Red Dwarf XI: Give & Take Review

Give & Take was the first episode of Red Dwarf XI to go in front of the cameras, and yet curiously it’s been shuffled into the episode 3 position in favour of an episode that, before broadcast, was being touted as a classic. Does this mean we’ve got a bit of a clunker on our hands? Is it really looking like this series decided to put its best foot forward and saved nothing for later? Were things a little bit rusty before production settled down into its mammoth multi-month and series schedule? Well, let’s see…

We’re far enough into this series to start spotting emerging patterns, and one of those is that Doug really has worked out how to start an episode well. In this case, it’s no mean feat, as he is contending with a talking JMC appliance and a Skutter, two things that have had, let’s say, a fairly rocky recent history. What I think works about the comedy lift, though, is that he’s just on the right of believable as a functional AI, while also providing some really funny dialogue. Conversely, Tony Slattery’s vending machine in Series VIII, or Taiwan Tony, didn’t manage either of these things. I like the dynamic of Rimmer being frustrated by AIs not respecting his authority, and the idea of a lift being scared of losing custom to the stairs is inherently amusing. The return of the Skutters (or in this case an Skutter) is very welcome, too, as Rimmer resorts to one of the few things that he can still exert some sort of authority over, and it’s surprising that their proper return in years and years was so fleeting, here, but I think that made the return work all the better and the episode clearly had bigger things to move onto.

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First released: Friday 30th September 2016, UKTV Play

Written by: Doug Naylor

Directed by: Doug Naylor

Main Cast:
Chris Barrie (Rimmer)
Craig Charles (Lister)
Danny John-Jules (Cat)
Robert Llewellyn (Kryten)

Guest Cast:
Mark Quartley (Snacky (Voice))
Tobias Wilson (Snacky (Body))
Oliver Mason (Asclepius (Voice))
Jami Reid Quarrell (Asclepius (Body))
Daniel Barker (Lift)

Synopsis:
After an altercation with a deranged droid Lister has his kidneys organ-napped. The only solution is to ask Cat, the most selfish creature in the universe, to give him one of his.

Set Report | Let’s Talk About | Talking Points

We’ll of course see this scene, and the next one with an apparently blind drunk Lister, from a different perspective later but for now, as a standalone setup for the episode, they work decently well as standard ‘life aboard ship’ scenes, and it’s followed by another strong ensemble scene aboard Starbug. Bizarrely, we were already aware of “Captain Bollocks” as a thing because of the new online store, but its impact isn’t lessened here. It’s just an inherently amusing phrase, and the embarrassment that Kryten feels after inadvertently revealing his secret categorisation is well played.

The early scenes zip by nicely and it doesn’t take the episode long to get to the main plot, introducing the space station through another episode specific and lovely series of model shots. Fawley Power Station is a beautiful setting here, and not only do these sorts of locations work very well at injecting some variety and interest into scenes, by this point they feel so familiar and Red Dwarf-like that I couldn’t help but feel comforted as I drink in those much talked about early series vibes. These scenes aren’t all superficial, either, with the cast on the sort of form that is now becoming familiar in this series, which is especially impressive considering this was probably among the first scenes recorded in four years.

The first ten minutes or so of the episode feel so familiar that the idea of any sort of twist or turn in the story doesn’t really occur. This is probably also helped along by the fact that we’d thought we’d got a pretty good handle on this episode from the trailers, but what we’re seeing here is a very rich and packed setup for the real character based meat of the episode. As such things move at a great pace, with no room for Samsara style stagnation. By the time Rimmer and Kryten find Snacky / Notasclepius in a lovely introduction scene that, for the first time in a while, gives Kryten some really nice character work, Lister and the Cat are already encountering the real deal.

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Much was made of the scary fish bastard robot during pre-broadcast publicity, and the only way that I would say that it maybe disappointed was with the relatively short amount of screen time it eventually received. The design is striking and genuinely scary, with the only downside of the costume perhaps being that it was clearly a clumsy affair for the actor to actually do much with the arms, which slightly undermines the concept that this is the height of medical technology. A side effect of this, however, is the unnerving jerky movements that old ‘sclepy has to resort to, especially when suddenly thrusting out its terrifying implement at random intervals. The voice, too, was perfectly judged with plenty of the actor’s original performance coming through clearly, with a subtle but effective echo effect applied, giving the whole package a nightmarish quality that rivals Dr. Lanstrom’s pant-wetting qualities. While we’re on Lanstrom, I’m pretty sure the music underscoring this initial encounter is lifted straight out of Quarantine, and if it isn’t then it’s drawing direct inspiration from it.

The technology levels of the space station are clearly way in advance of Red Dwarf era JMC since not only do we have a medi-bot that is fully articulated and not just Tony Hawks or Kerry Shale in a box, but even their snack dispensers can move around and have evolved beyond the concept of racial parody. It’s still slightly ridiculous that the crew would mistake this deliberately low-fi looking, Lost in Space knock-off (albeit a lovingly created one) to really be a high end, DNA altering medi-bot but that said the reveal of Snacky’s true nature brings with it one of the biggest laughs of the episode, alongside the real Ascelpius’ “no longer insane” all clear. I do like me a well done, on-the-nose joke.

