It is also the seventy-second Red Dwarf episode overall.
When the Dwarfers upload the latest software update they discover the Jupiter Mining Corporation, owners of Red Dwarf, have been bought by M-Corp - a company that only allows products made by them to be visible to their employees.
Kryten enters the sleeping quarters aboard Red Dwarf to wake up a sleeping Dave Lister. Kryten brings in breakfast for Lister, singing "Happy Birthday to You". Lister asks if he is thirty, to which Kryten laughs; Lister then asks if he is forty, to which Kryten also laughs. Lister then jumps out if his bunk holding his hands over his ears, refusing to hear how old he actually is. When Kryten says that he has a present for Lister, Lister says that he doesn't need a present, since he has everything he could ask for. Kryten says that is nonsense, and since he has no wife and no future, he is easy to shop for.
As Kryten goes off to fetch Lister's present, the Cat enters dancing very happily after spending a day in front of the mirror, and asks Lister if he agrees that Cat is getting better looking with age. Cat fails to notice that Lister is in severe pain, keeling over and clutching at his chest. Cat thinks that Lister is saying "chess", and Cat reminds him that they don't have all the chess pieces for a game, and "the horsey one" has no legs. As Lister collapses, Cat shrugs and begins to eat Lister's breakfast.
Soon after his suspected heart attack, Lister is laid up in the Science Room as Arnold Rimmer stands over him, gloating at the irony of Lister having a heart attack on his birthday. Rimmer sarcastically says that Lister will have to retire, take it easy and sit around in his bunk whilst Kryten does everything for him, then points out that nothing will change. Lister is disturbed that Rimmer seems to be enjoying the situation, to which Rimmer says that he is waiting for Kryten to enter and take Lister's temperature with a rectal thermometer - and hopefully Kryten will put a birthday candle on the end and ask Lister to blow it out.
Kryten enters with the results, and the good news that Lister has not suffered a heart attack, but merely a severe bout of indigestion. As Lister had requested, Kryten then produces a can of leopard lager and a mountain of chips. Although the M.C. (Medical Computer) says that Lister is no longer a medical emergency, as a precaution Kryten says that he would like to inject a minuscule A.I. monitoring chip - Chippy - into Lister's bloodstream.
Kryten then turns on a monitor to which Chippy can communicate with them directly, as Chippy collects health data during his travels through Lister's body. When Lister asks of everything is alright, Chippy talks about himself instead, saying that his battery is not everything it once was. Chippy struggles to squeeze down one of Lister's tight arteries of the heart, saying that it is furrier than an Eskimo's clothes shop. Chippy advises Lister to take up diet and exercise to fix it, and that he can give Lister altering daily updates on when he is predicted to die, given his present state of health. Rimmer chimes in before Lister can reply, speaking in a Liverpudlian accent like Lister, and confirming that he would indeed like to know when he like to die. Chippy says that, in his current state of health, Lister will die when he is 63.
Lister is angry with Rimmer, since he did not want to know when he is going to die. Lister then begins to feel severe chest pains once again, and Lister angrily tells Chippy it is probably a real heart attack brought on by the stress of knowing when he is going to die. Chippy runs some tests, and asks Lister to remain calm, but then an alarm goes off and Chippy tells Lister that has a massive arterial blockage in his left coronary artery. Chippy says to call the medical services, then after a short think says not to bother wasting their time, as Lister is going to die immediately. Chippy then begins a countdown, after which Lister does not die, but Chippy's monitor explodes and goes limp.
Lister asks what the smeg just happened, and Kryten theorises that Chippy got the date of Lister's death mixed up with it's own death. Kryten then launches an investigation on the analysis machines in the Science Room, learning that Chippy was faulty because he was running off three-million-year-old software, and had expired due to the outdated and corrupted files. Kryten explains that newer, ship-wide software updates had been transmitted at an earlier stage from their parent company, the JMC (Jupiter Mining Corporation), to prevent such a software failure from happening. Several years earlier, Kryten had set it up so that the system would apply the updates automatically and in periodic installments; however he had not noticed that this had not been occurring. It emerges that the automatic updates never occurred due to the Cat unplugging a console to use the power outlet for his heated curling tongs, causing a broken connection. This was despite a mechanical voice warning the Cat not to to unplug the console, since the updates would not be installed. Cat decided that his hair was more important than the ship.
