The Top 51 Episodes of Red Dwarf

top51eps

Alright, pop-pickers. To celebrate this very special occasion, G&T presents a definitive (well, definitive to us) countdown…

Depending on which way you want to look at it, today is either Red Dwarf‘s twentieth birthday, or its twentieth anniversary. Colloquially, it sounds better to say “birthday” – but then, there’s nothing particularly special about twentieth birthdays, especially compared to eighteenths or twenty-firsts (TORDFC certainly seem to think so), whereas a twentieth anniversary is considered A Big Deal. So… call it what you will, basically, but we at G&T thought we’d do something a bit bloody special to celebrate.

So we’ve decided to have it out, once and for all. Cards on the table, bloody-minded opinionating. What you are about to read is, for the first time, the absolute definitive list of all fifty-two episodes of Red Dwarf, ranked by how good this website collectively thinks they are. To our knowledge, it’s the first episode poll that’s been done in a long time – and while it’s not a widespread, expansive fan poll like some of the ones in the past (hey, never say never), we’d like to think that the years of Dwarf-related writing from this site’s team have given us, at least, a fairly authoritative voice with which to talk about these things. Not that we’re telling you we’re right, of course. You will disagree with us. You will debate our choices bitterly. And that’s exactly what we want, because lively debate – from a complete spectrum of opinions – is what this site has always been about. But nevertheless – this is What We Think.

In the interests of transparency, this is how we voted – six out of the eight team members (Tanya declined to vote, having not seen the entirety of VII and VIII and considering that this would produce an unfair skew, while Austin is unfortunately disconnected from the ‘net at the moment, and a bloody great big ocean is in the way stopping us from hammering on his front door and shouting at him) each compiled a list of every episode, ranked in order of personal preference. These votes were then compiled in a big lovely spreadsheet by Seb (who likes playing with big lovely spreadsheets), and points were awarded based on the rankings. The points were allocated so that episodes placed in the top ten (and, to a further extent, in the top five and then the top three) were given a slightly higher advantage, much like, say, motor racing points systems give proportionally higher reward to race wins and podium finishes. From the top ten down, the rankings were each a point apart, running down to no points for 52nd place. Amazingly, this produced a list that, while there was the odd bit of consternation (usually about an episode being a bit low), we were all fairly happy with. Certainly, while our top three episodes weren’t all in everyone’s own personal top fives (which, incidentally, you can see listed at the very end of the article), we feel that they are representative of an averaged, overall opinion. After this, between us we collaborated to write the individual pieces on each episode that you’ll read below. Truly a team effort. Team. Meat pie. A-Team. And so on.

Right, then. Enough of all this. Shall we get started?

52. Pete (Part Two)

Pete Part 2Anything that can be said about this episode has already been a million times over, so we’ll restrict ourselves to stating that it’s about as far removed from everything that Red Dwarf should be – on every level – as it’s possible to get.

51. Back in the Red (Part Three)

Oh, and it was all going so well. A completely unnecessary third part that contains, in the shape of the Blue Midget dance, the most self-indulgently shite moment in Dwarf history.

50. Beyond a Joke

It’s not easy slagging off Robert Llewellyn, given that he’s such a nice bloke – but come on. This exploration of Kryten’s background could have been great, if only it actually had a single moment, anywhere, that could be remotely described as funny. More aptly described, by people crueller than us, as “Barely a Joke”.

49. Pete (Part One)

If this had been a one-part episode called Captain’s Office, it might have been salvageable, as it at least contains some actual Jokes. But the basketball sequence can fuck right off, and the rest of the main cast flounder in the sequences without Rimmer and Lister.

48. Krytie TV

Even when series VIII was at its unfunniest, it wasn’t usually downright offensive. Sadly, Krytie TV, with its sexism and complete ignorance of any established facets of the main characters, managed to plumb such depths.

47. Duct Soup

This is an ep that those who hate it really hate, whereas some of us find it more tolerable than much of VII/VIII. There’s no denying that it suffers from being the first Rimmer-less episode, though, and Kochanski simply doesn’t step up to the plate.

46. Back in the Red (Part Two)

As with part one, there are at least jokes here. And they almost cover up the glaringly ridiculous holes in the plotting. Almost. But they don’t excuse the dreadful, dreadful ending.

45. Only The Good…

Given that it does have some good moments, you suspect this ep might have ranked higher were it not for the fact that, as Probably The Last Ever Episode, it really needs to be a lot more than a half-arsed mirror-universe story. And the Talia stuff is excruciating.

44. Epideme

When you take the lovely Leviathan set, an excellent performance from Gary Martin and a pretty damn decent storyline it becomes pretty plain that this episode’s chronic unfunniness was its ultimate downfall. Shame.

43. Ouroboros

The plotting is never quite as clever as it thinks it is, but it has its highlights (“it’s an obscene phone call” is perhaps the best gag in VII) and little of the sense of grim foreboding that Kochanski’s appearance would later bring.

42. Nanarchy

A further case of the Series VII Unfunnies aside, it could be argued that Nanarchy is relatively successful story-wise, not least because the ending provided so much hope and optimism with the welcome return of the mothership and a fairly decent Holly return. Far more successful as a series of memorable events rather than anything with any lasting substance.

41. Back in the Red (Part One)

It’s the start of a new series, Red Dwarf is back and optimism is
high. However, despite series VIII being high in many Dwarfers’ estimations, round these parts it doesn’t get cut much slack. BITR1 might be quite high up against other VII and VIII episodes, but in the wider picture it was nothing more than a crushing disappointment which would depressingly be one of the relative high points of what was to follow.

40. Stoke me a Clipper

BlueThe exit of the show’s most beloved character was never going to be a series high point, but the episode deserves credit for grasping the chance to give us a Chris Barrie packed episode… no matter how clumsy and disrespectful the ‘A COMPUTER KNIGHT DID IT’ scene was.

39. Blue

By any usual standards, of course, still lacklustre – but the Rimmer Experience is probably the best sustained period of comedy that the final two series offer, and oversaturated as it is nowadays, the Munchkin Song is utterly hilarious the first time you see it.

38. Tikka to Ride

As we discussed in our lengthy commentary, there’s so much potential in Tikka – by no means the funniest episode, it’s quite superbly made, and heralded a possible new “comic drama” direction the series might have moved into. That said promise was never followed up on is hardly this ep’s fault – although it loses major points for logic that is actually contradicted within the same episode. Surely a record.

37. Waiting for God

So, then, the only series I-VI episode with the dubious distinction of falling below an episode from the last two series. Rimmer’s “Quagaars” material is absolutely brilliant, but the main plot, by the standards of the early series, is desperately weak. Of all of series one, this is the one that feels the most hampered by practical limitations – the Cat Priest scene, in particular, is quite shoddily executed.

36. Cassandra

Meanwhile, the only episode from VII/VIII to actually break out of the bottom 16, Cassandra wins plaudits for actually feeling somewhat like Dwarf should do, and actually having genuinely funny jokes. It’s still not brilliant, but it at least reaches “acceptable”.

35. Parallel Universe

On Bodysnatcher, Doug admitted to being quite embarrassed by this ep. Has this coloured our opinion? It’s hard to tell, but he does have a point. There are good gags and great performances, but there is something a bit simplistic and unsubtle about the portrayal of the female universe.

34. Emohawk : Polymorph II

This triple-sequel to Polymorph, Dimension Jump and Back To Reality proves that the whole isn’t always greater than the sum of its parts. The Kinitowawi stuff is great, and it was genuinely good to see Ace and Duane again, but the final third of the episode is rather unspectacular.

33. Confidence & Paranoia

It could be the fact that it’s so strange and dark that means this ep isn’t quite so popular – or perhaps the slightly lacklustre plot. Ferguson and Cornes are both brilliant, although the latter is given precious little screen time, and indeed the ep is an early example of the “Less Rimmer = Less Good” rule.

32. The End

The EndAs a first episode, it’s great. But first episodes are never the best, and by the standards of what would follow, it does fall short in some ways, particularly by the flatness of the overall atmosphere. But you can’t take away from the manner in which it sets up the premise, and clearly defines its two lead characters, beautifully.

30= Rimmerworld

As a whole, perhaps the least memorable ep of series VI, despite a pretty decent concept, the main problem being that it never really feels distinctive. At times you could almost be watching both Terrorform (a terrifying world created by Rimmer) and Meltdown (the prison cell set is almost identical) – but what really saves it is one of the greatest single gags in the history of the show: “Or we could use the teleporter”.

30= Camille

Given that the opening act features two of Dwarf‘s most memorable moments – Kryten learning to lie, and the Cat seeing the pleasure GELF as “himself” – and that, indeed, the GELF itself is one of Rob and Doug’s most brilliantly original sci-fi concepts, it’s a shame that Camille tails off somewhat in its second half. We hope you all watched it yesterday, though.

