Red Dwarf XI: Officer Rimmer review (Spoilers)

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Officer Rimmer is a really solid episode of Red Dwarf. There’s your headline, walk away from the review now. Oh you want something deeper than that do you? Well fine, read on. I’ve prepared some words.  I always have a pen.

There are some absolutely brilliant science-fiction ideas in Officer Rimmer. The very idea of a crew of synthetics printed out to meet the requirements of a particular mission is inspired but also played in a highly comedic way – in essence, exactly what Red Dwarf does best. Then to have Rimmer promoted, allows for another character study with the development of a new class system on board ship.

The fact that we only get to meet one of the synthetics may seem like a waste of an opportunity but it’s really just efficient storytelling. Stephen Critchlow gives a performance full of bluster and confidence as the unfortunately printed Captain Herring, all while wearing a significant prosthetic.

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Red Dwarf has always, to some degree, been about class with Rimmer utilising his rank over his one inferior and angered by his inability to break into the officer class. Here, he is allowed to go mad with power, enjoying what he sees as the privileges of power while never fully understanding the responsibility.

The thing is, there are a whole lot of a familiar ideas at play here. You could argue that holograms are pretty much the same idea as synthetics.  Rimmer’s dream of becoming an officer has also been mined thoroughly, perhaps most notably in Series V episode Holoship. You’ve also had cases of multiple Rimmers before with the first double appearing in Me² and many multiples seen in Terrorform and Rimmerworld to pluck out just a couple of examples.

With the wonders of technology, it appears as thought we actually get to see more Rimmers on screen than ever before and Chris Barrie gives each one of them a nice trait for anyone who wants to rewind their VCR recordings and play it back on slow mode to enjoy.

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That’s not to say that the rest of the cast don’t have some nice moments. There’s a great gag involving Lister’s cloned genome becoming every cocky call centre employee in the world and Craig plays it for everything it’s worth.

So while the episode feels familiar, it does so in a somewhat comforting way. It’s never a straight rehash but instead utilising a brand new idea to explore an interesting avenue that is still worth mining. It is incredibly broad – often used as a criticism but here, the jokes justify the tone.

There are some fantastic visual gags in this episode – the giant bio printer that looks like an inkjet; the opulent elevator vs the lowly grunts’ lift; Rimmer gliding along the new elevator; the “gosh” lady; and of course the Rimmer quartet singing in perfect Howard Goodall harmony. Then there is the Rimmer beast.

If you want to make comparisons to the past (and let’s face it, what maladjusted classic Dwarf fan doesn’t), then the closest thing is the vindaloo beast from DNA. However, that creation probably benefited from being shot in a way that didn’t reveal too much. We see far too much of the Rimmer monster here, which means that the excellent effects-enhanced prop, doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny (or at least that one prop head doesn’t), which is a shame.

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If we’re going along the theme of things that are a shame, then the ending warrants some discussion. Like, what the hell? We’ve spoken a fair bit about endings in this run and this one just seems odd. The pacing of the episode overall is really good – it starts right in the thick of the action on Starbug and quickly gets into the plot. But the end, is such an odd cut to the titles. It’s an action shot and it feels like someone has chucked titles into the wrong place. It needs something, whether it’s a final line, a sound effect or a cut to black but as it stands, it feels like an edit waiting to be tidied up.

That’s not to say it ruins the episode. It’s a little baffling but overall this is a solid episode in what’s proving to be a really strong run.  And that’s pretty much where you came in.

Do you agree with our review? What did you think of the episode? Have you ever created a monster amalgamated from your own clones? Let us know below where spoiler filled comments for this episode can now be made. And keep an eye on the site for a further in depth review on The Garbage Podcast next week with our full team after the episode is broadcast on Dave.

  • TomMassey250

    All these reviews online are like, straining way too hard to be overly nice… I felt this episode was the weakest yet and was really badly edited. Just letting that ending slide? The episode was clearly unfinished. They keep revisiting all the old plots they’ve done before, Me2, Rimmerworld, DNA, Blue… Last week it was Stasis Leak crossed with the villain from The Inquisitor. Maybe if you’re not a super big Dwarf fan you might be tricked into thinking its all new, but it feels like such a wonky rehash. Plus all the characters aren’t done right, Kryten broke his programming ages ago and now everyone is just obeying rimmer because he says he’s a captain? He’s been acting captain on Dwarf for 28 years now.

    • Tigercheetah

      I don’t recall last week’s robotic villain in ‘Give or Take’ to be like the Inquisitor?
      As for Rimmer always being a Captain, I’ve always had the impression that there isn’t a solid command structure on Red Dwarf or at the very least, Lister doesn’t take it too seriously, since he’s been calling Rimmer a smeghead for over twenty years. Rimmer has been a ‘sort of’ acting Captain but not in a serious way, since Lister can and does disobey him at times.
      This series has been better than expected and I’ve laughed more watching this than I did during the BBC’s recent sitcom season.

  • Alex Newsome

    It’s not that it’s straining to be positive, it’s just that Andrew liked the episode (and it seems we in general like the series) more than you do. That doesn’t make either opinion wrong, it just means we have different opinions. The ending also amounts to a small part of the episode and is something we detail far more in our podcast which is the much more natural home for it.

    For some people, Samsara has been the best episode of the series. I don’t agree but I respect the fact that there’s obviously something that particularly appeals to them in that episode, and they probably have a different and equally valid type of experience they want to get from the show.

    As for the ‘super big Red Dwarf’ fan card, that probably isn’t one to play on a dedicated Red Dwarf site.