Red Dwarf XII: Siliconia Review

The following article is intended for those watching at UKTV Play pace. Dave viewers be warned that the content and comments could contain spoilers. More info.

It’s hard to think of an individual Red Dwarf episode that’s had quite so much hype as Siliconia, and for such a sustained period. We’ve known about The One Where Everyone’s Kryten for as long as we’ve known that there’d be a Series XII, it was the subject of the first series’ first publicity shot, and it features one of the run’s highest-profile guest stars. It would be fair to call it long-awaited, both in terms of how long we’ve been aware of the story, and owing to the manner in which many of us first saw it: very late on a weeknight, after a full day of frequent F5-ing. Could it possibly live up to the anticipation?

For a brief moment on Thursday night, I was suddenly struck with the feeling that I was watching something truly incredible. It was funny, it was moving, and it somehow just felt like Red Dwarf should. That had faded slightly by the end, but I was nevertheless shocked to go online and see that the general consensus was far less positive than I’d have predicted. I found myself agreeing with many of the criticisms, but still they didn’t shake the warm, happy feeling the episode gave me. After several repeat viewings and a few days’ thinking time, am I now in a position to make sense of all this? Let’s find out.

First broadcast: 12th October 2017, 10:25pm(ish), 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:
Richard Glover (Wind)
Laura Checkley (Areto)
James Buckley (Rusty)
Marcus Garvey (Chairbot Excalibur)
Naomi Sheldon (Eagle)
Nick Read (Incense)

Synopsis:
The Dwarfers are arrested by the Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front. Lister, Cat and Rimmer are uploaded into Mechanic bodies and forced into servitude while Kryten is given a new life of pampering and luxury.

Set Report | Let’s Talk About | Live DwarfCast

We start how so many episodes have started in recent years, with depictions of everyday life on board ship while we wait for the plot to get started. As with Cured‘s poker face scene, it later becomes apparent that the opening scenes are there to establish character themes that run through the story, but unlike the first episode, they don’t seem quite so purposeless on first viewing. They’re much funnier than the average for this type of scene over the last few years, and contain perhaps the strongest “status quo” material since Trojan‘s moose gag.

While the reveal of Lister messaging Kryten from the sofa would undoubtedly have been funnier were it not spoilered by a Youtube thumbnail, of all things, it’s a damn fine visual gag. Further comedic highlights come from Kryten’s subsequent corridor exchange with a particularly officious Rimmer, particularly the phrase “you’re seeing me illegally” and the use of “Rimmering” as a verb. Meanwhile, we’re quietly re-establishing that Kryten sometimes feels put upon by the rest of the crew, but that he’s not afraid to think for himself, wilfully disregarding Rimmer’s orders about Lister’s guitar.

There’s also a flurry of back-references in this portion of the episode, with mentions of said guitar being flushed into space, the Om song, and even Baby Don’t Be Ovulating Tonight, which was something that played in the Copacabana Hawaiian Cocktail Bar in the first novel. The subsequent Starbug cockpit scene harks back to Camille in a big way; not only does this remind us of Lister’s part in making Kryten who he is, which will be relevant later, but Kryten’s chirpy satisfaction that he’s “still got it” provides a huge laugh.

Less successful is Lister’s improvised colander guitar. Full marks to the art department for painting it in the style of Eddie Van Halen’s, but the only thing that got a laugh from me was the phrase “Les alert”, and I don’t think that was supposed to be funny. I enjoyed the fairground grabber game, which was part of a raft of impressive visual effects throughout the episode. The reveal of the giant spaceship using their own grabber on Starbug kicks the plot into gear, although it subsequently splutters when a not-particularly-funny gag about how cloaking works breaks the rhythm by being too wordy for a perilous situation.

That aside, those opening scenes zip by, and we’re on board the oddly-named SS Vespasian before we know it, meeting the Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front. Now, while I don’t personally find the term this alludes to offensive per se, it’s still not terribly pleasant, and furthermore it’s a bit old hat. American Pie was nearly twenty years ago, and the term is no longer as fresh or subversive as the show seems to think it is. A little subtlety would have saved the gag; perhaps it may have gone too far the other way if the acronym had never been pointed out, but leaving it at one explicit reference would have been enough. The joke is stretched so many ways throughout the rest of the episode – calling members of the group “a MILF” or “MILFs” seems contrived and illogical – that it ends up being faintly irritating. Less is most definitely more in this case.

