Dave – 13th October 2016 – 9pm
Created by: Rob Grant and Doug Naylor
Written and Directed by: Doug Naylor
THE RIMM FROM ANOTHER RANK
“Things are about to get a whole lot more Rimmer-y…”
Fans of Chris Barrie’s jumbo-nostriled chicken soup machine repairman rejoice: this week you get FIFTY times more Arnold Judas Rimmer for your dollar-pounds! Doug Naylor goes uber-topical in “Officer Rimmer”, delivering a stingingly satirical warning to those who abuse their power… and technological advances.
Everyone’s favourite second technician gets the promotion of his dreams when Edwin Herring (Stephen Critchlow), a malformed bio-printed captain from a space explorer ship caught in an asteroid storm, rewards Rimmer for his ‘ingenious’ tactical brilliance (AKA. launching a mining torpedo which is clipped off course and does less harm and more good than “Captain Bollocks” ever intended).
Mad(der) with power, Officer Rimmer – who soon finds himself promoted again to Flight Lt. and adorns the classic white suit not seen since series II – goes about instigating a class system aboard Red Dwarf whereby he lives a privileged live where Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) is ordered to serve him hot towels and complimentary champers, while lowly grunts like Lister (Craig Charles) and Cat (Danny John-Jules) are forced to take the “ruder” malfunctioning lifts, watch the croquet channels for entertainment and are excluded from the Officer’s Club.
Watching Rimmer glide along the pristine Officer’s Corridor on a conveyor belt while Listie – nicknamed “Private Zero” – bemoans from the other side of the divide that his bunkmate doesn’t even have to use his legs is one of many laugh out loud moments of ingenuity in an episode jam-packed with razor-sharp, note-perfect woofers.
Against Kryten’s better judgment (“History tells us you and you is a really bad mix…”), Rimmer uses the bio-printer to fill the ship with clones – including a barbershop quartet who deliver a rib tickler of a twist on “Mr Sandman” courtesy of music man Howard Goodall. However, when Rimmer tampers with the settings to alter his genome into that of a burly bouncer, the bio-printer jams before multiple copies are printed all at once, creating the most visually grotesque monster on Red Dwarf since the Mutton Vindaloo Beast in IV.2 “D.N.A.”.
With The Thing reject roaming the ship and dissolving the clones in a visually canny nod to Pacman, the original Rimmer must admit defeat and accept the resignation of his trumped-up status before his crewmates will allow him to re-enter the “have-not” side of the ship. Together again, they team up to bait the multi-faced creature into a blistering death by bazookoid fire.
Herein lies the episode’s sole contentious issue: in one of the long-running series’ most abrupt endings to date, the theme music starts with Lister’s empowered scream “Dying!” There’s no epilogue, no reflective wrap-up, no final joke. Personally, I have no problem with this whatsoever. The bio-printed Rimmer’s have been dissolved, the original demoted back into the fold and the monster-of-the-week defeated – the status quo is redressed and all plot points tied up (even Captain Herring returned to paper upon completion of his mission). I have read claims this cut-to-credits completely ruins the episode, but in my opinion that’s poppycock.
“Officer Rimmer” is a sterling episode throughout: astute in characterisation, satire, special effects AND comedy. Fun, intelligent and inventive, Doug really takes the concept and runs with it – what more can we ask for?! I would even go so far as to say XI.4 has dethroned “Samsara” as my favourite of this new run (so far). Sure, you could tighten the opening Freudian dreams banter, or Lister’s Liverpudlian call centre jibes from halfway through in order to leave time for a epilogue, but as I.6 “Me2” and VI.5 “Rimmerworld” have already demonstrated, old Ironballs never learns his lesson anyway, so what is there to teach the unteachable?
CR@B’s Claw Score: