In this bleak episode, we gain some deeper insight into the true relationship between Rimmer and Lister. Holly must navigate Red Dwarf through a spot of trouble, consisting of no less than five Black Holes. For safety reasons, the crew must leave the ship, to rejoin it later when things are safer. They set off in a pair of shuttles, but the one containing Rimmer and Lister gets hit by an asteroid and crash lands on an inhospitable, snowy ice planet and cannot take off. They are marooned.
Holly repeats "Abandon ship, abandon ship." The crew are moving their stuff onto Starbug, as Holly claims to have seen five black holes on her monitor. Lister and Rimmer take a Starbug, whilst Cat and Kryten take a Blue Midget, flying away from Red Dwarf with the plan of meeting up twelve hours later on the planet Sigma 14-D.
During the flight, Lister starts to look through Rimmer's chest, which Rimmer says is among the only things his father ever gave him. In the chest are hand sculpted, 18th-century Napoleonic army figures, which Lister starts to eat curry over to Rimmer's protest. They begin to converse about the figures, leading to Rimmer discussing the time he went to a clairvoyant and was told that in his past life he had been "Alexander the Great's Chief Eunuch". The chest also contained a collection of books, which Rimmer has obviously not read, given his interpretation of Shakespeare's Richard III. There is also a stash of paper money - twenty-four thousand DollarPounds according to Rimmer - that he'd been "saving up for a rainy day." This sparks an argument about Rimmer borrowing money of Lister to buy him a book token and a birthday card.
Lister gets really into the argument involving Rimmer being unhappy with his existence, telling Rimmer to be optimistic about life, and doesn't pay attention to Rimmer pointing at the flaming meteorite that is heading straight for the 'bug. They are hit and Starbug crash lands on a desolate, snowy S3 Planet.
Stuck in ice and snow with no means of communications or any power for a heat source, Lister constructs a fire to keep himself warm, burning whatever he can. Rimmer tried his luck on the radio to contact Blue Midget. As they run through the food supplies, they realize that they are painfully low, saying there is a bag of half eaten soggy crisps, some gum ointment, a pot noodle, and a tin of dog food. To which Lister comments: "Well we know what gets eaten last... Can't stand pot noodles."
Time passes and Lister is running out of food and things to burn. He turns to Rimmer's camphor wood chest. Rimmer protests but agrees to let Lister burn the books if he only kept page 61 of Lolita. Rimmer tries to change Lister's mind by trying to quote some Shakespeare's Richard III (only managing to remember the word "now" at the start of the famous "winter of discontent" speech.) To pass the time they share personal stories, like about when they lost their virginity. Lister lost his on a golf course at the age of twelve to a girl named Michelle Fisher, which Rimmer is furious about as he couldn't have been a member of the golf club, and Rimmer's first time in a Bentley V8 convertible (although he remembers the car more fondly than the girl).
Lister becomes so hungry that he decides to eat the dog food, much to Rimmer's revulsion. Lister remarks that he now knows why dogs lick themselves. As he runs out of books to burn, he burns the money that Rimmer had kept stored for years, but that too runs out quickly. Lister tries to burn the soldiers from Rimmer's chest, stating that they are just nicely painted firewood and that in this situation all they are is nicely-painted firewood and argues nothing is too important to burn right now... until Rimmer suggests that he burns his guitar. Lister protests but eventually gives in, he asks if he can play a last song, which makes Rimmer walk out of Starbug.
Once he is gone, Lister makes a cutout of his guitar from Rimmer's chest, and burns that instead, hiding his guitar in a locker. Rimmer then returns thinking Lister has actually burnt his guitar, and can't help but be impressed that Lister actually gave it up before telling him how much the chest meant to him. Lister feels terrible, and refuses when Rimmer offers to burn his soldiers as also wants to give up something that means a lot to him. Rimmer then smells camphor wood, and mistakenly thinks that the guitar was made of camphor wood. He then insists the soldiers burn as the guitar must have been worth a fortune, and Lister puts them on the fire.
Soon after, Cat and Kryten finally find them in Blue Midget, much to their joy. Rimmer is surprised that Holly was able to navigate her way through five Black Holes. She then states there were no black holes, it was just grit on the monitor. Rimmer tells Kryten how proud he is of Lister, making the supreme sacrifice by burning his guitar and proving he isn't just a selfish space bum... however as he says this Lister guiltily moves to the locker and takes his guitar.
Rimmer only takes a second to realise the truth and asks Kryten to open the chest. He sees the new guitar-shaped hole and calmly asks Kryten to get the hack saw. Kryten, confused, asks what he intends to do. Rimmer replies. "I'm going to do to Lister, what Alexander the Great once did to me.
There is a post-credits scene (the only such instance of a post-credits scene in Red Dwarf), simply showing the abandoned Starbug that crashed on the snow planet for a few seconds.
