Sunday, August 21, 2016

Red Dwarf VIII Episode 2: "Back in the Red, Part 2"

Lister and Rimmer take advantage of women and everyone puts mops on their heads. Chris Barrie carries these episodes. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the other actors. It's just that they aren't given enough to do or enough jokes. This is the episode in which the "sexual magnetism virus" goes way too far; instead of simply being "it makes you more appealing to people" it's portrayed as "it compels people to uncontrollably force themselves upon you sexually". This might make a tiny bit of sense for Rimmer, who seems to swig a whole vial of the stuff, but not for Lister who licks a little residue off his finger. Rimmer at least gets hoisted by his own petard; it makes Lister look very dodgy when he expresses disappointment when Kochanski stops making out with him, even if he used the virus by accident.
I note that in this episode Lister rescues Kochanski and the Cat from "somewhere" without much explanation of how it happened. Kryten's restored to his factory settings for all of a few minutes, making that whole plot seem totally rushed. The "Duane Dibbley" thing is extremely lazy, the show cashing in on itself for cheap laughs. The "Reservoir Dogs" gag at the end of the episode is awful. It's dated, heavy-handed and not funny. The bit in which Rimmer hammers his groin seems to purely be there for the sake of the opening titles.
The opening of the episode is arguably where the strongest stuff lies, including Rimmer's long-winded salute to Hollister and the bit in the trial when the Cat tells them to huddle so they look like they know what they're doing. The "anus soothe pile cream" joke is a pretty anaemic prop gag, and the sequence with Kryten telling Kochanski that he's been classified as a woman is basically a laugh-free zone, as is the part when Kryten pulls the gun on the senior staff. I know people hate the "Data Doctor" sequence, but that did give us Kryten's "cheekiness" emotion, which is funny, so it was worth it to an extent. That being said, Part 1 makes a big point of how Kryten was built after Red Dwarf (in all likelihood probably about 200 years after), so how do they have the technology to reprogram him? Even the nanobots fixing the JMC cutbacks wouldn't change that. No, I'm not happy that my brain goes to these places when watching a daft sitcom.
The whole idea of Kryten being classified as a woman is stupid and is just another aspect of the way this series treats women purely in relation to men. This made sense in the days when it was largely four blokes trapped alone in deep space (along with a female computer with a decreasing role in series III to V), but in the two series in which one of the main characters is female, more needed to be done. This is really emphasised in the extended scenes on the DVD in which Kochanski has a big speech in the trial about how she won't survive in prison, with further reference to stereotypes about femininity, such as the fact that she didn't join the space marines because she couldn't bring moisturiser with her. This weak dialogue isn't missed, but it does mean she has even less of a role, and while the line about wine in prison is kind of amusing, it falls back heavily on the simplistic "Kochanksi is posh" characterisation. Note this coming from a series in which, in a much earlier episode, Lister criticised Rimmer for treating women like "aliens". Kochanski's posh, Kryten's a woman, the Cat's relying on references to better episodes of past series, and Rimmer and Lister are sexual assault cases waiting to happen. What more do you need?

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