Lister orders Kryten to get the updates installed immediately, before any of the other machines aboard Red Dwarf begin to fail. Sometime soon after, in the sleeping quarters, the Dwarfers watch on a console as the JMC operational service update finally begins to apply and activate. After it does, the JMC logo immediately turns into the logo of another company - M-Corp. The M-Corp spokesperson, Aniter, then begins to explain that the JMC was bought out by M-Corp, the largest conglomerate in the Galaxy, and that they now work for M-Corp instead of the JMC. Aniter also explains that with patented M-Corp portal technology, the ship will now be stocked with a variety M-Corp products, to "elevate their lifestyle in space". This begins to occur immediately after the video message ends, with M-Corp labelled boxes filling up the corridors and sleeping quarters.
Kryten and Rimmer take some of the M-Corp tech up the Science Room to investigate it, whilst Lister and the Cat stay in the sleeping quarters to drink some of the M-Corp own-brand beer. Lister is excited to read out its labeling - 6.5%, aromatic and barrel-aged, with hints of honey and citrus. Lister goes to put some of them in the fridge, but is annoyed when he notices that his own leopard lagers are missing. Lister asks what happened to his own lagers, and Cat says that they are right there in the fridge. Both Lister and the Cat think that the other is playing some sort of prank. When Lister sees Cat holding an apparently invisible can of leopard lager, he thinks that Cat is pretending and does not react when Cat threatens to shake it up and open it in Lister's direction. However, Lister is surprised when a geyser of foamy beer squirts all over his face as Cat opens the "invisible" ring pull of the can. Lister wonders what the smeg is going on as Cat sups on the invisible lager, saying how tasty it is.
The Dwarfers then regroup in the Science Room, and Lister explains to Kryten and Rimmer how he can see M-Corp beer, but he cannot see any other kinds of beer. Kryten then says that he would like to conduct some tests. Kryten holds up some M-Corp products, such as a kettle and an alarm clock, which Lister can see. Kryten then holds up something large and heavy, but it is invisible to Lister. Kryten holds up a packet of M-Corp brand crisps, which Lister can see. Finally, Kryten holds up something long and vibrating, which Lister cannot see, and which he says he hopes is an electric toothbrush. Kryten then passes it down the line, and Cat and Rimmer look disgusted at it.
Kryten then says that this has confirmed his fears; that the M-Corp upgrade has also installed Perception Filter Software, of which only Lister is affected. Kryten explains that means all none M-Corp products will become invisible to Lister. Lister asks what is the most important thing aboard that is not M-Corp. Kryten asks Rimmer if he can be frank, and Rimmer says yes. Kryten then says that the most important none M-Corp product aboard is himself, since the company which made him, DivaDroid International, are not owned by M-Corp, and M-Corp produced their own mechanoids. Rimmer is annoyed when Kryten explains to him that he too, as a hologram, is not affected by M-Corp, which made their own light bees. Kryten's reasoning seems to mean that Kryten considers himself more important than Rimmer.
As Rimmer and Kryten continue to argue, Lister suddenly finds that he cannot hear Rimmer. When Lister says that he cannot hear Rimmer, Cat asks why he is complaining about that. Suddenly, Cat also becomes mute to Lister, and then Kryten does too. Rimmer, Cat and Kryten then also become invisible to Lister.
