The new 90-minute special is the thirteenth outing of the legendary sci-fi comedy. It reunites the original cast of Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) and sees the return of Holly (Norman Lovett) the much loved ship’s computer. Written and directed by Doug Naylor, it was recorded in front of a live studio audience over two nights at the world famous Pinewood Studios.
Three million years ago… David Lister, a vending machine repairman, was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation for smuggling his pregnant cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. While Lister remained in stasis, a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew. Safely sealed in the hold, the cats evolved into humanoid form. The cats now roam deep space in a fleet of their own…
The special will see the posse meet three cat clerics (Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon, Lucy Pearman) who worship Lister as their God. Lister vows to help them as they’re being hunted by Rodon, the ruthless feral cat leader (Ray Fearon) who has vowed to wipe out all cats who worship anyone but him.
Danny John-Jules character, Cat, was introduced in the very first episode of Red Dwarf, The End, in 1988 and has been a fan favourite ever since. Cat is the product of three million years of evolution that began with Lister’s pregnant cat, Frankenstein. The special reaches all the way back to that first series to feature the first new members of the cat species since the episode Waiting for God.
Given the brief synopsis and the length of the special, and despite how absurd it is for anyone or anything to worship Lister as a God, you just know that there is going to be more to this episode than the religious ravings of misguided cat-clerics. Now what this more could turn out to be is anyone’s guess at this point. However, I’ve no doubt that there will be a trailer released in the coming weeks that will reveal a bit more to tempt us.
One way to look at this special is, despite built in ad breaks, as a Red Dwarf film. For many years there has been speculation as to whether there would be a cinematic film or not. Given the state of today’s television quality and our own home cinema systems, this may be as close to that mythic big screen spectacle that we ever get. On the other hand, if the format works well, could the Boys From the Dwarf be tempted to make the shift in format? I think it might, but that’s pure speculation on my part.
There is a lot of excitement building behind this special and like my fellow Red Dwarf fans, I can’t wait to see it. It may not be a full series, but I hope that this special is as good as series’ XI and XII were so that we might see another series again shortly.