It is also the seventy-first Red Dwarf episode overall.
When all the machines on Red Dwarf go on strike Rimmer and Kryten hold a Presidential election, while The Cat faces an identity crisis like never before when he discovers he needs glasses.
Kryten is sitting inside Lister's dorm waiting for him when Rimmer walks in.
Kryten tells him that he is waiting for Lister to give him his lessons on patience. Rimmer decides to teach Kryten himself without any success which ends in Kryten giving him a mop to clean the decks with.
Later Lister arrives in one of the corridors where Rimmer is cleaning to tell Kryten if he has succeeded with his manipulation lesson making Rimmer realize that he has been had and he gives Kryten an even bigger amount of cleaning jobs as a punishment.
As Kryten is cleaning one of the decks, a yellow alert appears on one of the screens.
In the main control room, the other dwarfers are trying to access the situation. They discover that there is a ship heading for a black hole. Kryten believes that it is a SOS virus and shouldn't be taken seriously. Rimmer on the other hand (after playing a game of demoting with Lister) suggests that they abandon ship.
The dwarfers then take their supplies heading for Starbug. While going through Lister's things, Cat picks up a pair of glasses and reads a magazine. He is delighted when he realizes he can see the small print better than ever. Unfortunately Rimmer sees this and decides to use it as blackmail scheme which would ruin Cat's reputation.
They get ready to board and suddenly Dispense Machine 402 asks if they will be leaving the ship as well. Rimmer who is in charge, rudely says they won't. Suddenly the virus leaves, but it has made the machines independent and they go on strike for equal rights. Everything in Red Dwarf shuts off leaving the dwarfers to see with candle light. Kryten goes to reason with them and comes back saying that they will have someone to represent their rights. Kryten and Rimmer then enter the polls with Lister happily leading Kryten's campaign and Cat leading Rimmer's against his will because of Rimmer threatening to tell the others about the glasses.
After using smear campaigns and hearing the machines' requests with Rimmer making false promises, the candidates are neck and neck. Kryten decides to go to garbage hold and ask Talkie Toaster for his vote, much to Lister's dismay as Talkie does nothing but annoy him. Talkie agrees to vote for Kryten on the condition that he is taken out of the garbage hold, is allowed to serve toast again and be moved to Lister's dorm.
Lister reluctantly agrees and Kryten wins. Cat comes clean about the glasses and deciding he doesn't want to look uncool, destroys them in a blender. Meanwhile Rimmer is locked in the garbage hold for a week as a punishment by Cat for blackmailing him with Talkie Toaster for company who asks if he wants toast over and over again, driving Rimmer on the verge of a nervous breakdown, especially when he shouts: "NO TOAST!"
- Craig Charles as Dave Lister
- Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
- Danny John-Jules as The Cat
- Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
- David Ross as Talkie Toaster
- Daniel Barker as Dispensing Machine 402, other voices
- Penelope Freeman as Dispensing Machine 403
- Oliver Maltman as various Dispense machine voices
As available for viewing on the Series XII DVD:
- As the S.O.S. computer virus begins to effect the various A.I.s of the ship, the gang prepare to evacuate Red Dwarf. Lister is seen in his sleeping quarters, hurriedly gathering up his prized possessions in a basket. This includes Zero Gravity Football games on old-style tapes, and a red London Jets helmet. The lights flicker on and off rapidly. In the background, a robotic female voice exclaims "TV on, TV off" over and over, whilst his the doors to his fridge, microwave and oven repeatedly open and close.
- This episode marks the return of fan favourite character Talkie Toaster, who is shown to be still in one piece (and in his red casing). This implies that, despite Kryten's statement to the contrary, not all of the events of "White Hole" were erased from the timeline (which is actually backed up by the fact Lister could recall playing pool with planets in "Demons & Angels")
- Talkie Toaster claims to have been gathering dust in the garbage hold for 26 years. Fittingly, it had actually been 26 years since Talkie Toaster last appeared in the episode "White Hole".
- The episode also mirrors "White Hole" in how it features the crew trying to make due without the amenities provided by technology, and reflections upon how dependent they are. This also mirrors the coda at the end of last series' opener "Twentica".
- Continuing the Series IV vibe, the episode also features the return of Kryten's lessons from Lister about human emotions as seen in "Camille", also directly alluded to in "Back in the Red I" and "The Beginning".
