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    A popular episode that doesn’t get discussed very much because it’s not annoying, series V’s silver medallist has been in the top 5 of all public polls since it came out, sometimes as high as top 3. This status seems unquestioned. Is it really that good, or coasting along on simpletons remembering Mr Flibble? What keeps it from the top of the podium?

    I decided it was my favourite episode when I first saw it, probably in late 1999 after seeing most of the episodes except V. That’s still probably the case today, but not to an exaggerated extent. I think it’s the most all-round ideal episode, balancing the sci-fi, peril, gags, character comedy and striking imagery in equal measure.

    That all-roundness might be where it falls down compared to episodes that commit more fully in one direction, like Back to Reality and Marooned. Gunmen has a similar balance, as does VI generally by design. The emphasis on being funny means it ends up being one of the lighter episodes of V, which says a lot about V when you consider how dark this thing is.

    It’s probably considered a Rimmer episode, but he’s aff his heid for most of it and everyone gets plenty to do. More all-rounding there. Oh, except Holly, of course, who I forgot was even in it. And Lister may be short changed a bit, but he gets crackers like “a little three-seater.”

    Positive viruses are up there with my favourite Grant Naylor concepts (if it’s original), and it’s down to the presentation since I wasn’t particularly impressed when I saw them earlier in VIII. The convenient ending might be annoying if that convenience wasn’t made into a joke. The laziness of this shot cracks me up:

    Is there much to say about Quarantine?


    Ben Saunders

    The tetchy scene is just glorious. Kryten getting well and truly riled up by Lister doing shit like sneezing into a handkerchief and inspecting the contents. The opening stuff is genuinely spooky, and the reveal of wiping away all the dust to uncover the deadly warning message, quickly followed by Kryten’ beautifully performed psi-scanning “oh it’s frozen”, and “we are going to… live”, simultaneously builds tension while being utterly hilarious – humour often deflated tension, but in this scene the two go hand in hand, it’s really quite masterful. Positive viruses is an amazing concept, basically there isn’t much discussion of this episode because it does everything it sets out to do rather well and people are much more willing and able to complain about shite than to praise excellence.

    Oh, and the king of the potato people bit is also incredible. I actually think the Mr. Flibble/Rimmer in a dress stuff is the least interesting or funny part of the entire episode, to be honest. It’s still quite humorous, but there are much more clever and well-executed gags, like the ones I mentioned above, and Kryten smashing his head off a wall and getting hit in the back by a floating axe works better on the silly slapstick front.



    Yeah, it’s nice to show some bloody appreciation sometimes.

    Mr Flibble and the King of the Potato People are things that are probably funniest when you’re younger. Which is good, because kids love Red Dwarf and it should have stuff for them too, even if they’re not technically supposed to be watching.

    Cat’s “why don’t we ever meet anyone who can shoot straight?” was my favourite line in anything ever at the time, almost breaking the fourth wall. Kryten/Robert is consistently fantastic, even getting laughs from stating the probabilities as Lister deals the cards, a case of making reading the phone book funny.



    Shameful that I made a post about how Quarantine has long been my favourite episode without thinking to call it “the all-time number one.”



    I watched again and laughed the most at Mr Flibble’s eye movements, Chris Barrie quivering with rage in pigtails and the sound effect when Kryten gets thunked in the spine with an axe, so clearly I’m still in primary school.



    Quarantine is great for all of the above reasons. Plus it’s the only episode of Red Dwarf to genuinely shit me up – Lanstrom is a brilliantly horrible baddie, and even though she’s not in it very much it’s her presence that makes the stakes so high when you realise that Rimmer has the same virus.



    The laziness of this shot cracks me up

    I never thought of this as lazy, just framed for maximum comedy impact.


    Ben Saunders

    The greatest mark of quality that Quarantine has going for it is that its central premise – a hologrammatic virus – doesn’t make ANY sense, but nobody cares or even notices because everything surrounding the idea is so wonderful. How do you infect light? How does light operate the thing he’s using to communicate, or the computers he typically uses, etc. Why don’t they just switch him off?