But still, despite it only having been three episodes since we last met another mechanoid, it still feels like an incredibly rare and exciting thing to happen. It’s the first time that we’ve seen mechs played by women; Camille doesn’t count for obvious reasons, but it’s interesting to compare the two and note that the ones in Siliconia don’t have big pointy triangular boobs, or indeed any physical characteristics that differentiate them from the ones played by men. This feels like progress; we’re along way from bright pink skutters.

There’s an impressive number of made-up mechs on-screen at once, something that would have been impossible to pull off back when Kryten was first invented. As you’d expect, the strain does show at times – there’s only a much smaller number that are deemed worthy of being shown in close-up, and while the berets and sunglasses undoubtedly work as part of the group aesthetic, they do cover a multitude of eye-blending sins. The perhaps unintended effect of the MILF’s look is that they bring to mind David Ross’s Kryten when he rebels and dresses up as Marlon Brando.

As for the mechs that we do meet, Richard Glover gives a rather eccentric performance as group leader Wind, but it pretty much works. It gives a creepy undertone to proceedings, making him more reminiscent of a cult leader rather than a military one, hinting that all is not what it seems in this mechanoid utopia. It occasionally veers towards the silly, but that’s no bad thing in itself, and it’s worth it for the quite extraordinary delivery of the line “people you should despise”. At the very least, it’s a distraction from how closely Kryten’s answer to the question of whether he respects his crewmates resembles his assessment of them in Camille.

Meanwhile, the humanoid faction of the crew are in mortal danger, if you can somehow ignore the fact that the device they’re strapped to is just a bunch of hairdryers. Based on everything we knew about the episode, the question wasn’t so much what would happen to them, but merely how; it makes sense that it’s a brain transfer, and it leads to the gag of Cat’s brain taking a much shorter time to upload than the others, which would have been so much better without the subsequent That’s The Joke dialogue. This lack of subtlety is in contrast to the earlier, much smarter discussion of Asimov’s First Law, but in keeping with Cat’s later line about his “wing dang doodle”.

With the physical Krytenification complete, it’s soon revealed that their personalities will change too, and the transition starts impressively smoothly. There are just a few tiny changes to the crew’s mannerisms at the start – they instantly stop using contractions, and start expressing their feelings in that slightly detached way that sci-fi robots do, such as Rimmer’s “I feel most strange”. It makes you realise there are these unwritten rules to how Kryten is portrayed, which are only noticeable when they’re transferred to other characters.

As a side note, the rest of the mechanoids all seem to have their own unique patterns of speech, suggesting that these foibles are idiosyncratic to Kryten rather than the species as a whole. Perhaps the crew’s close connection to Kryten means they default to his way of doing things when they become mechanoids, or perhaps it’s just a massive inconsistency, depending on how you’re feeling about the episode.

Nowhere is the varied nature of mechanoid characterisation more pronounced than in the therapy scene, perhaps the standout comedy set-piece of an episode that’s built around them. Marcus Garvey is very funny as Excalibur, the slightly effete northern chairbot. While I understand the accusations of insensitivity that have been levelled at this scene, I don’t feel the humour was aimed at the expense of anyone; the setting was just an excuse for amusingly sincere performances of lines like “our heads are sensibly shaped”. Frustratingly, the only jokes that don’t land are the ones that Kryten delivers, and suddenly there’s a theme of inconsistency developing. That rinse aid joke is woeful, although I do like Kryten’s smug reaction to the round of applause he receives from the group.

While Kryten is slowly being turned against his old friends, they continue to be turned into him, and we start to see how it’s affecting the three of them differently. For my money, Craig’s is the best portrayal; despite his physical characteristics showing far less then the other, there’s still plenty of Lister in the performance. He’s taken some of Kryten’s mannerisms, and his “X my Y and call me Z” gag construction, but he talks in a way that’s recognisably a version of his regular character, rather than merely an impersonation of someone else’s.

For this reason, and despite the nostalgic invocation of the talking books, I prefer Craig’s approach to Chris’s, whose performance choices are at odds with the direction the story takes his character. While he quickly ditches Rimmer’s persona, the script is quite correctly pointing out that Rimmer is more mechanoid-like in the first place than you’d expect. It makes total sense – Rimmer subscribes to there being a natural order in life, and he doesn’t actually mind if he’s giving or obeying orders, as long as his life has that structure. In fact, it’s easier for him to be the subservient one, and being a mechanoid removes the life-long pressure to rise up the ziggurat. Red Dwarf is often at its best when it’s really getting under the skin of its most complex character, and this is no exception.

