"The End" is the pilot episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, which was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 15 February 1988. The episode introduces the main characters and sets up the story backbone of the series. On the mining ship Red Dwarf, Dave Lister is placed in stasis for refusing to give up the whereabouts of his forbidden pet cat. When he emerges from stasis, three million years later, he discovers that everybody has died from a radiation leak, but he is not alone.
The episode was written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, directed by Ed Bye and starred Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Norman Lovett. The script was rejected by the BBC three times before it was given the go ahead three years later. An electricians strike at the BBC prevented filming and production on the series halted, only going ahead after the dispute was resolved.
The broadcast episode differs greatly from the originally filmed version. Grant and Naylor felt that scenes from the episode did not work, so with a spare filming slot additional scenes were added and previous scenes filmed again. Gaining over five million viewers on its first showing, the episode is considered as one of the best from the first series by fans. It was later remastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.
On the JMC mining spaceship Red Dwarf, lowest ranking crewmember 3rd-class technician and space bum Dave Lister (Craig Charles) and his petty superior Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) go about their daily routine of maintenance on Z Shift, which involve unblocking chicken soup dispensers.
Rimmer takes the maintenance duties very seriously while Lister would rather be slobbing around and drinking with his ship mates Olaf Petersen, Selby and Chen. Rimmer berates Lister for his attitude and tells him that he desires to be an officer. Lister laughs and points out that Rimmer has failed the exam on fourteen occasions, one of which Rimmer had an hysterical fit and wrote I AM A FISH 400 times and fainted. Lister remarks that he does have ambitions. When Lister gets back to Earth he plans on going to start a farm on Fiji and marrying Kristine Kochanski (Clare Grogan), a navigation officer aboard Red Dwarf. The artificially intelligent computer of Red Dwarf, Holly, makes a ship-wide announcement that there will be a welcome back party in the Mess Hall for George McIntyre, a recently deceased officer who has now come back as a hologram. At the party, Captain Frank Hollister (Mac McDonald) explains the concept of holograms, George is the same man as he was, however is essentially a ghost. The Captain tells the assembled crowd that Holly has detected a non-human life-form aboard, and asks everybody to be vigilant.
Rimmer, ever full of ambition yet a perpetual failure, is busy copying notes and equations onto his arms and legs for the Officer's exam. During the exam, Rimmer's scribbled notes on his arms have blurred due to him sweating profousely, so he promptly mashes his ink stained hand print onto the examination paper, salutes the seated examiner and faints. Meanwhile, Lister, while no one is looking, feeds his un-quarantined, smuggled pregnant cat, Frankenstein some milk and tells her his plan.
Captain Frank Hollister soon finds out about Lister's non-quarantined pet due to Lister sending photographs of himself and the cat to be processed in the ship's lab. In his office, the captain demands Lister hand over the animal. Since Frankenstein would be "put down" for a biopsy, Lister refuses and is taken by Officer Todhunter to a stasis booth in White Corridor 159 to carry out an 18 months sentence of suspended animation. Todhunter explains that the stasis field protects the person from time, so essentially Lister will cease to exist until revived, and therefore forfeit 18 months wages. Holly activates the stasis field.
When Lister emerges from stasis, he is puzzled by how quiet it is. He is also confused at a number of white piles of powder. Walking up to the Drive Room, Holly tells Lister that everyone is dead. Lister, not quite believing him, and all the while tasting the powder, reels off names of people he knows, to which an increasingly annoyed Holly repeatedly tells him that everyone is dead. Finally getting the message, he is devastated and asks why. Holly explains that a drive plate was not repaired properly, and the crew were wiped out by a blast of Cadmium II.
Holly informs Lister that he's been in stasis for three million years, since Holly had to wait for the background radiation to dissipate before releasing Lister from stasis. Lister also discovers to his horror that the powder he has been eating is the remains of the crew. Lister is also devastated to also see the remains of his love Kris Kochanski, putting an end to his plan. Holly makes a tasteless remark to Lister, apologising that he's been alone for three million years and thinks he has gone a bit peculiar. Rimmer then appears, whom Holly has resurrected as a hologram. Rimmer quickly blames Lister for the accident stating that if he was there to help, the faulty drive plate would have been repaired. The two row, and Lister calls Rimmer a smeg head.