    Is Holly even in this episode?

    Robert Llewellyn is really on top form in this episode, and The Inquisitor, in fact he really steals the show and may be the best part of it.


    Ben Saunders

    How does something previously immaterial and unable to affect the real world suddenly have the ability to zap you with lightning? Does the virus give you temporary and directable hard light capabilities?


    Ben Saunders

    Would quarantine procedure still be used in a scenario where everybody who can possibly be infected already I’d and the only person worried about infection is made of light?

    Also: should a hologram REALLY outrank any living personnel? Even if we consider them sentient, a hologram acting in its own interest resulting in the death or discomfort of a real, live human being is surely to be avoided? Shouldn’t somebody who’s actually alive and can feel hope and fear and pain should have some sort of power of veto over a simulation



    Holly has the vital tasks of preparing Rimmer’s pod for launch and announcing that they’ve got a bit of a problem with the cargo bay doors. She’s full neglected Uhura here.



    I think the trouble with including Holly more is that it gives them too much of an easy get-out. Sidelining Holly is the only way to create the jeopardy that the back half of the episode needs.

    Would quarantine procedure still be used in a scenario where everybody who can possibly be infected already I’d and the only person worried about infection is made of light?

    In usual circumstances no, but the whole point is that Rimmer is being an arsehole by playing it strictly by-the-book to make life as difficult for them as possible.



    All of Holly’s dialogue in series V that isn’t just announcing ship operations or explaining the plot:

    – Holoship: none (deleted scene only).

    – The Inquisitor: “No, being a totally worthless, unwashed space bum, that’s what makes you prunable.”

    – Terrorform: taranshula scene. Five funny lines back and forth with Dave, then back to narrating. Best showing.

    – Quarantine: none.

    – Demons and Angels: “rude alert” monologue. Gets to play High & Low, but still just announcing/explaining stuff.

    – Back to Reality: “There’s enough fried Calamari out there to feed the whole of Italy.”



    I always figured the holovirus was a computer virus. Rimmer puts them in quarantine because he’s already infected and starting madness. The virus allows him to channel his own power supply as lightning and hex vision.

    Could Rimmer have turned Holly off to stop her getting involved?

    As for him touching stuff, I think Rob and Doug gave up on the rules of holograms almost as soon as they made them. It goes from “Holly can only sustain one hologram” to Me2 in the space of 6 episodes.


    International Debris

    And then back to “but let’s forget that we can have two holograms” after Me^2.

    Yeah, Quarantine is bloody excellent. Mr. Flibble stuck with me and my dad from the moment we saw it. My favourite episode of V, and an all-time top 5. “And we’re going to… live” is one of my favourite Red Dwarf lines. Every time I blow my nose I imagine Kryten saying “What do you expect to see in there? A Turner seascape perhaps?”. “Two and one-half badgers, please” is a fantastic bit of nonsense.

    The holovirus must be a specialised computer virus, surely? No idea how that creates hex vision or telekinesis, but I don’t profess to be a hologram expert. I’m sure Rob or Doug could explain it perfectly.



    Whether it makes sense or not, Kryten best-guesses the pseudoscience in the episode – the virus can travel via radio waves and superpowers a hologram by draining their “lifespan.” Similar to Holly’s IQ in White Hole.

    It’s ambiguous whether Rimmer’s under the influence when he locks them up. It would be good writing to show him acting slightly off as a hint, so maybe, but I take it as pure Rimmer revenge after they seriously pissed him off, since it’s non lethal at first and just really annoying. He already stated his intent that Kryten would “die by the rulebook” before getting infected, as well as pretending not to hear them and being sarcastic when they were clearly in deadly danger.


