Red Dwarf : The "problem" with S3

The "problem" with S3

So for years all I knew of Red Dwarf was a VHS of "Backwards", which had Backwards, Marooned, and Polymorph. They're three of my favourite episodes, but miss stuff. Like, I had no idea the rest of the cast "didn't like" Rimmer, so when I started to see the rest of the show I was surprised when I saw that.

I understand that none of those episodes really have a chance for it to be made apparent, like in Backwards they're all separated and then have to get back to Starbug, in Marooned they're stranded so making small talk, and Rimmer doesn't even see the others apart from the perpetually polite Kryten until the Polymorph attacks.

But there could have been random bits of dialogue, like from the book when Cat says "look on the bright side - no Rimmer!" the way it is the show just makes him sound like he dislikes everyone aha. Maybe Lister could moan about getting the short straw and sharing a ship with Rimmer in Marooned?

Re: The "problem" with S3

My recollection is that in the first 3 series, Rimmer was more like a pompous nerd, but one that Lister could actually secretly tolerate because he was someone so larger than life in his own lowly status (although working on mining ships would probably be well paid for anyone, no matter what their rank, in reality) that he took Lister's mind away from being marooned in space.

It was in series 4, particularly with his profound disappointment at being abandoned for the 'fishing holiday', and with Meltdown that the big change came with Rimmer, which was continued in series 5. Suddenly, Rimmer was not so much a nerd- in fact, he was becoming physically 'hotter' as anyone who saw him being oiled in Terraform can attest. But this was accompanied by a deeper sense of past failures, past injustices. Rimmer was sometimes literally mad with the world, and the holovirus in Quarantine was just a convenient way to display what was innate in him anyway. Series 5 was very much 'Rimmer's series' , in all his dark and twisted glory.

Series 6 saw a more balanced approach to the entire crew. Rimmer had lightened up and many of the scripts were Lister-oriented.

It is one of the weird little joys for me of Red Dwarf of how similar series 5 and 6 are production-wise, and even sometimes ideas-wise, and yet they manage to have very different tones because series 5 is dark and psychological whereas series 6 is a gang partying in essence.







Re: The "problem" with S3

Oh I agree, his character development was probably the best of all the main characters.

But despite him being a secretly tolerable and slightly annoying nerd, he still drove Lister and Cat up their trees, and they openly called him a Smeg Head etc.

Re: The "problem" with S3

If Series III had a "problem", it's that the show was in transition and the third series was the first time for a lot of things: Kryten as a regular, new incarnation of Holly, redesigned sets, more plots that take the crew off the ship and/or get them involved with other life forms. I don't think the revamped (post-Series II) Dwarf fully found its new tone and style until Series IV and, to an even greater degree, Series V (only to completely change direction for each subsequent series). With all these things going on, I think the main issue for Series III is just a show finding its new legs.

About Rimmer--if you start watching RD from the beginning, it's fairly clear that he and Lister detest each other even before the radiation leak, although the business of being three million years into deep space with no other companions makes Rimmer more tolerable. Also, we know that Rimmer is fueled by unfulfilled ambitions/dreams: most notably to follow in his brothers' footsteps and make his father proud by becoming an officer in the Space Corps. I think one first series episode reveals that he flunked the officer exam ten or twelve times. One particularly revealing moment, in Polymorph, when Rimmer is watching home movies and we learn the extent to which his brothers bullied and even tortured him and how his parents were emotionally unavailable. No wonder he's bitter and suffers from an immense inferiority complex. This is compounded for Rimmer post-death, when he must face up to the biggest failure of his life: screwing up the drive plate so badly that he kills the entire crew.

I think what really happens with Rimmer is just that, as the series wears on, the proverbial onion is simply peeled back to reveal layer upon layer of just how broken and unhappy Rimmer is. And this increasingly become a dramatic engine for the show, driving many plot lines and fueling much of the conflict--since you need messy, difficult characters like Rimmer to stir tension and conflict, plus those tortured characters often end up being the most compelled. I'd never considered it before, but in an odd way, Rimmer becomes this swirling vortex of negative energy, discord, and conflict that allows the show to have an emotional core up to at least the fifth series. Episodes like Rimmerworld show that, not only does Arnold have deeply troubled relationships with his crew mates, but he is deeply in conflict with himself. You could go so far as to say that Rimmerworld is a manifestation of his psychological state: he's stuck forever with himself, and he can't take it. Much of this dark edge did seem to go away in later series, but it's hard to determine if that's a conscious choice on Doug Naylor's part (i.e. to re-focus the show on Lister per the original concept, after several seasons of Rimmer almost becoming the main character), or simply because Chris Barrie left--or maybe a little of both. I lean a little towards deliberate choice, since it was already moving away from Rimmer's psyche in Series VI (Rimmerworld being the only exception). It's just that the void left by getting away from Rimmer's character development wasn't entirely filled, in my opinion, until Series VII tried a bunch of new things I'd need another post to delve into.






Om Shanti

Re: The "problem" with S3


If Series III had a "problem", it's that the show was in transition and the third series was the first time for a lot of things: Kryten as a regular, new incarnation of Holly, redesigned sets, more plots that take the crew off the ship and/or get them involved with other life forms. I don't think the revamped (post-Series II) Dwarf fully found its new tone and style until Series IV and, to an even greater degree, Series V (only to completely change direction for each subsequent series). With all these things going on, I think the main issue for Series III is just a show finding its new legs.


I can see that. Series 3 was more about revamping the show a bit. Introducing Kryten full-time, changing Holly from male to female and there was an obvious increase in budget, which made Red Dwarf look a lot more realistic, and made them able to leave the ship and have a complex set of adventures. (Previously it had more been about the three guys sat around arguing with an occasional guest character.)

Series 4 to 6 are what a lot of people think about when they consider classic Red Dwarf, I reckon.

Re: The "problem" with S3

Speaking of Holly, I think he/she should have been dropped at the beginning of Season 5 instead of 6, since most of his/her role was now filled by Kryten - other than saving the crew from the Despair Squid (which Kryten could have done just as well), Holly becomes a background character from Season 4 onwards.

Re: The "problem" with S3

Speaking of Rimmer, as much as I liked 'Officer Rimmer' I hope the writers aren't taking his character backwards in terms of making him JUST the smeghead who Lister, Kryten and Cat like to moan about and tease, rather than remembering that he's perhaps the most complex out of all the characters. I liked Rimmer's brief scenes with Snacky the Snack Despenser in 'Give or Take' because I find that aspect of his character just as interesting as his less likeable side and have done since the very first series and I hope we get more of it during series 12.

When you watch earlier series, you do get the impression that Lister actually doesn't mind Rimmer all that much, precisely because he ( Rimmer ) helps to take Lister's mind away from being stuck in space.
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