With the exception of The End, this is the first episode not to open with a prologue by Holly, instead opening with Cat performing ‘Tongue Tied’ in a dream sequence. This doesn’t really have any bearing on the rest of the episode, except to introduce Cat’s maladjusted attitude to the opposite sex. And maladjusted attitudes to the opposite sex are indeed the subject under discussion tonight.
Holly invents a new drive system – the Holly Hop Drive – which seems to work in a similar handwavey manner to the Infinite Improbability Drive, except Holly flamingoed up and sent them to, would you believe, a parallel universe. What follows is not particularly laugh-out-loud comedy, but an amusing look at gender roles through the characters of Lister and Rimmer – and specifically how their female equivalents might behave.
She’s absolutely repugnant. She doesn’t treat me like I’m a normal human being at all, she seems to regard me as some sort of discardable sex object.
Some of it is a little heavy-handed; Arlene Rimmer especially goes from decidedly awkward small talk to becoming a horny old lech convinced that Arnold’s ‘too tight trousers’ are an obvious sign that he’s begging for it.
We haven’t really seen enough of Rimmer trying to fraternise with the opposite sex to see if he really would behave like a male Arlene under the right circumstances, but whether or not it’s in character it’s an interesting scene to watch.
Deb Lister, on the other hand, is a very believable ladette, getting drunk and discoing the night away with Dave before waking up with him in Arlene’s bunk and slowly coming to the conclusion that, yes, they did indeed commit an act of carnal knowledge. The Rimmers are surprisingly please about this turn of events, for reasons which soon become apparent:
DAVE: How could you do this to me?
DEBBIE: Do what?
DAVE: Fertilise me. Take advantage of me. Knowing that I was drunk and
didn’t have precautions.
DEBBIE: Listen, I assumed you’d taken care of that side of things. It’s
the man’s responsibility. It’s the man who get’s pregnant. It’s the
man who has to suffer the agony of childbirth.
ARNOLD: Agony! This gets better and better!
DEBBIE: Well, what do you want me to do? I’m sorry, okay?
DAVE: Sorry? That’s it? Sorry? Wham, bang, thank you mister?
Kids, if you’re going to have experiment with sex, be safe. Make sure you know the physical laws of the universe first.
Cat, of course, doesn’t find the right small group of girls, the seven or eight women who are right for him; instead he finds a dog, so plainly his wandering days will continue.
I’m not quite sure what this means, but the only member of the crew who seems to form a sensible and mutually beneficial relationship with his female equivalent is Holly, who manages to both get off with Hilly (whatever that might entail) and fix the Holly Hop Drive to get them all back to their proper dimension.
In the end, of course, it all cycles back to that Stasis Leak, and how much fun it’s going to be finding out how Lister ends up with twins…
Interestingly, for an episode about with gender roles and sexual ethics, among the most notable changes in the re-mastered version is the removal of the skutters. In the original edit, one of ‘our’ skutters follows the crew to the parallel Red Dwarf, presumably to help fix the Hop Drive, and it pursued by a female skutter. Later they are seen again, leading a small tribe of cute little baby skutters.
Obviously, you can tell the female skutter because she’s pink.
Elsewhere a couple of superfluous lines are cut, like Lister insisting that women get pregnant and a repeat of Holly’s countdown gag; there’s some new music in the disco instead of Tongue Tied remixes; and a bunch of revamped sound and graphics – although I did sort of expect more from the new Hop Drive effects. Perhaps I had temporarily forgotten that the re-mastering was still done on a BBC sitcom budget in 1998.
Anyway, definitely watch this episode for amusing and sometimes disturbing look at the Red Dwarf boys on the pull.