As Lister and Rimmer continue arguing along the corridors, a graceful yet unusual-looking humanoid with sharp teeth, in an impeccable pink suit emerges, doing a somersault out of Supply Pipe 28. He spins around and starts raving on how nice he looks. He dances and starts screaming like James Brown. When Lister and Rimmer see him, the strange man snarls and bares his teeth, to "make himself look big". Lister and Rimmer both run off terrified. Holly explains to them that the creature is an evolved cat — descended from Lister's pregnant cat Frankenstein, which was safely sealed in the ship's hold during the accident.
The cat man catches up with them in the sleeping quarters, and quickly pulls out a miniature iron to flatten a crease on his sharp suit. Rimmer suggests they flush it out of an airlock, but Lister disagrees. As it soon becomes clear that they pose no threat to each other, Lister makes the creature Krispies and calls him the Cat (Danny John-Jules).
Through discussing Frankenstein with the Cat, it becomes apparent that Lister is the catkind god "Cloister the Stupid" who would lead them to the promised land "Fuchal" on Earth. Lister states that it is him, "Lister the Stupid", and he will lead him to his promised land. Newly inspired, Lister states he is resurrecting his dream.
To burst his bubble, Rimmer states to Lister that the human race is almost certainly extinct; and, if it has survived, then they will be so evolved as to look on Lister as "primordial slime". Lister grabs the bemused Cat, as the Rimmer looks on snidely. Lister tells Holly to plot a course for Fiji, "the slime's coming home."
Available on the Series I DVD:
- During Z Shift, Rimmer "unscrews rivets and burns circuits" whilst Lister merely pushes the trolley, watching on and bored stiff. Lister begs Rimmer to let him do something, but Rimmer refuses, reminding Lister that he outranks him, and Lister should just push the trolley and nothing more. He winds Lister up, telling him that "unscrewing rivets is a divine feeling". The scene was excised because it was filmed without a studio audience unlike the rest of the episode and the show.
- An alternate take in the sleeping quarters where Lister mocks Rimmer for failing his astro-navigation exams so many times and failing to become an officer after so many years in the Space Corps.
- An extended scene with Lister and navigation officer Kristine Kochanski flirting in the Drive Room as Lister is on the way to the captain's office. Lister plays with the controls to her chair, dropping her down. The scene was excised due to the actors not feeling it was genuine-feeling and even "embarrassing" and "nauseating".
- Lister holds a funeral for the dead crewmembers (which includes Fourth Engineer Grace Allender, Mineral Geologist First Class Jeremy Black, and Drive Officer Russel Farnworth), gathering up their dust and putting them into canisters, firing them off from the Drive Room in much the same way George McIntyre was. His eulogies consist of "I never knew you, sorry you are dead." Rimmer complains that Lister is taking too long over everyone.
When Lister gets to Rimmer's ashes, Rimmer decides to give his own eulogy, deludedly claiming that everybody on the ship liked him, and calling himself a "prince among men". Rimmer recalls a time in the Refectory when he "elbow tipped" or brushed up against Officer Lovell's breast, getting a sharp verbal response and a punch. Rimmer then poured an entire jug of custard over her, and ran away, saying "what a guy" about himself.
After Rimmer's eulogy, he walks away with melancholy, and Lister shoots the ashes off. Lister then gets out the ashes for First Console Officer Kristine Kochanski, saying that he was sorry he never told her he loved her or got to live out his plan with her. After shooting her ashes off, the Cat appears for the first time, playing with Holly's wiring in the Drive Room like it is string.
With the crew's funeral scene removed from the broadcast episode, the Cat's appearance was moved to a later scene in the corridor, where he tries to make himself "look big", hissing. Although a pivotal scene, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor decided to excise the funeral scene for a number of reasons, mainly the "disastrous swing-top bin" effect of the pneumatic tube which shoots off the canisters.