The first act is wrapped up with a very exciting rescue sequence, with Kryten acting a tad out of character with his gung-ho shoot on sight approach, but with Rimmer behaving exactly in character by immediately shoving Kryten inbetween himself and danger, despite the fact he’s practically invulnerable. This sequence also came as quite a surprise, as only a few minutes after we first met him, Asclepius is no more and we’d still not even reached the commercial break. With the echoes of Quarantine evident throughout these scenes we probably shouldn’t be too surprised with this structure, and like the aforementioned classic episode a promising and terrifying villain is dispatched to make way for the real meat of the episode.

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When we arrive back on the ship we see that the Science Room set from last week can also double as a medi-bay, but in a much more convincing way than the drive room from X ever managed. It’s here where Give & Take‘s origins as a series opener become clear with the clever reestablishing of the characters and the situation. Lister points out his status as last human in the context of just how much that is fucking him over now that he needs a major medical procedure and the origins of The Cat are also restated as they’re discussing the fact he’s the only donor available. The proceeding scenes between Lister and the Cat are beautifully played, with the Cat in particular generating the sort of laughs the character managed in episodes like Better Than Life, but I think there’s even more going on here than “the Cat is selfish lol”. The Cat is obviously incredibly upset at the suggestion that he would donate one of his own organs, but I don’t think all of that upset comes from a selfish place. In these scenes references are made to their age and how long they’ve known each other and I think Danny’s performance shows through some genuine upset at Lister’s situation and also some self loathing that his natural instinct is to refuse help. It’s a surprisingly touching and multi-layered set of scenes, played brilliantly by Danny John-Jules in particular.

All through the middle portion of the episode, the crew are all still under the mistaken assumption that Snacky is Asclepius, so there’s time for one more scene to wring the comedy out of that situation as Rimmer takes a therapy session with him. Specific reference is made to the revelations of The Beginning, among other things, giving Rimmer his moment to re-state his character, and while the scene of inter-cut and out of context gags didn’t really work on a comedic level for me, Rimmer’s casual mention of the egg flipper on Snacky’s head saves the scene, and is a great example of a character pointing out the ridiculousness of the situation to the audience. This scene also nicely sets up Snacky’s ability to prove useful in ways that do not involve dispensing chocolate, which of course is all important to the conclusion of the episode.

While Kryten had already had his character as proud sanitation droid reestablished during the first meeting with Snacky, we also see the return of his ongoing struggle with lying as he spins a yarn to The Cat to convince him to donate a kidney. As character traits go it’s never been the most consistent, and that’s born out in back-to-back scenes here as Kryten exhibits a stutter reminiscent of his fruit based struggles in Camille (which, incidentally, he was supposed to have completely overcome by the end of the episode) only for them to completely disappear in the next medi-bay scene despite the fact he’s still lying. His deception here is actually quite dark considering it involves obtaining the false consent of someone in order to harvest their organs, but considering the Cat’s fairly chill attitude later on, I think it’s safe to say he was slightly relieved he’d had the option taken away from him if deep down he really did want to help despite his nature.

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At a glance the comparisons to Quarantine could only really stretch as far as some reused music and a villain that roughly reminds you of Lanstrom, but as we get into the episode’s conclusion we can see that more parallels can be drawn when it comes to story structure. We’ve had an initial trip onto an unknown craft, an encounter with an apparently insane but quickly dispatched villain, and a middle portion back on the ship with great character work dealing with the aftermath. So now surely it’s time for a slightly rushed ending using elements originally set up in the first third? Why, yes, yes it is! Except Give & Take does it better.

The ending to Give & Take is what makes this episode for me. It doesn’t matter that it’s crammed into a relatively short space of time, and it doesn’t matter that Snacky’s ascension into an engineering genius is a bit of a stretch (hey, if it works for Einstein Bob then why can’t it work for this potato?) because what it does do is lift the entire episode to another level. I mean, it’s not the most original story beat in the world but it’s incredibly satisfying when you realise the lift in the opening scene was directly telling us the floors the crew are visiting during the finale, and it’s important that the original scene was so enjoyable in the first place to make this return work as it should. Also seeing that the Lister you thought was blind drunk after downing litres of whiskey was actually only enjoying a few modest cans of beer before being set upon. Special mention should also go to the very well executed split screen, as it was pretty much flawlessly executed and is the stand out example of ambition within the production, something I will probably continue to bollock on about every week.

The creation of the timeloop of organ harvesting works well here, I think. As Ganymede & Titan’s Ian Symes pointed out in his Talking Points article it almost certainly creates some sort of complicated paradox that can be proved impossible by some fucker, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen Lister locked in some self perpetuating paradoxical loops considering the circumstances surrounding his birth. Paradoxes are fine so long as they fit comfortably into the story that’s being told and I think that’s achieved here, especially when you consider another implication of the final five minutes of the episode. The whole situation with Lister’s missing kidneys stem from Rimmer and Kryten believing they were the ones that were destroyed during the firefight and rescue. Ascelpius himself even mentions a “donor” before kidnapping, but the ending forces us to look at this situation again. I don’t think we’re dealing with a plot hole, here, and I’ve taken this in a similar to many other people I’ve seen discuss the issue online. The kidneys destroyed in the firefight were not Lister’s or the Cat’s, and so aside from their purpose and nature now being unknown we’re now also completely unaware of what Asclepius’ intentions really were. At this point Lister would already have no kidneys, so was the droid intending to perform a life saving operation on him? Was his “no longer insane” all-clear actually correct? It would be very easy for a time travel conclusion to an episode to fuck up previous story beats, but here it’s done nothing but enrich earlier scenes and give an episode that on the surface was a bit of a mish-mash of settings and ideas, a lovely complete feeling.