29. DNA

An all too rare look at the Man Behind The Rubber Mask gives us a unique episode in DNA. Despite not being scorchingly popular, there’s no shortage of killer gags here (the Double Polariod scene containing a good number of infamous examples) and the tighter focus on Kryten is indeed most welcome. Perhaps a little too light weight at times (lol, lager kills curry!) but a great episode none-the-less.

28. Balance of Power

While it was shunted back from episode two in favour of Future Echoes, it’s clear that Balance of Power was the next step after The End in terms of clearly setting out the relationship between Rimmer and Lister – and, indeed, provides a counterpoint to their pre-accident dynamic – through some excellent character comedy.

27. Better than Life

Perhaps the quintessential example of an episode that, if the execution had been as good as the concept and script, would have been an absolute classic. But the myriad production problems are all-too-painfully obvious, and it was left to the book to handle the idea in much more spectacular fashion.

26. Terrorform

A nicely written episode that again looks into the vast array of Rimmer’s psychological problems. A classic opening scene involving an eyeball, a hand and the Copacabana that never fails to raise a smirk, plus a scene that manages to exude funniness with barely any spoken dialogue. Brilliant stuff.

25. Backwards

Actually (see 27) here’s another episode with a great (if not as original as some have claimed) concept poorly executed. Superb individual jokes and set-pieces (the bar fight, viewed in isolation, is a masterpiece), but it’s really difficult to watch the more aware you are of the inherent logic problems. Some would claim you should ignore such things and just concentrate on the comedy. But you know us.

24. Demons & Angels

The dark nature of the episode doesn’t appeal to everyone, and the way the characters are twisted to fit the story (Lister’s cruel childhood nature has never been hinted at before – this is the same person who would rather go into stasis than give up a cat for dissection) is difficult to reconcile. But as with almost all of series V, the humour beats are still at their sharpest.

23. The Last Day

Given the chance to take centre-stage for the first time since becoming a full-time crew member, Robert’s version of Kryten doesn’t disappoint – and, in fact, feels like he’s been part of the team much longer than six episodes. There’s some excellent, almost series II-ish character material in the Officers Club scene, and Gordon Kennedy’s appearance as the deranged Hudzen is an absolute riot.

22. Psirens

This episode served to both re-establish the premise of the series, and take it off in a whole new direction. The opening recap is a great excuse for some character stuff, and the cockpit scenes showed a lot of promise for the new dynamic of the show. Add to that the classic Dwarfy concept of two Listers trying to prove that they’re Lister, and you’ve got a great episode.

21. Kryten

The Series 2 opener is popularly remembered mostly for two classic moments – the dogs milk routine, and the sublime “I was only away two minutes”. But beneath the surface of the fine gags, there’s also a new energy to the show in its second series, proving that the show has grown to be brighter and broader, both in terms of look and feel. Although it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Robert Llewellyn playing Kryten full time, David Ross pulls off a damn fine performance here, which occasionally makes one wonder what could have been…

20. Polymorph

PolymorphSomething of a fan-favourite, Polymorph is an ep that doesn’t seem to have aged particularly well – perhaps the “boxer shorts” scene is over-repeated (funny, yes, the first time. But the hundredth?), the dialogue from the “planning” scene over-quoted. But what could be a strong character exploration instead settles for fairly easy jokes, and a ridiculously “oh, is that it?” conclusion to the main threat. It’s still very funny, of course, but it’s not the sheer classic that it’s often made out to be.

18= Timeslides

OK, so the internal logic isn’t spot on here (you can’t move outside the edge of the photograph, but if there’s a picture of the outside of a building, you can appear out of nowhere in the dining room?), but the timeslides concept is a fantastic ploy for Rob and Doug to mess about with putting familiar characters in new settings. There’s the excellent stuff at Frank’s wedding, the unforgettable Hitler stuff and of course the oft-quoted scene with Emile Charles in the pub. There’s also a fantastically understated performance from Robert Addy as Gilbert, the rare double-act pairing of Lister and Cat at the very beginning, and of course Rimmer’s brilliant “who is the rich man” speech. Shame about Ruby Wax, though.

18= Bodyswap

Another series III episode about which it’s best to ignore the logic problems (just how do the characters’ voices change?) in order to just enjoy it. Bodyswap almost feels like a natural partner to the lost Bodysnatcher, as it shows us a deranged Rimmer unable to cope with his hologram status any longer, and the dubbing of the voices is very well done – though we can’t help but half wish they’d kept Chris and Craig’s impersonations, as seen in the rushes, instead.

17. Justice

Another fantastic Grant/Naylor concept that, for once, isn’t really harmed by much in the way of faulty logic (you could argue that the mechanics of the Justice Field are pretty hard to fathom, but hey, remind me how many Stasis Booths you’ve seen lately?) The courtroom scenes are an absolute joy, as is Nicholas Ball’s turn as a gleefully malevolent simulant. Plus, of course, Justice World itself is one of the Model Unit’s finest pieces of work.

15= Dimension Jump

The show that launched a thousand t-shirts. Ace Rimmer, in this episode at least, is an absolutely perfect character. Not only do we get to see another side of Chris Barrie, but also another side to Rimmer. This really is Rob and Doug at their best; taking aspects of a character we think we know, and building something completely different around it, whilst at the same time adding to and teaching us more about Old Iron Balls. And the way each of the other characters reacts to his presence tells us something about them too. Also: condom fishing. Brilliant episode.

15= Meltdown

While you could never describe any episode of Red Dwarf as “ordinary”, this is certainly one of the more unusual ones. Not only are the crew taken off the ship, but are introduced to dozens of new characters. It’s one of the few times that the element of control is taken away from our heroes, and also a rare occasion where the audience are following two story strands at once. Always been seen as unpopular amongst fans, and we can’t really see why; Tony Hawks’s performance alone is worth the entrance fee. And for all his faults as an actor, Craig Charles plays the wistful, thought-provoking anti-war message at the end perfectly.

14. Stasis Leak

One of the most downright funny episodes of the early series, Stasis Leak represents perhaps the closest Red Dwarf comes to out-and-out farce. In addition to a pleasing return to the (generally underexplored) setup of the pre-accident ship, it provides us with a glimpse of just how hilarious a batshit-insane Rimmer can be. The “Three Listers!” climax, both in its constructed build-up and its payoff, is exquisite.

13. The Inquisitor

Heh-heh, you *could* say if this episode was visited by The Inquisitor himself it would most definitely *not* be deleted in favour of another episode! Do you see…? Ahem, needless to say this is certainly a deserving member of an extremely high quality top 20 featuring as it does the magical Series V mix of a brilliant sci-fi concept written and acted to within an inch of its life, with special mention to the trial scene for a perfect example of just how skilfully executed this episode was.

12. Gunmen of the Apocalypse

Gunmen of the ApocalypseAnother episode that carries the poisoned chalice of “fan favourite”, and so which has suffered something of a backlash from those who find it gimmicky, despite the fact that it really is rather brilliant. After all, they don’t just give away Emmys with breakfast cereal, do they? Changing the overall setting so drastically – even for one episode – was one of the show’s biggest gambles – but it paid off handsomely.

11. Quarantine

One of three Series V episodes to make the top 20 and *just* missing out on the Top Ten is Quarantine. The hugely iconic Mr. Flibble and be-frocked Rimmer aside, this episode is stacked with heavy quotable stuff (the entire scene actually in quarantine, for example) coupled with some of the most wonderfully scary and most atospheric scenes make this episode well deserving of its 11th place.

10. Holoship

Craig Charles has often bemoaned the fact that Rimmer seems to get an inordinate amount of action compared to Lister, considering that there’s a certain ‘being dead’ disadvantage against him, and all that. And he has a point, but never has Rimmer achieved in this and other areas so much than he does in Holoship. Promotion to officer-hood, a solid body and masses of sex with Jane Horrocks all await him on the good holoship Enlightenment.

Series V is often praised for providing the best mix of science fiction and comedy, and while that is true as ever in Holoship, it also provides some of the very best character comedy the show has to offer. The concept of the Enlightenment and its crew is a solid (so to speak…) sci-fi concept, but the opportunities it provides for the exploration of Rimmer’s hopes, dreams and neuroses help create an episode that could rival Thanks for the Memory or Marooned in the character comedy stakes. Well, almost rival.

A potential problem with an episode that puts one character through so much and even threatens to take him from the show entirely in exchange for eternal bliss is that inevitably it has to end and the status quo needs to be restored without jarring too much. The fact that the episode manages to do that quickly, convincingly and with expert use of the central sci-fi concept *and* a touching sentiment is the final proof needed to see that this is one of the most successful episodes, on every level possible, that Dwarf ever gave us.

