|Back To Reality|
|Written By||Rob Grant & Doug Naylor|
|Director||Juliet May & Grant Naylor|
|Guest Star(s)|| Lenny Von Dohlen |
Scott Charles Bennett
|Previous Episode: Demons & Angels|
|Next Episode: Psirens|
The crew take Starbug down into the watery depths of an ocean planet to investigate the wreck of the SSS Esperanto. They find that the ship's crew have committed suicide, then escape to try and avoid attack from a sea monster, the "Despair Squid". The crew suddenly wake up to find they are not who they think they are, Red Dwarf and Starbug did not exist, and they have in fact been playing a virtual reality computer game for four years.
The Red Dwarf crew takes Starbug down to investigate the wreckage of the SSS Esperanto, a ship conducting marine seeding experiments at the bottom of an ocean-covered moon. It appears that all life on board the Esperanto committed suicide, right down to a haddock which closed its gills and suffocated itself. They discover the deaths are due to severe depression caused by a hallucinogenic nerve toxin. Attempting to evade a gigantic squid, Starbug crashes and explodes.
Instead of finding themselves in little pieces, they wake to discover that for four years they have been playing 'Red Dwarf - The Total Immersion Video Game'. Kryten is half-human Cybernautics Division Detective (traffic officer) Jake Bullet. Cat is dorky Duane Dibbley. Lister is Sebastian Doyle, (unknown until a fascist cop refers to him as such) the head of the secret police in a fascist state, and Rimmer is William Doyle, Lister's half brother and a tramp.
Only Kryten is pleased with his 'real' existence; however, when he is forced to take a human life in order to save a young girl, the mechanoid too begins to despair. The crew then become involved in a high-speed car chase with the police. Devastated by the implications of their "true" selves, they are about to commit group suicide when Holly finally manages to awaken them, revealing that Starbug's crash and 'reality' were just a group hallucination brought on by the toxic ink of the "despair squid" which showed them a world where everything they held dear was destroyed, reducing them to suicidal levels of anguish; Kryten killed a human being, the vain Cat's life had no meaning in a world where he was a dork, Rimmer could no longer blame his failures on others because he shared an upbringing with the wealthy Lister, and Lister, normally a good man of moral courage, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. They are unaware that Kryten's nanobots will steal the Red Dwarf and the Starbug will chase the Red Dwarf and find out the fate of the nanobots years later.
It is revealed in Back to Earth that the Cat managed to smuggle a female Squid on board, with the intention of eating it, which gave them joy instead of despair. Apparently it escaped into the water tank.
This was the final appearance of Holly on Red Dwarf until Nanarchy in 1997, five years later. According to the events of Psirens, the Red Dwarf was "stolen by an unknown party", but it was revealed in Nanarchy that it was actually Kryten's nanobots which stole the ship. But the nanobots ended up dumping whatever they didn't need on a planetoid. It was seen in the 2005 web-comic Prelude to Nanarchy which was released six years after Red Dwarf ended.
Holly didn't appear again until Nanarchy, but Norman Lovett played Holly in that episode and Series VIII on until Only the Good..., with Hattie Hayridge making her final appearance as Holly in Back to Reality. However, from 2004 to 2006, she did some commentaries for Red Dwarf DVD releases with Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn, and Danny John-Jules.
The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 26 March 1992 in the 9:00pm evening time slot, and is generally considered to be one of the best of the entire series' run. One review stated that "it’s no less than perfect, with an inspired mix of ingenious plotting, brilliant writing and stunning performances."
At the end of 1992 the episode helped Series V gain a nomination for an International Emmy Award, and in 1995, following a BBC viewers vote, it was repeated on the 22 December 1995 as 'The Best Ever Red Dwarf'.
The episode had proved popular enough for the BBC to ignore the original running order and use the popular episodes from Series V to maximise sales of the video releases. The episode that featured on the other Series V video release being "Quarantine".
This episode was supposed to be released as the season opener but was then used as the season finale instead. The fact it was intended to open the season is made evident by the several references to Lister and his colleagues having been playing the game for four years, when in fact it had been five.
The new version of Rimmer, shown on Starbug, has a ring around his "H" -- similar to the ones on the Holoship in the beginning episode of this particular season. Perhaps as part of the "game" Rimmer was supposed to be an upgraded hologram.