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Give & Take is an episode full of surprises, both on a story level but also in the context of the series as a whole. Being very close to set reports and general pre-broadcast opinion, I was under the impression that Twentica would be the high water mark of this series, especially given how much I love that episode. “Best episode since 1993” is almost a cliche in fandom at this point and I think things are more complicated than direct comparisons to what has come before, but when a new episode can borrow so much structure from an episode as revered as Quarantine and end up delivering a better conclusion, then that’s certainly worth a great deal.

It also has the same initials as this website.

TINY TEASER: No Longer Insane – a reference to the very funny ‘all clear’ given to Asclepius
ACTUAL SCENE COUNT: 23 (Series total: 63)
ACTUAL SMEG COUNT: 2 (Series total: 7)

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107 Responses to Red Dwarf XI: Give & Take Review

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  1. The return of the Skutters (or in this case an Skutter)

    An Skutter?

  2. Grammar aside, nice review, by the way.

  3. Better conclusion than Quarantine? Were you drunk when you wrote his D:

    That has gotta be controversial.

  4. G&T Admin

    That particular grammar mistake was deliberate, si.

    I think as endings go, this one was better done simply because of how it lifted other parts of the episode with it.

  5. Was it? Oh, sorry. Lost on me.
    In that case, nice review. That’s it.

  6. Excellent review. I think the strength of the ending is really what pulls it all together.

  7. An excellent episode and no mistake. I’ve enjoyed all three, but I put this above the first two even though I’ve not yet established whether I prefer Twentica to Samsara or vice versa.

    There was so much to like about Give & Take, and the great review above nails pretty much everything. If that had appeared anywhere between IV and VI, we’d still be gushing about it to this day like we do with so many others, and there aren’t many episodes we can necessarily say that about. I tried to think of some negatives to the episode and I really struggled beyond:

    – the end scene was a little bit like the ‘every dog has its day’ ending from Only The Good…, in a very loose sense of smited-AI-gets-revenge-on-Rimmer;

    – there were a couple of jokes that ran too quickly into the next and the subsequent joke became harder to decipher through the laughter. Rimmer’s “snail with club foot” very quickly into “French army after dinner”, and also Kryten’s “pride of place in my Rs section” very quickly into “between ringworm and rimshot”.

    (Actually, the fact that no-one else seems to have mentioned the “in my Rs section” line makes me wonder if I’m just inventing my own joke in that section that isn’t actually there!)

  8. Si – the ‘an’ was a reference to the last episode of Bottom.

    This was a very strong episode. It was so good to see the skutter and Captain Bollocks was much better than the T shirt led me to believe.

  9. This article needs a blue banner, no?

  10. I think “Asclepius” sounds like a Red Dwarf episode title.

  11. The only two things that surprised me a little about the review were how much praise the ending got (it was OK but done better than Quarantine’s?!) and the comments about the Rimmer therapy scene, as that was one of my favourites of the ep. Otherwise, spot on review of a potentially ‘classic’ ep.

    I was going to say that this wasn’t really the first time we’ve seen a skutter in “years and years” as one had a slightly bigger scene in Back To Earth than it did here, but I’m always slightly surprised to look back and realise how long ago that special was.

  12. G&T Admin

    how much praise the ending got (it was OK but done better than Quarantine’s?!)

    I’m going to stand by this, but I can already tell I’m going to eat shit for it. Comedically, Quarantine’s got the edge, but solving everything with the luck virus in a few minutes at the end just isn’t as good an ending as what Give & Take does with the time travel.

  13. G&T Admin

    Oh and sorry about the banner, that’s my bad. Looks like Ian fixed it stealthily in the night.

  14. Great review. This was a good, strong episode and would have worked fine as the series opener had they decided not to shuffle the episodes around after all. = )

    Loved the split-screen moment with Lister chloroforming himself – it’s the sort of thing good Dwarf has excelled at before but taken to a new level of complexity. Hopefully it holds up just as well in HD – will be unable to see for myself until the Blu-ray’s released. Best bit for me is that it’s a well-done effect that could easily have not happened in a show with less ambition – after all, there’s no reason it has to be Lister who renders his past self unconscious. They could easily have had Kryten do it and just have the second Lister present via a simple split-screen, but no, they went the extra mile just for the bizarre surrealism of seeing Lister do it himself. XD And it’s done quite naturally – they don’t make a big thing of the effect, and even cut between multiple angles as they might in a regular scene rather than just doing the effect once. Lovely stuff. = )

    Surprised to read no mention of the odd make-up job on Cat in the review, though – it’s the only thing that betrays that this was the first episode shot, and the one thing I’d change about this episode given the chance. Mind you, it’s much more easy to overlook in an episode that’s as enjoyable as this one!