9. Me2

Popular consensus posits that series II was the point at which Rob and Doug really “nailed it” with Dwarf, getting fully to grips with their characters in tandem with the actors’ performances. While that series is indeed just about as good as it gets, however, to say that it was the first nailed-on success ignores the fact that Me2 – which, with its curious place in the production process, basically makes up “Series 1.5″ – is a startlingly good piece of character comedy and examination that plays to Chris Barrie’s considerable strengths as a performer (and puts him through an absolute physical wringer, basically demanding twice the work for the same fee and shooting time).

In six short episodes, bringing us to this point, Rimmer has gone from being the stuffy unlikeable prat to someone with genuine depth and pathos. Alright, so we still don’t exactly like him, but he’s clearly more complex than presented in The End and Balance of Power. In those early appearances, he appears to have a high opinion of himself (despite his lowly status), looking down on Lister, and for that we hate him. Once Me2 offers us a glimpse into his bottomless self-loathing, however, he instantly becomes more human. Admittedly this is achieved in part by – a little unsubtly – demonising the second, “pre-accident” Rimmer – who is far more of a snidey git – but even he gets a conversation with Lister that betrays his morose unhappiness, suggesting that it’s not just the influence of Lister that has changed “our” version. But it’s clear that already, the show’s “second” character has become by far its most interesting.

Of course, Me2 doesn’t just put Rimmer forward as someone emotionally ill-equipped to cope with facing up to his every foible. After all, the central conceit is drawn from Bodysnatcher – which had Lister as the one failing to live peacefully with a hologram duplicate – and you sense that the episode is asking a pretty universal question: could any of us, really, happily cohabitate with ourselves? Only the purest narcissist, surely, could honestly answer “yes”. So maybe Rimmer’s not as pathetic as we thought.

8. Queeg

Having a strict ‘no aliens’ rule for red Dwarf must’ve been a real bitch, and this is evidenced by the fact that only the first two series truly stick by it before Rob and Doug (rightly) decided to go ahead and write whatever monster they want but with a ‘created by humans’ clause. Before then, though, they were forced to concentrate their creativity into other areas. Creations like Queeg are a testament to the success of that approach as it forced our intrepid pair to create something more unexpected.

Having started life as merely a voice over, Norman Lovett’s Holly finally comes of age in this episode with a story that elevates the character above his normal duty as plot moving exposition computer (admittedly a brilliant and funny one) into the centre of attention. Ironically for Norman Lovett, the role of his character ends up being shared by another actor in the process – the quite magnificently malevolent Charles Augins – but that doesn’t stop him rising to the challenge and doing so superbly.

It’s an episode designed to show the characters and the audience just how wonderful Holly can be. We see a devious, complex side to him that we only saw a glimpse of back in Me2, with his NorWeb jape, but this time extended to a whole episode and crafted (supposedly accidentally) into one of the most joyous episode climaxes the show has to offer.

The only disappointment that comes from this episode is that it shows by contrast how wasted the character would become and how this episode would end up being practically peerless. The further exploration of the character with any sort of depth was left to the books in the end, as the change in lead actors would leave the character unfairly shelved, with only White Hole offering a promise of more.

7. White Hole

The fact that White Hole is the first TV story to contain material taken from the novels, rather than vice versa, should give you some idea of the calibre of story on show. Indeed, it’s only a shame that they didn’t go the whole hog and make it a two-parter, with the second half featuring Lister’s tribulations on Garbage World. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Red Dwarf played about with “timey wimey stuff” on various occasions over the years – but in White Hole, we have a story about how perceptions of time can be relative, and be affected by external circumstances. The concept of a “reverse” version of a black hole is a superb piece of sci-fi thinking, and consistent with the idea that in an infinite universe, everything must have its counterpoint. And, as is customary, the theoretical physics is mind for some truly unique humour – in this instance, the “So, what is it?” scene, perhaps the cleverest bit of narrative trickery since Future Echoes.

Clever sci-fi aside, though, White Hole is a well-loved episode – popular enough that Cappsy named his website after it – and its real star is Hattie Hayridge. Holly is given the chance to take centre-stage for the first time since Queeg, and for the only time in Hattie’s tenure – and given how sorely underused she is over the course of her three series, it’s a delight to see how strongly she can carry the ep here. Rob and Doug effectively tackle one of the burning questions of the series – just how can the crew get by when their computer is getting stupider and stupider, without trying to do something about it? And she’s not the only non-human character who gets to shine, either – David Ross makes a welcome reappearance, this time as the fantastically inane and irritating Talkie Toaster Mark II.

Not that the main cast don’t get their moments – Rimmer’s attempt to succinctly explain the white hole situation to Holly is superb (if unfortunately truncated from the fantastic section of the book), and when Lister finally steps forward to play “planet pool”, it’s another chance to delve into his pre-Dwarf background.

If there’s a criticism, it’s that the “it didn’t really happen” ending feels like a completely unnecessary cop out, there for the sake of only one gag (admittedly a funny one), and contradicted as early as series V’s Demons and Angels. Nevertheless, in a series that arguably represented Dwarf at its most consistently excellent (some even preferring IV to III and V), White Hole is arguably the standout – and that’s no mean feat.

6. Legion

Apparently, the first ten minutes of Legion are Rob Grant’s favourite bits of Red Dwarf ever. And it’s not hard to see why. It represents the greatest success of Series VI’s fast-paced gag-a-minute formula (and we use that word carefully), with the cockpit scene jam-packed with classic gags. One classic gag in particular is remembered above all others, apparently from here to
Skaro. No matter how many times you see it out of context on clip shows, or with bad animation in mobisodes, or misquoted on Robert Llewellyn’s website, the light bulb gag is absolutely corking.

Then when we get on to Legion’s space station (with looks stunning, both inside and out) we’re treated to many more memorable moments, starting with two of the most controversial moments in Dwarf history. Whilst one of them – the decision to give Rimmer a hard-light body – is now accepted as part of the folklore, there is STILL, fifteen years later, fervent debate about Lister’s appendix…

The episode just doesn’t let up. The superb exchange regarding Legion’s light switch is followed by the awesome slapstick food fight, and after a brief pause for some plot-advancing ponderings in Lister’s quarters, we’re back in the thick of it with the escape. More great slapstick, along with top-notch comedy sound effects, are one thing, but the reveal of the face drawn on the sculpture is a brilliant gag.

The episode ends on an curious philosophical note, with the power of positive thinking and collective willpower being proved utterly futile when the star drive rips a massive hole in Starbug’s hull (which is presumably fixed off-screen in time for next week’s episode). But the episode isn’t just a collection of classic moments and set-pieces, it’s a relentless laugh-a-minute comedy romp, which proves after all that the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts.

5. Marooned

MaroonedAh, Marooned. Lovely, lovely Marooned. The show had just spectacularly relaunched with a new look, new characters, new theme music, the works, and the boys deliver a timeless two-hander, set almost entirely in one room with only fleeting appearances from anyone other than the two main characters. We’ve said it before (in fact, everyone says it) and we’ll say it again: Marooned could make an excellent stage play.

Time and time again in Dwarf, the greatness of its best episodes are down to the character stuff, and Marooned is the ultimate example of this. Not only do a lot of the laughs come from knowledge of the characters, we also learn so much about them. Rimmer being Alexander The Great’s chief eunuch, Lister losing his virginity on a golf course aged 12, Rimmer’s trunk and toy soldiers… all basic tenets of Red Dwarf, and all originating from this episode.

There’s the simpler stuff as well – Lister eating dog food, Ascension Sunday, Cliff Richard being shot – this episode has everything. Its main draw, however, is the growth in the relationship between Lister and Rimmer. They’ve moved on so much from the sarcastic squabbling of series I, and there’s a real tenderness and affection at play here. The story is all about honour and sacrifice, and surprisingly it’s Rimmer who comes out on top in both counts. When he thinks Lister has burnt his guitar, we get a glimpse of how his mind works as he responds to this apparent selfishness by volunteering his toy soldiers “for the sake of friendship”. He rewards honour with honour, and their relationship changes forever as a result.

Are there any faults with this episode? The only one we could think of was Robert’s delivery of “the Blue Midget is loaded”. A beautiful piece of television, which makes us very proud to call ourselves Dwarf fans.

4. Future Echoes

Future EchoesWhen looking at Future Echoes, the context in which the episode was first shown to us is very important. After an admirable series opener, it all rests on the second episode to properly set out the show’s stall. Second episodes are vital (even more so in British television, as the length of US series allow them a good 5 or 6 episodes to perform the same task) for the show as a whole, and they often bring out some of the better episodes, as writers bristling with ideas and ambition are finally let loose on their newly established characters and settings. It’s important for the audience too, as after a Pilot which is usually atypical, they need to know exactly what show they’re going to be watching from this point on.

