Approximately six years ago, the final few episodes of Red Dwarf were broadcast on terrestrial television. Today is the day when we return to find out what happened to the crew of …
the office, Red Office, Red Dwarf. Specifically, the Captain’s Office.
This newspaper clipping was found in the Newark Times newspaper on April 3rd, [year not given]. Its implications are chilling.
GARBAGE WORLD REPRESENTATIVE (GWR): Yeah, it’s on.
RIMMER: Right, Pete. I remember Pete very well. Birdman, too. Kind of a strange episode, I don’t really remember much of what happened in it. Could be because I was high on prescription drugs at the time, so everything looked kind of…same-y, if you know what I mean.
GWR: …no. What do you mean?
RIMMER: Well…I couldn’t actually be bothered to learn the script, really. I was just repeating what other people told me to say. So, really, if you think about it, I can’t actually be held responsible.
GWR: Well, we may as well move on to the questions–
RIMMER: Yes, let’s.
GWR: What was going through your head when you repeated the line “we’re finished” three times in a row?
RIMMER: Well, I guess I was thinking–you know, I’m not entirely certain now. I guess I thought I was being funny. You know, a situation like that…with a, y’know, T-Rex trying to burst in through the door and all, I guess I was thinking that I’d try and lighten the mood a bit…with some humor. I guess I didn’t do my job. Humor’s a bit of a tricky subject, really. I can’t tell a joke at all and have it be funny, you know, a joke where, you know, some bloke walks into a machine shop or something. I can’t do that. I’m not a comedian. But I guess…I guess people find me amusing for other reasons, and I don’t even have to tell jokes. I guess they think I’m funny in my own right.
Dunno if that’s a good or bad thing, really.
GWR: I noticed there was a reference to the French. Is this a telling detail of a major shift in terms of the comedy? Are you working more towards topical humor?
RIMMER: [pauses] …you have to understand that there were such gaping holes in it, so many awkward silences, that we had to fill up space. A reference to the French seemed like a decent way to fill up a bit of space.
GWR: Mm, right. So, this isn’t a shift in the comedy?
RIMMER: Erm, not that I’m aware of. You know, I’m not really planning on anything like that. I’m not going to mention something like, you know, the American presidency or something.
GWR: You did, actually.
RIMMER: Oh, yeah. Forgot about that.
HOLLISTER: Yes, yes, I know that a T-Rex’s bowel movements would not be interesting to your average viewer. I realize I shouldn’t have come off quite so strong about mint-choc ice cream, orange ice pops and Coca-Cola. But I couldn’t help myself, y’know? I just…I had to fill the space, all right? There was an awkward silence. I had to talk. I just didn’t know what I was saying, all right? So judge me, yeah. But I did nothing wrong.
GWR: What sort of discussions did you have with the other crew members about how you might bring this particular sequence of events to a satisfying end?
HOLLISTER: Er…well, I had a few discussions with some of the higher ranking crew members about what I might do. You know, I’ve always wanted to be a stand-up. Oh, and a mime artist. A stand-up mime would be the perfect job for me. So when I came up with the idea of getting those cue cards, everybody was thrilled, and I mean everybody. Well, except for Todhunter. He suggested that Kryten’s penis shove its way into my…y’know. And I was like, “What? Kryten’s rogue penis gets jammed up my arse? I think not.” And so that was when I got rid of Todhunter for good. You can’t have a right hand man who wants to see you sodomized. You know? It just doesn’t work.
GWR: If I may ask, how did you “get rid of Todhunter”?
HOLLISTER: I ate him. No, only joking. I’m not really sure anymore. We may have just kicked him off the ship. Or he…no, that was it, he just disappeared. I’ve heard he’s a big TV star now on Earth.
GWR: When you gave the time wand back to Rimmer and Lister, two inmates on your ship, was there really no one else qualified?
HOLLISTER: Well, no. Not really. I mean, we’re on a ship in space. We’re not really equipped with the greatest minds on Earth.
GWR: What about the original Holly? He’s got an IQ of 6,000, does he not?
HOLLISTER: Well, yeah…but, I mean, if you’re gonna pull out any old name, why shouldn’t I give it to Petersen? Oh, he’s gone. Chen. Why not Chen?