    So far I’d say this and Twentica are both really strong episodes for different reasons, and Samsara was good but not great – some good build-up and funny gags throughout, but the overlong Cat/Lister scene and abrupt ending made it fall short of its potential IMO. Still, two ‘greats’ and one ‘good’ shows we’ve had a cracking start to the series – we already feel leagues ahead of Series X from my perspective. Hopefully they can keep up this momentum for the rest of the series! = D

  15. >>how much praise the ending got (it was OK but done better than Quarantine’s?!)
    >I’m going to stand by this, but I can already tell I’m going to eat shit for it.

    I think I agree. The ending of Give & Take was more ambitious, tied very neatly to the plot, and worked as a satisfying callback. A solid epilogue. The kind that Twentica tried and, I think, failed to do.
    Of course, if anyone asks… You’re on your own, Capps.

  16. G&T Admin

    Surprised to read no mention of the odd make-up job on Cat in the review, though

    There’s always something I mean to mention but end up forgetting. I think the reason for this is that I actually quite liked it. Cat’s very nature kind of allows them to do whatever the hell they like the make-up and I liked how different this was.

  17. There’s always something I mean to mention but end up forgetting. I think the reason for this is that I actually quite liked it. Cat’s very nature kind of allows them to do whatever the hell they like the make-up and I liked how different this was.

    Fair point – I’ll certainly concede it looks different! Had no problem with how he looked in Series X, and that was just as different in some ways. Although my gut feeling is that it’s not my favourite look for him, I’ll admit I’ll have to see how it looks in HD before I can properly decide whether it’s worked for me or not. = )

    Either way, if my only complaint is a costuming decision I’d still chalk it up as a ‘win’ for this episode! = P Wonder if we’ll see this style of hair/eyebrows in any other episodes, though? I think the brief promotional clips we’ve seen from “Krysis” show him with more “Twentica”/”Samsara”-styled hair already, which I’m presuming sticks from that point on based on the shooting order of the episodes. If I’m correct in that assumption, I’m guessing that “Can of Worms” is the only episode that might possibly see a return to this style.

  18. I’ve no problem with the Cat’s make-up. It’s his hair that looks fucking awful.

  19. G&T Admin

    Meh, it’s the Cat, i can take it or leave it, really. Cat’s had some quite wild looks in the past. Look at Cat in Bodyswap for par example: his hair is frizzed to the nines in that one. It’s striking, sure, but it’s not unprecedented, It doesn’t create any particularly strong feelings from me.

  20. The ending to Give & Take was largely playing out a plan that we knew would succeed (since Lister had already spent the time recovering from it), whereas Quarantine’s ending had more “danger” with the Mr.Flibble-aided Rimmer chasing them. I was expecting the mad robot bastard to have gotten aboard and followed them back into the past, to add an unexpected element to potentially eff up their plan, but that didn’t happen.

    It was enjoyable, for sure (and it definitely used earlier plot elements better), but it lacked any real peril and that’s the only reason the comparison to Quarantine lead to a bit of eyebrown-raising.

  21. G&T Admin

    There is absolutely zero peril in Quarantine, unless you actually believe Rimmer will either remain insane, kill the crew, or both.

  22. Am I the only one who got major Back to The Future 2 vibes from the scene when they sneak up on past-Lister?

  23. There is absolutely zero peril in Quarantine, unless you actually believe Rimmer will either remain insane, kill the crew, or both.

    Well if you’re going to be like that then there’s never really any peril in Red Dwarf.

  24. There is absolutely zero peril in Quarantine, unless you actually believe Rimmer will either remain insane, kill the crew, or both.

    But did we believe they were gonna fail in their time travel shenanigans when Kryten already explained the entire plan before they even went back in time.

    While with quarantine could argue the audience didn’t know how the crew were gonna get out of that situation since Rimmer had the psi-virus and we see what happened when lanstrom had the virus, it destroyed her and the dwarfers didn’t exactly have a plan to stop her beyond giving her the run around till it destroyed her.

  25. I was expecting the mad robot bastard to have gotten aboard and followed them back into the past, to add an unexpected element to potentially eff up their plan, but that didn’t happen. .

    I was expecting something like that also since we see the robot get up after being shot down and attempt to follow them as they abandoned ship but apparently that was there just for the sake of being there.

  26. There is absolutely zero peril in Quarantine, unless you actually believe Rimmer will either remain insane, kill the crew, or both.

    Oh come on. Why bother talking of “peril” in any episode if the caveat is you know they’ll survive? I was referring simply to the presence of a villain, which adds a “we know what the end result will be but not how they’ll get there” element. In the case of Give & Take, we watched them play out a plan that had already been explained beforehand. Entertaining but far less dramatic (and it could have been improved had they cut out the bit of them explaining it beforehand and simply “showed” it).

  27. Personally, I’m willing to call this the best episode of the Dave era, and probably the best episode since VII. Bloody loved it.

  28. Surprised to read no mention of the odd make-up job on Cat in the review, though

    There’s always something I mean to mention but end up forgetting. I think the reason for this is that I actually quite liked it. Cat’s very nature kind of allows them to do whatever the hell they like the make-up and I liked how different this was.

    It’s a bit halloween but i like it as well, especially as the cat had the dramatic scene where he basically stated he would let Lister die, i thought it helped that he was looking different at this point, it sort of made a statement that this show is still alive and surprising rather than a constant self copy which it is a lot of the time, in an attempt to please the massive mouthy naysayers who want things a certain way (of which im just as often one by the way for a lot of things). I liked that we have something that stands out.

