It is also the seventy-third Red Dwarf episode overall.
Rimmer gets hold of a Quantum skipper and skips his way across the multi-verse looking for a dimension where he's not such a giant loser.
During an uneventful day, Lister and Kryten discover Captain Hollister's Personal Records on the entire crew, and read them. Lister is quite pleased that the Captain called him 'a genius' despite it only being used once. When reading Rimmer's report, he denies the allegation that he always blames other people for his failings by blaming his parents.
Red Dwarf is then hit by an anomaly, which distorts reality. Kryten and Rimmer are in the Science Room while Lister and Cat are in the Bunk Room and quickly find that for every decision they make, they end up doing whatever they decided not to do. Kryten and Lister quickly realise this but Cat is slow to clue in, even when despite saying he wouldn't, Lister manages to get him to clean his bunk and make breakfast.
When they finally reconvene, Kryten admits it was his fault: he was repairing a salvage device called a Quantum Skipper, which allows the user to skip between alternate realities and take the place of their alternate self, to see how life would have been if they had made different decisions, He messed up by leaving the settings too high. After restoring reality, Kryten contemplates how the crew should use this device. Unlike the others, who are happy to stay and don't need to see how their lives would be, Rimmer decides to take the leap and leave their dimension to search the The Multiverse for a version of himself where he isn't such a loser.
After a brief guide on how to use the Quantum Skipper, which is a small remote, Rimmer gives a short goodbye, and skips to another reality, where he finds himself in a corridor on Red Dwarf and thinks that it hasn't worked, not noticing that Holly is on a Monitor. He soon realises he is in an alternate reality where the crew is alive, as the radiation leak hasn't happened. However before he can learn anything else, he is interrupted by a radiation leak alert, realising he has arrived to just before it happened. While waiting for the Quantum Skipper to recharge, he discovers Captain Hollister trying to 'accidentally' leave the ship in an escape pod which jams. The Skipper recharges and Rimmer skips out seconds before the radiation wave hits him.
He then finds a reality where Lister's tastes are similar to his own, and introduces himself as a traveler from another reality. However, in this reality he learns that Lister had a pet rat instead of a cat, which didn't leave the ship and ended up evolving into a species of 6ft rats. he politely leaves as quickly as he can. Looking for something better, he finds a reality where the crew quarters are occupied by around a dozen Lister's for some reason. He then moves to one where he is stuck on the Holly Monitor as the ships computer.
Rimmer then skips through various other realities, rejecting them because of something massively wrong, such as an underwater reality. After moving through several realities, he eventually finds one which seems perfect. In it, he is a human Navigation Officer aboard Red Dwarf, married with 4 boys, everything he ever dreamed off. He is soon summoned to the Captain's office where he finds the captain is a moustache-bearing Lister, much to his horror. This Lister is still slovenly and lazy, but has managed to become popular and successful. Revealing he is from another reality in the multiverse, but Lister confuses it for a strip club on Venus. Lister explains that in this reality, Lister discovered the faultily repaired drive-plate and saved the ship. He was commended and rapidly rose up the ranks after.
Lister takes Rimmer to their old bunk room, which he has left preserved. Out of the window, Rimmer sees that they are at Earth, and Lister reveals that he is married to Chrissy. Rimmer thinks he means Kochanski, but it's actually Crystal, a stripper from the Multiverse.
Rimmer initially thinks that he hasn't got much to get annoyed over as Lister is the Captain of a beat-up mining ship, but Lister explains that he was offered a bribe to keep quiet about the near-disaster, but rather than accept a payout, Lister negotiated for shares, which sky-rocketed after the discovery of a helium-7 deposit, making him rich and successful, but always has room for his friends.
Despite this reality having everything he could ever possibly want, Rimmer decides he cannot live there as he cannot live in a reality where Lister is more successful than he is, as the pain is too much. He returns to his own reality and, when asked if his search for a reality where he isn't a loser was productive, he smashes the Quantum Skipper and quietly joins the others in a card game.
Dimensions featured in the episode
While Rimmer visits several different alternate realities, only three are shown in depth, with two worlds offering more detailed glimpses the rest merely shown as Rimmer finds something disturbing or is forced to run away from something terrifying;
- A world from a point just before the radiation leak that killed the crew, forcing Rimmer to 'skip' to another dimension before he is vapourised. Two notable differences being that Rimmer is already a Hologram and that Captain Hollister tried to escape using the escape pod (which jammed) rather than them both being in the Drive Room when the radiation leak hit them.
