Bodyswap starts, slightly irrelevantly, with Lister inadvertantly trying to destroy Red Dwarf with a milk shake and a Toffee Crisp in a plot element that never got resolved.
The crew’s attempt to not get blown up lead them to upload a dead senior officer’s mind into Lister’s body to shut down the auto destruct; which leads Rimmer to realise he and Lister can likewise trade minds, effectively giving Rimmer a body for a fortnight.
Oh smeg! What the smeggin’ smeg’s he smeggin’ done? He’s smeggin’ killed me!
There follows some Scooby-Doo style personality and voice swapping (yes, we’ll throw the science away for now and remember this is a sitcom as well), Rimmer welching on his promise to get Lister’s body back into shape, and in the end abducting it and doing a runner in Starbug.
Bodyswap does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a body-swapping romp in space. In terms of quality, I think this episode is the mid-season slump.
There are, perhaps, still lessons to be brought out of the episode, some theological crumbs dropped under the table of silliness. For instance, take the analogy of the Church as the body of Christ, and Rimmer’s (or was it Lister’s?) line:
You’ve no respect, that’s what. You’ve shown my body no respect whatsoever. You’ve treated it like smeg.
The same could be said of our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, or the simple fact that people have always abused the good things God has given us temporary custody over.
We could also comment on Kryten’s role in all of this; despite knowing it is wrong, he follows Rimmer’s orders to chloroform first Lister and later the Cat. Why? For no other reason than it is in his nature to obey, even when it’s is illogical and plainly wrong to do so.
But for me the best lesson to draw from all this, is that which Rimmer fails to learn.
In the first half of the story, he is given a chance at a better life – a full life – thanks to Lister’s inexplicable generosity. But, being Rimmer, he welches on his side of the deal. He could have had life, in its fullness (at least for a fortnight every summer), but by lying, cheating, and general selfishness, he manages to screw it up.
The offer open to us is for more than a couple of weeks; it’s for life in all its fullness, starting now and lasting forever. All we have to do is accept it graciously, and not be a smeghead.
Apart from the Starbug/Midget chase sequence, which is revamped in obvious CGI and is another example of what they just should have left alone, there’s not a lot changed in the re-master; this is another one probably best watched in the original cut.
Watch this episode for Rimmer in Lister’s leather jacket, and Lister in a girdle. Oh, wait, I may not have sold that too well…