    Pete Part Three

    Quarantine is the proof that if you’re trying to list reasons why you don’t like something, listing the plotholes as a “reason” why it fails is a waste of everyone’s time. Quarantine has lots of nonsense moments, but it’s also fucking funny, and is a smart story driven by its characters. Result: no one cares about the stuff that doesn’t make sense.


    Ben Saunders

    It’s an interesting display of a sort of bias, I think. If you fundamentally enjoy something, you are willing to overlook its flaws. Being told those flaws won’t make you suddenly hate the thing, and either you get defensive and try to dismiss the flaws, or you accept them… and carry on liking the thing. However if you fundamentally dislike something, the flaws become objective facts you can turn to in your attempt to rationalise why you disliked the thing, and become glaring, irrefutable things that the people who disagree with you are just too blind or stupid to see. Of course, at the end of the day it’s just “I liked it” vs. “I didn’t”, and it’s quite rare for an argument on either side to get anywhere. However, if you can be slightly more mature or analytical about it, it can be very interesting to try and understand why somebody would like or dislike something you feel so strongly about, and can either lead to you having a more well-rounded critical lens, or simply appreciating things more.

    There are several moments in, for example, that big sci-fi film that came out December 2017, which I view as fundamental moments that completely undermine the entire movie… but that’s only because I fundamentally do not like the work. To somebody who does like it, those moments are “unimportant”, “nitpicking”, etc. And who’s right? Both of us, probably.


    Ben Saunders

    Also I never understood the complaint that they run two holograms in Me2. Don’t they specifically state that this is possible if they turn off all nonessential power systems elsewhere on the ‘Dwarf? And given that there are only three “people” and a computer aboard, this doesn’t seem too impossible do for the duration of one episode. They never do it again because they have no reason to, or need the power.



    See I’m not convinced that Quarantine really does have plot holes. Of course there’s lots of silly stuff, but the internal logic all stands up. There’s nothing that happens that breaks you out of the immersion and makes you think “wait, no, that doesn’t make sense” (which is what bothered me the most about the last Dr.Who season).



    Also I never understood the complaint that they run two holograms in Me2. Don’t they specifically state that this is possible if they turn off all nonessential power systems elsewhere on the ‘Dwarf? And given that there are only three “people” and a computer aboard, this doesn’t seem too impossible do for the duration of one episode. They never do it again because they have no reason to, or need the power.

    I’m more bothered by the fact they don’t boot the hologram Brown up in Bodyswap, but instead go through a rather length mindswap in order to try and override the self destruct.

    They do have a reason to, on that occasion, and they don’t.

    Mind that’s just me being picky, and obviously without the mindswap stuff we wouldn’t have an episode so just ignore me.


    Pete Part Three

    I would say the idea of “Postive Viruses” is the kind of pseudo-science which Entangled sits in (Beggs choking to death). It’s not something you’d do in hard sci-fi because it’s fundamentally ridiculous. But it’s a neat idea and lends itself to comedy.

    Lister attempting to pick up a vending machine by bouncing on top of it, is the sort of logical inconsistency that bothers me because that, in itself, is supposed to be The Comedy.


    International Debris

    They never do it again because they have no reason to

    It just seems daft that Lister didn’t think “maybe I’ll try another disc and see if Kochanski’s there” or “I’ll get Petersen online!” or even “I’ll get Hollister back up to help us out” or… well, anything. The idea that more than one hologram can technically exist is completely and utterly ignored.



    Like the luck virus between Quarantine and Back in the Red. Might have been worth a try.



    I like Quarantine quite a lot, but the ending has always bothered me since it’s not at all clear whether the rest of the crew have somehow caught the holovrius and are all infected, or if they’re just pratting around in gingham dresses to get back at Rimmer. If it’s the former, then holy shit that’s a bleak ending. If it’s the latter, then that’s weirdly out of character for everyone and makes no sense. Why are they doing this? Do we really believe Cat would wear a gingham dress, even for a second? And why does their payback amount to nothing more than dancing around a bit and clucking, after Rimmer put them through days and days of the most unpleasant conditions imaginable? Why would dancing around and clucking a bit bother Rimmer at all?

