Rimmer (Chris Barrie) & Lister (Craig Charles) are probably the lowest-ranking technicians aboard
the spaceship Red Dwarf, primarly concerned with repairing chicken soupt
vending machines & the like. But while slobby Lister has given into
his fate & made plans for a better life outside the Starfleet,
uptight Rimmer does still believe in a (military) career with the
Starfleet - problem is, he is entirely too stupid for it.
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When it's found out that Lister is keeping an unquarantined cat
aboard the ship, he, as punishment, is put inot stasis without pay for
the remainder of the trip - meaning he is plucked out of time for
that time ...
3 million years later Lister is coming out of stasis (or re-planted
into time). The whole crew of the Red Dwarf was wiped out due to a
radiation leak (actually caused by Rimmer) long ago, & until now it
wasn't safe for humans to walk about the ship. Humankind as such doesn't
seem to exist, & the earth is god knows where, so it seems Lister
now is all alone on the ship, except of course for Holly (Norman Lovett),
the now half crazed ship's computer ("I've grown a bit
peculiar."), The after-dead hologram of Rimmer (a holographic
person, for sure, so he can't touch anything, but otherwise as annoying
as he used to be - his holographic status, by the way, is signified by a
big H on his forehead), & an offspring (Danny John-Jules) of Lister's
cat, who has now evolved into a humanlike being, with all the
characteristics of a cat, though. Lister decides to take the Red Dwarf
back to earth ... The Beginning.
A great premise for a sitcom, actually, but the pilot already shows
all the strengths & weaknesses that would permeat the series (at
least the first season, Red Dwarf ran for eight). On one hand,
the scripts are not always too carefully thought out concerning
storytelling, much relies just on gags, that are more often than not
hit-or-miss, & Craig Charles as Lister is not really much of an
actor. On the other hand, that guy especially is completely loveable,
& the chemistry between him & Rimmer (Chris Barrie) is just
great. And furthermore, despite the series borrows heavily from Dark
Star, the last man in the universe-story is told in
such a lighthearted & original way without any bittersweet
sentiments that could have sunk it right fronm the start, that you just
have to forgive the series all its shortcomings (at least for a while,
later episodes would deteriorate in quality) & watch it.