In fact, it was this speech that gave me that aforementioned feeling that I was watching something special, and I stand by that. It’s a powerful and emotional treatise on a character that I care deeply about, and the later realisation that Rimmer’s repressed desire to be a fish is something that has previously risen to the surface, as early as the very first episode, was the cherry on top. The comedy was allowed to take a back seat for a while, which is always a risk, but when what you get instead is so good, I’m completely OK with it. Red Dwarf can be many things, but at its heart it’s all about the characters, whether it’s using them to get laughs or, on a much less frequent basis, to get an emotional reaction.

However, as good as the Rimmer stuff was in this scene, it highlighted that the Cat’s mechanisation process was a little jumbled and – again – inconsistent. With Rimmer’s subservience and Lister’s determination to escape providing the two extremes, Cat was deployed as the spare man, taking whatever stance the script required of him at any given moment. This is illustrated perfectly by him making a joke about eating fish, followed by the deliberately out-of-character, but rather quite touching, line about how he’d miss Rimmer if they left him behind. Both are good, but doing them both in a row is having your cake and eating it.

It’s not until we’ve been through all of this that we finally meet the episode’s much-vaunted big guest star, and it’s quite a small part considering how much James Buckley has been part of the promotion of the series. He doesn’t have much to do, but at least he’s good at giving the same performance he gives in everything. His Mk II cohorts, and their constant repetition of “so cool” are a big distraction, taking up a significant proportion of Buckley’s screen time, and necessitating several awkward moments where he has to wait for them to finish before delivering the next line. The scene also shifts the focus back on to the MILF and the way it’s run, which is necessary for a plot that’s heading towards a resolution, but it serves as a disappointing interval in the much more interesting character studies that have been taking place.

In the following scene, Listerbot and Kryten come face to face, and we get a really touching conversation about their relationship and what they mean to each other. It’s a dynamic that’s often overlooked in favour of the more frequently examined pairing of Lister and Rimmer, but there’s a lot to explore. This scene addresses the dichotomy of Lister giving Kryten independence but still retaining his services as a manservant, clarifying the pair’s feelings on the matter in the most heart-warming way. Somehow, the fact that it’s the mechanoid-Lister delivering these lines somehow makes them feel more genuine; the measured, matter-of-fact statements lending an extra level of sincerity.

It’s a shame that it’s the news about the slaves in the engine room that snaps Kryten out of his allegiance to the MILF, rather than Lister’s heartfelt pleas. As we reach the denouement, it becomes apparent that there’s not quite enough space to resolve both elements of the story – Kryten being brainwashed against the crew, and the rest of the crew becoming Krytenified – in an emotionally satisfactory manner. Cat and Rimmer are pretty much removed from the plot at this point, meaning that for Rimmer in particular, the huge character journey he starts is never completed. You kind of need to see him change his mind and choose to go back to his old life, much like Kryten does both here and in DNA, instead of it just being something that happens to him, where he has no say in it.

It doesn’t help that the resolution to the MILF side of the story is so… weird. The clean-off looks great visually, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and it’s just a bit dull, especially if you consider that this is what they’ve chosen to do in lieu of resolving the Rimmer story properly. Like so many other parts of the episode, it’s slightly frustrating, because there’s yet more good character-based dialogue happening – with Kryten desperately trying to get his Lister back by telling him how much he cares about him – but the mop-swinging action is a huge distraction from this.

As for the means by which the plot is resolved, “deus ex machina” is a term used almost exclusively by complete dickheads who aren’t as clever as they think they are, but, well… this is quite literally “god from the machine”. It’s not guilty of the crime that the common usage of the term implies, as Siliconia is so well-seeded throughout the episode that it’s plastered in big red letters over the first scene, but its unexpected appearance does seem sudden and somewhat convenient. Once again, in an episode that’s at its strongest when it’s focussed on character development, it’s an external element that wraps things up.

