In 1988, the BBC introduced the “Boyz from the Dwarf”—a group of oddball characters drifting across the universe in a big red mining ship three million years into the future. The half-hour series “Red Dwarf” was irreverent, wacky and so much fun that it has lasted at least eight seasons, with four of them currently available on DVD (even Steven Hawking counts himself as a fan). In 1992, an American pilot of the show was made, but never released. In 2005, the "Red Dwarf" movie will start filming--and after that, a ninth season is possible.
The premise: A slob named David Lister, a hologram named Arnold Rimmer, the android Kryten and a lifeform that mutated from Lister’s cat live together on a big mining ship, the Red Dwarf. They’re joined by the ship’s computer, Holly, and in later seasons by Lister’s dream girl, Kochanski. When Lister brought an unquarantined animal (his cat) aboard and hid her in the bowels of the ship, he was sentenced to “stasis”—thus missing the radiation leak that wiped out the entire crew. The computer Holly finally let Lister out when it judged the environment safe—three million years later. Holly brought Rimmer back as a hologram to keep Lister company, and the Cat was soon discovered as the last remnant of his cat race, which had been wiped out by religious warfare. The motley crew eventually picked Kryten up to do the housework, and later a trip to a parallel universe re-introduced them to Red Dwarf crew members.
What made the show so popular, besides its unique premise, was the quirkiness of the main characters. Rimmer (Chris Barrie), an utter bastard, is small-minded, petty, cowardly and ambitious. Lister (Craig Charles), a complete slob, likes beer milkshakes for breakfast and eats curry constantly. Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) is completely subservient, and Holly (Norman Lovett, Hattie Hayridge)is mostly senile.
And each episode featured some bizarre situations that lent themselves to equally bizarre humor. There was one where the boys convinced John F. Kennedy to assassinate himself (to befuddle the conspiracy theorists); the one where Winnie the Pooh was executed; another where Lister stole Hitler’s suitcase when the developing fluid in the darkroom went awry. Arnold had a suave, heroic alter ego in Ace Rimmer, and the Cat found his opposite in a parallel universe Red Dwarf who was a Dog. One of the most popular episodes was run completely backwards, and in another it turns out the whole series was just a video game being played in a totalitarian universe. Other episodes featured a parade of crazed mutants (the Red Dwarf universe contained no aliens).
Here are some examples of favorite quotes from the series:
Holly (female version): Rude alert! Rude alert! An electrical fire has knocked out my voice recognition unicycle! Many Wurlitzers are missing from my database. Abandon shop! This is not a daffodil. Repeat: This is not a daffodil.
Rimmer: After intensive investigation, comma, of the markings on the alien pod, comma, it has become clear, comma, to me, comma, that we are dealing, comma, with a species of awesome intellect, colon.
Holly (male): Good. Perhaps they might be able to give you a hand with your punctuation.
Cat: There's an old cat proverb that goes, "It's better to live one hour as a tiger than an entire lifetime as a worm."
Rimmer: There's an old human proverb: "Whoever heard of a worm-skin rug?"
Holly (female): We have three realistic alternatives: one, sit here and get blown up; two, stand here and get blown up; three, jump up and down, shout at me for not being able to think of anything, then get blown up.
Cat: Why don't we drop the defensive shields?
Kryten: A superlative suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One, we don't have any defensive shields. And two, we don't have any defensive shields. Now I realize that technically speaking that's only one flaw, but I thought that it was such a big one that it was worth mentioning twice.
Cat: Why don't we just break out the lasers?
Kryten: An excellent plan, sir, with only two minor drawbacks. One, we don't have a power source for the lasers; and two, we don't have any lasers.
Cat: You'd never get a cat to be a servant. You ever see a cat return a stick? Hey man, you threw the stick, you go and get it yourself, I'm busy. If you wanted the stick so bad, why'd you throw it away in the first place?
Holly (male): Emergency. There's an emergency going on. It's still going on, and it’s an emergency.
Talkie Toaster: I toast, therefore I am.
Rimmer: Love is a device invented by bank managers to make us overdrawn.
Rimmer: Open all hailing frequencies and broadcast in all known languages. Including Welsh.
Kryten: It's the old story: droid meets droid, droid becomes chameleon, droid loses chameleon, chameleon turns into blob, droid gets blob back again, blob meets blob, blob goes off with blob and droid loses blob, chameleon and droid. How many times have we heard that story?
Rimmer: Kryten, you're forgetting about Space Corps Directive 1742!
Kryten: 1742? "No member of the Corps should ever report for duty in a ginger toupee." Well, thank you for reminding me about that regulation, but I can't see how it is pertinent to our present situation.
Cat: You can't have my shiny thing. I found it, it's my shiny thing.
Rimmer: What are you driveling about?
Cat (producing yoyo): THIS is my shiny thing. And if you try and take it off me I may have to eat you.
Kochanski: How did I end up like this? On a ship where the fourth most popular pastime is going down to the laundry room and watching my knickers spin dry?
If you’ve watched “Red Dwarf,” perhaps you have a favorite quote we haven’t included here (there are tons of them). Let us know!