Available on the Series III DVD:
- The broadcast episode begins with the crew abandoning ship, but the original opening scene was immediately before this, and was cut due to both time constraints and effects issues. In the cut scene, Cat, Lister and Kryten are playing strip poker. Cat is winning, since he is wearing hundreds of different fashion items, silk handkerchiefs etc. Lister is down to his boxers, having put his gold tooth cap in. Kryten is losing having removed his black outer plastic casing, revealing the fleshy-colored part underneath. Kryten ends up removing his head and one of his hands and puts them in on the table, although the headless Kryten effect was never perfected (it would later be done successfully in the Series VII episode "Beyond a Joke"). Holly then interrupts the poker game, struggles to remember her important announcement, then eventually tells them to abandon ship due to the approaching Black Holes.
- This is the second time that Porky Roebuck is mentioned by Rimmer.
- Rimmer is apparently able to remain a hologram for six days without any help from Holly. This is explained in later episodes as a result of the hologram's Light Bee.
- For the first time, the crewmembers are shown wearing a Red Dwarf logo patch on their outfits based upon the TV series logo. The patches look rough and homemade, supporting the contention (as mentioned on the Series III DVD) that Lister had made some new clothes (although why Rimmer would wear a similarly homemade logo is unclear).
- This is one of the episodes most similar to the 'Porridge' model sometimes mentioned as an inspiration for the show.
- Due a temporary but dramatic shake up in the cast line-up in Series VII (Rimmer leaving and Kris Kochanski coming in), a similar "bottle episode" was devised in the episode "Duct Soup" to better acquaint viewers with the new character line-up.
- Given the events of the Series X episode "The Beginning", it is likely that toy soldiers weren't the only possession in Rimmer's prized camphor wood trunk during the events of "Marooned". The trunk almost certainly contained his holo-lamp that contained an as-yet-unseen message from Rimmer's father; since Rimmer is said to take the holo-lamp with him in any emergency.
- Upon release on video, this was the only episode to be given a 15 rating by the BBFC (due to Lister's talk of losing his virginity at the age of twelve).
- Author Eric van Lustbader had mainly written books about ninjas up to when this episode was made. Since then he's written numerous books in the Jason Bourne series.
Behind the Scenes
- The episode was originally titled "Men of Honour", referring to the theme of the story of the sacrifices Rimmer and Lister have to make to survive. The title was later changed to the shorter "Marooned".
- The Starbug crash sequence was achieved by using a miniature ice planet and filmed on 35mm film stock in order to slow the footage down. The flaming meteorite was dropped from above onto the upward facing Starbug and filmed sideways on. This gave the impression of forward motion and made the meteorite's flames that desired flicker of zero gravity.
- For the icy wastelands scenes where Kryten and Cat are coming to the rescue near the crashed Starbug, blue screen was used, but a more realistic snowscape scene was created for Lister's blowing about scene. Soap powder was blown down the set by powerful fans.
- Scenes that were cut included the crew playing strip poker at the beginning (as seen in the Smeg Ups video released later) and Cat's 'Mush Mush!' which was trimmed down from its larger initial state.
- Despite popular rumours, the dog food eaten by Craig Charles in this episode was not real. It was actually tuna mixed with meat jelly to look like dog food.
- Rimmer: (taking to Lister about reincarnation) I was Alexander the Great's chief eunuch!
Lister: You know something,... I believe you!
- Rimmer They don't get Newcastle Brown Ale bottles, stick them in your face and say "Stitch that, Jimmy" (Referring to Generals)
- Lister: Cmmon Rimmer. Everybody remembers when they lost their virginity. It's just one of those things you remember. Like everybody knows where they were the day Cliff Richard was shot; or when the first woman landed on Pluto; or when they put a massive toupee over the Earth to cover the hole in the ozone layer.
- Rimmer You lost your virginity when you were twelve? You can't have been a full member of the golf club then. I hate people who abuse the facilities.
- Why would there be a can of dog food in Starbug? There were no dogs on Red Dwarf.
The novels stated pets were common through the colonies. Starbug was a transport ship, and so it is more than possible an astro had his pet aboard the shuttle (and not the mothership) before the accident. The Space Corps didn't have a rule that stated "no animals", far from it; they only had rules against unlicensed and unquarantined animals. We don't know if the dog was so. Alternately, it may have merely been part of a larger cargo consignment Starbug was originally transporting to somewhere else.
- Rimmer is shown, as a hologram, pushing buttons on a console to try and communicate. As a hologram, he should not have been able to touch the buttons.
It is said in the Red Dwarf novels that holograms are able to maneuver their Light Bees around in order to work switches.
Consequently, he apparently has the sense of taste and smell, which he could not seem to access in earlier episodes. In "Bodyswap", two episodes later, Rimmer's mind is in Lister's body and is delighted that he can touch, taste, and smell again.
The light bee can detect smells and so forth, yes (such as detecting that the smoke is from camphor wood), but it is the light bee doing it, and not Rimmer himself. Rimmer smelling with an actual, biological nose in Lister's body at a later date would have been quite a different experience for Rimmer, since essentially it would have been him doing it and not the light bee. That would still be the first time Rimmer had actually smelled anything himself in three million years.
- Rimmer mentioning he lost his virginity in his brother's car goes against established continuity that his only sexual encounter was with Yvonne McGruder (unless one also counts Rachael).
Quite likely Rimmer was lying, as is the case in the novel adaptation Better Than Life released in 1990.
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