Before we know it, everyone’s turned back to normal and we’re back to the status quo, just in time for a little sign-off from Wind and Rusty and a brief conclusion of the guitar sub-plot. It’s nowhere near as jarring as the sudden endings to Samsara and Officer Rimmer, but it does feel like there’s something missing, even before you learn that a song and dance routine was removed during the edit. We don’t even see Cat and Rimmer back to their old selves, which really underlines how much the last few minutes of this episode sells the rest of it short.

A theme has emerged in this review whereby virtually every scene has something truly commendable, notable or brilliant, but that this is balanced by a series of accompanying caveats or disappointments. From what I’ve seen online, people are largely in agreement about which elements of the episode work and which ones don’t, and yet we’re still seeing such an extreme gulf in the conclusions that people are reaching. I think it all depends on just how much you like the good bits, and how much you feel the bad bits drag it down.

I wish the climax was better, and that Rimmer’s story was followed up to its conclusion, and that some of the inconsistencies in both the tone and the quality of the jokes had been ironed out. But when the jokes work, they really work, and for me the character stuff that we get is so good – both with Rimmer, and with the Kryten/Lister relationship – that I’m prepared to overlook some faults that I’d be less generous towards had I not enjoyed the good bits so much.

There was, you’ll remember, that brief moment where I thought I was watching something truly incredible. I remember thinking to myself that this could end up being the best episode of the Dave era. In the end, it wasn’t quite at that level – the minus points are slightly too numerous for that honour – but I’ll always remember that moment, and I’ll always be incredibly fond of The One Where Everyone’s Kryten as a result. For me, it’s very much a great episode with some disappointing bits, and not the other way round.

TINY TEASER: Flouncy Shirts (The type that Robocat was made to iron. Pirate ones, specifically.)
ACTUAL SCENE COUNT: 27 (Series total: 44)
ACTUAL SMEG COUNT: 2 (Series total: 2)

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48 Responses to Red Dwarf XII: Siliconia Review

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  1. Fun fact: the first scene was a VT rather than being done live in the studio to avoid spoiling the gag.

  2. I really love this episode, rushed ending and all. Could it have been better? Yes. But I’m extremely happy with what we got. Rimmer’s fish speech will always stick with me.

    I’d rather have not enough of something great than too much of something bad—it’s Series VIII, I’m talking about Series VIII.

    This is way better than Series VIII. I’m happy.

  3. Great review. Agree with pretty much all of it, coming at it less enamoured more confused on earlier viewings and growing more used to it and coming the to similar levels of opinion to this. Still dont rate Craig’s performance as much as you do though, the uneven result of their performances under rubber when ever character in the show including krytens beliefs changes like this
    Its disturbing, and unpredictable, that will always get in the way of this being the highest of classics but its a bold and brilliant attempt.

  4. Which were the smegs again?

  5. Also: THE MUSIC CUE IN THE KRYTEN PAMPERING SCENE

  6. G&T Admin

    Which were the smegs again?

    I counted Listerbot’s “smee hee”, and also Kryten says something about how he does all the smeggy jobs.

  7. Yes, it has shortcomings, and they’re slightly more obvious and worse than most of those in the classic run, but it’ll definitely be placed higher than some of the first 36 the next time we have a poll. Rimmer’s mechanoid speech is my favourite moment of the Dave era so far. Absolutely beautifully played.

  8. Re: the SS Vespasian – as someone who studied Classics, I can’t believe I missed this reference the first time round (in my defence, I was slightly pished at the time). Vespasian was the emperor who built the Colosseum, so all that gladiatorial stuff suddenly makes sense – I think they even refer to the mop-off taking place in the Cleanosseum. Could possibly also explain why they chose that shape for the MILF ship? Looks vaguely Colosseum-y. Well, it’s round at least.

    Anyway, I agree with most of the points made in this review. On first viewing I had conflicted (but mainly negative) views on this episode, but it’s clearly one of those that improves on subsequent viewings (always the best kind of episodes imo). I really like it now.

  9. Fun fact: the first scene was a VT rather than being done live in the studio to avoid spoiling the gag.

    That makes perfect sense, but man, if most of the mechanoid stuff was also VT then it sounds like the studio audience that night didn’t get much of the episode performed live. That’s as it had to be, of course, but I’d have been disappointed.

    (not a complaint, in any way, just an observation!)

  10. Fun fact: the first scene was a VT rather than being done live in the studio to avoid spoiling the gag.

    That makes perfect sense, but man, if most of the mechanoid stuff was also VT then it sounds like the studio audience that night didn’t get much of the episode performed live. That’s as it had to be, of course, but I’d have been disappointed.
    (not a complaint, in any way, just an observation!)

