, organs and other bits and pieces from it would instantaneously vanish from the ship to form this chicken.

Ten:

That sure is one awfully thin floor in the Hole. Thin enough for a skutter to cut through, apparently. Seriously, it looks to be about an inch thick and made of cardboard. This problem with the set could be easily fixed by having the skutter rescue Lister and Rimmer in some other way. A writing problem, again.

Eleven:

Even if birds evolved from dinosaurs, the only possible thing the time wand could do would be to return Pete to bird status. Unless, of course, through some miraculous sequence of events, Pete evolved from dinosaur to bird in the past nine years…

Overall:

Far too reminiscent of something called the “And plot”:

“Picaresque plot in which this happens, and then that happens, and then something else happens, and it all adds up to nothing in particular.” [1]

–for John Hoare,
who bothered me enough to actually
get me to write this. Bless his sickly little heart.

References

1. Turkey City Lexicon, ed. by Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling

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