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.
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.
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.
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.