GWR: Because Chen has shown himself to be irresponsible.
HOLLISTER: Not so. I remember when he… Look, I’ll get back to you.
GWR: Right, in that same scene there were multiple references to the passage of time–
HOLLISTER: See ya in ten minutes? I’ve started again. Look, this may take awhile. It’s like the smegging…hiccups or something. See ya in ten minutes? God in heaven. See ya in ten minutes? I’m so sorry about this.
GWR: The doors to the cargo bay where you and the other crew members were hiding seemed to bend quite easily.
LISTER: Well, yeah. They’ve got to be flimsy. I mean, every door’s got to have some leeway to it, y’know?
GWR: Yes, but they bent quite a bit.
LISTER: Look, they’re made that way, all right?
GWR: All right. Next question. When the T-Rex began to eat the curry–
LISTER: Y’know, I’m gonna be honest with you. I’m not a curry guy. I just don’t like it. I know, I know, I’m supposed to like it and all…but it’s just not my thing. I much prefer a bit of…well, I’m not entirely sure. A collection. A coagulation? No, that’s not right. A smorgasbord. Yeah, a smorgasbord. So, basically, when I was giving that running narration of the T-Rex eating the giant whatever-it-was that was filled with curry…I was basically talking out of my arse, yeah?
GWR: Why don’t you like curry?
LISTER: Well, it’s a bit hot, innit? Gives me indigestion and all that. I much prefer ham. A good salad to cap off some ham. Horse meat’s not too bad, either, although I like it when it’s nice and young. Pony meat. Actually, a salad with some pony meat and ham chunks would hit the spot right about now.
GWR: Horse meat?
GWR: You said you liked to eat horse meat.
LISTER: Did I? Oh, I drift in and out of my conversation sometimes.
GWR: Right. About the Tyrannosaurus Rex…
LISTER: Oh, is this going to be about why the T-Rex ate and swallowed that skutter? Wossname, Bob? Yeah, yeah, I know where you’re going with this. Why’d a T-Rex bother to swallow a metal object? Well, it’s a little known fact, but skutters are delicious. In fact, they’re just about as good as lightly browned pony meat, and I mean the good stuff, like a chunk right out of the haunches.
KRYTEN: Isn’t this exciting?
GWR: Yeah, it’s all right.
KRYTEN: I’m so excited.
GWR: Yeah, yeah. Let’s get started, shall we?
GWR: …right, first question. What prompted the creation of Archie?
KRYTEN: Well, as I said before, I created Archie to get myself reclassified as a man. Also, Archie provided some much-needed companionship. I felt that I could really talk to Archie, really bare my soul to him. And even if he couldn’t talk back, he could squeak and run around. [hesitantly] Plus, I wanted to have it off with a bit of tail. Can I say that on your website-thingy?
GWR: Yeah, you can say that. That seems a bit of an unusual reason for you to create something. You’re generally seen as the moral conscience of the crew. At the very least, you comply with a set of rules that cannot be broken. Why the sudden change?
KRYTEN: Well, I suppose so. But…this won’t be printed, will it? I want your word on this.
GWR: If you don’t want something to be printed, then it won’t.
KRYTEN: Right. [leans forward] All that stuff about my command system is a load of bollocks. I just do it because that’s what an android is supposed to do.
GWR: Really? Now that’s interesting.
KRYTEN: Right, now you know. This won’t be printed, will it?
GWR: No, not at all. Not a word.
GWR: You seem to have lost some of your cat-ness over the years…is there a reason for this?
CAT: Yeah. Well…no. No, I guess not.
GWR: Ah. You seem to have lost much of the spotlight some believe you deserve. What is your thinking on this?
CAT: Well, I was never supposed to be really “in the spotlight” as such…I’m more of a supporting character. [chuckles] “Supporting character.” What, is this a TV show or something?
GWR: Quite. Some say that you also have grown far more annoying over the years–
CAT: Look, if you’re just going to insult me, I’m going to piss off.
GWR: How has it been, being placed in the same room with Kryten?
KOCHANSKI: Ugh, a pain. Kryten mopes around all day and then he goes and creates a penis. I mean, I can’t understand why he would do such a thing. Who’s going to be interested in an android? Another android? That’d be interesting to see.
