ver the last six weeks we have seen the Boys in the Red get themselves into all manner of questionable things. Wouldn’t be Red Dwarf if Lister or Cat weren't ripping the poor old Smeg Head Rimmer apart. Helipad head has been one of my favourite insults that has been thrown his way this series. This week promised the return of a familiar face to the Red Dwarf franchise and I’m eager to see what the 4th Generation Super Computer with an I.Q of 6000 P.E. teachers has been up to since his/her last appearance in Red Dwarf.
This article will contain SPOILERS so if you’re not at all up to date with the new series of Red Dwarf, then I suggest that you punch that Holly Hop Drive and get selves over to Dave or UKTV Play (depending on when you’re reading this article). You won’t find a Smeg Head here intent on ruining Red Dwarf XII for you all.
Red Dwarf’s future has been left open, there has been no confirmation of a thirteenth series nor an announcement that this is the last we’ll be seeing of Dave Lister and Co. Nor has there been an announcement of us Smeg Heads being treated to a 30th Anniversary Special. However, I feel that Skipper fills the gap that the Special would’ve filled. Upon watching the episode on UKTV Play a week before transmission I can already see it being an episode that will keep the old school fans satisfied and beaming with all the references of the very first series that was transmitted 29 years ago this year.
This fan-pleasing episode was a delight to watch. I’ve been looking forward to this episode for one reason and one reason only, Holly. That’s right! Since his last appearance in Series VIII, Holly is back! However, the much loved 4th Generation Super Computer is only back for a brief moment, where you blink and you miss him. After a little snippet of the much loved and missed character I want to see more of him. Even the cheers from the audience I would say is enough proof and should encourage Doug Naylor to bring him back. Holly in Red Dwarf XIII maybe?
Like many of the final episodes of Red Dwarf on Dave the episode is built around the ad-break. The Boys of the Dwarf find themselves in situations that they don’t want to be in due to an anomaly (weird thing) in the space-time continuum, this is a result of Kryten’s scientific experiment, creating a quantum skipper, that would allow its user to jump from one alternate reality to another. As the other Dwarfers decide to not use the Skipper, Rimmer on the other hand decides to jump at the chance of finding a reality where he isn’t such a loser!
Personally, I think the first half of the episode was the funniest, where we see many of the Dwarfers see the outcome of the paths they didn’t take. There are some great scenes between Cat and Lister as they desperately try to get to the science lab on Red Dwarf and get to the bottom to what in the Smeg is going on! Not to mention the toing and froing between Kryten and Rimmer made Doug Naylor give us some really good sci-fi slapstick.
Cat’s inability to grasp the situation is what made the first half of Episode VI and not to mention Lister’s small cock-up where we see him wolf-down a full English. There’s been a new approach to character-centred stories this season and the episode really marries it beautifully together and has to be THE best instalment for Series XII.
And when Rimmer Skippers out of there we’re on a journey down memory lane. He’s in his Series I uniform with a slight alteration to his rank and who turns up? None other than our favourite senile computer; Holly. Loving portrayed by the original actor Norman Lovett. If you, however, have been avoiding spoilers on the upcoming series your reaction would’ve been the same as the live audience. As previously stated this should be enough for Naylor to bring back the much loved/missed character to the series. The quips between Rimmer and Holly and even the alteration of “Everybody’s dead” line is merely the tip of the nostalgic iceberg.
We’re also treated to the return of Captain Hollister, reprised by the original actor Mac McDonald, in a reality where he tries to jump ship before the radiation leak that killed the original crew, rips its way through the ship decimating anything in its path. Again with the “yey” from the audience for Holly and Captain Hollister it is fair to say that Naylor is already onto a winner with this episode. The episode also features a series of the original set designs and exterior shots of the ship. Not to mention some incidental music from the show’s early days. It’s a fan’s delight to spot out those old-school references that made the show what it is today.
Mind you, from all the alternate realities that Rimmer is hopping to and fro from, I was at one minute expecting Ace Rimmer or Duane Dibley to make an appearance but I think with the cameos and the sheer brilliance from Doug Naylor it’s an exception. Even the reality where we have a Posh Dave Lister with his pet Rat, who has accumulated the dire ship, apparently they’re quite nice to sleep with too. YEAH!
The one thing I must say about Red Dwarf XII is that it's relied heavily on call-backs and reference to the classic series. I have enjoyed this series and that to me the call-backs and references could be making way for a 30th Anniversary Special. Who knows?! We haven’t even had any confirmation on there even being a Special yet. But I do hope that in true Red Dwarf style that series XIII will see Holly make a return after Rimmer’s adventure into his alternate realities.
Overall Skipper is a cracking fan-pleasing episode. There have been a few good stories in this season and I haven’t been left disappointed. I just hope this isn’t the end of Red Dwarf and I would like to see more being made for Dave, so that Lister and Co. and get themselves into more scrapes in the universe. Who knows Kristine Kochanski could make a return, we can all but hope. What I will say is PLEASE, BRING BACK HOLLY!