  29. @pi r squared:

    and also Kryten’s “pride of place in my Rs section” very quickly into “between ringworm and rimshot”.
    (Actually, the fact that no-one else seems to have mentioned the “in my Rs section” line makes me wonder if I’m just inventing my own joke in that section that isn’t actually there!)

    I thought that Kryten’s line would have been funnier if those two had been the other way round: “next to ‘rimshot’ and ‘ringworm'”. ALSO THEN THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ALPHABETICAL.

  30. G&T Admin

    Well if you’re going to be like that then there’s never really any peril in Red Dwarf.

    But did we believe they were gonna fail in their time travel shenanigans when Kryten already explained the entire plan before they even went back in time.

    Oh come on. Why bother talking of “peril” in any episode if the caveat is you know they’ll survive?

    To be fair, the peril or lack thereof was never my original argument. I didn’t say Give & Take did its ending better because there was more peril, I said it because of how it recontexualised the main villain in a way that surprisingly and incredibly rewarding. It felt like more than a quick way to wrap things up, as is massively prevelant in the vast majority of episodes, and ended up recontexualising the main villain in a genuinely interesting and mysterious way.

  31. whereas Quarantine’s ending had more “danger” with the Mr.Flibble-aided Rimmer chasing them.

    The Rimmer peril wasn’t really the ending though. The ending to Quarantine is “we’re here to entertain you” which I always accepted and laughed at, but in truth found a tad weak and confusing. Have L, K and C contracted the holovirus? Is that even possible? Or are they just exerting their revenge? In which case, is that morally acceptable since Rimmer had been ill and acting against his will? And besides the logic of all this, the ‘here we go again’ punchline is acceptable but hardly very clever.

    The ending to Give & Take was far superior, tying everything together in terms of time loop and the A and B plot structure. And being funny and character-driven. Just great. Top marks for Give & Take.

  32. The Rimmer peril wasn’t really the ending though. The ending to Quarantine is “we’re here to entertain you”

    But…. by the same logic, the time-travel stuff wasn’t the ending of Give & Take, either, because it was followed by Rimmer being given “the ride of his life” in the elevator. In which case I guess the actual ending is “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”

  33. “Or are they just exerting their revenge? In which case, is that morally acceptable since Rimmer had been ill and acting against his will”

    Yes that. And no not for when he was ill. For when he was not yet that ill and being himself being a rule following twat in order to piss everyone off because he had quarantined them mostly out of spite at kryten being in charge and bossy. Rimmer was being himself and complete twat about everything before the virus made him gingham mad. So them putting him in quarantine and reminding him what he had just been through was their own cruel re enactment. Similar to gazpacho souper!!! Its a great ending.

  34. I think instead of ending, some mean “resolution method of the plot” and others mean “punchline” here in this debate.

  35. I liked that we almost, sorta, kinda-ish got a Hyperdrive connection for the third week running, after the appearances of Kevin Eldon and Maggie Service:

    York: “It’s emitting a pulse: 2… 3… 5… 7… 11… 13… and back to 2”
    Henderson: “A totally random pattern”
    Sandstrom: “They are all prime numbers”
    Henderson: “Well, unless you’re counting the really obvious pattern”

    Rimmer: “I wonder why it’s called ‘Asclepius’?”
    Kryten: “Well, presumably after the Greek God of medicine, sir”
    Rimmer: “Well there’s that, obviously. Obviously that, yes obviously. You think it’s that obvious?”

    Done better in Red Dwarf, obviously, but now I’m determined to find a fourth in Officer Rimmer next week, tenuousness be damned!

  36. Before we know it, we’ll have Miranda Hart about to call her lawyer (or Nick Frost, whoever she can be arsed to), when something happens that makes her laugh….

  37. Radiotimes.com has a mini review for the next episode “Officer Rimmer”

    The review basically says as we have come to expect from Series 11 there are some inventive jokes but the ending is abit abrupt and leaves the episode feeling a little rushed.

    There is a little more the review but i dunno if it falls into the spoiler category.

  38. > there are some inventive jokes but the ending is abit abrupt and leaves the episode feeling a little rushed.

    I saw this one recorded and concur that the ending is a bit sudden. Ah well, at least the openings are more assured now.

  39. Saw that Radio Times bit about episode four. Abrupt endings seems to be a bit of a theme this year.

  40. Radiotimes.com has a mini review for the next episode “Officer Rimmer”

    The review basically says as we have come to expect from Series 11 there are some inventive jokes but the ending is abit abrupt and leaves the episode feeling a little rushed.
    There is a little more the review but i dunno if it falls into the spoiler category.

    Given that all the Radio Times reviews, thus far, have been very spoilery, I’d say erring on the side of caution is sensible.

  41. Doug should just write an episode of Red Dwarf that goes on foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr>

  42. Wasn’t that called Back in the Red?

  43. This is the ep that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started watching it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue watching it forever just because… This is the ep that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started watching it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue watching it forever just because… This is the epthat never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started watching it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue watching it forever just because… (etc)

  44. That space station was definitely CGI, but when the solar panels are being torn apart by asteroids it looked amazing.

