Back in 1988, the end arrived. Or at least “The End” aired, first episode of sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf. Over the following 11 years, eight series of the show aired on the BBC, parodying science fiction conventions and films. Ten years later, the boys from the Dwarf returned for “Back to Earth” for Dave, followed by series ten in 2012.
Now, 27 years after the human race was reduced down to human slime Lister, he’s back along with hologram Rimmer, the Cat and android Kryten for two more series, to be broadcast on Dave in 2016 and 2017.
But just how many science fiction tropes have they got left to mine? Let’s take a quick look at some they’ve already managed to cover...
This is one of Red Dwarf’s favourite subjects. Over the years Kryten’s invented time travel via video clips, they’ve accidentally caused a dystopian future after foiling the Kennedy assassination (all Lister wanted was a curry) and met Jesus (well, a Jesus – it wasn’t an uncommon name in 23AD). Where else could they go? They’ve already fought their future selves and tried fiddling with their own timelines, and Lister’s managed to become his own father. It’s a pretty sure bet that the Red Dwarf crew will be going back in time over the next two series.
Alternate universes are another of Red Dwarf’s specialities. In some of the most noteworthy instances, they’ve travelled into a genderswapped universe (with women in positions of authority and men objectified), a universe where time runs backwards compared to this one, and met Ace Rimmer, the heroic version of Rimmer with better hair. It’s always fun to see different versions of the main cast, or maybe revisit some we’ve seen before.
In an appropriately named episode (series three’s “Bodyswap”), Lister and Rimmer swapped bodies to allow Rimmer to experience life again. Beyond the obvious fun of two completely opposite characters forced to exchange bodies and watch the other destroy their life, it’s made even more great by Chris Barrie’s skill at mimicking Craig Charles’ facial expressions.
First hinted at in “Future Echoes”, where Lister saw a future version of himself holding twin babies in his arms. But how could he have children if there were no other humans left alive? Well, by travelling into the aforementioned genderswapped universe and having sex with himself, obviously. The twins were swiftly jettisoned back to the female universe, because of “reasons”.
When Rob Grant and Doug Naylor came to create Red Dwarf, they decided that in their science-fiction universe they wouldn’t include aliens. Across the universe, all Red Dwarf’s managed to bump into are other humans, androids and GELFs – genetically engineered lifeforms. But with famous scientists like Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox saying that it’s likely there is alien life out there in the universe, it seems like the perfect time for the Red Dwarf crew to bump into an alien or two.