Future Echoes is, without a shadow of a snifter of a smidgen of doubt, the perfect example of a second episode. The sheer impertinence of devoting an entire half hour to breaking promises made to the BBC at the commissioning stage about this space comedy being free of sci-fi is admirable, but I wager it could’ve been a fatal move if the episode wasn’t so good in perfectly encapsulating just why Grant & Naylor’s vision for this show was so immutable. Comedy has no reason to shy away from sci-fi, and sci-fi certainly doesn’t need to exist on some binary po-faced/parody scale and Future Echoes is the perfect exponent of that idea.

It’s amazing how strong the characters are so early on, and this is most likely do to the episode being late on in the writing and shooting. This was clearly an excellent idea, as Future Echoes shows much more confidence in its footing than the actual second episode recorded (Balance of Power) could even hope to offer. Sparkling dialogue, excellent gags and top performances from everyone concerned are almost a given when talking about certain periods of the show, but series 1 isn’t always considered that way, which makes this episode stick out even more.

It would be remiss of us to finish any analysis of Future Echoes without mentioning Ed Bye. His work is especially noteworthy in this episode. In 1988, the sort of split screening he was orchestrating was pioneering enough technologically, but coupled with the superb directing of the actors in these difficult situations Ed’s work was clearly vital in giving the writing of Rob & Doug all the possible justice it could, resulting in one of the show’s most famous and celebrated set pieces of all (“What things?!”).

Viewed in isolation it contains absolutely everything that a classic Dwarf episode requires and then some; but viewed in context of being the second episode of the entire show, it’s quite a remarkable statement in what Red Dwarf is going to be all about and just how high they’ll be setting the bar.

3. Thanks for the Memory

Thanks for the MemorySurprised? Well, if you are, then you’re exactly what’s wrong with Dwarf fandom, my friend. Because Thanks for the Memory is a work of sheer unadulterated genius, and it’s about time a few more people started to realise that.

Ed Bye confided in It’s Cold Outside that upon first reading the script, TFTM was the immediate standout of series two. We’re not quite sure what happened between his reading that script and viewing the final product to make him think it turned out otherwise, however – because with the possible exception of Queeg (and leaving the slightly shoddy CSO of the Hologram Suite scene aside), it’s perhaps the one episode of the six that gets the execution of an excellent concept bang on.

Key to this, of course, is Chris Barrie’s performance. We say this quite a lot about Dwarf, it’s true, but that’s with good reason – writing aside, and no disrespect intended to the rest of the cast, Barrie was quite simply the show’s strongest asset. When on their best form, everyone else is of course brilliant – but in episodes like this, Chris raises his game to an entirely different level. In the post-party scene he gives an absolute tour de force, and the nuances in his acting, as Rimmer drunkenly hurtles around from despair to self-righteous anger, are many and varied. It’s telling that the scene runs for so long, actually – Rob and Doug clearly had the confidence, at this stage in the process, to let Chris and Craig loose on a two-hander that goes on for a a whole five minutes and fifty seconds of precious running time.

The story itself is a curious one – indeed, one of the reasons why it’s so underrated by many fans is that it’s an ep where not much is considered to happen. Admittedly, the “broken legs” plot is something of a Macguffin (not that we don’t get some great comedy out of it), quickly forgotten in favour of the far more interesting idea of being able to drop wholesale chunks of your memory into somebody else’s mind, instantly altering their outlook and personality. As with all of the episodes in our top three, this raises some startling metaphysical questions – what are we, if not the sum total of our memories? Does Rimmer actually become a different person when he has the memory of Lise to add to his experience? Every single event that we remember is based on perception – why is Rimmer’s implanted memory any less “real” than anything else he might remember?

One of the strongest character pieces, not just in Dwarf, but in the canon of recent British comedy, Thanks for the Memory tells us so much about the changing relationship between two lead characters who, at this point, we’ve still only known for nine episodes. Lister genuinely feels for Rimmer’s loneliness, and the memory implant is an attempt (misguided as it is) to give him a truly thoughtful present – of the sort you’d give a friend, not the annoying twat that you hate sharing a room with. Alright, so they’re not bosom chums or anything, but compare the level of mutual respect to that shown in Balance of Power – Rob and Doug had clearly learned as early as Me2 that the show would not be able to sustain its two lead characters at each others’ throats (therein lies the route to nasty, sniping comedy) and altered the focus accordingly – but through organic growth rather than a sudden jolt.

While some of Dwarf‘s greatest moments came from elaborate or gimmicky set-pieces, never forget that one of the main reasons why it endures so well is in its writing, and its characterisation. Worth a million “shrinking boxer shorts” gags, Thanks for the Memory showcases these strengths at their very finest. If you’re the sort of person who tends not to pay too much attention to it because the plot doesn’t grab you, we implore you… give it another try.

2. Out of Time

Out of TimeYou can tell how much we at G&T love this episode by virtue of the fact that we built the entire third act of The Movie : Yeah, No, Yeah, No around a shameless extended parody (one in which it took John about thirty takes to deliver the line “Doug, there may be a what?” without either himself or Seb corpsing). And quite right, too – it’s an absolute masterpiece.

Rightly remembered for the nail-bitingly brilliant closing minutes (of which more later), it’s worth bearing in mind just how superbly the episode sets out its stall and tone from the start – the “reality bubbles” sequence creates a fantastically dark sense of foreboding, with Lister badly injured before being “revealed” as a droid. While it’s all later shown to be an hallucination, the message is clear – don’t take anything for granted, here. We’re changing the rules. And so it proves, with the appearance of a terrifying future crew – not some twisted perversion as in Demons & Angels, but a group of personalities for whom you can genuinely see the potential in our own crew – after all, their ruthless avarice is based on an entirely human (and flawed) reaction to suddenly getting everything you want.

It’s not just the creepiness and darkness that makes this episode so loved, though – there’s some genuinely terrific humour, with a particular highlight Kryten’s reaction to the discovery of the Lister hallucination. Indeed, Robert’s performance throughout is superb – all the cast are, but he in particular raises his game in the dramatic final act, all the more remarkable when you consider that lines were being rewritten onset by Rob and Doug, with Robert especially suffering from having to rely on cue-cards and notes.

As we’ve said, though, it’s that closing act that really makes this – there’s a genuine, palpable sense of tension. The goalposts have been shifted, and for that reason we really don’t know what’s going to happen. The deaths of the crew are shocking – even though we have an inkling that some time-travel-related solution might save them – and Rimmer’s attempt to save them by destroying the time drive utterly gripping, aided by some of Howard Goodall’s finest work of all. Some dislike the nature of the cliffhanger – the explosion followed by a simple “TO BE CONTINUED” – but it really does leave a feeling of “What the fuck is going to happen next?” And let’s be honest, here – whether left like that, or given the “Margarita ending” originally intended, many of us would be happy to consider it the last episode full stop. After all, if you’re going to leave things open ended, what would you prefer: this, or Only The Good?

1. Back to Reality

Back to RealityAnd so, one of the immutable laws of the universe asserts itself – poll Red Dwarf fans on their favourite episode, and Back To Reality will win. The placing of the episode in our top spot will undoubtedly invite debate, just as it always does – but it wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t so well-loved, no matter what the backlashers might say.

As with Out Of Time, the key to the episode is in giving us a series finale – and you have to bear in mind the lack of certainty, each year, over the existence of a subsequent series – that raises the stakes and leaves you genuinely wondering where the series will go from here. It’s easy, after all, to view it in retrospect as a self-contained story with a get-out clause – but it’s more than that. Alright, the cast can hardly have been expected to believe that the “new crew” were going to replace them, and the clues to the nature of the predicament are there if you look for them (“blatant, innit?”) – but even so, the first-time viewer can be forgiven for wondering just exactly what the bejesusing fuck is going on as the crew sit around contemplating their “new” identities.

At its best, Red Dwarf draws both its dramatic thrust and much of its humour from the characters themselves. And nowhere is this more potent than in Back to Reality. Why is it so funny when “Duane”‘s teeth are revealed for the first time? Buck teeth aren’t that amusing – but on the Cat, a character so inherently vain, it’s about the worst thing that could happen. We know, meanwhile, that Rimmer is so fundamentally convinced that his life’s worth of failures are attributable to others; and so his belief that he should be applauded for being forced to “play” the character for so long is entirely characteristic, and the subsequent knocking-off-his-perch even more satisfying. And from a dramatic point of view, we know how much of a nightmare scenario the “reality” is – in fact, we don’t actually need Kryten to explain it one-by-one at the end of the episode, so defined have the characters become.