    Also Cat’s eyebrows are on loan from Count Orlok.

  45. The beginning of the theme tune at the end is cut short!!

    That was incredibly odd to hear. Have they done that before/since?

    Funny how after the rest of XI and XII, I just came out of this episode thinking “hey, an episode that actually has an ending”, but of course people were complaining about rushed endings this early anyway. We didn’t know how good we had it, we really didn’t.

    I take it 29:29 stretches the absolute limit of how long an episode is allowed to be, hence truncating the theme tune by barely 3 seconds out of desperation to get it down to time without losing anything?

  46. The beginning of the theme tune at the end is cut short!!

    That was incredibly odd to hear. Have they done that before/since?
    Funny how after the rest of XI and XII, I just came out of this episode thinking “hey, an episode that actually has an ending”, but of course people were complaining about rushed endings this early anyway. We didn’t know how good we had it, we really didn’t.
    I take it 29:29 stretches the absolute limit of how long an episode is allowed to be, hence truncating the theme tune by barely 3 seconds out of desperation to get it down to time without losing anything?

    I feel like much of the last two series cut off the first set of five notes, and whenever they actually played (Cured being the one I can think of, maybe) they were over actual episode footage instead of credits. But go watch all of XI/XII, I’m pretty sure it happens some more.

  47. i think Give and Take, Officer Rimmer, Krysis and Can of Worms all cut out the first couple of notes of the theme tune, yeah.

    i don’t remember it being cut off in XII

  48. I didn’t notice it on Twentica or Samsara, only Give and Take so far. I’ll check, though.

    I like it when they play the music over the last little bit of footage, it feels much more natural when it goes show-credits rather than SHOW. CREDITS.

  49. I introduced a friend of mine to Red Dwarf with this episode (I wanted to pick a good episode I hadn’t seen a billion times, which excused everything before XI at the time). He was very impressed with the plot in particular, AND NOTABLY WAS NOT REMOTELY CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED.

    Take that as you will.

    This show has been very blue lately.

  50. I’d say that anyone with passing knowledge of sci-fi time travel wouldn’t have any issues with following it? The whole loop is very well done and a delight when you work out what’s happening.

  51. It’s just the kidneys issue, isn’t it? I had to think about it afterwards to make sense of it (I think a lot of people had more trouble, given how many questioned it), and it’s a shame as it could so easily have been fixed with a jokey ending along the lines of:

    Lister: So if I never had my kidneys in the first place, then Asclepius couldn’t have… removed… them… KRYTEN!
    Kryten [quickly walking out of the sleeping quarters] I should go and mop G-deck, it’s been overdue a mop for some months now…
    Lister [chasing Kryten]: I’ll give you mopping G-deck, get back here!

    …or something.

  52. Yeah Give and Take is pretty easy to follow for anybody who’s ever seen Doctor Who. Or The Inquisitor.

  53. I think I like Series XI more than Series XII, and this episode is a notable factor.

  54. It’s the best episode of the Dave era.

  55. >It’s just the kidneys issue, isn’t it?

    I’d say there’s a difference between being confused while watching a show and picking apart the logic afterwards.

  56. > It’s the best episode of the Dave era.

    I might agree, but I just do not find the Cat/Lister kidney bits to be funny. In character yes, but still not funny. And the therapy scene is fine in concept but the actual implementation is weak, mostly because the stories Rimmer comes up with seem to be totally random. “More talcum powder! More talcum powder!”

    And while we are at it, the whole thing about the DNA on the knife handle being the same as the body’s also bugs me because why would Lister check for such a thing in the first place? It is just a very contrived way of showing he did himself in to set up the later time travel thread.

    Also Cat’s wig.

    …but apart from that it was excellent.

  57. > It’s the best episode of the Dave era.

    No arguments here.. M-Corp is just a notch behind for me. Everything since 1993 had been a weird approximation, or “not quite there”. I remember getting about twenty minutes into this and being suddenly struck by the realization that “huh…I remember THIS show! This is Red Dwarf!”.

  58. The Beginning, Officer Rimmer and Mechocracy are all fighting for the “best episode of the Dave Era” title in my rankings. Give and Take is second in my XI list, but M-Corp is fourth in XII.

    The Beginning probably isn’t as good as I think it is, but I think it’s good, I think.

  59. The Beginning was quite good i thought, but Give & Take is easily the best of the Dave era for me.

    incidentally, Give & Take is seemingly the only XI/XII episode where Rimmer’s character development from The Beginning is shown to have stuck. (he’s brave enough to fight off Asclepius without even a second thought) which is weird because for the rest of XI/XII he acts like such a bloody prick it’s unbelievable.

  60. (he’s brave enough to fight off Asclepius without even a second thought)

    Using Kryten as a nonhuman shield

  61. No arguments here.. M-Corp is just a notch behind for me. Everything since 1993 had been a weird approximation, or “not quite there”. I remember getting about twenty minutes into this and being suddenly struck by the realization that “huh…I remember THIS show! This is Red Dwarf!”.

    This. Exactly this.

  62. incidentally, Give & Take is seemingly the only XI/XII episode where Rimmer’s character development from The Beginning is shown to have stuck. (he’s brave enough to fight off Asclepius without even a second thought) which is weird because for the rest of XI/XII he acts like such a bloody prick it’s unbelievable.