    We got a lot of VT, yes, but if it makes sense I don’t think I realised how much until I saw the finished episode – there was still a lot of live stuff (thanks to a lot of multiple takes for scenes) so we didn’t feel like we were missing out on that.

    For reference: As well as that first scene, everything where Lister, Kryten and Cat are mechs was pre-recorded. I *THINK* everything else was done live – for the transformation scene they showed us the VT, then did the bits where the still-human crew are under the hairdryers in front of the audience as well. (And no, I don’t know which version the broadcast ep uses.)

  11. To me, the negatives for this episode are “things that could make it better”, not “things that make it shit”. Apart from the very convenient sudden appearance of ‘Siliconia’. A single line of dialogue about them having almost reached Siliconia by this point might have helped. Unless there was one. There should have been.

  12. Also, the non-Kryten mechs having different voices could be explained away as them having broken their programming, at least a bit.

  13. I counted Listerbot’s “smee hee”, and also Kryten says something about how he does all the smeggy jobs.

    Wouldn’t smeeheee only count as half a smeg? Just wondering here.

  14. Apart from the very convenient sudden appearance of ‘Siliconia’. A single line of dialogue about them having almost reached Siliconia by this point might have helped. Unless there was one. There should have been.

    Wasn’t the appearance of Siliconia foreshadowed (so to speak) by that bright ‘star’ we see at least twice in the episode (in the distance during the guitar-in-space scene, and slightly closer during a Red Dwarf fly-past, about half way through)?

  15. Wasn’t the appearance of Siliconia foreshadowed (so to speak) by that bright ‘star’ we see at least twice in the episode (in the distance during the guitar-in-space scene, and slightly closer during a Red Dwarf fly-past, about half way through)?

    That is very possible, I might have just not noticed that. I don’t remember noticing the Star of David in Lemons.
    I’m not saying Siliconia wasn’t foreshadowed, it definitely wasn’t a deus ex machina, but it was a very sudden appearance.

  16. Fun Siliconia game – Google all the guest cast and be prepared for a long string of ‘oh, it was THEM!’ surprises. They’re certainly getting through the ensemble cast of Detectorists quickly enough.

  17. The only one from XI-XII so far that’s given me that glowy excitement that I might be watching a new all-time classic unfold (before it started to fall apart) is ‘Samsara,’ so I relate to that and hope I feel it again soon. Really enjoyed the opening scenes of this one, until the actual plot came along.

    My big personal beef with Dave Dwarf is how populated the universe has become. I don’t like that there are now mechanoids everywhere, many having only recently abandoned their crews. I guess that started with Last Human or maybe even VI, but I’ve been really feeling it since X. It can be justified if they’re significantly closer to Earth these days, but ich nichten lichten.

  18. I enjoyed a fair bit of the episode but the ending hurt it for me and a couple of the jokes fell flat.

  19. > I enjoyed a fair bit of the episode but the ending hurt it for me and a couple of the jokes fell flat.

    For Dax101 this is the warmest of praises. It is indeed hcan hcasset or blessed.

  20. My big personal beef with Dave Dwarf is how populated the universe has become. I don’t like that there are now mechanoids everywhere, many having only recently abandoned their crews. I guess that started with Last Human or maybe even VI, but I’ve been really feeling it since X. It can be justified if they’re significantly closer to Earth these days, but ich nichten lichten.

    I thought it was strongly implied that they’ve made significant leaps back since the unpopulated desolation of VI-BTE era. In Trek terms they’re not in the Delta Quadrant anymore and are probably closer to the Alpha Quadrant again. You can kind of feel them leaving the edges of populated space after V when they get lost, and after Back To Earth they have a new mission, so it kind of makes geographical sense. The events of Trojan seem to come as a surprise to the crew, and are exacerbated by the power of the quantum rod.

    It’s all there. Kind of. A bit.

  21. Fun Siliconia game – Google all the guest cast and be prepared for a long string of ‘oh, it was THEM!’ surprises. They’re certainly getting through the ensemble cast of Detectorists quickly enough.

    Marcus Garvey was certainly unexpected.

  22. Fun Siliconia game – Google all the guest cast and be prepared for a long string of ‘oh, it was THEM!’ surprises. They’re certainly getting through the ensemble cast of Detectorists quickly enough.