There’s plenty more we could go on about here – one of the series’ finest supporting turns courtesy of Timothy Spall, the magnificently-choreographed (and admirably budget-defying) “chase” sequence, the superb one-off sets, and the high calibre of jokes both before and during the hallucination. Or, indeed, the underlying suggestion that all is still not as it seems. The parallels with Out of Time (and its reality bubbles) are again clear – once we’ve been presented with the suggestion that everything is unreal, how can we ever put it from our minds? Perhaps Holly’s use of the phrase “Welcome back to reality” is just as deceptive as the Leisure World announcer’s – perhaps the return to “reality” is just another, more elaborate hallucination (one that leads all the way up to the “despair” of series VIII, ho ho ho). The strangely low-key ending underlines this – there’s a brief (and somewhat forced) wisecrack from Kryten, but aside from that the crew are contemplative. Can they – or we – ever take reality for granted again?

So there you have it. By any criteria, Back to Reality is a masterful piece of television comedy. Its tenacious grip on the affections of fandom – whether they just love Duane Dibbley or indulge in pseudo-metaphysical bollocks such as the above – is clear. In our polling, it was the only episode to be placed in the top spot by more than one person, and while it wasn’t in everyone’s top five, none of us can be said to be unhappy with its status as our official favourite episode of all.

Our Top Fives

Cappsy

  1. Future Echoes
  2. Out of Time
  3. Marooned
  4. Thanks for the Memory
  5. Queeg

Danny

  1. Legion
  2. Quarantine
  3. White Hole
  4. Future Echoes
  5. Psirens

Ian

  1. Back to Reality
  2. Marooned
  3. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  4. Out of Time
  5. Queeg

John

  1. Back to Reality
  2. Me2
  3. Out of Time
  4. Meltdown
  5. Timeslides

Phil

  1. Holoship
  2. Thanks for the Memory
  3. Back to Reality
  4. Future Echoes
  5. Out of Time

Seb

  1. Thanks for the Memory
  2. Out of Time
  3. Stasis Leak
  4. Back to Reality
  5. Legion

Tags: ,

123 Responses to The Top 51 Episodes of Red Dwarf

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  1. > Gary Russell

    Ahem – Gary who?

    Also: This is: Interesting

  2. OH, CAPPSY.

    Gary Russell is a Who bod, right?

    As you can probably imagine, with an article of this length, with so many people contributing bits, proofreading wasn’t high on the agenda ;-)

  3. > Ahem – Gary who?

    Correction: Doctor Who

  4. Great work, It’ll take me 51 Episodes to digest!

    I would have liked Marooned up the list a bit, but that’s just one of my all times. Can’t grumble about anything else!

  5. Well, that was pretty awesome.

    Switch Out of Time for Polymorph and that would be my top 5. Still don’t get the love for Meltdown and surprised at White Hole making the top 10 (Holly is centre-stage for about one scene!), but no real complaints.

    And #52 is sooo right.

  6. Where in the bottom 15 or so would you place Can’t Smeg, Won’t Smeg?

  7. Oops, double post.

    I’ll fill this void with my top 5:

    1. Psirens
    2. Marooned
    3. White Hole
    4. The Inquisitor
    5. Queeg

    Tomorrow it’ll be different I’m sure

  8. I’m glad that nobody has spotted so far that, thanks to the joy of Word’s AutoCorrect function, I originally spoke of “Nicholas Ball?s turn as a gleefully malevolent stimulant”.

    And Pete : yes, alright, it’s not like Hattie gets the whole episode to herself. But she gets far more screen time than in any other ep, most of her material is superbly funny, and she actually gets scenes where the main crew aren’t present. So, there’s that.

  9. Interesting that everyone’s top 3 contained at least one episode that didn’t make anyone else’s top 5. (I’m disregarding Cappsy here…as everyone should!) It’s nice that everyone seems to have one “underdog” episode they hold dear.

  10. Robert AddIE, also. :-p

  11. Very nicely done indeed. You’re all wrong, of course. WRONG, I TELL YOU!!! Good to see Thanks For The Memory getting love though. It is, after all, one of the best episodes of television ever made. My top 5 would go something like -

    1. Memory
    2. Gunmen
    3. Marooned
    4. DJ
    5. Kryten/Queeg

    Strangely no V episodes.

    A few of your placings I take issue with -

    48. Krytie TV – the second best episode of VIII, should be higher.

    42. Nanarchy – terrible terrible episode, should be right down.

    32. The End – I’d place that 5-10 places higher.

    27. BTL – well higher.

    22. Psirens – hmmm, would I watch this exercise in mediocrity above Backwards, BTL and Terrorform? Er no.

    12. Gunmen – easily top 3 for me. Perfect episode.

    6. Legion – you’ve all lost the plot here! Aside from the opening gags it’s wank. The food scene makes me want to throw food at the screen.

    1. BTR – despite being excellent it wouldn’t make my top 5.

    It’s so hard really to rate the episodes. Some of them have 5 minutes of greatness and 25 of total tosh (e.g. Blue, Legion(IMO), Rimmerworld). Dwarf has a lot of PERFECT episodes too (e.g. Queeg, Gunmen, BTR, Justice, TFTM, Holoship).

  12. Hmm. Interesting. I’m quite surprised at the top ones, and as you know I’m not a VI fan, so I’d drop every VI ep by about 10 or so. But otherwise you’re pretty much spot on. Thanks for the Memory is indeed a superb episode, and well deserves to be up there, as do Me2, Marooned, Back to Reality…

    Surprised they’re so high: Queeg, Legion, Stasis Leak
    Surprised they’re so low: Waiting for God, Balance of Power, The Last Day

    Really nice though, especially that where something seems in the wrong place, it usually has a reason.

  13. Ouroboros is nine places too high…

  14. Since the VIII DVD I rate Beyond A Joke higher for some reason. I prefer it to the seperate BITR episodes, Pete and Only The Good… It’s also better than Epideme/Nanarchy and possibly Ouroboros. What am I talking about, it’s definitely better than Ouroboros! Fuck you if you think otherwise (harsh, I know…still, fuck you all the same!)

  15. Interesting read, I agree with everything going on in the bottom half of the list and with… not everything in the top half. :)

  16. G&T Admin

    Where in the bottom 15 or so would you place Can?t Smeg, Won?t Smeg?

    I’d put it 37th, personally. Not as good as any episode of the first six series – but miles ahead of any in the last two. If only for the excellent Harvester’s joke.

    Ouroboros is nine places too high?

    I put it 52nd!

    In fact, I put every VIII episode above VII, apart from Tikka and Blue (and Blue is only there because of the last sequence. Which means that – yes, I put Pete Part 2 above Stoke me a Clipper…)

  17. Not really related to the article itself, by the way, but since it was mentioned :

    >Shame about Ruby Wax, though.

    I wonder… you know the line “That’s the kind of cash that would open anybody’s legs”? I wonder if that was in the script when it was meant to be Graham Chapman? Because I can imagine it being approx. 1,000,000,000,000 times funnier coming from him…

  18. G&T Admin

    Ruby Wax is one of my favourite bits of Timeslides. So much so that I really don’t think Chapman – as utterly amazing as he was – could have make me laugh any harder.

    Which is weird, because I’m not generally a huge fan of hers. But I think she’s hilarious in that sequence.

  19. G&T Admin

    I’m with John on this one. Ruby Wax in Dwarf = Graham Norton in Father Ted.

  20. > Which means that – yes, I put Pete Part 2 above Stoke me a Clipper

    I pity you. Well, I don’t literally, but if I actually had an ounce of genuine pity in me then I would pity you.

  21. > Surprised? Well, if you are, then you?re exactly what?s wrong with Dwarf fandom, my friend. Because Thanks for the Memory is a work of sheer unadulterated genius, and it?s about time a few more people started to realise that.

    Seb, there.

    Always felt BTR was a tad over-rated. Although that perhaps could be put down to my pysche always rejecting the supposedly ‘best ever’ in such lists and the fact I’ve seen the episode a lot more than some others. On first glance over the list, it’s not to far away from my own.

    I think Cassandra is far more than just ‘acceptable’ and is a genuinely classic Dwarf episode, as opposed to just shining like a diamond in a sea of shite. Also ‘Terraform’ is for me hugely underated and visually one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen on TV.

  22. PS: love th article’s introduction.

  23. When Ruby does that snort at the end of every sentance, its shear delight. I have thought quite a few times how she would have played Kochanski rather than CP.

  24. >shear delight

    That’s a funny way of spelling “labored attempt to inject personality into a character she doesn’t understand.”

  25. > shear delight

    I wonder how many times that was used on the back page of The Sun when he played for Rovers.

