Parallel universE

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While discussing methods of picking up women, Holly introduces the crew to the Holly Hop Drive, a machine capable of teleporting them anywhere instantly. It proceeds to fail utterly and instead warps them to a parallel universe with a copy of Red Dwarf, where it's revealed that the dominant genders were switched, and the Lister and Rimmer aboard are female, but with the exact same personalities as the male versions. Awkward antics ensue, and after getting thoroughly drunk, Lister and Lister copulate, only to discover that in this universe, it's the males that get pregnant...


RIMMER: It's changing colour!
LISTER: What colour?
RIMMER: It is! It's changing colour!
LISTER: What colour?!
RIMMER: It's blue for not pregnant, right?
RIMMER: Good news, Listy, excellent news!
LISTER: Oh, thank god!
RIMMER: ... I'm going to be an uncle!


I don't know about you, I don't know about the fandom; I, literally, have no idea what anyone thinks of the intro to this episode. But I, personally, absolutely love it to bits. Danny John Jules' song Tongue Tied is just great - it's catchy, it's quirky, the dance is completely ridiculous, and everyone seems to be having a great time (except Craig Charles who explicitly said in a retrospective that he loathed every moment of it. You can just see his plea for help in that screenshot!).

Of course, it's a thoroughly pointless scene and could easily be excised, but I love the sheer fact it was included, and the fact it's one of the Cat's dreams somehow makes it that much more brilliant. It's kinda similar to the very brief scene in Thanks For The Memory where Rimmer sings his song in a dream, except it's several minutes long, has an actual budget, and is a million times awesomer.

Rimmer perfectly displays what a cynical and unpleasant person he is when he's discussing women, and the ridiculous manner he approaches them with is so, well, ridiculous that it's amusing. As Lister says, it demonstrates how his main goals in life seem to focus on his work and social standing, while he treats any man as an obstacle in his path that must be humbled by his superiority, and any woman as a mere challenge to be conquered, usually by some evasive method of trickery.

He doesn't see having a girlfriend as companionship or a demonstration of love, but instead just a goal to achieve to make himself fit in, and otherwise sees them as mere trophies and objects to be lusted over without their complaint. He's a bit of a total asshole in this episode, isn't he?

The Holly Hop Drive is just a fantastic device; a contraption with a level of technology that exceeds having "high" as a prefix, with such a simple presentation. As great as it is, though, you kinda have to wonder why something with just two buttons for stopping and starting still needs so many calculations and preparations made before it's used, especially when Holly doesn't even appear to be connected to it, no wires or anything (wireless support, maybe?).

Also, to fanwank again for a little bit, you kinda have to wonder why he didn't just use lightspeed instead of building such a device; after all, they only appear to have been idly drifting through space for three million years, and they attempted it in series 1 but never seemed to use it again; yeah, sure, they encountered some unpleasant future echoes, but if they actually went into stasis this time instead of getting distracted, wouldn't it have gotten the same result, if just a little less instantaneous? Of course, that's just meaningless waffling since its main purpose is to cock up badly and instead enter a parallel universe, and I can hardly complain about shenanigans like that.

Parallel universes are always a simple way of creating interesting environments because, dude, it's different! How different it is depends on far you analyse the scenario; this universe is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same, except the genders have been reversed and they took a dog on board instead of a cat. Aaaaand that's it. if you want to be crazy, you could look into it much, much further.

Maybe life lived in space and ventured onto planets? Maybe another species were dominant rather than humans? Maybe another element is breathed instead of oxygen? Maybe humans took less time to get space technology? Anything and everything! Of course, to have such a radically different parallel universe would just complicate matters, especially when the episode's aim is to simply highlight the double standards of society, having the exact same characters but having different reactions to them based purely on their gender.

On that subject, the actresses chosen for Lister and Rimmer are totally spot on - female Rimmer especially, who just matches Barrie's performance so, so well; it'd almost be interesting to see a regular episode recreated with her, just to see how much it would change, as I personally believe it would be as great as it would be to start with.

Hilly, likewise, matches Norman Lovett's style just wonderfully, and it's no wonder why Hattie Hayridge was chosen to fill his place for the following three series. It is just a pity she didn't get many scenes, and as mentioned in the previous episode's review, her input in the later series would be rather minimal in comparison.

Although he's a completely insignificant addition and has a mere two scenes to himself, I think the Dog is just great - obviously it's amusing to see the total opposite of the stylish and narcissistic Cat, but it's also interesting to see someone that's actually friendly and jovial. The Red Dwarf crew are rather anti-social, obviously because they're all too self-centred or just hate each other, but the Dog aims to bond with people despite his dreadful physical traits, even if it is in his own awkward manner of sniffing their behinds.

Of course, seeing regularly would be a bore since, well, there's only so much that can be done with him when the comedy of the series revolves primarily around everyone insulting each other, so having a harmless little guy in there just wouldn't add a whole lot.

It's a fine demonstration of double standards when the two of them see their female selves hitting on them and the disgusted responses they get, and a fine indicator of our own culture's standards for each gender, regardless of how equal or fair it is. Lister getting pregnant is a very bizarre moment, and you kind of wonder just how it happened; he shows that he's disgusted with his female self, despite having the good time drinking together, but I guess being drunk is a good excuse for any ol' antics to happen.

A painful demonstration of how the gender that can get pregnant will get the short end of the stick no matter what in any culture or society. The ending is a great little scene, Rimmer totally thriving on riling up Lister until finally revealing that, yes, he is indeed pregnant.

It's a simple storyline, but if it were any more complex it probably wouldn't have been as entertaining. The gender difference is amusing, if just to see Rimmer's plan to attract women then enacted out on himself by his female incarnation, though the pregnant scene at the end is kinda uncomfortable.

Rob and Doug say they planned to follow up on the cliffhanger and explore Lister giving birth to twins, but the content seemed to be degrading towards women so they ditched it; and it's pretty understandable, as up until Lister and Lister knock it off, it's treated as a simple analysis into their own personalities, but after that it gets kinda uncomfortable, though it ends before it goes too far, thankfully. Still a fun episode.

Commentary highlightS

[coming soon!]

Fanbase opinionS

The Ganymede & Titan top episode list (which I've mostly been pilfering these fanbase opinions from, hurf) claims that Doug was "embarrassed" by this episode; I can't go into more detail since I lack that particular DVD set, but given the rather cut and dry parallel-ness about the universe and rather awkward pregnancy cracks at the end, it's no surprise some are kinda unimpressed with the episode. Of course, it's still regarded highly by many for the strong performances and gags, though the Japanese poll sees it as rather average, ranking at fourth place with 12.6% of the vote.