Red Dwarf XI: Krysis review (Spoilers)

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Even for the most devoted of Red Dwarf fans who actually like Series VIII; alarm bells were ringing when we saw Kryten in Ferrari red getup. Memories of some of the crazier and more outlandish moments of Red Dwarf’s past came to mind including the Dibbley Family. Such was the effect these pre-release images and plotlines had on my subconscious, I actually dreamt I watched this episode and hated it. But dream me is an idiot and we had no reason to worry about the plot or costume.

The episode opens similarly to Samsara with a bunkroom scene, this time with Rimmer being annoyed with Lister’s latest attempt to cut his toenails. A nice scene thrown in for the die hard fans who like to harken back to the early series but this is clearly a more modern episode and the introduction of a forgetful and depressed Kryten is as 21st century Dwarf a concept as you can get.

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Following a few typical Series XI scene stealing Cat zingers we push on to the main crux of the episode, a Ferrari red laden Kryten. I still expect this to irk some fan but the way the episode intentionally overdoes it and clearly lampshades just how ridiculous a mid-life crisis can be to make it work. Kryten speeding in replete with screeching tyre sounds is outlandish. Kryten and Cat dancing to music pumping out of Kryten’s shoulders is outlandish. But the tone of the episode as whole befits this outlandish elements in ways earlier episodes with attempts at this style of comedy in Red Dwarf haven’t.

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The episode moves quickly to introducing us to the Nova 3 which the gang visit to have Kryten meet an old mechanoid from his fleet. The hand wave of them all going in stasis to stop fans criticising the episode for just so happening to meet up with an old mechanoid from Kryten’s fleet at the right time is not necessary but a nice addition.

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Of course the episode can never be too far away from fan criticism. Clearly the real bone of contention with this episode will be the introduction of the Series 3000 mechanoid, Butler. He doesn’t look human. This despite Out of Time confirming that Series 3000 all looked human to better fit in but were notoriously unpopular as a result. Of course this revelation in Out of Time all took place in an unreality bubble so there is your explanation as to why Series 3000 actually just look similar to Series 4000. We have all been fooled by an unreality bubble for 23 years.

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This series has already had some of my all time favourite guests in the form of Lucie Pohl (Harmony de Gauthier), Kevin Eldon (4 of 27) and Mark Quartley (Snacky). Dominic Coleman as Butler has to join that list. His performance is pitched to perfection, providing us with a very Star Trek style character without specifically being a parody. Coleman makes the character his own. The costume also is a nice attempt at making him look slightly less advanced than Kryten, even if they achieve that by reusing an old Kryten costume from Series X.

It is then a shame that we spend such a short time with Butler. His contribution to the episode is merely an introduction scene in the Nova 3 and then a scene on Starbug as Kryten’s insane jealousy for this can do no wrong mechanoid builds. It is in this scene we see a return of GELFs of the Kinitawowi style for the first time since Series VII after Series X features BEGGs. A new twist on the classic “speaking GELF” joke follows before Butler is hand waved out the episode to save a GELF from the fever.

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The episode suddenly swerves into a Futurama style plot as the gang end up on a space-station built to contact “The Universe”. It feels slightly out of place an idea for Red Dwarf and it seems such a big plotline to essentially be a mechanic to give the episode an ending. Saying that, the exchange with the universe is very amusing with Kryten causing The Universe into a mid-life crisis a highlight.

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The ending which follows as Kryten smugly tries to one-up Butler only to find Butler orchestrated the whole thing is a great way to close the story and have us laughing into the credits. The endings this series have been a bone of contention with many fans but this ending should please everybody.

Whilst the episode doesn’t feel unfinished or as if it is missing an ending, it feels short. I wouldn’t put that down to the length of the episode as previous episodes have ran to a similar 27 minute length, including Camille and Back to Reality which both feel like complete stories. Between the Butler plotline and the speaking to The Universe plotline we had two episodes worth of stories crammed into one which leaves neither feeling truly complete.

But it is more a mark of how good Series XI has been as a whole that I was disappointed by Krysis. For me Krysis is probably one of the best examples of a very average Red Dwarf episode but it just so happens to be sitting in what is shaping up to be an above average series. In another series this might be a more stand-out episode but currently it simply feels overshadowed by the likes of Twentica and Give & Take.