  26. G&T Admin

    What, not Southampton?

  27. It?s certainly an interesting and well constructed poll and is not without a few surprises. As always there?s a few points I disagree with but that?s a personal thing and you cant argue with the way it?s been compiled.

    The biggest surprise for me is the diversity of the G&T 6?s top 5?s but that really illustrates the overall strength of Red Dwarf perhaps. Had it had very similar results it would certainly question the quality of the remaining episodes, as it is, it highlights the point that everyone has their own tastes and therefore favourites.

    For me, several episodes shuffle about in terms of favouritism but ?Legion?, ?Gunmen? and ?Meltdown? are always there or there abouts. I?ve always considered ?Krytie TV? one the best and loved ?Cassandra? so those would be higher up my list by some margin. All in all though, you cant argue with much of the comment and it?s very much each to their own when it comes to choice

    Due to unforeseen circumstances (and a very sore finger), I have now had a chance to read it all properly and it was a great read, Ta.

  28. People’s opinions are so different because Dwarf’s first 6 series are each very different animals. What other sitcom can boast such changes? Dwarf’s like the Radiohead of sitcoms (except they haven’t done VII & VIII yet, hope they never do…).

    Even the utter ridiculousness of the majority of VIII appeals to some ‘fans’ more than the rest of Dwarf.

  29. >except they haven?t done VII & VIII yet, hope they never do?

    Hmm, I reckon Amnesiac (similar in some ways to its predecessor, but without the crucial ingredient of jokes/tunes and really not worth revisiting nowadays) and Hail To The Thief (lauded initially as a return to form because of the change back to a more familiar style, but ultimately lacking in any real substance save one significant exception (2+2=5/Cassandra)) make for a pretty good comparison, actually!

  30. You’re all wrong. I just can’t be bothered to argue.

    Great article, mind, team.

  31. Ian’s Episode top 5 are the same as what I would have put.

  32. The top 10 episodes (as ranked collectively) would make for one fantastic night of television. Must watch them all back to back before boxing everything up for the move.

  33. > but ultimately lacking in any real substance save one significant exception (2+2=5/Cassandra))

    Surely you mean There There. I used to like 2+2=5 but now it grates. Sail To The Moon and Sit Down Stand Up also annoy me a lot. The rest of HTTT is fine though. Perhaps you’re right in saying it’s the VIII of their career. But then that means In Rainbows points to a pretty decent IX…

  34. Yes, I meant to make that last point as well but forgot ;-) Plus, we’ll all get to choose how much we pay for the DVD!

  35. My top five (subject to change almost immediately):

    1. …give me a minute…

    …err…

    ..no. Can’t do it.

    I will say that I’m one of those who quotes series IV as his favourite – it’s just perfect.

    What else? I was watching Future Echoes last night, and was mouthing along with every sentence.

    Also, for some strange reason, I still look upon series VI as ‘new’. I think it stems from V being on just before I started getting the Smegazine, and VI being ‘the new seres’ during the mag’s run.

    Right, that’s me done.

  36. Stop talking about Radiohead and let’s watch the greatest show ever made.

  37. Have you taped over Red Dwarf with America’s Strongest Man??!!!

  38. That list is complete shash.

    The top 5 are as follows:

    5. Universe Challenge
    4. Can’t Smeg Won’t Smeg
    3. Scrapheap Challenge Amphibians Vehicles episode
    2. Robot Wars series 2 final
    1. Blade 2

  39. Replace Blade 2 with Red Dwarf A-Z and the list is perfect!

  40. i’ve been watchin allot of early dwarf recently, waiting for god and me2 are so cool, it just goes to show that when the budget is low they make up for it in storyline and imagination, guess they have to.

    dr who was the same, thay got through so much bubble wrap back then!.

  41. They did, yes.

    Nothing to do with the series, of course. They just liked buying a lot of things through mail order. Jon Pertwee ran up enormous credit card bills.

  42. maybe it was on those crushed velvet coats he wore, they gotta be protected in transit!.

  43. My Top 5.

    1.Quarantine
    2.Marooned
    3.Better than life
    4.Me2
    5.White Hole

    hard to do a top 5 really,need a top 6(best from each series(excl-7&8!)).

  44. Whoever said series IV was perfect, you’re wrong I’m afraid. Camille and DNA aren’t two of my favourites. IMO if you look at Dwarf from the beginning Camille is the first real sign of weakness. Apart from a few choice gags, and the fact that the great corridor set gets its first proper outing, DNA also annoys me. Things pick up, of course. Justice, White Hole, DJ and Meltdown are easily four fantastic slices of Dwarf in its prime.

  45. Nice article.

    However, I must disagree with one thing in particular: Under no and I mean no circumstances should any Series VII and VIII episodes be placed higher than a series one episode.

    I admit, Waiting for God is a bit of a clunker, but c’mon – I would take any episode of Series One over the abominations that were VII and VIII. And personally, I love basically all of Series One – classic dwarf.

    Still, excellent stuff – It’s fantastic to see all the episodes laid out like this – no doubt, series for series (well I-VI anyway) Dwarf deserves its place in the Pantheon of Great comedies.

  46. Very interesting article.

    I can’t disagree much with the bottom 17 episodes (perhaps I would have put Ouroboros lower but that would be churlish) and most of the other positions I agree with.

    White Hole’s position is a surprise to me though as it wouldn’t be in my top 20 and I don’t think Series 3 fares as well as it should. Timeslides, Polymorph and The Last Day may well all be in my top 10 but the list does show the real quality of those first 6 series as others have said.

  47. Excellent 20th birthday article. Well done.

    Too harsh on some series VIII, over a few worse series VII for my tastes,

    Shame Parallel Universe is going out of fashion, good write up on it though.

    I’d have probably switched Balance of Power with Confidence and Paranoia because the despite character stuff the former I’ve found boring, and I was a big Craig Freguson fan back when that aired because of his Bing Hitler is dead album.

    Better than life has been superseded many times since, as you say, not least by the book version, but also scenes in Gun Men and Back to Reality. When it first aired it seemed wildly imaginative to me though, based on stuff I had seen up until that point.

  48. I meant to ask. Where would you guys personally rank “Bodysnatcher” amongst that list?

  49. G&T Admin

    That’s really tough, cos I don’t know Bodysnatcher even half as intimately as any episodes from VII or VIII. It’d definitely be in the top 30, though.

  50. G&T Admin

    I would actually class ‘Bodysnatcher’ as a 53rd episode though…

    > I meant to ask. Where would you guys personally rank ?Bodysnatcher? amongst that list?

    Ask us next year when we’ll probably do this again to see if our tastes change…

  51. I’d place it around 20th I think.

  52. Okay, what about Identity Within?

  53. G&T Admin

    Towards the top of the bottom 16.

  54. SCI-FI NOW magazine
    (which I had never heard off, and I only read in Tesco’s I didnt buy it)

    Has a four page retrospective of Red Dwarf I – IV, with an episode summary for each show, rated as five stars. I’d mostly agree with the ratings they gave the episodes, which sqaure up not too disimilar to how I- IV rank in the above G&T article, and they make similar comments about Backwards.

    ..except I take issue with them rating Waiting for god 4 stars and Kryten only 3,
    that’s just totally wrong. And The End being 5 stars they are perhaps too fond of the series imaginative set up, as opposed to this G&T poll being based on repeat veiwing experience.

    Nice of them to time this with the 20th anniversary, not seen any other sci-fi mags doing anything.

  55. Hmmm…

  56. Identity Within would definitely be at the bottom of my list.

    Just found it embarassingly feeble.

  57. > blatantly needed a Doug rewrite.

    But WITH a Doug rewrite, I feel wholeheartedly, it could have been the strongest (or damn close) of VII.

  58. Ah, right, now, I might be wrong here, but I think Jonsmad said…
    ..except I take issue with them rating Waiting for god 4 stars and Kryten only 3,
    that?s just totally wrong.

    I agree that Kryten is given far too low a rating, but I agree with Waiting for God getting four stars. It’s a cracking episode, as I’ve mentioned before.

  59. Since the VIII DVD I rate Beyond A Joke higher for some reason

    Hear hear! I love Beyond a Joke. Not sure why so many people hate it so much and it definitely beats a lot of season 8 stuff. That being said, I like the sci-fi adventure side of Red Dwarf as much as the comedy, so I think maybe people rating the episodes tend to view them from a more comedy stand-point.

    Then again, it has good comedy moments too. Kryten running around ambushing ladies from Jane Austin world. (ok it’s a VR game but you kow what I mean.) The tank. Heads exploding (slaptstick but funny). The Cat forgetting that Gelfs can’t speak ‘human’. All amusing moments. And of course the character of Able who manages to abe funny and rather disturbing at once.