    So you’re stuck with either an incredibly bleak ending in which everyone but Rimmer is now infected with the virus, or an incredibly nonsensical ending that raises a lot of questions. The rest of the episode is great, but either way you look at the ending, it’s a little dodgy.



    It gets a big laugh though, so as discussed above, it gets a pass.



    Sometimes you just have to ignore some of the endings to Red Dwarf as they don’t make much sense and someone hits a reset button in-between episodes.

    Me2 – the ability to run two holograms is they wanted to

    Better than Life – they’re still in the game. How do they get out? Is everything from hereon out still a part of the game? Would explain why they start to encounter more and more life threatening things throughout the universe. Rimmer’s mind trying to ruin life for them

    Polymorph – presumably the crew have another adventure battling a second Polymorph, unless you believe that lying ending added on in Remastered.

    Timeslides – they still effectively have a time machine. Could at the very least go on holiday, visit different people for a bit.

    Backwards, Marooned, Bodyswap all leave a Starbug crash landed somewhere.

    DNA – they seemingly haven’t figured out how the DNA machine works at the end, but at some point must be able to use it proficiently enough to return Kryten to a Mechanoid and Lister to a normal human.

    Whitehole – by plugging the hole they return to a point before any of the episode happens. So wouldn’t Kryten retrace his steps and unknowingly attempt to make Holly smart, fuck it up, and then without the whitehole rest, lose Holly forever?

    Meltdown – Matter paddle, they can teleport hundreds of thousands light years away. Never attempt to use it again.

    There’s probably more but I give up


    Pete Part Three

    >Whitehole – by plugging the hole they return to a point before any of the episode happens.

    The intention is that it’s spewing time into the universe before they realise this, so it’s likely that it was active during the events of the ion storm that turned Holly into a complete moron (rather than just a partial one). Maybe the reason the ship went into the ion storm (or the reason there even was one) was due to the white hole.

    So the crew occupy a redundant timeline, don’t go through the ion storm and there’s no longer an urgent need to cure Holly’s senility.

    Course this doesn’t explain why the Toaster is around in Mechocracy but fuck it.



    I’m not keen on the ending either, and Lister, Cat and Kryten getting on each other’s nerves to the point of beating each other up I find a bit too on the nose. Obviously the point of the scene is that they’re behaving out of character but Cat and Kryten squaring up to each other, Kryten calling Cat a moron etc. never quite sits right with me. But apart from that, yes, big tick for Quarantine. Put it 12th in the PP. Lanstrom is great. I especially like that shot of her sideways on, sitting in the pod before she turns towards the guys. And the crocheted hats is a brilliant joke – Lister absolutely *would* sit and learn how to make them if he had nothing else to do.


    Ben Saunders

    Hell is trapped forever in a room with your mates etc, I can totally imagine the trio absolutely loathing each other if forced to spend enough time in close proximity – how long was it, anyway?



    >the ion storm that turned Holly into a complete moron

    Somehow, I never noticed that needlessly dubbed line in White Hole until the last time I watched. In my memory, Cat got a laugh from his previous line and we had a silent ship transition, it was so weird to hear it. I was always able to accept Holly acting stupider than usual for the sake of a story without last-minute overdubbed justification.



    >how long was it, anyway?

    Five days.


    Ben Saunders

    >Five days.
    Understandable then, I should think



    Lanstrom is great. I especially like that shot of her sideways on, sitting in the pod before she turns towards the guys.

    That’s the one. Chilling.


    International Debris

    I like Quarantine quite a lot, but the ending has always bothered me since it’s not at all clear whether the rest of the crew have somehow caught the holovrius and are all infected

    I never even considered this. Given that Lister says “we’re here to entertain you!” with a grin on its face, it seems pretty obvious that they’re just playing a prank on him. It’s a daft ending, but nothing more than a silly joke really. It never bothered me at all.



