Presumably somebody in the upper echelons of the Beeb thought Red Dwarf was pretty good, because within 6 months of series 1 closing, series 2 was on the air. And from this first episode, things are very different.
For a start, there is the introduction of an additional character, Kryten – although at this stage his appearance is a one-off, as he rides Lister’s space bike off into the galaxy at the end and is not seen again this series. Secondly, there is the introduction of Blue Midget, the daily runaround ship which the boys from the Dwarf take to rescue the girls from the Nova 5.
The episode is, as you might expect, very much about Kryten, the mechanoid programmed to serve the humans (‘I serve, therefore I am’) who suddenly finds the purpose to his life is gone. Lister takes Kryten under his wing, returning with him to Red Dwarf in the hope that he will find happiness for himself. Rimmer, predictably, has other ideas, and presents the mechanoid with a task list about 8 feet long to occupy his time.
It’s Kryten, Dave, but not as we know him!
Kryten’s plight brings up questions of purpose, of whether blind servitude is really A Good Thing – or is it better to occasionally step back and take a look at who we are serving. In a way, Kryten ultimately does that – with some prompting from Lister and ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ – and comes to realise that serving Rimmer is not all it’s cut out to be before setting out on his ride to self-discovery.
From a Christian perspective, I wouldn’t say that critical analysis of Who we serve is a bad thing; I don’t for a minute think God has anything to hide about His person or intentions, even if we do find it annoying that he never gives us our full to-do list. God does not expect blind servitude, but considered and willing obedience. That is why He gives us free will, the chance to rebel, to slob about as Lister would recommend. He also offers us the chance to return, as Kryten will, having tried our own way and found it less fulfilling than serving Him.
Another point worth noting here is that at the very beginning of Series 2, in Holly’s opening monologue, the programme appears to set out it’s stall on matters of religion:
As the days go by, we face the increasing inevitability that we are alone in a godless, uninhabited, hostile and meaningless universe. Still, you’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?
Three million years without meeting a single Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Pastafarian would perhaps lead an artificial intelligence with an IQ of 6,000 to this conclusion, and while the matter is not directly addressed in the series, it’s worth remembering that this is the world view in which the series is set.
Series 2 also has received the re-mastering treatment, with the main difference here being the all new Blue Midget, the ‘Mc’ added to a chicken nugget, and a typo in the end credits. No, really, there is. Re-mastering isn’t all good!
Anyway, watch this episode for David Ross’ playing of Kryten (which appears to be based a little on C-3PO), to compare and contrast with the main character version we will get to know in a few weeks time.