    The only part of BaJ I wasn’t to keen on was the way the negativity drive was utilized. It’s good that it was used, but all those gubbins about redirecting it through the boosters and enveloping the simulant craft in negativity felt extremely hokey.

    I also disagree with the assessment of Krytie TV being insulting and sexist. I’d describe it as more saucy than sexist. The characters are arguably sexist, but thats not the same as saying the episode itself is sexist. Sure there are booby gags (like Kryten suggesting Kochanski use a pogo stick in the shower to avoid those nasty cracks etc) but again, that is a funny image.

    Sexism is the belief that one sex is superior to another. There was nothing to suggest that. The fact that a bunch of guys were perving over a shower scene… well.. that is how a lot of blokes of that type would react in such a situation. They might be wrong, even sexist themselves, but that doesn’t mean the episode itself was.

  60. I’ve always found Beyond A Joke better than the likes of Ouroborus or Nanarchy and it’s better than most of VIII as well because there’s a decent idea in there somewhere.

    Three things draw me into Red Dwarf; the characters, the comedy and the stories. And Red Dwarf tends to work best when those three gel together. The stories don’t have to have a particularly strong sci-fi premise for it to work but they need something more than “A Dinosaur is on the loose”. Kryten’s negadrive was relatively interesting as was the “brother” concept. The execution is a let down and the comedy is limp, but the episode gets a few plus points for effort.

    BTW, Call me crazy, but I actually like “Hello Wall, what do you think?”

    >I?d describe it as more saucy than sexist.

    This is not a preferable source of humour for a show that once gave us Future Echoes, Total Immersion Video Games and the Justice Zone.

  61. >I?d describe it as more saucy than sexist.

    This is not a preferable source of humour for a show that once gave us Future Echoes, Total Immersion Video Games and the Justice Zone.

    Not preferable, no, but my point stands that I wouldn’t class that episode as sexist. Saucy humor isn’t knew to Dwarf though. Remember the scene Kryten catches Lister watching the boxing? I quite like that there’s different kinds of humor in Dwarf, ironic situatuions, acerbic dialogue, sarcasm, slapstick and, yes sauciness.

    Probably missed one or two there.

  62. Stoke Me A Clipper and Blue are my favourite episodes… Helps that Series VII was my first but still, the Rimmer funeral has to be one of the more powerful scenes in the programme next to Back to Reality’s crash right? Right?

    I’d argue that Rimmer got everything he wanted in that brief moment of Lister promoting him because Lister, whether he knows it or not, now the highest ranking Space Corps personnel is actually voluntarily making himself subordinate. And Rimmer can’t even use it.

    In retrospect I think it’s better that Ace Rimmer didn’t pop up to save the day at the end of Series VIII because I prefer the idea of Rimmer telling these parallel Nazis types how they’re going about it all the wrong way. His yellow streak has to be the longest link in the Ace Rimmer chain.

    Actually, where do Prelude to Nanarchy, Red Christmas and the Children in Need special rank on here?

  63. G&T Admin

    Actually, where do Prelude to Nanarchy, Red Christmas and the Children in Need special rank on here?

    In a big burning bin.

    (Except Prelude to Nanarchy. That’s pretty good, even if the art is iffy.)

  64. >Actually, where do Prelude to Nanarchy, Red Christmas and the Children in Need special rank on here?

    Red Christmas is the rankest

  65. Ho!

  66. Ho! Ho! Ho!

  67. The best end to VIII would have been Ace Rimmer returning, the Dwarfers (Lister, Cat Kochanski, Kryten, VIII Rimmer) think they’re saved but Ace suddenly pulls a gun on them…

    Dwarfers: ‘WTF…?’ (Cat starts to run for it)

    Ace: ‘Stay where you are!’

    Cat: ‘Hey, I’m a cat, ain’t nobody tells me to “stay”!’

    (Ace raises an eyebrow then aims gun at Cat who scurries back, his hands raised)

    Lister: (not scared) ‘Rimmer? Is that…are you…our Rimmer?’ (VIII Rimmer and Kochanski shift uncomfortably in background, Ace smiles)

    Kryten: (to Lister) ‘Sir, as you know, there are an infinite number of parallel worlds, each having the potential to house its very own version of the man -and I use the word lightly- standing before us. The chances of this being the Ace Rimmer of our universe, ergo our Arnold Rimmer are approxamately-’

    Ace: ‘Of course it’s me, you Lego Star Wars reject! Who did you think it was, Glenn Miller back from his swinging sojourn to the Tannhauser Gate??’

    Lister: ‘Rimmer, man! We thought we’d never see you again.’

    Cat: ‘Some of us had even placed bets…’

    Kochanski: (steps forward) ‘Hi, er, we haven’t met, well not really. I’ve heard a lot abou-’ (Ace pulls the trigger, Kochanski’s head explodes in a gleaming red shower, the colour of the ship. In its place is a huge succulent foaming twat. Gurgling spluttered speech emits from its…lips. It’s lidded clit opens to reveal a single eye, seeking only madness)

    Twat: ‘Bwahahaha! I’ve just been a great big twat all along! A slobbering, fishy cunt!!’

    Kryten: ‘If you don’t mind me saying, ma’am, we’ve known that for some time. Gum?’

    Twat: ‘No, they’re called Skene’s glands.’

    VIII Rimmer: ‘So what does this mean for me? Do I die now, seeing as I was only resurrected in the first place to give me something to do now that Brittas has finished?’

    Ace: ‘Listen, you ugly goit…’

    VIII: ‘Shutup, you dead git!’

    Holly: ‘Well I think it’s unfair to keep fans hopes alive for a movie that’s never gonna happen.’

    Dwarfers: ‘SHUT UP!!’ (they all look to camera, thus breaking the fourth wall and ruining Red Dwarf forever – cut to credits (sung by the Twat))

  68. *Applauds*

  69. i think it’s safe to say that most r.d.episodes are better than pete!..

  70. Hi Guys. I’ve just signed up and I found your Top 51 very interesting. As someone who was there from Day 1 and has seen every episode at least 6 times (make that 20 for series 5 + 6), I may have a different perspective from some of you. Indeed, I have read comments on other sites from “newbies” who actually like some episodes from series 7 + 8.

    I’m not saying my opinion is more valid than anyone elses, just that having watched the characters and storylines develop in “real time”, I may see things differently. (Although, for all I know, you guys did too).

    Two things you got right were Back To Reality at No. 1 and series 7 + 8 at the bottom.

    All the Top 10 though, had to come from series 5 + 6. The characters were fully developed (and hadn’t yet gone over the top), the storylines were fantastic and the scripts very funny.

    I done you the courtesy of watching Thanks For The Memory again before writng this, and I am none the wiser. It has very few laughs, is not very clever and is long and drawn out, typical of series 1 – 3. I could sense the tumbleweed blowing across the screen. Rimmerworld, easily a Top 5 episode which probably has more good gags than any single episode at 30 and TFTM at 3? Inconcievable! I’d hate to see where it would have been if the ?Or we could use the teleporter? gag hadn’t “saved” it. Watch it again, your comparisons with Meltdown and Terrorform are very valid and I myself didn’t rate this episode until watching it again.

    With the exception of a couple of episodes from series 4, nothing comes near 5 + 6 for pure comedy. I think you guys are looking for stuff that is either irrelevent without funny scripts (relationships, the “dark sense of foreboding” you refer to in Out Of Time), and you’re seeing stuff the writers didn’t consciously put in.

    Still, I’m glad I found you and I look forward to some interesting discussions in future.

  71. I ranked Rimmerworld pretty high on my list…I’d have to dig it out to remember exactly where. It’s one of my pet episodes, actually, and I never did understand why so many people were underwhelmed by it.

    But I take issue with the idea that our taking into account “stuff the writers didn’t consciously put in” is a strike against us! “Stuff the writers didn’t consciously put in” is easily 85% (or higher) the enjoyment of literary criticism, and is certainly very important in the study of film as well. Why not extend the same courtesy to television? (At least the television complex enough to deserve it!)

    As a gesture toward bridging our opposing viewpoints, though, I do have to concede that a list of Funniest Red Dwarf Episodes would probably be ordered very differently. “Best,” to my mind, takes into account much more than just laughs-per-minute.

  72. I ranked Rimmerworld pretty high on my list?I?d have to dig it out to remember exactly where. It?s one of my pet episodes, actually, and I never did understand why so many people were underwhelmed by it.

    Perhaps it’s just a case of getting lost between GELF sex and the crew blowing up when being remembered.

