High & Low: Rimmer Scenes

After High & Low‘s sojourn into Guest Character territory, we’re sailing back to the main cast here, and arguably the most important character in Red Dwarf; Arnold Judas Rimmer.

Coward, pedant, complete bastard; who IS the real Rimmer? I hope my examination of his best and worst scenes over the past 10 series can shed some light. Or just provoke a mud-slinging row in the comments. As ever, my article, my rules, my opinions.

Well, actually, you could write a whole article on what makes a good or bad character scene, but I decided to narrow down the many great Rimmer scenes over the whole of Red Dwarf by deciding whether it actually told us something new or interesting about the character, rather than riffing on traits that we already knew and loved. As for the worst; well, I pretty much used the same criteria about character traits. You may or may not agree. Let’s deal with the best scenes first, to get us in the mood.

10. Rimmer’s deep bow on the Nova 5

Kryten

Kryten is a corker of an episode anyway, but we’re really shown here to what extremes Rimmer’s lust for glory can reach, with one of the most glorious comic moments in Red Dwarf. At last, Rimmer gets to meet some women who *might* be persuaded to believe that he’s successful and brave, so he dolls himself up in his favourite ludicrous military uniform, only to find that he’s a little too late. Well, quite a bit too late, in fact. It’s quite something when you’re humiliated by three ladies who have decomposed down to their skeletons.

9. Low Rimmer

Demons and Angels

I have a feeling this is popular mostly due to Chris Barrie dressing up in stockings and suspenders, but Low Rimmer is by far the most interesting character in Demons & Angels. By this stage, fans were aware that Rimmer’s attitude to women wasn’t particularly admirable, but I think this shows something else; a general disregard for the humanity of others. Low Rimmer doesn’t much care WHO he has, as long as he gets to torture them beforehand, which is a callousness beyond that of the other Low characters.

8. The Parade

Meltdown

At last, Rimmer gets to indulge in his military fantasies, which is not only an excuse to trot out well-known prejudices of Sergeants all over the world, but also gives us Rimmer ordering Gandhi to give him 50 push-ups. Does Rimmer learn anything from his abject failure of leadership in this episode? Nah.

7. His sacrifice of his position

Holoship

A rare example of Rimmer actually doing something honourable. For him to give a very hard-won (so hard-won, he risked permanent brain damage by cheating outrageously) position on a Holoship up, he must have experienced something remarkable. He did; the love of a good woman. Nirvanah Crane is the first character we see in Red Dwarf who loved Rimmer, and we see the result; Rimmer actually becomes honourable and considerate. Aw. Not for long, though.

6.  Rimmer’s hijack of Lister’s body

Bodyswap

It’s interesting that the full impact of Rimmer’s holographic status in the early series isn’t often dwelt upon, possibly because Rimmer’s complaining so much about everything anyway. Bodyswap shows us exactly why Rimmer can’t have nice things, as he kidnaps Lister’s body after Lister refuses to let him borrow it again, due to his overindulgence with everything he can’t consume as a hologram. Even crashing Starbug in Lister’s body doesn’t teach him a lesson.

5. His sacrifice of his soldiers

Marooned

Rimmer could have let Lister freeze to death, but, despite everything, he does believe in an odd sort of honour, so when Lister leads him to believe that he’s burnt his beloved guitar in order to stay alive, Rimmer allows his precious Armee du Nord soldiers to be burnt as well. Shame Lister was actually burning Rimmer’s equally precious trunk, cut into guitar shapes.

4. His bravery

Out of Time

It appears that despite all his fantasies about wealth and power, when Rimmer comes face to face with what it does to him, he’s just as appalled as Kryten or Lister. His unlikely bravery is summed up in the famous line “Better dead than smeg!”, which seems to suggest that the Rimmer he really wanted to be wasn’t the Rimmer who plays canasta with Hitler.

3. Rimmer preparing for deletion

Me²

As vainglorious as it is, Rimmer does at least accept his fate with some sort of honour, and reveals the story behind his last word, “Gazpacho” with good grace. Unfortunately for this Rimmer, he isn’t smart enough to work out that Lister wiped the other Rimmer as he left the room, taunting Gazpacho Rimmer as he went, as Lister knew the story wouldn’t get told otherwise. Souper.

2. Rimmer telling Lister about his dad

Better Than Life

Affecting, amusing, and gives us a fairly substantial clue as to why Rimmer is wracked with insecurities, given his endurance of what was fairly severe child abuse. I presume social workers didn’t exist on Io. The fact that this doesn’t slow down a fantastic episode of sitcom also shows the quality of the writing for this scene; a real career high for Rob and Doug’s partnership.

1. Dead Rimmer’s entrance

The End

A truly beautiful entrance for Rimmer as a hologram. Dead, entirely composed of light, and absolutely furious about it. So angry, in fact, that he accuses Lister of being a murderer, but is easily distracted from that argument when he threatens to put Lister on report for smoking in the drive room. Even dead, to Rimmer, rules are rules.

Well, that’s enough fun. Onto Rimmer’s five worst scenes, the ones that make the heart sink and tough nuts from Titan sob with depression. It was a tough and disheartening set of choices.

5. Rimmer being hauled up in front of Captain Hollister

Pete (Part One)

I thought there was some terrible mistake with this scene. Surely Rimmer was given Lister’s lines in error?

