Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Red Dwarf III Episode 6: "The Last Day"

Kryten finds out that he's going to die so the others throw a party. In my opinion, this rivals "Marooned" as the strongest episode of Series III. There's some good characterisation for the newest member of the crew, some amusing satire about the purpose and intent of organised religion, and a memorable antagonist at the end. My only significant criticism would be that I think some bits of the party scene are a bit twee or naff (take your pick) and some of the gags in the finale are a touch weak, in addition to a very poor sound mix making a lot of the dialogue in the climax difficult to hear. Other than that I'd say it's a solid episode and a satisfying conclusion for the series.

Obviously the episode delivers a somewhat Marxist attack on organised religion, an "opiate of the masses" type interpretation in which artificial intelligence is duped into serving humans with the promise of a post-life reward, just as the argument goes for the traditional working classes. If you think about it, it doesn't seem terribly necessary. Wouldn't programming be enough to ensure the subservience of intelligent androids? Nonetheless, it also serves as a complementary piece of satire to that explored in "Waiting for God", which largely interpreted religion as one of the many excuses people develop for war and violence. While the parodies of Bible verses raise a slight smirk, the best line has to be Kryten's retort to Lister about "human heaven": "someone just made that up to prevent you all from going nuts."

It's also nice to see Lister caring about Kryten's welfare, much as he did in "Kryten" in Series II and would go on to do in "Camille" and the like. By contrast, Rimmer is typically blasé about the whole thing: "Well it's all very sad, Lister, but what can we do?" His explanation of his parents' religion also allows for some more satire, this time of Biblical literalism. There's also something intrinsically funny about Sunday lunch involving the wearing of "sou'westers and asbestos underpants". The "Lemming Sunday" story is what you'd expect of Rimmer, and "mind that bus, what bus, splat" is a classic line. Chris Barrie also gets a nice, albeit brief, chance to impersonate Kryten with the joke about the "employment of time in a profitless and non-practical way."

I like the scene with the Marilyn Monroe robot, especially the gargantuan foot and "look at the face that comes with the kit." It seems that the possessions of the long-dead Petersen are an endless source of useless junk. The party scene contains some good woofers, although I don't think it starts that well; I find the "special mechanoid menu" to be rather twee, largely, although I like the gift giving. Rimmer's Patton sinus fluid, Cat's hated earring and the lumbering, hastily-assembled robot are all entertaining elements in their own way. The "Jackson Pollock" gag in the drunk conversation is okay, but the highlight is certainly Rimmer telling Lister that he's "forbidden passionfruit" and that there's a possibility that his parents "were brother and sister". He wasn't far off, was he? At least in Doug Naylor's imagination. Cat's "Yeah, on both feet" is an amusing interjection. Rimmer's story about Uncle Frank is pretty weird. If Rimmer fancied Uncle Frank's daughters, wouldn't that mean he fancied his own cousins? Perhaps they were step-cousins or "Uncle" was an affectation. At face value, however, the story is unsettling well before we discover that Uncle Frank "accidentally" molested Rimmer during the night.

The hangover scene and the confrontation with Hudzen round out the episode well. I like Kryten's damage control report, which suggests as its final course of action "replace head", followed by Kryten saying "Boy, what a night!" Lister wondering "where the smeg I got this traffic cone" is a top gag too. I'm not as fond of Hudzen karate-chopping a brick in half with his knob, but when he arrives the costume and makeup on Gordon Kennedy are really good, and I think the idea of him becoming deranged after pursuing Kryten for millions of years is clever. The sound effects used to make his movements more mechanical really add to the scene as well, and he has a particularly good line: "You'd better leave an address with your body so I can mail it to your head." Rimmer's threatening speech is good, as is Lister's interruption: "What's he going to do, drop his trousers?" I also like Rimmer's little confused run when Hudzen starts attacking. Some of the sound mixing at this point is really off, such that lines become very garbled, and I'm also not fond of how intimidated Cat is, but Hudzen's final exchanged with Kryten is a classic moment to end the series: "but where would all the calculators go?" I don't know why I find that line so funny. I guess it's the odd singling out of calculators in particular, as if they're some particularly devout device. It's a nice triumphant ending for the series that gives Kryten the character development he needed as a new addition to the cast, establishing him firmly as part of the ensemble with equal footing to the other characters. This is definitely another of the highlights of Series III.

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