    It would have been interesting if XI had stuck to recording order for the episode order, making this the immediate follow-up to The Beginning.

  63. No arguments here.. M-Corp is just a notch behind for me. Everything since 1993 had been a weird approximation, or “not quite there”. I remember getting about twenty minutes into this and being suddenly struck by the realization that “huh…I remember THIS show! This is Red Dwarf!”.

    Give & Take, M-Corp and Skipper are the only episodes where I completely get this. The best of the rest all have a scene, or a few bits of dialogue, which seem forced, out of place or bloody awful that serve to remind me this still isn’t quite the same show. But those three episodes just feel spot on. That two of them came at the end of XII fills me with a LOT of hope for the future.

  64. The Beginning, Give & Take, Officer Rimmer, Siliconia and Mechocracy all gave me that “this is ACTUALLY good” feeling. There are naff bits in all of those except maybe Mechocracy. There are naff bits all over the Dave era, and there are a selection of naff bits from before 1993. Definitely hope for the future

  65. I think Krysis gave me that same warm feeling on airing but if it did it doesn’t anymore. Cured didn’t leave me feeling particularly bright about the future and Timewave left me in a genuinely bad mood.

  66. Krysis and Can of Worms gave me a “I might give this up as a bad job” feeling. Timewave was so terrible it was barely Red Dwarf, which somehow made it easier to get past.

    I have more hope for anymore though because apparently the scripts are already written or being worked on and there’s not even a series yet, I’d hope they’d be a lot more honed than some other Dave eps.

  67. > I have more hope for anymore though because apparently the scripts are already written or being worked on and there’s not even a series yet, I’d hope they’d be a lot more honed than some other Dave eps.

    Nothing new there, Doug is often working on scripts before a series is commissioned.

    For me Cured is looking to be my favourite episode from XI/XII, if only because I admire how every scene feeds into the others (from the naff start up sequence being plot relevant, to the Lister/Hitler guitar duo helping give weight to Lister’s empathy for the evils in the next scene, to even the Cat/Messalina bit foreshadowing Cat’s psychopathic tendencies, not to mention the entire “pokey face” thread). Give & Take gets knocked into second place for the reasons I have already mentioned.

    All in all though I still think I prefer X to both XI and XII. Even though there are episodes in both XI and XII that are stronger than almost all of what X offered, there is just such a warmth of feeling in the performances and production in X that elevates even the weaker material. Having gone through all of the Dave era episodes again recently, it really was noticeable how much more I enjoyed X than XI or XII when taken as a batch.

  68. >Cured is my favourite episode
    Fucking hell. Good reason, though. All the scenes are mediocre but actually pretty well structured. Interesting.

  69. Best of Dave era for me: Back To Earth, Fathers & Suns, Lemons, Twentica, Krysis, Mechocracy, M-Corps & Skipper. Timewave got a lot better after Doug’s ‘good shit’ comment. My favourite scene from X in the long run is the Subbuteo scene – I just love the interplay between Kryten and Rimmer.

  70. Standout moments from X for me are “was he Swedish” and “I order you to select 36D as the breast size of this computer”, then picking a frame size that doesn’t even show them off. Classic.

    Back to Earth is a dramatic highlight but not a comic one. The Beginning is another dramatic highlight, and is also funny.

  71. > Standout moments from X for me … “I order you to select 36D as the breast size of this computer”, then picking a frame size that doesn’t even show them off. Classic.

    Fucking hell.

  72. Standout X moment for me will always be Cat wandering past with the map, in Trojan.

  73. > Standout X moment for me will always be Cat wandering past with the map, in Trojan.

    Fucking hell.

  74. I think we are lowering the tone here Ben.

  75. Fucking hell, you’re right Hamish.

    The Scooby-Doo editing on the Cat walking around with the map is something I could do without, I didn’t like it when Doctor Who did it either. I did like YOU ARE HERE, though.

  76. Although that joke -might- have already been done in Shadow the Hedgehog, if I remember rightly. I might not.

  77. Cat wandering around, looking lost, isn’t great. Cat wandering past, in the background, during a dramatic scene, is fucking brilliant.

    I love the fact that my two favourite jokes in Trojan literally involve Danny walking into view. Just sums up how Doug had recaptured what made his character so great in the first place.

  78. I did laugh when he turned up during the standoff. Didn’t like Lister endangering his/other’s lives for a Stirmaster right after, though.

    Danny was fantastic in X. And I love how he can get laugh after laugh just going “ow!” In Can of Worms.

  79. Cat wandering around, looking lost, isn’t great. Cat wandering past, in the background, during a dramatic scene, is fucking brilliant.

    Yeah, well, that’s what I was referring to. You know what I meant.

  80. Why did you combine two comments into one though?

  81. cat looking left after offering the biscuits to lister in m-corp is my dave era favourite probably

  82. Although that joke -might- have already been done in Shadow the Hedgehog, if I remember rightly. I might not.

    Timewave was still a much better episode than Shadow the Hedgehog. MUCH BETTER. At least it didn’t infuriatingly retcon classic episodes in deeply stupid ways.

    I actually legitimately and deeply despise that game’s writing and story.

