Thursday, September 1, 2016

Red Dwarf IV Episode 1: "Camille"

Kryten falls in love with a blob and pulls a Rick Blaine on her. Following on from Series III's "The Last Day", Series IV begins by spending some time on Kryten's character development, as we see some more human virtues emerge under Lister's tutelage. It's noteworthy that this Kryten, who goes on dates with a GELF and disobeys orders, is a far cry from the neurotic Kryten that would begin to emerge more and more in later series. Here he's increasingly self-assured and confident, with nary a mention of domestic duties to be found. This is obviously bolstered by the presence of Robert Llewellyn's real-life partner, later wife, Judy Pascoe, as mechanoid Camille (and the voice of blob Camille), who steps smoothly into the guest role and whose rapport with her opposite number is very engaging to watch. In general, I like what's implied by the way Camille manifests. Cat seeing himself is a little predictable but very funny. I think it's clever that Rimmer's perfect companion, beyond being a hologram, is a very conventionally beautiful, posh woman with exactly the same interests and hobbies as him. We don't get a strong impression of the personality of Lister's Camille, but the implication is someone easygoing with a sense of humour. I think the right decision was made to not have Lister's Camille look like Kochanski (despite the fact that she's credited under that name).

"Camille" is also a repository of a tonne of cracking lines. The lying lesson is timeless, but the best part has to be the payoff later when Rimmer tells Lister that Kryten "kept waving a banana in front of me and calling it a female aardvark." The "smeg head" flash cards are probably funnier than the "smee hee" gag itself. The conversation between Kryten and Rimmer is full of excellent lines too: "Camille looks like your sister-in-law? What happened? Was she involved in some kind of horrific car accident?" and "I think you look like a giant half-chewed rubber-tipped pencil." Cat's description of Rimmer as "Captain Sadness" is funny, and the line about Camille smelling of WD-40 is amusing. Cat's lines after seeing himself are good: "Someone get me a brandy!" I've also always liked the way Camille says "I'm just a huge green blob!" In addition, the term "tĂȘte-a-tentacle" is entertaining, as is Lister's response: "When Steve McQueen met the Blob, he tried to kill it. It probably never crossed his mind to try and take it out to a restaurant." There are a couple of great bits of Rimmer self-deprecation as well: "No one's ever said I was charming before. They've said 'Rimmer, you're a total git.'" "It was all a mighty bit too strange. I mean, actually meeting someone who didn't want to vomit all over me in complete loathing and disgust."

The ending, which pastiches Casablanca, might be considered a little blatant and on-the-nose, although to a lesser extent than how "Back to Earth" handled its Blade Runner connections. It's also interesting to note that this was back in the days when Lister was depicted as being an enthusiast for classic films; in "Me2" he goes to see Citizen Kane, in "Kryten" he's said to have shown Kryten The Wild Ones, Easy Rider and Rebel Without A Cause, in this he shows his appreciation for Casablanca and in "Holoship" he's getting teary-eyed at a generic romantic film. By contrast, Series VI and VII would present Lister as someone who enjoys schlock horror films, a quality considered a "low" trait in "Demons & Angels". I suppose you could imagine fairly easily that he likes both.

I kind of wish that we could have seen more of the Kryten of this episode in later episodes; someone who just hangs out with Lister and the Cat rather than doing chores for them, who watches films and relaxes rather than obsessing about cleaning and domestic duties, who was breaking his programming as an android butler, rather than being an emotionally fragile toilet cleaning robot. It's a bit sad to think that Kryten's character development peaked this early, with Rimmer's coming a series later in "Holoship" and Lister not really getting it until "Back to Earth", weirdly all episodes that are connected in some way or another with film plots (even if the one in "Holoship" is generic). There's got to be something academic to discuss in that: 'Red Dwarf – exploring the relationship between human psychological development and the influence of film media in the modern age.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

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