That night, Lister is seen alone, and sleeping on his sofa in the sleeping quarters, which has also become invisible, giving the appearance of Lister floating in mid-air as he sleeps. As he gets up, he accidentally steps on an invisible can of lager, popping it, and accidentally walks into his guitar. As he begins to get up, he is seen shaving with an invisible shaver and brushing his teeth with an invisible toothbrush. He then painstakingly makes breakfast - beans on dry toast - with an invisible pan and an invisible toaster. Just as he is about to eat, the toast begins to levitate away, and Lister surmises that it is Cat stealing his food. Lister despairingly begs Cat to come back.
Sometime after, Kryten, Cat and Rimmer take a stroll down the corridors, whilst Kryten explains some of the history he has uncovered on M-Corp. Apparently, they bought out the planet Earth itself in the late 26th century, including fixtures and fittings. They even bought the things that nobody else wanted, such as maggots, quicksand, and American chocolate. Since they owned all the resources, even down to rainwater, they had a complete monopoly over everything. There was no resistance to this, since by then M-Corp had already introduced a tax on thinking. This was done by measuring the electrical charges the brain consumed firing neurons, and charged accordingly. Since thinking was needed for basic survival, nobody could then afford the extra thinking time to fight back against M-Corp.
Rimmer notes that M-Corp is taking over Red Dwarf the same way it took over Earth, and suggests that they stop it. Kryten comes up with a plan to perform a factory reset on the Red Dwarf mainframe and then reboot it, which will in theory wipe out all traces of the M-Corp update. The Cat is initially apprehensive, saying that it sounds dangerous. However, when Kryten says that Rimmer will cease to exist, Cat says that the plan is growing on him. Kryten suggests that rebooting the ship, they reload Rimmer from his most recent back-up drive in the Hologram Simulation Suite from before the M-Corp update. Rimmer accepts the plan, since he will only lose a months worth of memory. Cat is upset that Rimmer will not be gone forever.
As Lister sits despondently on a crate of M-Corp goods in the sleeping quarters, Aniter appears on the monitor behind him and offers him a "no strings attached, free trial weekend" at M-Corp World, where he will be looked after by an artificial assistant. Thinking that the assistant may be able to help him see his crewmates again, Lister accepts, and steps onto the teleportation pad which materialises in front of him. Lister then finds himself no longer on Red Dwarf but in a brightly-lit series of white, sterile-looking chambers, and his clothes have changed from his custom-made leathers to what Lister believes makes him look like a yoga instructor.
Aniter herself then materialises in front of Lister, welcoming Lister to the "pay-per-life, virtual-integrated environment", and happily telling him that most people who come there never leave. Lister requests to turn the Perception Filter Software off so that he can see his crewmates again, a request which Aniter ignores. She instead offers Lister one of five "life packages" - Black, Gold, Silver, Basic, and Basic Light - but also tells Lister that he only has enough credit for the latter. Lister says that it sounds like the worst one, and he is already on that life package. Aniter tells Lister that the Basic Light package will allow him to speak to five people a day, with a cap of 200 words per day.
When Lister points out how ridiculous that is, and states there is nobody to talk to anyway, Aniter offers Lister a new friend named Steve that he can buy for only 300 DollarPounds. Lister angrily refuses, beginning to more agitated with Aniter, and Steve vanishes. Lister attempts to leave the way he entered, but Aniter reappears in front of him, and remotely closes the door. Lister then demands to be let free, and that Aniter and her software gets off Red Dwarf, to which Aniter tells him that he doesn't have enough credit to buy early release from his trial weekend, but he can earn it.
Back onboard Red Dwarf, Kryten enters the Science Room with a lead strongbox he has located in Captain Hollister's old quarters. Inside is the red, glowing master reboot drive for the entire ship, and all it needs in the password from the stand-in senior officer - Rimmer. However, Rimmer has forgotten the code - he can't even remember the code to his Space Cadet lunchbox. However, the reboot device has a security question to remind Rimmer of his password - who did he share his first kiss with. Rimmer is embarrassed since Kryten and Cat already know it - it was his Uncle Frank (it had been a case of mistaken identity; Rimmer had previously told his crewmates the story whilst intoxicated during the Series III episode "The Last Day").
