Red Dwarf XI Episode III “Give And Take” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Rimmer is annoyed by the evasive attitude of a dodgy AI lift, and threatens to replace it.
- Kryten locates a space station which will shortly be destroyed by a meteorite storm.
- The Dwarfers board the space station, where Cat and Lister are captured by an insane medical droid called Asclepius.
- Rimmer and Kryten discover another much more benign droid, whom – through a hilarious misunderstanding – they assume is Asclepius. It’s actually Snacky the snack dispensing droid.
- Ascelpius removes Lister’s kidneys (presumably the fact that they’re still working after all the alcohol they’ve had to cope with makes them a medical curiosity).
- Rimmer and Kryten rescue Lister and Cat, but Rimmer accidentally destroys Lister’s kidneys in the process.
- Back on Red Dwarf, Kryten gives Lister a temporary fix so he can live without kidneys for a limited time, while Lister tries to convince Cat to donate one of his kidneys.
- Cat’s having none of it. So they trick Cat… believing that Snacky will be able to make Cat’s kidney’s compatible with Lister’s biology.
- Which is when Snack reveals that he’s actually just a snack dispenser…
- …but a snack dispenser who can patch together a time machine, thanks having overheard enough space station crew conversations in his time.
- So the Dwarfers travels back in time a couple of days, kidnap “past” Lister, render him unconscious and remove his kidneys. They place them in “future” Lister, and use Kryten’s temporary fix to keep “past” Lister alive for the couple of days he needs until the “future” Lister gets the new kidneys. “Past” Lister then just assumes he’s spent two comatose days recovering from a hangover.
- During this jaunt into the past, they need to use the same lift that Rimmer threatened to replace/will threaten to replace. “Future” Rimmer promises to promote it if it helps them avoid running into “past” Rimmer, and it’s while it’s trying to do this that it pisses off “past” Rimmer.
- Back in the present, Lister is reunited with his kidneys but Rimmer never gets round to promoting the lift, which decides to have its revenge the next time Rimmer uses it…
What a great little episode. Some of the best Red Dwarf episodes (like The Simpsons episodes) are the ones that seem to start off as one thing and end as another, twisting unexpectedly along the way. “Give And Take” certainly does that. We reckon years from now when people are looking back on the series they’ll talk about, “The one where Lister loses his kidneys”, “The one with the snack robot” and “the one where Rimmer pisses off a lift” as if they’re qll different episodes. But they dovetail brilliantly.
There’s some great comedy plotting going on here, as well as some classic Red Dwarf dialogue. Whereas “Samsara” seemed to struggle last week to make the exposition funny, “Give And Take” combines the necessary nut and blots of storytelling with some brilliant gags (see “Good” below) and comedy set-pieces: Kryten deleting Rimmer from his databanks; Rimmer’s psychotherapy session with Snacky (“Why did she get the green crayon?”); the Lister vs Lister finale.
There’s also a pace and crazy energy to the episode that keeps things rattling along… mostly. There’s a bit of a sag when Kryten tries to trick Cat into signing over his kidney; even Kryten’s comedy “lying” shtick (his signature exaggerated stutter) feels half -hearted and the sequence outstays its comedy value.
Other than that, a cracking piece of Red Dwarf, with moments for all the main cast to shine. Even if the time travel doesn’t actually make much sense. But does it ever?
- A cleverly constructed plot based on a fun sci-fi conceit.
- Snacky is just brilliant.
- The CGI space station is a great design.
- Lots of really good gags this week including our favourite of this series so far:
“Have no fear sir. I only trashed information I considered frivolous and idiotic.”
“Without checking with me first?”
“And you are?”
- But we also loved:
• “The French army after lunch move quicker.”
• “It’s like VHS and Betamax or the catholic church and science.”
• “I’ve got some issues with my father, who I discovered wasn’t my father. Also I’ve got some issues with my mother who very sadly is my mother.”
- There’s also a couple of moments of Carry On-style smut:
• “Let me tell you me laddo. There are plenty of young, thrusting lifts round here that would give their eye teeth to transport someone of my stature up and down their shaft. ”
• “Rest assured, sir, you now have pride of place in my R-section.”
- And we loved Rimmer going all Daenerys Targaryen:
“I am standing, acting, senior commanding officer Arnold J Rimmer of the AMC mining ship Red Dwarf. Perhaps you could…”
“Sir, you haven’t introduced me.”
“I beg your pardon. This is Kryten. He’s a sanitation droid. Mainly toilets. He can also unblock drains and he’s an absolute whizz when it comes to embarrassing stains.”
- Anybody else think Snacky was the channelling “the book” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy with his Romero anecdote? It really needed some little animated graphics. “One day his future self appeared and told him to never go back in time or he’d be stabbed to death. And younger Romero refused to believe him and stabbed him to death. He realised what a terrible thing he’d done, so he went back in time to warn his younger self, but got stabbed to death.”
- Asclepius looked a little cheap-looking, and the sound effects used on his voice really mangled his dialogue, totally killing the really-rather-good-otherwise “NO LONGER INSANE” gag.
- Fans of moaning about closed loops will have a field day with the time travel in this episode. If the Dwarfers have nicked Lister’s kidneys then he will have no kidneys for Asclepius to remove… continue your cyclical thinking from there.
- The ruse to get Cat’s kidney is very laboured in an otherwise slick script.
And The Random:
- There’s a very pointed reference to Rimmer and Snacky having both served under flight co-ordinator Ronald Littlewood. He’s not a character who’s ever been seen/mentioned in the show before, so we have to wonder if he might show up in the future. It’s an odd detail to drop in otherwise.
- The voice of Snacky is provided by Mark Quartley who played Paul Lermentov in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.
- The voice of the lift is provided by Daniel Barker, who you might otherwise know as YouTube comedian Damien Slash.
- Snacky’s design is quite clearly influenced by Robby The Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956, below) although we do wonder if the gag about the “egg flipper-thing” on his head is a sly reference to the Dalek’s famous egg-whisk attachment.
Review by Dave Golder