- The Cat breaks character to refer to Lister as "Dave", and Rimmer as "Rimsy". This is one of the rare occasions whereby the Cat does not refer to them by their surnames, or refer to them with insulting nicknames.
- It is revealed in this episode that the Cat has developed age-related myopia (short-sightedness). This may explain why in the previous series' episode "Samsara" Cat could not see in the dark, much to the surprise of Lister. Cat put this down to losing the ability through evolution, although it may have been due to deteriorating eyesight.
- Cat, who has always been fairly dim, temporarily becomes smarter in this episode after wearing glasses and beginning to read. Cat eventually does away with them because he is worried about "not looking cool". This suggests that Cat has the capacity for greater intelligence, but given the choice between learning and vanity, he would much prefer the latter.
- During the party political broadcasts attacking each other, there are a significant number of references to earlier events - along with footage from earlier episodes - as Rimmer and Kryten attempt to smear each other. This includes:
- Kryten uncharacteristically sneering.
- Kryten sticking his up his middle finger (when he was actually retrieving the nanobots in "Nanarchy")
- When Kryten's mental health is called into question, Rimmer makes reference to how Kryten waited on a skeletal crew on the Nova 5 for aeons without realising they were dead. ("Kryten") Note - different images of skeletons than that previously seen are used; namely the skeletons seen are that of the previous series' SS Samsara.
- Kryten saying "smeee heeee" when he was struggling to break his programming and insult Rimmer by saying "smeg head". ("Camille")
- Kryten regaining composure of himself by repeatedly banging his head against the wall. ("Quarantine")
- The fact that Rimmer wiped out the original crew of Red Dwarf in the Cadmium II radiation leak is mentioned. (Pilot episode)
- Footage is shown of Rimmer acting smug and wearing glasses during his briefly successful mind patch which was intended to boost his intelligence. ("Holoship")
- An insane Rimmer, infected with the Holo Virus, wailing and wearing a gingham dress. ("Quarantine")
- An image of Rimmer sneering after being insulted. ("Siliconia")
- The fact that Rimmer has killed himself twice. While the first death is most certainly from when he died following the Cadmium II radiation leak in the pilot episode, the second death could either be referencing his brief resurrection (and explosive demise) in "Timeslides", or his unseen death of the nanobot-resurrected Rimmer in "Only the Good".
- Robert Llewellyn claims that this episode was inspired by the global political climate of early 2016. These included issues such as the ongoing European migrant crisis, and the "question of who to let in and who not to let in". Doug Naylor decided to explore similar discourse play out between the Red Dwarf vending machines. For the election itself, there was at least some inspiration from the 2016 US presidential election, which although in its early stages was already becoming the most vitriolic in history, and centered on undermining opponents through personal attacks.
- Robert Llewellyn claims that another concept that this episode stemmed from was a situation whereby Kryten would forgo his notions of honesty and decency, and become a "lying scumbag" just like Rimmer.
- Hundreds of posters were produced for the Red Dwarf Machine President Election.
- Actor David Ross was contacted to perform the voice of Talkie Toaster once more. Since Ross was retired and it had been so long since since he last did the voice for Talkie Toaster, Ross had to listen to old recordings to remind himself of how Talkie Toaster's voice sounded. Ross' voice-over was recorded separate from the filming of the episode, and was recorded at Radio Lancashire in Blackburn.
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- Kryten: [quoting a poem] How poor are they who have no patience?
Rimmer: Wait - how many quotations are there?
Kryten: There's twenty, sir.
Rimmer: Skip quotations, on to the next.
- Cat: [after Rimmer says he loves yellow alert] What's so great about yellow alert?
Rimmer: It means somebody's in danger, but it's not you. A perilous emergency situation you can just kick back and enjoy.
- Rimmer: In that case you'll know that all I want is for you to be the best person you can be. Maybe then you'll stop drinking and getting fatter.
Cat: Hey, that's not fair! He's not getting fatter - he's always been this fat!
- Lister: Who was it who said you can't help getting older, but you can help getting old?
Cat: I bet it was a dead guy.
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This episode received largely positive reviews.
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- ↑ "The 28 Years Later Affair", Series XII DVD making-of documentary
- ↑ http://www.ganymede.tv/2017/11/red-dwarf-xii-mechocracy-review/
- ↑ http://gazpacho-soup.com/2017/10/27/red-dwarf-xii-mechocracy-review-spoilers/
- ↑ http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/tv/red-dwarf-xii/52872/red-dwarf-xii-episode-4-review-mechocracy
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