\ Summary | Highlights | Review | Commentary highlights | Fanbase opinions /


As the characters futilely attempt to spark innovation in their ambitions, they're summoned to a crashed vessel, the Nova 5, by its on-board mechanoid Kryten, to exchange supplies and, hopefully, get into the panties of the surviving female crew. However, the crew are revealed to not only be dead, but dead long enough to be no more than clothed skeletons - a fact Kryten had overlooked for a long time. They take him back to Red Dwarf where he is immediately made into Rimmer's personal servant, while Lister encourages him to follow his own dreams, prompting the mechanoid to rebel and venture into space on Lister's space bike.


KRYTEN: Is anything the matter?
RIMMER: Anything the matter? They're dead.
KRYTEN: Who's dead?
RIMMER: They are dead. They're all dead.
KRYTEN: ... my God! I was only away two minutes!


Series 1 may not have been perfect, but it definitely allowed the writers to get used to the premise and characters, and much like a comfortably-worn shoe, the writing is much more stronger and tighter. Although obviously no longer a distracting almost-centre focus, the lonely environment of space is portrayed wonderfully in just a few exterior shots of the Nova 5, while the comedy is more focused and flows very naturally, with some great side-splitting material.

The episode kicks off with some entertaining banter between Rimmer, Lister and Holly, and provides an amusing view at their variety of ambitions, from Holly's attempt to completely revolutionise the world of music with the addition of two new notes, to Rimmer learning Esperanto. The Esperanto is one of those minor details that never meant anything significant to the series, but its presence always kinda interested me, y'know, just because I'm a big ol' nerd for languages.

Of course, learning something new in that kind of environment, from a cynical point of view, is kinda meaningless - why learn Esperanto if you know no one that speaks it? Why revolutionise music if no one on-board can play an instrument? Why do anything? Of course, watching a show about people crying themselves to sleep every night and eventually shooting themselves in the head would not be terribly interesting or long-lasting, and given the relationship between everyone on board, getting the right to brag about a skill is always a valid excuse to learn something.

As I've rambled about before, it's kinda sad looking back at these episodes and seeing what a fun and interactive character Holly was, particularly when he gets some utterly wonderful scenes with the rest of the crew. Everyone obviously remembers the dog's milk gag, but even Hol Rock is amusing, and even witnessing him, the supposed voice of reason amongst the crew, stooping low enough as to wear a toupee for the visit to the Nova 5 is brilliant. It's also pleasant to finally see him as Norman was recorded, rather than filtered or pixelated as he was in the first series, which I always felt was needlessly distracting and pretty crummy looking. It does make it obvious he's just a guy in a turtleneck, though.

The sets are definitely more vivid in series 2, especially since the creators were so disappointed over the submarine-grey appearance of the first series. The giant inflatable banana, of course, steals the scene in the sleeping quarters, and even the command room, formerly rather muted and militaristic, is brimming with colourful button arrays, vibrant banners and flashing monitors; it can almost be distracting, but it adds a lot more pizzazz to the formerly lifeless ship, and given how Rimmer wouldn't be able to do anything about it, it's almost a surprise that the Cat and Lister didn't just decorate the place their own way. The Nova 5 almost seems like the 'real' vision Grant and Naylor had, with almost neon wallpaper and a plethora of plants dangling from the ceiling - obviously not very practical, but an easy way of adding colour to the scene.

It's amusing how a simple meet-up to exchange supplies garners the reactions it does when it's revealed there's three women available; Rimmer seemed to hide his desires in series 1 just fine (aside from a brief excerpt of a dream featuring McGruder), but everyone gets into the act to look their best. After being stuck in Red Dwarf for all of series 1, it's nice to see them get out and do some exploring, especially when there's good reason; I could just be exaggerating, but it seemed that in later series their reason for visiting odd sites was simply "oh, look at that, let's explore!", though given how Blue Midget was no bigger than a caravan, it's a further relief that they would get Starbug as the default means of transport, which seemed to expand in size further and further as it was used more.

The preparation for said meet-up prompts some great moments, such as Lister spray painting his buttocks rather than covering up the hole in his trousers, the Cat's ridiculous space suit, and Rimmer's attempts to make Lister "build him up," which is then used hilariously when they meet the ex-crew.

Obviously given the title, this is Kryten's debut, and although he wouldn't become a recurring character until series 3, he does get a great little introduction, especially the wonderfully bittersweet peek at his life at the beginning, watching Androids on a dead ship on a desolate planet. Kryten would develop beautifully over the course of the series, growing in humanity almost to a fault with the acquiring of biases and faults, but it's interesting to see his attitude before he was introduced to Lister, where he's a lowly servant with absolutely no desires or ambitions for himself. His interaction with Lister in this episode is fairly limited, but even their brief scenes together sow the beginning of a great pairing, Lister's free-living mentality being applied to a droid with no idea of such a concept.