The ship-wide reboot then begins, the Science Room goes dark, and Rimmer disappears and his light bee hits the ground. Moments later, the lights go back on, and a very disorientated Rimmer reappears. Kryten explains to Rimmer that he has rebooted from his safety file, and that he has lost the past month. Rimmer asks what he has missed, to which Cat says that he won him at poker that morning and that Rimmer agreed to be his slave - Kryten will fill him in on the rest. Kryten suggests that, now they have regained control of the ship, they go and look for Lister.
Back in the M-Corp world, Lister refuses to buy anything off Aniter, so with an extended blink she causes severe chest pain in him. When Lister says that he wants some painkillers, Aniter says that they will be charged from his account, and they materialise. Lister asks for a glass of water, and Aniter says it will cost 40 DollarPounds for the glass, and 400 for the water. Lister relents and says he will pay, and the pain disappears. When he says he knows she caused his pain and will buy nothing else, Aniter winks and a fire starts. Aniter says that Lister is in luck, because M-Corp are having a sale on fire extinguishers - only 600 DollarPounds. Lister attempts to take a stand again, but the fire grows in intensity and Lister relents, agreeing to also buy insurance for the extinguisher. After putting out the fire, Lister begins to curse profanity at Aniter, but she mutes his voice, telling him that he has depleted his word account for the day. Lister mouths that he wants more words, but Aniter says that his account is empty, and now she must charge him with time itself from his life-line. Lister finds that he can suddenly speak again, but he has also suddenly grown a significant amount of beard. Lister doesn't quite understand, and Aniter explains that everything costs time, and it the most valuable commodity in the Universe. Aniter then charges Lister for "her guidance", her countenance growing more serious, and Lister's beard grows even longer.
Aboard Red Dwarf, Kryten, Cat and Rimmer continue to search for Lister, with no success. Kryten suggests repairing the communicator for Chippy - which is still inside Lister - and using that to locate him, a plan which has some success. However, Lister's life signs are reading very weak. Kryten obtains Lister's tele-coordinates, and they use the M-Corp teleporter to beam into the M-Corp World. Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat beam into the M-Corp World to find dozens of men wandering around, all wearing the M-Corp blue t-shirts and M-Corp name badges, similar to Steve. Kryten asks them if they know Dave Lister, to which they all say in unison that Dave is their friend.
Moving onto another chamber, which is filled with random miscellaneous M-Corp goods, they find Lister asleep in a chair holding a new guitar - and are shocked to find that Lister has been aged several decades, with a long grey beard and dreadlocks. Kryten suggests that they get Lister out of there immediately, but as they begin to move him, Lister is shocked since he still cannot see or hear his crewmates. Aniter appears and blocks their exit, and tries to sell them all a new sound system and a hydro steam cleaner, saying that "everyone wants to buy something", but they refuse. The only one who is interested is Old Lister, now completely given in to a shopping frenzy.
Kryten questions whether Aniter can sell them anything - and requests to buy a malicious computer virus which will shut Aniter down, and allow them to escape the M-Corp World. Aniter confirms that it is possible, thanks Kryten for shopping at M-Corp, and says that she hopes to see Kryten again soon - and then disintegrates. Old Lister is sad at not getting his hydro steamer, but then within a few seconds transforms back to his usual physical age and appearance as Aniter's influence fades. As the others carry him back to the teleporter, Lister remembers his crewmates, and that he cannot see them, before realising what is happening.
