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After being hit by a meteorite, Lister is mildly injured after following incorrect instructions from Holly, prompting the back-up computer, Queeg 500, to enter operation and assume command, making Holly the night watchman. Queeg's rule proves to be brutally taxing, destroying them mentally and physically, as they pine for the days of Holly being in charge. Holly challenges Queeg to a game of chess, the loser being deleted - and he loses. Then it turns out to be a gag. Huzzah!


LISTER: Sometimes, I think it's cruel giving machines a personality. Me mate Petersen once bought a pair of shoes with artificial intelligence. Smart Shoes they were called. It was a neat idea: no matter how blind drunk you were, they could always get you home. But he got rattled one night in Oslo and woke up the next morning in Burma. Y'see, his shoes got bored going from his local to his flat. They wanted to see the world, like, y'know. He had a hell of a job getting rid of them. No matter who he sold them to, they'd show up again the next day. He tried to shut them out, but they just kicked the door down, y'know.
RIMMER: Is this true?
LISTER: Yeah. The last thing I heard, they sort of... robbed a car and drove it into a canal. They couldn't steer, y'see.
RIMMER: Really?
LISTER: Yeah. Petersen was really, really blown away about it. He went to see a priest. The priest told him... he said it was alright and all that, when shoes are happy that they'd get into heaven. You see, it turns out shoes have soles.
RIMMER: Ah, what a sad story. Wait a minute... how did they open the car door?

QUEEG: If you want food, you have to work.
CAT: And you better get to it, 'cause you're lookin' at one hungry pussycat!
QUEEG: Both of you!
CAT: Hey hey, whoa whoa, I do not do the "W" word. Cats do not work! I've got a note from my mommy.

CAT: Psst! If it's any help, I've been studying his tactics, and there's a pattern emerging. Everytime you make a move, he makes one too!
HOLLY: ... thanks, Cat.


A Holly-centric episode, and therefore one of my favourite episodes. Holly was rarely ever the centre of attention and rarely was his attitude and personality explored, so to get a really good highlight episode about him is just beyond praise.

The intro is ripe with amusing little scenarios; Lister filling in the women's quiz, the Cat listening to an audiobook that's somehow been warped into bizarre and incredible music, and Rimmer, of course, being an absolute smeghead in the name of winning an unwinnable game of checkers against a Skutter. There's only so many times I can talk about those little slices of life, but it's amusing how far they go to some extents to get their kicks.

The scene afterwards with Rimmer malfunctioning due to the meteorite hitting the ship is one of those small sequences that's completely superfluous to the plot and could have been skipped over entirely, but it's amusing and makes for a fine excuse to get Chris Barrie to show off his impersonating talent. Chris seems to really enjoy imitating Craig Charles, as was also suggested in a brief scene in Thanks For The Memory; the commentary for that episode has Craig saying that he was quite miffed when he first saw that as the two of them didn't have the best of relationships then, and indeed, later on it's mentioned how the bunk scenes with Lister and Rimmer were changed to cockpit scenes, so the two people who hate each other would be in mixed company. Okay, vaguely related to the scene at hand, but I find it amusing.

Holly has been shown to be rather dotty minded and senile at times, but the beginning emphasises this to the point of nearly killing Lister accidentally thanks to plugging the wrong cables, which is the prime reason why Queeg enters the picture to replace him.

It's amusing how, when someone with a higher rank shows up, it highlights how supposedly incompetent he is, Queeg listing plenty of reasons why Holly isn't suitable for the job ("His IQ has a six in it, but it's not six thousand."); and seeing the normally laidback computer attempt to express anger towards Queeg is entertaining in how he still remains so mellow; you'd hardly tell the difference in his tone of voice if he were ordering a pizza.

Queeg's leadership shows how life before with Holly was just entirely without rules; to make an awkward analogy, they took over a once-thriving town turned ghost town and proceeded to bum around in it, living by their own rules and being very casual and chummy about it all, for better or for worse. Queeg, meanwhile, aims to maintain the status quo of when the ship was 'alive' and keep them active and busy, despite having only some Skutters and two functional bodies that both hate work, which is admittedly kinda ambitious of him.

