Balance of Power is a change of pace from the gag-laden sci-fi of the first two episodes to more of a traditional sitcom set-up.
The story opens with Lister getting bored of counting irradiated haggis, which presumably he only does because Rimmer has confiscated his cigarettes. In order to relieve the tension slightly, Lister wants to go on a date – to bring Kochanski back, albeit in hologram form, for one evening.
This suggestion leads to some comedy with the swapping of hologram discs – three episodes in we already hated Rimmer enough to root for the ‘arm of a Danish moron’ when it starts to rebel – and ultimately to Lister deciding to become an officer, outrank Rimmer, and order him to hand over the holodiscs.
The is a slight nod towards philosophy, as Holly explains why he brought Rimmer back to keep Lister sane, as opposed to one of Dave’s drinking buddies:
Holly: Jean-Paul Sartre said Hell was being locked forever in a room with your friends.
Lister: Holly, all his mates were French!
Holly also tells us that Kochanski would have been utterly unsuitable as Lister only ever exchanged 173 words with her (remember that fact, there will be a quiz later!).
Also noticeable in hindsight is a throwaway comment in the 90s nostalgia night flashback, where Lister makes a remarkably prescient mention of brains in jars – specifically Lister’s uncle, who isnt dead.
And that’s pretty much all there is here. Snippets of backstory, lots of laughs, some Cat lines I still remember from years ago, and – weirdly for a sitcom – a cliffhanger ending, as we see Lister celebrating having qualified as a chef and therefore an officer – or is he just winding Rimmer up again?
There are quite a few minor changes to dialogue in the re-mastered version here, but not much worthy of specific mention. They are noticably different, but not in any way that makes either far superior.
Watch this episode for the trading of some classic Dwarf insults, and Cat discovering how to use the vending machines.