4. Rimmer leaving

Stoke Me a Clipper

Unlike some of the Rimmer scenes I hate, quite a lot of work goes into persuading us that Rimmer would take on Ace’s role and make it his own, but it just doesn’t seem right to me. Obviously, Chris Barrie had to be written out of that series *somehow*, but couldn’t it have been truer to the character? Double-crossing the rest of the crew and buggering off just seems…more…Rimmer.

3. His attitude to Howard’s death

Trojan

Rimmer meeting one of his brothers should have been a massive thing. After all, we spent so much time over the course of Red Dwarf hearing about them, and yet, the appearance of Howard, was, in the end, fairly underwhelming. Even though the basic plot was quite strong, Rimmer’s callousness was overplayed yet again, and it was difficult to feel anything but frustration. The Observation Dome scene in Better Than Life is the perfect example of this sort of story being done right, and it was only one scene in an excellent episode.

2. Irene E’s death

Entangled

I’m not happy with the treatment of Irene E as a whole in this episode, but Rimmer’s disappointment at her death robbing him of a possible sexual partner is pretty low, even for Rimmer. I could go on at length about my problems with Doug’s writing here, but we’ve had that argument, I’m sure.

1. Sexual magnetism

Back in the Red (Part Two)

Yuck. Yes, we know Rimmer’s attitude to women has nearly always been awful, but this crosses the line. Rimmer isn’t meant to have his bad behaviour rewarded, and his use of the virus is particularly cynical and callous. A genuinely disturbing scene.

On that note, let’s look forward to something a little lighter in tone; John Hoare making his case for the best and worst Red Dwarf special effects shots. Please feel free to nominate your faves and worsties in the comments, as well as telling me I’m an idiot for leaving out your particular Rimmer highlight.

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16 Responses to High & Low: Rimmer Scenes

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  1. Rimmer’s Risk story. That was good. But no, no arguments here.

    How are we defining SFX shots? Model shots? Explosions? CG? Blue/Greenscreen? Laserbolts and whatnot?
    Let’s see…If we’re talking models, How about the closing titles? The amount of detail in that original Red Dwarf model is brilliant, and an excellent sweeping shot to boot.
    Bad bluescreen? The end of Polymorph.

  2. What is it about those sacrifice and honour traits that make Rimmer an unsuitable repl-Ace-ment?

  3. Ugh – Trojan. I never understood the love for this episode when it came out. The second half is simply dismal, overplaying Rimmer’s worst qualities, not to mention that Lister receives absolutely no punishment for causing Howard’s death. I had to write my own ending to deal with it. Let’s just say Rimmer finds a new location for the phone, and it rhymes with Fister’s Fum.

  4. G&T Admin

    I think Ace Rimmer’s honour comes from generosity, whilst Rimmer’s honour is a reaction to receiving kind behaviour. You have to be an optimist to be a superhero figure, rather than waiting around for someone to be nice to you!

  5. Best Special Effects Shots – You could have any of the model shots from series I-VI and X really. My favourites have always been the chase from Bodyswap and the chase from Emohawk: Polymorph II. There’s plenty more that’s really good especially for the budget and when it was made.

    Worst Special Effects – The CGI from series VII and the ejector seat from Backwards.

  6. The ejector seat in Backwards is just hilariously cheap, and is brilliant.

  7. It’s not so much about the ejector seat. It’s more about how Rimmer reacts to it. He gets flung out of the ship, returns a little bit later, and without missing a beat, he resumes the test like it never happened. *That’s* what makes it so funny for me.

  8. A well-balanced article which acknowledges Rimmer’s many faults but also his good points. I have to ask, though – why not the drunk scene from “Memory”?!

    I suppose it is a bit similar to the Obs Dome scene from “BTL”, which is underlined by the episodes being next to each other in the running order, but I’ve always viewed it as such a key Rimmer scene.

    But your article, your opinion. :)

  9. Some of the model shots in Series V are really awfully lit.

    And to be honest (and I know I’m going to get a lot of hate for this) but I think the original RD model is shit. It’s got random bits of plastic just stuck onto the outside and painted red. None of the detail of other work of the VFX department is present here.

  10. I guess it says a lot for how great the character of Rimmer was that it would easily be possible to pick another 10 moments for this list that people wouldn`t have a problem with…

  11. G&T Admin

    > None of the detail of other work of the VFX department is present here.

    Am I remembering correctly that the original ship build was outsourced?

  12. I actually think some of the best and worst SFX shots are all in Series X. Pre Series X i think the best model effects were in Series 6, but the Simulant models and effects in ‘The Beginning’ are fantastic, yet some of the quick fly-by shots in other episodes, probably left over from the aborted model shoot are horrible. Some are even out of focus or for some reason blurry.

  13. And before too many people talk about the Series 7 CG, admittedly it hasn’t aged that well, but come on considering it was done quickly by one bloke in his mums house, it’s not that bad. The Starbug model is actually pretty good, the starfields are nice and colourful. Only some of the planets are a bit lacking in detail, especially closeup. And the shot with all the Ace Rimmer pods looked pretty amazing to me in 1997,

  14. Starbug flying out of the lava in Gunmen is one of my favourites. A lot of the split-screen stuff is impressive for the time. Craig leaning does kinda spoil the effect a bit in that scene in the cinema though. Cat high-fiving himself in Camille is great.

  15. The double Lister scene in Psirens is a good one, too. I particularly like the bit where they both catch the apples thrown by Rimmer.

  16. > Craig leaning does kinda spoil the effect a bit in that scene

    Yet it makes it pretty funny so is a bonus! :D

    The cargo bay in Back To Earth has to rank as some of the most brilliant effects work, as far as CGI goes. Also, the London/Tyrell shot.

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