When the men are in the recuperation lounge, unaware of their identities, Rimmer, before he finds out his or Kryten's true identity, calls Kryten, "Kryten", even though in that instance it wasn't really his "identity". Consequently, during the car chase scene, when they are in the starbug, representing sitting in a car, the four men run around the car. Lister says, "Kryten, get in", whereas, knowing his real "identity", he should have referred to him by that name.
- Cat: Are you saying this fish commited suicide!?
- Lister: This is a really, really bad dream, right guys?
Rimmer: I'm not a hologram!
Kryten: I'm half human!
Cat: AND WHAT THE HELL'S HAPPENED TO MY TEETH!? I could open beer bottles with my overbite!
- Kryten: Bullet - Cybernautics. (Shows Badge)
Agent: That's traffic control.
"Back to Reality" was the first script written for Series V, which at the time was thought to be the last series, due to possible cast availability issues. Other projects and roles seemed to be taking over their time. Chris Barrie was starring in the increasingly popular sit-com Brittas Empire, Robert Llewellyn went to do Red Dwarf USA, which might have meant that he would have to concentrate on that instead of traditional Red Dwarf.
Although the budget for the series had increased, certain sets were still able to double for different scenes. The corridors of the holoship, from the episode of the same name, were grunged down and made up for the Artificial Reality suite.
Several model shots of the Despair Squid were filmed but it was decided that they didn't work well. Instead a superimposed shadow was used to illustrate the squid closing in on Starbug.
The episode features Hattie Hayridge's last appearance in the series. According the Series V DVD documentary "Heavy Science", the writers had simply run out of ideas for Holly, with Doug Naylor expressing guilt over the fact Hayridge's role in the show was often little more than a few lines. Holly would return to the series at the very end of Series VII and become a regular for Series VIII, but would be played by the character's original actor, Norman Lovett. Nevertheless, Hayridge would stay involved with Red Dwarf fandom and also participate in interviews and commentaries for the DVD releases of her seasons.
The other cast got to play their despair induced alter egos; Danny John-Jules played Duane Dibbley, Craig Charles played Sebastian Doyle, Robert Llewellyn played Jake Bullet, while Chris Barrie played William Doyle, Sebastian's half-brother. Duane in particular became a popular alter ego for John-Jules and would be reprised again, including during the Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg special.
Lenny Von Dohlen, known as appearing in Twin Peaks, agreed to appear as the cop after speaking with former guest star Frances Barber (series III's Jenny Mutant). The episode also featured a new Red Dwarf crew for the new Artificial Reality game. Anastasia Hille played an alternate version of Kochanski, David Lemkin played The Cat, Julian Lyon played Rimmer, John Sharian played Lister and Scott Charles Bennett played Kryten. 'Red Dwarf Total Immersion Video Game' staff workers were Timothy Spall who played Andy and Marie McCarthy who played the Nurse.
According to the "Heavy Science" DVD featurette, Spall's performance as Andy marked the very first time the actor (best known in recent years for his appearances as Wormtail in the Harry Potter films) had performed in front of a live audience. After a disastrous set of early takes (during which Naylor notes that the actor became so discombobulated he began prematurely giving away plot elements), according to John-Jules he delivered a perfect performance on the second go.
It's interesting to note that Rimmer dosen't deny he can't swim when Timothy Spall's character says he can't, so why does Rimmer have a swimming certificate if he can't actually swim, (although the certificate is referenced in other episode's, I.E: The Inquisitor, where Lister says ...Arnold J. Rimmer Bsc, and that stands for Bronze swimming certificate).
The game bears many similarities to Better Than Life, although it is never identified by this title. The idea of participants spending years immersed in the game, cared for by attendants, is also featured in the novels with respect to Better Than Life, and is also revisited in a deleted scene from "Duct Soup" when Kochanski mentions spending most of her teen years hooked up to a similar system during her schooling.
- Lenny Von Dohlen as the Fascist Cop.
- Timothy Spall as Andy (Staff Worker)
- Marie McCarthy as the Staff Nurse.
- Anastasia Hille as alternate Kochanski.
- David Lemkin as alternate Cat.
- Julian Lyon as alternate Rimmer.
- John Sharian as alternate Lister.
Other articles of things featured in this particular episode
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Back to Reality (Red Dwarf). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tongue Tied, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|
|Red Dwarf: Episode List|
|Series I|Series II|Series III|Series IV|Series VI|Series VII|Series VIII|Back to Earth|Series X|