The lifestyle under Holly's rule was perfectly understandable given the circumstances of everyone else being dead and the universe as they know it being entirely different, and as I've mentioned briefly before, it's surprising the characters even still have minor ambitions in such a desolate world. If they were working towards something, then Queeg's rule would be perfectly justified, but if the only thing they're good at is bumming around and having a few laughs, then all it does is make life not worth living for them.

Though by that logic you could say the same about any kind of occupation in this day and age, except since the Earth still exists and all human life hasn't gone extinct, you can at least try and do other things.

There's some great gags, such as Queeg taking over Rimmer's body for the sake of his exercises and promptly rendering him unconscious after a few miles of non-stop jogging; the Cat complaining about the fashion sense of wearing marigold gloves with his blue jumpsuit, and Lister's hilarious desperation to get back his lost meal (a pea). Rimmer's spiel on "Porky Roebuck" and his betrayal is great, and yet another demonstration of what a totally and completely absurd life Rimmer has led; it also shows how Rimmer seems to refuse that he's just had some bad experiences and not all life is terrible, and prefers to linger on all his poor circumstances and judgments.

Seeing Holly so humbled after the takeover and reduced to the role of a mere night watchman is kinda sad; sure, his IQ is merely an informed trait and his great creations and operations are often rather questionable in their effectiveness, but still, it's sad to see him fall so low. Then again, seeing him in a flatcap and scarf is amusing, and I find the scene before his challenge with Queeg where "High Noon" plays quite memorable.

The climax, Holly's challenge against Queeg, is fantastic, and given how well Holly is established in this episode, it only makes you root for him even more. Needless to say, he fails quite spectacularly and embarrassingly. His failure leaves a really strong impact, as per the conditions of the challenge, the crew are doomed to live by Queeg's rules for the rest of their lives, and there's nothing they can do about it. Holly, although often portrayed as living in his own world with little grasp on what the main characters are up to, clearly wishes the best of the crew and finally provides the answer to a maths question they asked earlier, explaining "I may not be fast, but I get there in the end."

Despite Rimmer claiming they shouldn't be sad to see Holly go as computers don't have feelings, that line is a perfect indicator of how "human" Holly is, even as an artificial intelligence, with all the entertaining quirks and oddities to make him quite friendly and memorable; unlike Queeg, who has the harsh and unsympathetic attitude of, obviously, a computer.

Then it all turns out to be the jape of the decade. And it is brilliant.

Holly is shown to be a rather wily character, as proven by the ridiculous capers he would pull for the sole purpose of amusing himself, this episode being the best example. He can easily play dumb to test the faith of his crew, and certainly goes a long way to make it as real as possible, but he could very well be genuinely incompetent, and may indeed have been going around in circles, though since there's no way for the crew to know that, he could amuse himself with that premise for a long, long time.

He's a crafty and intelligent character who often doesn't show it, and although he was never analysed to the same extent as Rimmer, this episode definitely shows that he's an intriguing character. but, sadly, this is really the last time we see Holly in his prime; later series would focus primarily on this incompetent aspect of his personality and it kind of overtook his usefulness, especially when Kryten proved to be so much smarter despite being a simple maid, and I personally felt it resulted in a slow, shameful death for the character.

Hattie Hayridge did a very good job as the replacement in the series afterward, and her brief stint as Hilly (next episode!) definitely showed that she gave the same style of performance as Norman Lovett; it's just a pity that the material she had to work with wasn't as sharp or as witty, and as she laments in the retrospective features, most of her lines boiled down to announcing the opening and closing of doors.

This is the character that navigated them successfully through lightspeed, made a device to warp to parallel dimensions (next episode!) and, well, operates the entire ship without blowing it up; it's an immense shame to see him sink to the level of being an automatic door. Still, he may only be of this calibre for the first two series, but it's a very fun time while it lasts. Definitely one of my favourite episodes.

Commentary highlightS

[coming soon!]

Fanbase opinionS

As one of the only Holly highlight episodes, this one is held in high regard, and even for those who aren't totally in love with the character (as I am), the episode itself is still ripe with great gags and an entertaining storyline. It's often cited as one of the best series 2 episodes, and indeed, the Japanese poll ranks it as the best, stealing 30% of the vote.