There are a number of different versions of the pilot episode released, which has also led to a large number of fan edits and bootlegs. Some of the versions officially released by Grant Naylor Productions include the broadcast episode, actually the second one filmed, and the following versions:
The End was remastered in the mid-1990s, along with the rest of Series I, Series II and Series III. The remastered version of the pilot episode is essentially the same as the original, with little change in dialogue, although all the exterior model shots and ship fly-bys are replaced with computer-generated imagery, and uses the same model for Red Dwarf itself as the nanobot-upgraded ship seen in Series VIII.
Some significant changes include an extended sequence when Lister goes into stasis, showing Red Dwarf travelling through numerous starscapes across Deep Space, better signifying that it has been adrift for three million years. When the Cat first appears and makes himself "look big", a notable hissing sound is added. When Holly explains about the Felis sapiens, there is a small slideshow showing the evolution of the species, another example of something not present in the original version of the episode. The number of Skutters is also increased, with some Skutters digitally-added.
The "original assembly" is a version of the pilot episode which was included for the special features in The Bodysnatcher Collection DVD box set released in 2007.
For the most part, the "original assembly" is essentially an entirely different version of the pilot episode. It mostly includes previously-unseen footage that comes from the first and original filming of the episode, before the electrician's strike which nearly finished off the series. Most notably, the first filming was without a live audience, but an audience was later acquired for the second filming of the pilot episode - the one which was broadcast - and for the rest of the series.
The original assembly includes the test footage from the first filming of the episode, as well as excised scenes from the second filming which were not in the broadcast version, but had previously been released as deleted scenes to the pilot episode, such as the funeral scene in the Drive Room.
Red Dwarf has enjoyed some success in Asian markets. A version of the pilot episode was produced to pitch to Japanese television, with Japanese voice-dubbing of the "The End". The Japanese version of "The End" has mostly the same dialogue of the remastered version, although with more excitable and over-the-top voice acting.
It includes elements of both the remastered version, such as using the CGI Red Dwarf, and also elements of the original assembly version, such as the funeral scene, and so is significantly longer. There are also some added effects, and significant CGI backgrounds, added in some scenes, to give better scope of the interior of the ship, and make the ship seem more lively.
It was released as an unlockable feature on the English language Series I DVD, where it can be watched with either English, Japanese or Esperanto subtitles. However, the DVD release of it was edited down to be shorter than the one shown on Japanese television. The availability of the latter is rare.
Red Dwarf USA
The first of the two pilot episodes for an American version of Red Dwarf was a recreation of "The End" with a new American cast, filmed in 1992. Red Dwarf USA was not picked up as a series, however. Both of the USA pilot episodes have been heavily bootlegged and are widely available. They are not generally looked on positively by most of the Dwarfer fan community, including in America. ("Dwarfing USA" documentary, Series V DVD)
- In the opening titles, the man in the space suit painting the letters of Red Dwarf is Lister on Punishment Detail, which he was put in the episode "Stasis leak". Painting the ship would be impossible in absolute zero conditions, however. In the CGI Red Dwarf Remastered, the shot pulls out to give an impressive scale of the ship, as originally intended, something which was not achieved with the much-more-detailed models.
- Todhunter states that Rimmer has made 247 complaints against Lister, these were; 123 counts of insulting a superior technician, 39 counts of dereliction of duty, 84 counts of general insubordination and 1 count of mutiny (Lister jumped on Rimmer's toe)
- Lister: [singing Ganymede & Titan] To Ganymede and Titan, yes sir, I've been around...
Rimmer: Have you ever been hit on the head with a welding mallet? No? Well, shut up, then.
- Rimmer: Lister, is that a cigarette you're smoking?
Lister: No, it's a chicken.
- Lister: The only reason they don’t give this job to the service robots is that they’ve got a better union than us!
- Rimmer: Lister, D, 3rd technician. Offence - Obstructing a superior technician by humming, clicking and being quiet.
- Second Officer Todhunter: Rimmer, Lister...
Rimmer: Yes Sir.
Lister: Yo, Todhunter, get down!
Todhunter: Indeed. Now, er, Rimmer - I'm just going through Mcintyre’s artefacts and I see that you have filed two hundred and forty seven complaints... against Lister.
Rimmer: Yes Sir.
Todhunter: That’s one hundred and twenty three counts of insulting a superior technician, thirty nine counts of dereliction of duty, eighty four counts of general insubordination and one count of mutiny?