Back on Red Dwarf, they try to ascertain why Lister still cannot see them, even though they are no longer running M-Corp software. They then realise that the Perception Filter Software is inside Lister, acting in a manner similar to a virus, and it has hacked his brain. Cat wonders why he is not similarly affected, and Rimmer mocks Cat saying that it probably needs than two bytes of RAM. Kryten suggests treating Lister in the same way that they treated the ship - wiping the operating system clean and reinstalling it at factory settings, or in Lister's case, wiping his brain and then reinstalling his personality from an earlier save file. Since the JMC always backs up the minds of its crew, in case they need to resurrect them as a hologram, there should be an earlier copy of Lister's mind on file. Kryten is able to talk to Lister through the Chippy implant still inside him, and inform Lister of his plan.
Unfortunately, the last time Lister had a backup file of his mind made was when he was 23 years old, so if Lister's mind was reverted to this, he would believe himself to be that age again. Lister is worries about losing three decades worth of knowledge and experience, but Cat says that they can fill him in within a few minutes. Kryten says that he could rebuild Lister's full profile with help from the security footage from the ship cameras, although this process could take a full month.
In the final scene of the episode, Rimmer and Lister wander down a corridor, whilst Lister reenacts his behavior and dialogue from the first ever scene of the pilot episode; he is wearing his old Z Shift boiler suit, pushing a trolley, eating a pie and smoking a cigarette. Rimmer gets increasingly agitated, and asks Lister to stop singing Lunar City Seven, so Lister starts humming and slapping his cheeks. Rimmer is horrified that the young Lister is back, as Lister excitedly demands the top bunk in the sleeping quarters.
- Craig Charles as Dave Lister
- Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
- Danny John-Jules as The Cat
- Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
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- Lister and Rimmer argue over who is worse off. Lister bemoans that he wanted a family and kids, but if he had that now, everybody would think that he was their grandad, which would cause teasing and fighting with the other kids. Kryten says that the children would rise above it, but Lister says that he was talking about himself, wading in against the "smart-arse little smeggers". Kryten says that Lister should look on the bright side, since there is always someone worse off then youself. Rimmer puts his hand up, saying that he is sitting right here. Rimmer points out to Lister that at least he is still alive, and at least he is not a computer-generated illusion which doesn't even exist, like himself. Lister asks how it possible, if Rimmer doesn't exist, how can he be so annoying? "To paraphrase John Paul Satre, You annoy, Therefore You Are". Rimmer says that it is still not the same as being real, and he is only there to keep Lister sane. Lister says that he is not sane, since he was just drawing a face on a spring onion and giving it a mullet. Rimmer says that he is still better off than he is, and leaves. Kryten tells Lister not to listen, since it is his birthday after all and has a present for him. Lister, cheering up, says that he doesn't need a present, since he has everything he needs. Kryten reminds Lister that, in fact, he has nothing - no wife, no partner, no future - and that he is so easy to shop for.
- Lister's current age is hinted strongly at the beginning of this episode after Kryten wakes him up and wishes him a Happy Birthday, when Lister asked how old he was, he obviously found out that it was neither 30 or 40, which lead to his refusal to hear his actual age, it is implied that Lister could now be in his mid to late 40s, in fact hurtling towards 50.
- The Series I episode "Future Echoes", it was said that Lister was 25 years old. If Lister is approximately 50 in this episode then, not counting time spent in stasis, Lister has spent approximately 25 years aboard Red Dwarf in Deep Space. The figure of 50 is of course an approximation, as is the 25 year figure - when Kryten backs up Lister's mind, it is from when he was 23, indicating that Lister was that age when he first joined the Red Dwarf.
- When the Cat asks why he wasn't infected with the same virus that afflicted Lister, Rimmer suggests that the virus requires "more than two bytes of RAM", forgetting the possible explanation that the virus was only targeting employees of the Jupiter Mining Corporation, as Cat was never employed by the company and merely lives on the ship (Kryten was made by DivaDroid International, which was not owned by M-Corp and Rimmer's light bee wasn't made by M-Corp).
- This lends further weight to the theory that Rimmer's Light Bee was independently acquired at some point prior to the Series III episode "Backwards", and was therefore not part of the ship's traditional equipment for projecting holograms (i.e. as seen in Series II, the Hologram Simulation Suite or Projection Cage).