  73. G&T Admin

    My problem with Rimmerworld is just that it comes across as a weak version of Terrorform – right down to the basic plot of Rimmer going missing, and the SF concept of the week giving us insight into his character. Except: I feel like I learn more about Rimmer in Terrorform, and I don’t in Rimmerworld. The production is also far more impressive in Terrorform than Rimmerworld as well, which feels a bit cash-strapped.

    Having said that, Rimmerworld has some fucking excellent jokes in, and I still love it. The worry balls stuff is some of my favourite stuff in VI.

  74. Coming Soon:

    The Top 53, 54 or 55 Episodes of Red Dwarf?

  75. G&T Admin

    Just 53 and 54, shurely?

    I have a feeling they wont be bothering my top 10, anyway…

  76. G&T Admin

    That was great fun to read through again, actually. Especially since I only managed to identify two episodes I wrote the summaries for, despite knowing I wrote plenty of others. We should’ve put our initials after each one, or something.

  77. Woah, lots of VII and VIII hate going on here.

    Now I can’t claim to have watched Dwarf since day one… but I did catch onto it as a 9-yr old in 1992 when ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’ finished its run on BBC2, and an advert for its replacement, a returning TV show featuring what I believed at the time to be a vampire (Cat), was aired directly afterwards. I wanted to watch the vampire show! I ended up watching, and loving, Holoship… was hooked from that point, started buying the Smegazines, watched the repeat run of IV, and started buying the videos as they were being released so I had seen every single episode (many times), and followed all the insider goss, way before VII first aired.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that I don’t have fond memories of VII and VIII just because it held novelty value, or because that is when I discovered the show, or that I had never seen better to be any wiser…

    I acknowledge a drop in overall quality for the seasons as a whole, I see with my own eyes the bastardized characterisation that flaws a lot of episodes in VII and VIII, and I appreciate that if you asked ANY fan to name the worst ever episode of Red Dwarf, there’s a high chance that their selection would be from VII or VIII…

    but, whereas some people blindly dismiss VII and VIII in their entirity because “it ain’t Dwarf proper”, I would rather watch Tikka to Ride or Cassandra than Balance of Power, Waiting for God, Meltdown, Confidence & Paranoia or The Last Day.

    Now I know that’s only my opinion, and everything is subjective, but people always tar the whole of VII and VIII with the same brush, and it’s unfair to not give the two series their due for the good stuff, as well as knocking them for the bad stuff.

    Krytie TV is another that, whilst a little too broad and slapstick for usual Dwarf standards, is full of laughs.

  78. I agree with the placement of pretty much everything in the list, and the reasons thereof.

  79. I would rather watch Tikka to Ride or Cassandra than Balance of Power, Waiting for God, Meltdown, Confidence & Paranoia or The Last Day.

    Balance of Power? I pretty much agree with the rest, but BoP is quite good!

  80. A very interesting list! It gave me something to read through last night and even prompted me to join. Thought it appropriate to make a first post here.

    Overall it’s a very good piece of work though of course I take exception to certain aspects of it. The last two series were always going to get a pasting (a little unfair for VII in my opinion) but it’s difficult to argue with how those eps stack up with the far superior Series I – VI. Personally I think ‘Stoke Me a Clipper’ and ‘Blue’ should be a little higher.

    I was delighted to see that my personal favourite, ‘Queeg’, make into the top ten. Nice one guys!

    My major objection is seeing ‘Legion’ at number 6. I was so surprised I fired up Series VI just to check out the episode as I haven’t seen it for a while. OK, the opening sequence is awesome but the rest is flatter than unleavened bread. Plus Legion’s crap costume looks exactly like that – a crap costume. So sorry, don’t see the love with this one.

    Anyho, looking forward to chatting with you and lets hope the upcoming 30min shows are not absolute turkeys.

    Regards.

  81. G&T Admin

    I’ve probably already replied to you at some point in another thread, Mickyluv, I’m a huge League fan myself so allow me on behalf of the G&T Team, to welcome you to G&T. Let us hope that your time passes as swiftly and as pleasantly as the hundred years war.

  82. :-)

    Nice one Danny and thanks for the welcome. I didn’t burn him.

  83. Welcome to G & T

    You’ll Never Leave

  84. You’re my wife now Dave…

  85. The question is – what happened to the US skutters?

  86. >The question is – what happened to the US skutters?

    They have a real do-it-yourself look don’t they? (Which is a bit of a misnomer nowadays as plenty would make pretty professional looking stuff in their shed.)

    Our skutters are certainly the sexier design. (Cue, strange mental imagery…)

  87. That was the first time I ever tried to watch the US pilot. I made it exactly four minutes in and I never want to try again.

  88. I made it as far as Hinton Battle’s complete destruction of the Cat character (which only took him ten seconds or so) before switching it off for ever.

    If I could erase the US pilot from the DVD I would.

  89. If you could find it on a DVD, I’d be impressed.

  90. You’ve failed me US pilot! You DON’T EXIST!

  91. I sure as hell am not going to give it an A+ distinction.

  92. >You?ll Never Leave

    I used to live in Hadfield… I escaped! :oD

  93. G&T Admin

    And what was the name of the street you lived on? I hope what Ian told me was true…

  94. The US pilot,comma, is on one of the collectors DVDs, comma, Series V, comma, or VI, comma, I think, colon.

  95. Only a few seconds of it is.

  96. This. If you’ve managed to see more than 2 minutes of it, it’s not from the DVD. And Dwarfin’ USA (Series V disc) is arguably one of the best featurettes on any of the DVDs so I’d rather you didn’t erase it.

  97. Got mixed up with something else. My bad chaps.

    And yes, the Dwarfing USA featurette is great.

    I’ll get me coat.

  98. G&T Admin

    Got mixed up with something else. My bad chaps.

    How can you confuse a DVD feature with some terrible trousers?

  99. Bad-a-boom. CHING!

    And what’s so bad about chaps? An essential part of any self-respecting man’s Village People costume.

  100. And Dwarfin? USA (Series V disc) is arguably one of the best featurettes on any of the DVDs so I?d rather you didn?t erase it.

    Take away “arguably one of” and de-pluralise “featurettes”, and : 1x endorse.

  101. G&T Admin

    It’s good, but it’s no Life in Lam?.

  102. >And what was the name of the street you lived on? I hope what Ian told me was true?

    I lived on the corner of Church Street and… New Road! :o)

  103. >Got mixed up with something else.

    The Japanese version of The End. That happens to me, too, sometimes.

  104. G&T Admin

    Speaking of which, I was really far too harsh on including the full Japanese version of The End on the Series 1 DVD at the time. I have no idea way. I’m pleased I have it now, and it’s fun to watch – and having the full episode rather than just clips gives it proper context.

  105. It’d be good to see a list of “Dwarf’s Funniest Moments” or “Dwarf’s Funniest Scenes”. Maybe a top 20 or maybe more. Obviously this is much more debatable and it’d be harder to decide why one classic moment is funnier than another as it’d be much more subjective but I’d be interested to see the sites thoughts and the debate such a list would inspire.

  106. Of course an article such as this could analyse the moments/scenes which are generally regarded as “classic scenes” (i.e. scenes that are shown on clips shows). Alternatively, the article could list scenes that fans such as us who have watched each episode countless times have concluded to be the funniest as they still make us collapse in hysterics after seeing them the millionth time. I think the light bulb gag would get in either way but I think there would also be several significant differences. As mentioned in the above article, the shrinking boxer shorts scene is brilliant the first time but doesn’t hold up as well as other scenes after repeated viewings, whereas every time I hear Kryten say “That is his crime. It is also his punishment.” I crease up like it’s the first time I’ve heard it.

  107. What’s a goanna?

  108. Very interesting rereading this. Have any of the admins changed their minds about their top 5 eps?

  109. I’m not an admin any more, but my top five has changed from the above, yes. One has changed place but stayed within the five, and another has dropped out entirely to be replaced by something else.

    I’ll post or blog something in more detail comparing my two lists from then and now when the final results are in.

  110. G&T Admin

    Mine’s entirely changed, including the top rated episode. I think, in hindsight, Future Echoes was a *bit* of a stretch.

  111. I’m pretty sure my top 5 would have been different five years ago too. It’ll be interesting to compare. :)

  112. G&T Admin

    Two of my top five are in the same places, two have moved around, and one has been replaced.

  113. Sweet nostalgia. The only thing I have to look forward to.

    >”Interesting that everyone’s top 3 contained at least one episode that didn’t make anyone else’s top 5.”
    That blew my mind. As did Ian’s joke about terrible trousers.

    Looking forward to seeing the updated list. I’d like to see series one and two get more loving this time round.

  114. I didn’t look at my old list (didn’t want to sway myself) but for the first time I’m comparing them, and it looks like the only change to my top 5 was switching around Out of Time and Future Echoes. Go consistency!

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