Rimmer: Yes Sir.
Todhunter: Mutiny, Lister?
Lister: I stood on his toe.
Rimmer: Maliciously and with intent to wound.
Lister: It was an accident!
Rimmer: Lister, I put it to you - How is it possible to stand on one small toe by accident? You didn't stand on my toe at all - you stood on my entire foot, thereby obstructing a superior technician in the pursuit of vital duty.
Lister: The 'vital duty' was to snap my guitar in half!
Rimmer: Whereupon you leapt from the top bunk onto the whole of my right foot...
Todhunter: Alright, that's enough.
Rimmer: Had there been a crisis situation, Lister, I would have had to perform my duties hopping, clearly putting the ship at risk - clearly therefore mutiny!
Rimmer: However I am not a vindictive man so I don't intend to apply for the death penalty.
Todhunter: There are one hundred and sixty nine people aboard this ship and you Rimmer are over one man. Why can't you two get on?
Lister: You see, I try Sir - I'm not an insubordinate man by nature. I try and respect Rimmer and everything but it's not easy because he's such a Smeg Head!
Rimmer: Did you hear that, Sir? Lister, do you have any conception of the penalty for describing a superior technician as a Smeg head?
Todhunter: Oh Rimmer - You ARE a Smeg Head!
- Lister: Bye George - That was George!
Rimmer: Really? I thought it was Mary, Queen of Scots.
- Lister: ...I'm just saying, y'know, if you can't pass fair and square, why bother?
Rimmer: Well, you would, Lister, because you've got no ambition, no drive, your perfectly content to be the lowest rank on this ship.
Lister: I'm not the lowest rank on this ship! What about the laboratory mice, if I tell those mice to do something they gotta jump to it. "Yes, Mister Lister, sir. Eeh eeh eeh.".
- Rimmer: [discussing his last exam] Last time I only failed by the narrowest of narrow margins.
Lister: You what? You walked in there, wrote "I AM A fish" four hundred times, did a funny little dance and fainted!
Rimmer: That's a total lie.
Lister: No, it's not. Petersen told me.
Rimmer: "No, it's not. Petersen told me." Lister, if you must know, I submitted a discourse on porous circuitry that was too... radical, too unconventional, too mould-breaking for the examiners to accept.
Lister: Yeah. You said you were a fish!
- Captain Hollister: Just one more thing before we start the disco, Holly tells me he's sensed a non-human life form on-board.
Lister: Sir, it's Rimmer!
- Lister: Do you know what the captain wants to see me for?
Kristine Kochanski: [flirty mocking] I think it's for your diligence and general devotion to duty...
- Lister: Just suppose I did have a cat, sir, just suppose. What would you do with Frankenstein?
Captain Hollister: I'd send it down to the medical centre and I'd have it cut up and tests run on it.
Lister: Would you put it back together when you'd finished?
Captain Hollister: Lister, the cat would be dead.
Lister: So with respect, sir, what's in it for the cat?
- Holly: They're all dead. Everybody's dead, Dave.
Lister: Peterson isn't, is he?
Holly: Everybody's dead, Dave!
Lister: Not Chen!
Holly: Gordon Bennett! Yes, Chen. Everyone. Everybody's dead, Dave!
Holly: He's dead, Dave. Everybody is dead. Everybody is dead, Dave.
Lister: Wait. Are you trying to tell me everybody's dead?
Holly: Should've never let him out in the first place....
- Lister: How long was I in Stasis?
Holly: Three Million years.
Lister: THREE MILLION YEARS? I've still got that Library book!
- Cat: How am I lookin'? I'm lookin' nice! I'm lookin' better than nice! I'm lookin' dangerous! Ow! Dangerous, yeah!
- Holly: You know how humans evolved from apes? Well, he evolved from cats. He is descended from cats. His ancestors were cats. He is a cat.
The episode was written in 1983 during a stay at a cottage in Wales belonging to Doug Naylor's father. Almost a mile up a mountain the writing duo team of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor spent day and night writing. Almost finished the pair had a near fatal accident during nightfall when their car veered perilously near the edge of a cliff. The script was not finished as expected as they spent the next day rescuing the car.