- Rimmer's password security question is the name of his first kiss, Kryten types in "Uncle Frank". Rimmer says that was personal, but Cat says he already told them this story, which he did whilst intoxicated in the Officer's Club in the "The Last Day". It is surprising that the Cat and Kryten remembered the story, as they were heavily drunk at the time this story was told.
- The M-Corp computer programme Aniter has a much similar defeat to Pree in the Series X episode "Fathers and Suns".
- The final scene of this episode, during which Lister's brain has been reset to when he was 23, is a direct recreation of the opening scene of the pilot episode. Lister is pushing a Z Shift trolley through the corridor, wearing the same clothes, eating a pie, putting a cigarette in his ear, singing "Lunar City Seven", and annoying Rimmer by humming and slapping his cheeks.
- The concept for "M-Corp" began a satire on the overreach of corporate greed and power, and its impact upon society. This theme evolved into the concept of a ruthless corporation which would even charge customers for the time in their lives.
- British actor and comedian Ray Peacock performed the warm-up for the live studio audience during the filming of Series XI and XII. As a life-long fan of Red Dwarf, Peacock requested of Doug Naylor a role on the show, even suggesting that he could have appeared as a "little homeless man who had been on board the ship the entire time". Naylor did not go with this suggestion, but eventually wrote Peacock a cameo appearance in this episode as "Steve" who M-Corp unsuccessfully tries to "sell" to Lister as a friend within the M-Corp world.
- Helen George based her performance of Aniter on that of a robot or avatar of an unfeeling corporate entity which is within her, and which is only in it for what they can get out it for themselves. She also imagined an air hostess "giving customers the news that their flight has been delayed by 30 hours, all the while smiling and being charming, but ultimately doesn't care".
- For the scenes where various objects are invisible to Lister required both digital and practical effects to achieve. For example, when Lister is laid on his sofa in the sleeping quarters that has become invisible, Craig Charles was laid out on a clear perspex bed and the shadows of it were removed digitally after filming. For the scene where Cat opens a shaken-up, invisible can and it sprays all over Lister's face, a tube was fitted up Danny John-Jules's sleeve to spray Charles for real.
- The make-up and hair designer, Vanessa White, made the prosthetic face mask for a Lister of advanced age (according to White, she was told by Doug Naylor that Lister was to be around 106 years old). This was done by fitting other pieces from other shows onto Craig Charles' face cast, which the production already had from when they made him into a mechanoid in "Siliconia". Charles' centenarian make-up included old fur for his dreadlocks, a bigger nose, liver spots, and huge ears with tufts of hair growing out.
- Craig Charles' centenarian make-up took around four hours to apply. Craig joked that "they should of just got me on a Sunday morning after a gig and a night out".
- Robert Llewellyn said that Charles' centenarian make-up was so good that he didn't realise that it was Craig Charles, and at first thought that he was a new actor brought in.
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- Lister: Ah, I don't need a present, Kryts - I got everything I need.
Kryten: Sir - you've got nothing; no life, no partner, no future... you're so easy to shop for!
- Chippy: Well, Dave, some of your arteries have more fur than an Eskimo fur clothes shop, but diet and exercise can fix all that. I can also monitor your improvement by giving you daily updates of when you're likely to die. Would you like to know that, Dave?
Rimmer: [In Lister's voice] Ah, yes please, man.
Chippy: You'll be sixty-three, Dave.
Lister: Rimmer, I don't want to know that!
- Kryten: It's much as I feared, sir.
Kryten: Something really weird is going on!
- Kryten: I do have one small fear, Sir. Well, several small fears. In fact, more than several fears. And they're not that small.
- Lister: I can't hear 'im. I can't hear Rimmer.
Cat: And you're complaining?
- Cat: A think tax?
Rimmer: You'd have got a rebate every year.
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- ↑ "The 28 Years Later Affair", Series XII DVD making-of documentary
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