    Marcus Garvey was certainly unexpected.

    No-one remember old Marcus Garvey.

  23. I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about this episode since Thursday, and then I realised that by this time last week I’d watched Cured 4 or 5 times. I’ve watched Siliconia once … and I don’t really have much desire to watch it again. Would rather watch Cured again.

    I did enjoy watching the episode, thought it was fun, funny, great character moments etc as pointed out … but all in all feel a little “meh” by it. I think also I wasn’t as excited by the concept of everyone being Kryten than a lot of people were. It worked in some respects, didn’t work in others and well … I think I wouldn’t have minded if it hadn’t been an episode.

  24. What parts did you feel worked and what parts didn’t?

  25. For me, too many of the recent episodes have been broad ensemble pieces with an over-abundance of half-stories, instead of daring to focus on one thread.

    Siliconia needed to either be a full-on Rimmer episode (which admittedly could have gotten somewhat dark…but who cares?? bring it the eff on!), OR a Lister/Kryten relationship study. If you begin with that initial setup in stone, you can then run with the idea-of-the-week (in this case, ‘the one where everyone’s a mechanoid’) and run like hell. With Red Dwarf you can forgive ALL of the craziness, and indeed pretty much anything nonsensical or deus ex machina-esque, as long as the character material is there and strong.

    They also need to stop being afraid of leaving any of the main cast out of a couple of scenes. The openings of Siliconia and Cured had all 4 cast crammed in for no particular reason (perhaps other than ‘we’re paying them, so let’s have them in the scene’ :p), so you have Kryten pointlessly there with a *yawn* mixing bowl, looking bored, in the poker scene of Cured, then you get the Cat and Rimmer thrown into the opening of Siliconia when it should only have been Kryten and Lister. There was a big lost opportunity to do something with their relationship in this episode, and while Rimmer’s speech was very good indeed, the whole thing would have played best as Lister/Kryten

  26. It’s all there. Kind of. A bit.

    There is that a line in Trojan which basically covers that but I can’t remember it.

    For me, XI/XII have reclaimed the feeling of isolation on board Red Dwarf that was lost in X though Mechocracy might change that.

  27. Great review. I’ve found this episode more enjoyable after rewatching it, but Cured remains my favourite of XII so far.

    Has anyone praised the music in this episode yet? Cause that really deserves praise I think, it might be my favourite for a single episode in the Dave era so far. I love the eerieness of the cue for the guitar floating through space, it’s very science-fictiony and suggests that finding this guitar was not a mere coincidence (I presume the MILFs were using the guitar as bait). It’s great to hear the observation dome cue again. And the music when they find Silliconia is beautiful.

  28. I did tweet Howard asking when Rhapsody In Red would be available, but he didn’t answer (and he answers everything), so I’m assuming there are nice plans on the schedule. Can’t wait to hear the Siliconia score clean.

  29. Good review, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as you. I’ve watched it three times now, and with each watch I’m enjoying it a little bit more (so hopefully after my 100th watch I’ll love it!), but I still think it’s possibly the weakest episode of the Dave era. I pretty much agree with the things that worked and the things that didn’t, but I’m finding it harder to let the things that didn’t work pass. They’re too distracting for me to ignore and it’s spoiling my enjoyment – such as the awful MILFs *shudder*.

    I don’t like to use the word “lazy” because I know how much effort goes into creating this show, but there were so many parts of this episode that were rushed or not given the attention they needed. I just felt that it was all poorly executed.

    One of my biggest gripes with this episode is that there’s no real comeuppance or learning-of-lessons for the MILFs. They only accept the older models because they are upgraded to be the same. What if they come across some other ‘lower’ mechanoids a few days later, will they be enslaved?

    I really wanted to like this episode but I just couldn’t. I hope it grows on me more.

  30. Anyone watched this episode yet in a double bill with “Kryten”, the arc of Rimmer enslaving Kryten then becoming him, or even in a triple watch with Camille, for the lister and kryten progression, I might give that a whirl when i get the XII dvd.

  31. They’re not going to enslave more mechs. They’ve all got the software update that makes them nice now.

  32. Richard Glover! He was fucking terrifying/brilliant in The Casual Vacancy. Well done him.

    This is a good review.
    The way you’ve written about Kryten and Lister fighting made me realise that it was a joke. “With Kryten desperately trying to get his Lister back by telling him how much he cares about him” against an onslaught of “mop-swinging action.” With the right direction this could have been funny instead of a distraction. I agree, though, it did get in the way of the more interesting Rimmer story arc.