You could almost say that Kryten's dream of the garden that he has grown himself almost parallels Lister's original dream of moving to Fiji, though obviously by this point all mention of that was gone, but it creates an interesting contrast of means regarding how they would achieve their dreams: Their desires are both quaint and simplistic and absolutely adorable (yes, I understand this is a comedy about laddish behaviour and space science joke funnies, but I CANNOT HELP BUT LIKE ADORABLE CONCEPTS), but can't achieve them due to reasons beyond their control; Lister is stuck in his job aboard the ship but would have done whatever he could to get his way, until the whole everyone's-dead-and-we're-three-million-years-in-the-future problem sprang up, while Kryten simply refuses to let it happen, as simple as it would be, due to his programming and guidelines.

Of course, this doesn't matter since the Fiji plan isn't even mentioned after series 1, and neither is the garden after this episode, but Kryten seems quite content serving Lister. Oh well!

David Ross' performance as Kryten is certainly befitting of this original mentality, solely as a servant to all humans with no self-desire, and he does a good job of portraying that. His rebellion at the end shows some interesting deviation, and given how uptight and fussy Kryten originally is, it's that much more satisfying to see him shower Rimmer with insults and flash him a single-finger salute. However, no harm to Ross, but I will admit I prefer Robert Llewellyn in the role. I think he gave Kryten's flaws a more humourous vibe, such as his fussing over laundry work or inability to lie, and the character emitted a more jovial vibe.

Ross' interpretation fits this early look very well, and given the environment, makes him out to be an almost tragic character, how he simply refuses to move on in life. Robert just gave him a bit more life and pizzazz, y'know. Also, a wider range of emotions, a broader voice, and, well, a less-frightening mask, though those all might be external reasons.

The episode ends with Kryten rebelling against Rimmer and his rules, and it's a wonderful relief; Rimmer, now with a servant to carry out his every whim and without a single complaint, gains an incredible air of confidence and smugness about him, as it's something he never had before; surely, when he was alive he could touch stuff and had Lister as a subordinate, but he didn't have respect and a minion to carry out his commands without question, and it shows just how much he's inspired by his favourite dictators. Naturally, it makes the ending that much more brilliant.

A brilliant introduction to the new series; snappily written, a great demonstration of how they could expand upon the initial setting, and Norman Lovett in a wig is just brilliant.

Commentary highlightS

DANNY: [regarding Norman] Still got a bit of a Bobby Charlton going on there.
CHRIS: It's a paintbrush, isn't it.
NORMAN: It's just a little island!
DANNY: What is it, though?
NORMAN: It's a hair island!
DANNY: It doesn't look like hair, though.
CHRIS: There's a few little estuaries just at the top there.
NORMAN: Leave my hair alone!
CRAIG: That's a line you used to use in your stand-up, isn't it? "No one is an island except when he's in the bath."
NORMAN: "No man's an island except when he's having a bath."
DANNY: Is it the one with just one palm tree on it?
NORMAN: Will you shut up, Danny? This is only episode one!
DANNY: But you were the one who started it.

CRAIG: He was right 'lovey', wasn't he, David Ross? D'ya remember when he jumped on the table, Chris? In rehearsal.
CHRIS: Oh, I did.
CRAIG: He said, "come on," because we was messing around, being as professional as we normally were, and he jumped on the table and was, "come on, come on! Could we finish this scene, I have to go home, I have a train to catch, darling!"
NORMAN: Do you remember at lunch that time he said to me, "are you legit?"
CRAIG: "Are you legit!"
NORMAN: And I said yeah, I've got a mother and father.
DANNY: No, he meant, were you a thesp'?
NORMAN: I was taken back.
CRAIG: I tell you, it's strange, we tried to get him to play Kryten in the third series as well, they wanted to bring him back, and he couldn't do it because he was filming the second series of Boys from the Blackstuff or somethin' like that.
DANNY: We weren't legit, man. We weren't legit, man, he said "series three of a bunch of illegitimate actors!"

Fanbase opinionS

For being the beginning of the second series, this episode is respected a lot for showing the new energy the series would have, in acting, writing, setting and music. Of course, the "dog's milk" sequence is considered one of the greatest moments in the series, and although seeing Kryten with another actor is weird for most folk, he's still applauded for playing it well. The Japanese poll rates it as the second best episode of this series.