Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Red Dwarf III Episode 4: "Bodyswap"

Rimmer loses Lister's arm and his watch too. Personally I think it would have been better if the actors hadn't dubbed their characters' voices over the performances after the swapped bodies in this one. This isn't just because Chris Barrie can already do a decent Craig Charles impersonation, which can be observed in the Series III deleted scenes (although I personally think Chris Barrie's Lister always sounds like he's feeling a bit sad about something). I just think it would have been funnier in general, and allowed more opportunities for humour to arise by the cast taking off each other and doing humorous versions of each other's vocal mannerisms. Perhaps it would have required more preparation than they were willing to do. In the episode as broadcast, Rimmer-in-Lister's-body always sounds a bit "off" because of the way Chris Barrie is trying to match Craig Charles's physical performance as Rimmer. Lister-in-Rimmer's-body is arguably a bit closer due to the fact that Chris Barrie was doing more of an impersonation, but overall the dialogue tends to feel a touch stilted due to all the dubbing.
Nonetheless, Craig Charles does a pretty good job as Rimmer, particularly focusing on the rather "military" walk, the smirking facial expressions and the general posture which tends to typify Rimmer in a good mood, as he is with the recovery of a physical presence and senses. I tend to think that the episode perhaps focuses a little too much on Rimmer's abuse of Lister's body, to the extent that it becomes a bit farcical. It would have been interesting to see how Lister coped with being a hologram, and how perhaps that might have put him in a position of feeling some empathy with Rimmer's situation and how that would balance against Rimmer's abuse of his body. Arguably a little too much time is spent on Rimmer scoffing lots of fatty food, smoking cigars in the bath and the like, which certainly reminds us what an untrustworthy bastard Rimmer is, but becomes a touch repetitive after a while.
Probably my favourite bits in the episode are rather incidental to the central concept. I like the idea of the warning system being wired to the food dispenser but not the bomb, and the idea that Holly "got rid" of the bomb "ages ago". I also like the chase sequence after Rimmer steals Lister's body, even if it initiates the overuse of that shot of Starbug spiralling around. It's interesting to see the last time Blue Midget would appear until Series VIII, and the last time the classic Blue Midget model and Blue Midget cockpit set would be used in the show. The effects of Starbug crashing are, as usual, excellent. By contrast, I find the mind-swap idea to be perhaps a little too hastily and arbitrarily introduced by Kryten, in full-on exposition mode in a way that would become, in my opinion, overly common in later series.
There are still good gags to enjoy, my favourite early one being Cat's "It's lucky you didn't order a double cheeseburger." It's odd to note this opening, as in "DNA", featuring Rimmer being rather professional and competent when it comes to ship maintenance, something he at other times, including "Fathers and Suns", is depicted as being as bad at as he is at everything else in his life. Rimmer telling Lister "you sweat madras sauce" is good. I like a lamb madras, myself. His joke that he saw Lister's shadow and "got the fright of my life; I thought it was Alfred Hitchcock," is classic Rimmer nastiness, and the thing about the frog with its belly and "spindly little legs" hanging underneath is certainly evocative. The bit in which he inspects Lister's genitalia is a bit confusing, although I suspect the implication is meant to be, judging by other episodes, that, if I'm to put this clinically and bluntly, Lister has a substantially larger penis than Rimmer does. The "jozxqyk" bit is another good joke for Cat, especially in regards to "if you were reading in the nude and you closed the book too quick." Rimmer's excuses about the girdle or "hernia prevention belt" have always stuck with me, and I like Lister's claim that his lungs feel as if Rimmer's "smoked an entire Cuban tobacco harvest" and that his stomach is so large that "paint 'Goodyear' down me side and you could float me over the superbowl." Rimmer's "Go ahead punks, make my day" always struck me as an odd line from him. Rimmer's joking about losing Lister's arm and then flipping him a double bird is a good bit. One of my favourite elements from the end is when the guilt-stricken Kryten apologetically gives Lister's shoe a little stroke and Lister swats his hand away. The best aspect of "Bodyswap" is obviously the two leads impersonating each other's body language and the like, but it's perhaps a little underdeveloped and suffers a tad from the slightly gimmicky plotting of some Series III episodes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.