GWR: What compelled you to say, quote, “Because now, like all men, you have absolutely no control over your penis.” when Kryten finished the work on his artificial penis?
KOCHANSKI: Someone had to say it, didn’t they? I mean, I didn’t start out this show to become one of those women who always say, “you go, girl” whenever someone makes a comment regarding …well, just about anything. But that’s what I invariably became. I can’t help myself. I mean, Kryten built a penis and now it’s skittering around the ship, probably committing multiple sex crimes and there’s nothing he can do about it. There’s just something intrinsically funny about that, isn’t there?
GWR: I suppose so. You also referenced an incident several years back, before you were brought on board. “You point that thing at yourself and you could end up as a sperm.” This is clearly a reference to the crew’s trip to Backwards world, where David Lister was quoted as saying, “And worse than that — in 25 years I’ll be a little sperm, swimming around in somebody’s testicles!” Was this a conscious reference, or did you merely saturate yourself with Red Dwarf’s history to the point that it came naturally?
KOCHANSKI: It was more of a natural thing, really. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time. It’s like when someone sneezes, you say God bless you. …or gazundheit. But anyway, it’s just this thing that people say. A knee-jerk reaction, basically.
GWR: How often do these “knee-jerk reactions” take place?
KOCHANSKI: Every so often. But I can usually keep them under control.
GWR: The opening section that capped off the events of the previous episode seemed to be unnecessarily long and bloated. Was there a reason for this?
HOLLY: Not enough material. Simple as that.
GWR: So you stretched it out by recapping the previous events?
HOLLY: Just about, yeah.
GWR: Why not just trim the footage and make it one episode?
HOLLY: Not enough material.
HOLLY: Well, look at it this way. If there’s not going to be enough for two episodes even with massive stretching, why should there be enough for one?
GWR: I’m sorry, that makes no sense. Some people have said that some of your recent episodes have no point.
HOLLY: Why’s that?
GWR: Well, there seems to be a tangible feeling of being let down. First of all the whole idea of “finding a machine that can digitize time” is ridiculous. Who created this machine and why? Your other adventures have almost always had a reason for the scientific phenomena contained within; when you met the Inquisitor, it was the Inquisitor that created the gauntlet. In White Hole, it was the white hole that was affecting time. And now you just happened to chance upon a machine with no history and no purpose.
HOLLY: I see your point, actually. But, I mean, you’ve got laugh. Not because it’s funny or anything, but I guess it’s just…bad planning. I can’t plan events, obviously, but I suppose I could have come up with something a little bit better than “mime artists in trendy town centers.”
GWR: Right. Thanks for your time, Holly.
HOLLY: No problem, mate.
VIII. Doug Naylor & Paul Alexander
I went to see Paul Alexander and Doug Naylor, the latter being the brain-child behind the initial launch of Red Dwarf. Alexander was eating his breakfast when I entered, and I saw him meticulously eating each individual corn flake, one by one. “Oh, just a moment,” he said, “I’ve got to finish this.” I sat down and waited.
The silence seemed to stretch interminably. Finally, he finished, looked at me, and pronounced the bowl “as clean as Kryten’s non-existent penis.” I asked him why he had said this, and he replied that he had no idea. “I just say things,” he said, and chuckled. “Well, that’s actually not true, is it?” He looked at Doug.
“Oh, no, he’s a great guy and a fine writer,” Doug said. He was distracted, and when he looked out through the window of his room I thought I saw a glimmer of something for a moment, a yearning to be free of these parameters.
And it was gone, and Alexander was looking at me expectantly. “Did you want something?”
“Oh,” I said. “Yes. I wanted to interview you. Both of you.”
His eyes lit up unexpectedly. “Oh, are you that newspaper man?”
“Not quite. I run a website.”
“Oh.” His eyes dropped, and he looked disheartened for a moment. “Well, no matter. You’d need a front page image for your newsp–website, won’t you?”
“I suppose so.”
He smiled. “Oh, lovely. I’ve come up with a little something. I think you might like it. A ‘poster,’ I believe it’s called.” He handed me his poster.
“Ah. Lovely. I, erm…why the disco ball?”
Alexander said, “Oh, is that what that is? I assumed it was another android of some kind.”