    According to unsourced IMDb trivia:

    It is said that Chris Barrie only agreed to wear the gingham dress if the other cast members would wear one too, as they appear at the end in the dresses to entertain Rimmer while he is in quarantine.

    Don’t know if that’s from an interview, Q&A panel or someone’s arse.



    That sounds like one of those anecdotes that’s said on the spot to be a bit witty but is largely bollocks.


    Pete Part Three

    I remember overhearing someone in the office telling someone that Del Boy falling through the bar was a blooper they left in.

    “STOP TALKING SHIT, YOU TWAT!!!” is what I thought. Although I didn’t say it. I just thought it and smiled mischievously.



    Dropping the wrong chandelier was a genuine mistake by the production team too, but they couldn’t afford to buy a replacement so the cast stayed in character and improvised around it. And now it’s a classic!




    I often hear “STOP GETTING BOND WRONG” in my head when a colleague rolls out his fact that Harrison Ford was a carpenter who was building the sets for Star Wars when he fell into the Han Solo role.



    “Did you know” John Cleese forgot the name of his enchanter character in Holy Grail and just made up Tim on the spot and everyone went with it!

    “Did you know” the extras in the biggus dickus scene were told they’d get fired on the spot if they laughed, but Michael Palin was so funny they couldn’t help themselves!

    Urgh … why are people so willing to believe this type of stuff rather than appreciate talented comedy writers?



    Apparently Red Dwarf was originally intended to be a larger ensemble comedy but plans changed when Chris Barrie accidentally killed off most of the cast halfway through recording the pilot episode.



    Yes, Craig Charles really did eat human meat in Tikka to Ride, as the actor insists on doing his own culinary stunts. It is said that he only agreed if the other cast members also had a taste. Co-star Danny John-Jules is reported to have said, “I’d prefer chicken.”



    Craig is reported to have been disappointed the statue that they had built and installed in the courtyard of a stately home did not urinate champagne, leading to Doug insisting they re-stage the scene, with a new statue capable of doing that for the Re-mastered release.


    International Debris

    #Dwarffacts: the thread



    For the scene in Confidence and Paranoia where Cat marks his territory, Danny John-Jules insisted on filling the atomiser with his own piss. Ever the method actor, he stayed in character between takes, liberally spraying props, cameras, the crew, Craig Charles, and audience members with his piss. There was piss everywhere.



    Fans of ‘Bodyswap’ have long debated the exact meaning of the look of surprise seen as Rimmer takes Lister’s body to the lavatory for the first time.

    But now we can reveal the truth: during a filming break immediately before that scene was recorded, an on-set fluffer secretly painted Craig Charles’ lower regions fluorescent yellow with purple spots; the expression on his face during that scene is therefore 100% genuine.



    I now imagine Craig’s cock to look like Spotty from Super Ted.



    Heidi Monsen who played “Sister” Talia Garrett is Chris Barrie’s sister in real life. It took 57 minutes and countless takes to film their kiss scene until director Ed Bye was finally satisfied.



    ‘Back To Reality’ may be the show’s most popular episode, but did you know it was originally written to end with the crew simply killing themselves in the ‘real’ world, and no suggestion whatsoever that this reality was the work of the Despair Squid?

    Luckily an imaginative audience member suggested the twist to Rob Grant and Doug Naylor on the night. They liked it so much that they hurriedly rewrote the now-classic ending, thus allowing Red Dwarf to carry on for a sixth series after all. (They also took the opportunity to rework the budget-breaking multi-million-pound car-chase action centrepiece slated for post-production into something more managable.)


    International Debris

    Little known fact: Series VIII is the show’s least rated series, but scientifically it is actually the Best Series. Krytie TV, in particular, is Classic Dwarf.