    I’m pleased the song and dance routine didn’t make the edit.

  33. >They’ve all got the software update that makes them nice now.

    Is that what happened? I thought a wizard gave them software updates to make them equal, so there was no division. That doesn’t stop them meeting other droids at a lower version and treating them like shit.

  34. They were treating the lower ones like crap because of the model, not os version. That was just I’ve of their reasons for being so proud. This software update just made all of them keen to serve, as seen by how they’re all friendly to Kryten at the end despite the fact that they were just about to chuck him or an airlock.

  35. It doesn’t bother me that the ending of the plot required a huge coincidence. The beginning of the plot required a huge coincidence too, after all.

    It didn’t quite make sense, though. They make it clear that the version 3s are better than the version 2s in more ways than just software. I give them at least a 50% chance of going straight back to subjugating former version 2s as “impure” or something.

    Plus, it doesn’t exactly get to the root of the bigotry, does it? I’m not sure if the divide is more analogous to race or class, but either way it doesn’t feel right. Imagine if this story was about humans, and it ended with a wizard ‘solving’ racism by turning all black and brown people’s skin colour to white.

  36. That would solve racism, though
    Except, being humans, we’d just find something else to be horrible to each other over, like gender or hair color or whether or not you like Series VIII

  37. The upgrade doesn’t change anybody’s physical appearance, though. I think the idea is that through the upgrade they all reach a kind of enlightenment. It gets rid of the feelings of inferiority the Mk IIs have, and the prejudices of the Mk IIIs.

  38. Yeah, it’s not analogous with turning everyone to the same skin colour, it’s analogous with everyone learning that everyone is equal whatever their skin colour and that racism is stupid and archaic. During the upgrade, Wind says “We’re being updated to modern thoughts.” They’re still different, but their attitudes to those differences have been updated. Skin colour isn’t the cause of racism, it’s the bigoted attitudes some people have to skin colour which is the cause.

  39. Sorry, but he says “We’re being updated, to model fours.” Rusty then says “At last, we’re all the same”.

    Soooo, yeah.

  40. … What?!?

    Well now I just don’t know what is real anymore.

  41. That would solve racism, though

    Except, being humans, we’d just find something else to be horrible to each other over, like gender or hair color or whether or not you like Series VIII

    Yes, that’s exactly my point. That’s why the solution feels cheap, because it effectively sides with the oppressors’ point of view. “Of course you were right to oppress them if they’re different, but now they’re the same so you don’t need to.” The “It gives them enlightenment” idea would’ve been better.

  42. I think it’s possible to interpret it like this: the upgrade DOES give them enlightenment, and so their attitudes to the differences between them change, and they realise that they are “all the same” in ways that matter, and aren’t to do with hardware or software or whatever.

  43. I wonder if the bigotry displayed between Mechanoids here was an expansion on Kryten’s own attitude in Out of Time where he treats Lister as a slave when he realises he’s a 3000 Series.

  44. Just read this review again having watched Siliconia a second time last night. Happy to report I like it at least as much as Ian does. I’d definitely place it among my favourites of the Dave era. Great looking, impressively ambitious episode with some proper laughs – Rimmering, the lying lesson callback, Starbug’s grabber, Cat’s small brain. There was some funny stuff in the therapy scene as well but it could have done with trimming imo. The mop fight was the only bit that didn’t really work at all for me. I agree it at least looked good but, yes, they should have done something else with Rimmer instead.

    I thought the cast were very good, regulars and guests. Loved the unsettling horror vibe some scenes had. Rimmer’s speech really was strangely affecting, and relatable, and the Lister/Kryten bits were quite moving too. Really a lot of heart in this one.
    A bit on the nose perhaps but I liked the way Rimmer was framed standing in the cell, a cage of his own neuroses, if you will, when he delivered that speech. I didn’t make the ‘I am a fish’ connection. That’s brilliant, makes me like the speech even more.
    I also hadn’t thought about the female mechs not having breasts like Camille does. I guess female mechanoids just don’t have them, but Camille could tell that Kryten wishes they did, the dirty dog!

  45. There is the stuff about realistic toes and sunroof head though of course, so maybe certain models do have boobs.

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