March 13, 2019 at 9:58 am #245798
Time to celebrate another random episode rather than moan about Blu-rays, I guess? International Debris pointed out how much of an impression [Lister’s] Paranoia makes in just a few minutes of screen time, and that made me want to watch the episode again. Turns out he’s skulking around on screen for about 2 minutes and 12 seconds (unless I can’t count).
His hunched-Transylvanian-servant-meets-unpopular-child-in-class look is a great personification of nagging doubt that Roger Hargreaves could be proud of, and the drippy yoghurt is an inspired bit of prop work.
Amid his various putdowns and revelations, the most interesting is him voicing what’s claimed to be Lister’s insecurity about how he measures up to Rimmer – though even if that is true, it’s probably largely in the past when Rimmer’s rank was actually relevant. Shame Paranoia didn’t arrive a bit earlier to meet Future Echoes era Rimmer, they would’ve got on swimmingly before he went all soft.
Lee Cornes is a familiar face across 80s comedy, but his recurring roles across Bottom and Blackadder never especially impressed me like his very brief stint as Paranoia does. By contrast, I’ve never been such a fan of Craig Ferguson’s Confidence, a bit light-entertainment Biff Tannen for my liking. I assume we’re supposed to find him irritating and not admirable like Lister does, so it works. Or it just says something about my own psychology.
…I hope this was a worthwhile thing to post on here and I’m not just wasting your time. I know it’s not the most original observation in the world, saying a well-liked character is good. Don’t know what I was thinking. Just don’t reply and I’ll get the message, it’s alright. Sorry. sorry.March 13, 2019 at 10:11 am #245799
I always think of Lee Cornes more for Grange Hill than anything else.
You’re right though, Paranoia is one of those great little supporting roles that does a lot with relatively little, and really makes an impression. I like the episode a lot, not least because it’s a good way to give Lister and Rimmer more people to interact with in the quiet early days of the show, without making it feel any more populated in real terms.March 13, 2019 at 10:15 am #245801
I tend to disregard the episode a bit, so it’s good to be reminded how good it is. Posting this in heightened self-awareness has made me further realise why I enjoy Paranoia so much.March 13, 2019 at 10:22 am #245802
I guess it’s a bit broad in places, particularly Confidence – I think it works though, given that these are meant to be exaggerated elements of Lister’s personality based on his own conscious conception of them.March 13, 2019 at 10:38 am #245803
Brilliant little write up. There’s lots of little gems dotted throughout series one that kind of get glanced over for various reasons and this is one of them.
This is really one of the only episodes (except possibly Demons and Angels) that has some introspection on Lister and his psychology. Most other times episodes like this would focus on Rimmer.
It had never really occurred to me that Paranoia is on screen for such a short time, but I’ve always loved that they gave him a yogurt, which just completes the character is a way that’s hard to describe. However came up with that is genius.
I too mainly associate Lee Cornes with Grange Hill, but then I guess I was watching that more as a kid than the comedy roles he played. His bit parts in Blackadder etc don’t really stand out much.March 13, 2019 at 10:43 am #245804
It’s my least favourite episode of 1, but it’s still great. I didn’t realise Paranoia was on screen for such little time as that though! He’s utterly brilliant. I’d love to have come up with the yoghurt: it’s not an obvious prop, but it somehow sums him up perfectly. And perfect casting: Lee Cornes was born to play slimy, unlikeable people.
His words are interesting. It’s hard to know exactly what they were going for at such an early stage, but it’s easy to read things into it: deep down, Lister knows he’s actually better than Rimmer (“You’ve got brains, man! Brains you’ve never used), so being his subordinate, being looked down on by him, there must be a part of Lister’s mind thinking “Shit, am I REALLY worse than Rimmer? Is this really all I can be?” Again, possibly a bit deep for Rob & Doug in series 1, but it holds up well over the course of the series.
Rimmer’s dislike of the character is in some part disgust at seeing himself personified in such an honest way. Paranoia is who Rimmer is inside, and not the smart, upwardly mobile officer-in-waiting he tries to portray on the outside.
My favourite moment of the episode is Lister’s pause between “What are we waiting for, King?” and “Nothing.” A brief moment where he considers that maybe a balanced centre between the two extremes of his character might be the best option.March 13, 2019 at 10:51 am #245806
Again, possibly a bit deep for Rob & Doug in series 1, but it holds up well over the course of the series.
I think Rob and Doug always kind of saw Lister as capable but just slobby with no ambition outside of his Fiji farm. At least when they get to the books he is only on Red Dwarf to get home, you kind of get the impression in the show he is only on Red Dwarf to save up some money to buy his farm.
It had never really occurred to me that Rimmer see’s himself in Paranoia and hates it.
That moment of pause where Lister reflects on what he is about to do it brilliant and again, something I’d not ever really considered. It’s a love bit of direction/actingMarch 13, 2019 at 11:28 am #245808
It’s a very thought-provoking episode. I’ve got Confidence and Paranoia in 32nd place, down in the least-best-classics dumps. I should budge it up a bit, past Psirens and DNA at least, but… there’s a lot of good Red Dwarf, you know?
(+ Chicken marengo)March 13, 2019 at 12:18 pm #245812
> That moment of pause where Lister reflects on what he is about to do it brilliant and again, something I’d not ever really considered. It’s a love bit of direction/acting
I also really like the way Confidence seems to loom over Lister as he follows him out, slightly too closely. Not even sure it’s deliberate, might just be the spacesuit and the fact that he’s big anyway.
The sublime “Space Walk” Blue Danube-y version of the theme is one of the best things in all of Red Dwarf.
Lee Cornes is very good in 15 Storeys High as well.March 13, 2019 at 12:31 pm #245813
I think Rob and Doug always kind of saw Lister as capable but just slobby with no ambition outside of his Fiji farm.
True, but written in the same block as “what’s an iguana?” it’s hard to tell just how developed that underlying intelligence was at this stage.
Lee Cornes is very good in 15 Storeys High as well.
Oh God the cowboy poet. One of the most awkwardly hilarious things I’ve ever seen.March 13, 2019 at 4:08 pm #245827
It appears that 5 years ago he put out a flurry of videos on youtube and never bothered again since.March 14, 2019 at 1:05 am #245902
I met Lee Cornes at a Red Dwarf themed pub quiz in Kentish Town once. He was a lovely chap.March 14, 2019 at 8:37 am #245909
This thread has changed my opinion of this episode, so thank you. I will return to it with fresh eyes. I wrote it off because of Craig Ferguson. I have wanted another version where Paranoia was the main character, but it doesn’t feel like Lister. Confidence is definitely his dominant trait.
I tend to think of Lee Cornes as the binman in Filthy Rich and Catflap. I think because he’s most “normal” in it and not a hideous caricature.March 14, 2019 at 7:43 pm #245988
I met Paul Muller at a Red Dwarf themed pub quiz in Kentish Town once. He was a lovely chap.
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