- A world where Lister is more cultured, but the highly evolved animal on the ship is The Rat rather than The Cat, and the rest of the Rat race remain on the ship in various other decks
- A world where there are multiple Listers
- A world where Rimmer is apparently the ship's computer, as he is shown on Holly's monitor
- A world where Rimmer is the navigation officer with a wife and four sons, and Lister is the captain of the ship, having been bribed with several shares in the company after he reported the radiation leak before it could kill the crew and then received a sizeable bonus after finding a planet rich in Helium-7.
- Craig Charles as Dave Lister
- Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
- Danny John-Jules as The Cat / The Rat
- Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
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- "Skipper" is notable for containing cameo appearances by two former central characters - the original ship computer Holly (Norman Lovett) and former ship captain Frank Hollister (Mac McDonald) - both of whom make a return after last been seen in Series VIII two decades earlier.
- The Captain Hollister and Holly seen in this episode are not however the same characters as seen before in the series, but alternate dimension versions of those characters. Therefore the fates of the two original characters (from our dimension) remains ambiguous.
- The way that Rimmer uses the Quantum Skipper to jump into the bodies of other versions of himself is very similar to the premise of the 1980s TV show Quantum Leap.
- The "Nobody's dead, Arnold" exchange between Rimmer and Holly references the classic "Everybody's dead, Dave" conversation between Holly and Lister from pilot episode after the original crew were wiped out by the Cadmium II radiation leak.
- Lister's major surprise to the time anomaly in this episode in ways are a lot similar from the early episodes in Series I, Series II & Series III and his reaction towards Kryten when he has built the device that skips different universes is a direct explanation to the last episode "M-Corp" where Lister is back to "square one", having lost his several years experiences in Deep Space since leaving stasis.
- The Rat marks the first time that "evolved rats", or rattus sapiens, have appeared in the television series. Rattus sapiens have previously been featured in the Red Dwarf Smegazine comic books (1992), and also within the paper-based Red Dwarf the Roleplaying Game (2002).
- This episode mentions Lister's aversion to eating fresh fruit and vegetables. (examples include Quarantine, Legion and Back in the Red II)
- The more upper-class versions of Lister, replete with "posh" moustache, is almost identical to where Rimmer met "Captain Lister" in the Mirror Universe (seen in the deleted scenes of Only the Good..., Series VIII).
- Although the boys from the Dwarf have visited their homeworld - the planet Earth - on a number of occasions, this has always been through accidental time travel, dimensional travel, or even outright hallucinations. This episode marks the first time that an unaltered Earth is actually depicted from space within the show, and the first time that Red Dwarf is seen in orbit around its homeworld (albeit it takes place in a dimension where the accident never occurred, and Red Dwarf never left the Solar System).
- To make the set of the old Red Dwarf resemble the original sets, everything had to be resourced or remade by production designer Keith Dunne, down to the seats and bedding.
- Cinematographer Ed Moore asked the original lighting director, John Pomphrey, to come to the set and show Moore how to light the set the exact same way it had been on Series I-II. Moore recreated Pomphrey's techniques, down to using the same coloured gel on the bunk room porthole window to shine the light through.
- The original, grey Series I-II sleeping quarters were recreated alongside the new, red Series X-XII sleeping quarters. Craig Charles noted that there was a stark contrast between the two, symbolising how far the show has come; with the new bunk room "looking like a film set", and the original still looking like "it was put together with blue tac and a bit of grey paint".
- Chris Barrie has said that he did not miss wearing the original "H" (hologram symbol) on his forehead again, since his neck could barely support the weight of it anymore.
- Norman Lovett had told Doug Naylor that he would be happy to return as Holly, just for one episode, for old time's sake. Lovett had initially been smuggled into the studio incognito. Lovett's long awaited reappearance caused the studio audience to go wild; so much so that filming overran. Craig Charles said that he went for a tea break. Chris Barrie compared it to an explosion, and Danny John-Jules to an earthquake. The rest of the cast had to wait some time after Lovett's first line to wait for the crowd to stop laughing, cheering and whistling.
- Mac McDonald has said that he struggled to remember his lines, since his short-term memory is failing, and especially since Doug Naylor rewrote the scene a number of times on the day of shooting to make Captain Hollister's lines funnier.
- Danny John-Jules has said that he wanted his character of the Cat to be the opposite of a "Huggy Bear", pimp-type character. However, the character of "The Rat" gave him just the excuse to act this way on this occasion.
- When Danny John-Jules enters the sleeping quarters as The Rat, he knocks a gong with his tail. This was completely unintentional - since John-Jules could not even see where he was going in the outfit - but looked so good the take was kept. At first, John-Jules thought that it was a perfectly-timed sound effect.
