In ‘Officer Rimmer’, an act of cowardice committed by Rimmer gets mistaken for an act of bravery and results in him being promoted to the rank of officer.
Naturally the power goes right to his head, to the annoyance of the rest of the crew, and access to a high-tech bio-printer gives Rimmer the ability to fill the ship with endless copies of himself.
Following a very funny scene in Starbug’s cockpit, with Rimmer describing his recurring dreams that are definitely nothing to do with sex, this episode launches straight into the action, as the crew encounter an unusual ship in a tricky situation.
The ship rather efficiently bio-prints crew members as and when they’re needed, and we get a cracking visual gag when the printer jams and leaves the poor man it produces with a face on top of his head. As the Cat puts it, he looks like he’s “wearing a toupee made of face!” This is a nice example of new, real-world technology (in this case 3D printing) giving rise to new sci-fi ideas in the show.
‘Officer Rimmer’ is really Chris Barrie’s episode from beginning to end, and once Rimmer gets his undeserved promotion he’s at his insufferable best. The concept of multiple Rimmers is something we’ve seen before in Red Dwarf (most memorably in ‘Rimmerworld’ from Season VI and ‘Blue’ from Season VII) but it’s never been as technically impressive as it is here. The officers’ club packed with Rimmers, including a disgruntled waiter and a barbershop quartet, is a particular highlight.
Although it’s undoubtedly Chris Barrie in the spotlight this week, the rest of the crew get some great lines along the way too. One standout moment sees Lister discover that his own body is on the bio-printer’s database, because he once “flogged his genome” for cash and cigarettes, and it’s being used by companies for cheap labour – “You mean all those smart-arse Scousers in call centres are me?!”
There’s also an enjoyable moment of Kryten pointedly disobeying orders, which is always good for a laugh.
The only thing that really lets this episode down is its ending. I’ve mentioned abrupt endings in relation to previous Red Dwarf XI episodes, but this one really takes the biscuit. It ended so suddenly that it actually made me think the video had skipped ahead. The closing line from Lister is pretty weak too.
All in all, ‘Officer Rimmer’ is a fantastic character episode with some clever special effects, but its rather jarring ending means it isn’t quite on the same level as last week’s superlative ‘Give and Take’.
Available now on UKTV Play and airs at 9pm on Thursday 13 October 2016 on Dave.
Buy the complete Season 1-8 boxset on Amazon here.
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