    The long gap between series 6 and 7 was due to Chris Barrie and the camera crew having to learn to skydive for the opening sequence of Stoke me a Clipper. This now famous stunt sequence, shot in one take, lead to Tom Cruise insisting on the same for the halo jump sequence in Mission Impossible: Fallout



    Rob Grant took some persuading that robotic manservant Kryten should return to the show in Series III. Co-writer Doug Naylor eventually wore him down with several more outrageous ideas for a new regular character. These included Captain Hollister’s stroppy niece Celeste, a wisecracking alien glove puppet named Frank, and Taiwan Tony.



    Many fans are convinced that the explosion in Queeg killed the original Craig Charles and he’s been played by a dedicated lookalike ever since. Ironically, the replacement Craig is said not to enjoy curry very much, which is why Lister is never seen eating any curry in the rest of the series.


    Ben Saunders

    Unhappy with his portrayal of deceased crewman Arnold Rimmer, actor Chris Barrie requested that he be killed in order to better understand his role. Series III is shot on extremely cheap, old video cameras due to this fact – most of the budget for the series was spent on utilising a BBC Hologrammic Projection Suite, the first of its kind, invented specifically for Barrie. It has long been rumoured that the show’s creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor parted ways in 1996 due to Grant and Barrie being involved in a sexual relationship following Barrie’s upgrade to hard-light status. Having been secretly in love with Barrie for multiple years, this upset Naylor greatly. Consumed with jealousy, he ate the only copy of the first complete script for Grant Naylor’s ITV sitcom, The Ooo-eee-Ooo Dimension, and the two didn’t speak to each other for years after.



    The younger versions of Lister seen in Timeslides, The Inquisitor and Ouroboros were played by Emile Charles, who is Craig Charles’ nephew in real life.



    Many fans have marvelled at the miraculous split-screen effects work over the years that has allowed Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn to play scenes involving doubles of themselves, 100% convincingly.

    But did you know that the vast majority of these scenes were not achieved with split-screen effects after all? Conscious of their limited effects budget, penny-pinching comedy duo Grant Naylor instead went out on to the streets of Manchester and collared a few impressionable drifters, got them drunk and made them agree to transformative and invasive plastic surgery to make them look like Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten.

    They now earn a regular living turning up at fan conventions instead of the billed actors: none of the original cast have ever actually attended one since the very early ’90s.



    Craig Charles thought Ghostwatch was real until he read about the controversy after its broadcast. The Liverpudlian star was the only member of the cast kept in the dark, partly to get an authentic performance, but mainly because they thought it would be funny.



    Lister and Rimmer are unambiguously lovers.[citation needed]



    The real reason the old man in the shower scene in Stasis Leak was replaced with a hunky model, was because he did indeed have a really small penis, and Cat’s line shaming him for it made him really upset and cry.



    During the filming of Beyond a Joke, a young and eager first AD called action early, before the Pride and Prejudice cast members were clear of the gazebo, leading to their horrific deaths as the tank fired upon them, blowing them to pieces.

    Thankfully all shots of them needed had been completed for the day so the cast and crew agreed to keep it quiet, promising to take it to the graves, so as not to delay the filming of series 7 any further. Unfortunately Robert let is slip on twitter almost immediately once asked but an inquisitive family member of one of the young girls because she hadn’t come home from work that day.



    Lister’s cat Frankenstein might look like an uncooperative animal extra in ‘The End’, but you’d be wrong – she was in fact a highly sophisticated animatronic puppet requiring seven people to simultaneously operate her by remote control.

    Unfortunately, after blowing the budget on the ersatz moggy, renowned skinflints Grant Naylor were left having to cobble the Skutters together with whatever they could find in a local skip.



    In the original script of The End, Lister’s cat was discovered in its rather obvious hiding place and dissected, but Lister then sneakily put it back together and restored it to life using electricity, hence the name Frankenstein. When someone pointed out that Frankenstein was the creator, not the monster, this aspect was dropped due to embarrassment.

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