- "The Rat" scene was subject to numerous reshoots as the other cast could not stop "corpsing" - that is, they could not contain their laughter, ruining the take.
- Robert Llewellyn said that he was nearly deafened by "The Rat" shouting "Yeah!", fitness instructor-like, repeatedly into his ear. The "snout" on the rat costume amplified the voice of John-Jules.
- Kryten: Ah, sir, that power line is live - it's best not to suck it.
- Rimmer: [finding Captain Hollister in an escape pod] Captain?
Captain Hollister: Oh, Rimmer. Man, this is embarrassing.
Rimmer: What are you doing?
Captain Hollister: Errr, I was trying to go down with the Dwarf, do the right thing, when suddenly I tripped into this escape pod; I thought I was pressing the Get Me Out of This Damn Thing I Wanna Die Nobly With My Crew button, only it turned out to be the Get Me Home Fast switch. Now it's launching.
Rimmer: Just press the emergency over switch. Take me with you.
Captain Hollister: Aaahhh, I'd like to invite you along, Rimmer, but as you can see it's only a four-seater, so there's only room for me.
Rimmer: But sir - I thought all good Captains went down with their ships.
Captain Hollister: [waving] They do. Later.
- Kryten: Permission to try an anomalous, I mean weird experiment, sir.
Rimmer: How weird?
Kryten: Just moderately weird, sir; say, a 1989 Michael Jackson.
- Rimmer: I'm busy, don't disturb me. Last time you disturbed me I was doing the safety check and I failed to notice that the Diesel Decks were flooded.
Cat: All I said was "Help, I'm on fire".
Rimmer: And it distracted me. I had to break off from what I was doing and put you out.
- Holly: Morning, Arnold.
Rimmer: Morning, Holly.
Rimmer: Holly, when is this? Where am I?
Holly: It's Monday and you're in a corridor. Anything else I can help you with?
Rimmer: Are you still senile?
Holly: I've never been senile. I was a dancing cabbage for a while, but I'm over that now. Turned out it was some corrupted files.
Rimmer: So you're sane again? Have you been tested?
Holly: I'm the computer that runs the ship; I'm tested every month. Of course I've been tested. I'm always being tested.
Rimmer: Can you prove that? Have you got a certificate?
Holly: Well, no, I failed the test. I forgot to turn the paper over. I didn't realize there were two sides.
- Rimmer: The crew are alive?
Holly: Yes, Arnold.
Rimmer: The original crew?
Holly: Yes, Arnold.
Rimmer: Captain Hollister?
Holly: Nobody's dead, Arnold.
Holly: Nobody's dead, Arnold.
Rimmer: Not even Petersen?
Rimmer: Nobody's dead, not even Lister?
Holly: Gordon Bennett. Lister, Petersen - nobody. Nobody's dead. Nobody is dead, Arnold.
Rimmer: So, hang on - you're telling me nobody's dead?
Holly: I wish I never brought this up now.
Rimmer: How is this any better than where I came from? Where is Lister? Where is that little goit?
Holly: He's in stasis. He smuggled an un-quarantined animal on board so he got thrown into suspended animation.
Rimmer: So, wait - how did you all survive the radiation leak that wiped out all the crew?
Holly: There hasn't been a radiation leak, Arnold.
Rimmer: Are you sure?
Holly: Sorry to break off, Arnold, I've got to make an announcement.
Holly: [an alarm sounds] Radiation leak alert! Radiation leak alert! All crew should run around screaming!
According to Gazpacho Soup: "This is a perfect celebration of thirty years of Red Dwarf... ...Skipper exemplifies how the show can still takes risks and surprise, as well as subvert established comedic ideas and remain fresh. The second half of this series has truly proved that the show continues to be every bit as relevant today as it has always been, and on the strength of Skipper, I can’t wait to see what’s still to come."
According to Den of Geek: "Skipper is a funny and fan-pleasing series finale, at the end of a run that has had its highs and lows. It's not in the upper tier that Mechocracy and M-Corp reached in previous weeks, but it's a cracker nonetheless. Further series seem likely, even if they are yet to be confirmed by UK TV, but just in case, this leaves the show in remarkably rude health. Even when they look back to The End, there's nothing so final about it. To paraphrase a senile computer; appreciate what you've got, because basically, it's fantastic."
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- ↑ "The 28 Years Later Affair", Series XII DVD making-of documentary
- ↑ http://www.ganymede.tv/2017/11/red-dwarf-xii-skipper-review/
- ↑ http://gazpacho-soup.com/2017/11/10/red-dwarf-xii-skipper-review-spoilers/
- ↑ http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/tv/red-dwarf/53238/red-dwarf-xii-episode-6-review-skipper
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