    Also Officer Rimmer is a good. It’s a very good. As much as I can understand intellectually why it doesn’t work, I can’t make myself annoyed at the ending because I love the rest of the episode way too much. I’ve found myself going back to it more than any other in XI.

  83. Although that joke -might- have already been done in Shadow the Hedgehog, if I remember rightly. I might not.

    Timewave was still a much better episode than Shadow the Hedgehog. MUCH BETTER.

    I, for one, will be putting Timewave second to last in the Pearl Poll, in front of only Shadow the Hedgehog.

  84. cat looking left in skipper after he offers the biscuits

  85. I actually legitimately and deeply despise that game’s writing and story.

    I loved the shit out of that game when I was 10, and really identified with the character of Shadow, which looking back just makes me internally scream FUCKING HELL

    Also Officer Rimmer is a good. It’s a very good. As much as I can understand intellectually why it doesn’t work, I can’t make myself annoyed at the ending because I love the rest of the episode way too much. I’ve found myself going back to it more than any other in XI.

    Hear, hear. The ending is a bit naff but the rest of the episode is glorious.

  86. Also RE: Off Rim, did they add in bazookoid fire for the DVD? I thought it just cut to black after “dying” on broadcast and was surprised to hear a limp pew pew pew

  87. Also RE: Off Rim, did they add in bazookoid fire for the DVD? I thought it just cut to black after “dying” on broadcast and was surprised to hear a limp pew pew pew

    I mean I never watched the broadcast but I recall UKTV Play having it

  88. the “pew pew” has always been there, it’s just so quiet and weak its easily missed

  89. The sudden ending isn’t the problem for me. It’s the fact that they perfectly set up killing the Rimmer beast by tricking it into checking off its to-do list and causing it to turn back to paper (which is where I thought it was going), but then they just shoot it.

    The cut-off works fine for the shooting ending, it’s a stylistic thing I’ve seen used elsewhere and it didn’t take me aback on first viewing. The problem is the shooting ending shouldn’t have been the ending.

  90. > It’s the fact that they perfectly set up killing the Rimmer beast by tricking it into checking off its to-do list and causing it to turn back to paper (which is where I thought it was going), but then they just shoot it.

    Which begs the question of why it was trying to absorb all of the other Rimmer’s in the first place. Neither Rimmer or Kryten programmed it do that, it just started going on a rampage all of its own. But if that was its assigned task then it would not have folded until it had eaten Technician 2.0 regardless of its to-do list.

    I do agree with a few more tweaks earlier on that would have made for a far more clever ending though.

  91. Because Rimmer hates himself, he goes after himself(ves) rather than the rest of the crew, I thought.

    Took me a while to figure out what you meant by go back to paper, but maybe that would have worked better. What was the Rimmer Monster’s “mission”? To throw the lower ranks out of the Officers Club?

  92. What was the mission of all the subordinate Rimmer-officers? Should the Rimmer-barbershop-quartet have turned back into paper as soon as they finished their song?

  93. To be subordinate to Rimmer and populate the officer’s club, I think, which means potentially they could live forever.

    Now there’s a scary thought

  94. So you would either have to kill all of the printed Rimmers individually or instead go for the head Rimmer and jab a holo-steak into their master’s heart?

  95. So you would either have to kill all of the printed Rimmers individually or instead go for the head Rimmer and jab a holo-steak into their master’s heart?

    How would meat help, exactly?

  96. The kidneys in the jar that get blown up feel like a misdirect but overall it doesn’t really make sense why they are there and why Doug shows the jar getting shot at all.

    Surely Krytens word alone that lister lost his kidneys would be better then a misdirect shot of a jar with kidneys being blown up just to reveal later on that they were not his kidneys

    I remember Doug was asked about it in an interviews and he didn’t really give an explanation beyond saying they were not listers kidneys.

  97. They were the kidneys that Ascleipius was going to use to replace Lister’s. I think it works on-screen, but it wouldn’t have been hard to just throw in a jokey line explaining it at the end.

  98. Yes, that’s the thing isn’t it – there’s no reason to show those kidneys in the jar at all. Have Kryten say his kidneys aren’t there and have clearly recently been removed, and everyone will quite reasonably assume that it was Asclepius and they were still on the ship with Asclepius when it blew up.

  99. But with the inclusion of the kidneys, you also have that lovely implied twist at the end that those were actually ones Asclepius was planning to implant into Lister to save his life.

    By also showing the kidneys that seem to be Lister’s get destroyed, the show *seemingly* rules out the possibility that Lister’s kidneys went missing some other way by *apparently* showing without question the kidneys which Asclepius has just removed from Lister get blown up. Without that, the viewers might work out ahead of time what’s going to happen, especially with the knowledge that Snacky is not who the crew think he is.

  100. But with the inclusion of the kidneys, you also have that lovely implied twist at the end that those were actually ones Asclepius was planning to implant into Lister to save his life.

    By also showing the kidneys that seem to be Lister’s get destroyed, the show *seemingly* rules out the possibility that Lister’s kidneys went missing some other way by *apparently* showing without question the kidneys which Asclepius has just removed from Lister get blown up. Without that, the viewers might work out ahead of time what’s going to happen, especially with the knowledge that Snacky is not who the crew think he is.

    Both good points.

  101. why does lister even need kidneys? it’s shown in Lemons he can function just fine without most of his organs

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