The original script for the Red Dwarf pilot was actually written in 1983 but kept getting passed over by BBC executives and never got on its feet until 1987.
Grant and Naylor passed the completed script to their agent Paul Jackson, whom they had worked for on Three of a Kind and Carrot's Lib, and John Lloyd, whom they worked with on Spitting Image. They both came back saying that they loved it, with even talk of them doing a co-production for the series. However, the task of dealing with the production rested with Jackson who had trouble convincing the BBC who went on to reject the script three times. Grant and Naylor were keen to have the series done on the BBC as they felt the extra 3 minutes of non-commercial time would be invaluable. It would take another three years before the series was accepted by BBC North West.
When casting auditions started Norman Lovett was the first member of the cast selected, but had originally auditioned for Rimmer. Grant and Naylor thought otherwise and offered him the role of Holly, who at this stage was just a voice-over part. Danny John-Jules came in and impressed everyone with his audition for the Cat. Craig Charles was sent the script for his opinion as there were concerns over the Cat character coming across as racist. Charles was also being considered for the role. However it was later decided that Craig would be better suited auditioning for the role of Lister, who was initially described in the script as in his early forties. Chris Barrie later auditioned for both the Lister and Rimmer roles. A previous collaborator with Grant and Naylor, Chris had worked on their radio show Son of Cliché. Bigger named actors like Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina had also auditioned but were not considered — as they would unlikely stay for a series run. Paul Jackson's initial plan was for the show to run like The Young Ones, two series and that was it.
The character of the first hologram seen on screen, George McIntyre, was intended to be Australian to fit into the idea that the ship was international, but the actor, Robin McCulley had problems with the accent and decided to make the character Welsh instead. The episode featured a host of guest stars and extras, most uncredited. As well as featuring Mac McDonald as Captain Hollister and Clare Grogan (she changed her name to C. P. Grogan because of an equity clash with another person with the same name) as Kristine Kochanski, Robert Bathurst appeared as Tod Hunter, Mark Williams as Petersen, Paul Bradley as Chen, and David Gillespie as Selby.
The episode, and the series, almost never happened due to an electricians strike at the BBC in 1987 which prevented filming and the project was shelved. Filming eventually went ahead after the industrial action was resolved. Filming a scene with the Frankenstein cat caused problems when it came to trying to get the right shot. The cat would not stay still long enough, would not look at the photo of Fiji, and kept scratching Craig Charles' leg and even ran away.
The opening theme tune was written by musician Howard Goodall. With its classical music style it parodied Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Goodall also wrote the lyrics for the end credits theme tune, which was sung by Jenna Russell. The intention here was to match the lyrics to Lister desire to go to Fiji, especially regarding the "goldfish shoals nibbling at my toes" line.
During McIntyre's funeral, a 1968 recording of Bill Haley & His Comets performing "See You Later Alligator" is heard. Ironically, around this same time an episode of Doctor Who (Delta and the Bannermen) was supposed to use a Haley recording of Rock Around the Clock but that production couldn't afford the licensing fee, so a staff musician recorded a new version instead.
For the opening credits and exterior shots a Red Dwarf model ship had to be built from scratch. Peter Wragg was the Visual Effects Designer of Red Dwarf; Wragg also had a large part in set building and was the chief model maker. Wragg had previously filled a similar role in British television series such as Thunderbirds Are GO, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Doctor Who. The opening effects shot features a dissolve from Lister painting the ship to a full model shot of the city-sized vessel traveling through space. Originally it was supposed to be one long take but it proved too difficult to mesh together with a small budget and lowly special effects of the day. The model of Red Dwarf itself measured about eight foot long from scoop to engine.
Holly's character was originally intended to be just a voiceover, and the entire first series was filmed without any vision of his head. After some lengthy complaining by Norman Lovett, the crew reshot many scenes where Holly is present. However, some scenes included only inserts of Holly, like in Balance of Power where Lister is addressing Holly by looking at the ceiling, even though he is on the viewscreen.
Robert Bathurst had a lot of trouble remembering his lines in regards to Todhunter's explanation to Lister as to how the stasis booth worked resulting in a large number of outtakes, which were not included on either the 'Smeg Outs' VHS or the Series I DVD as Bathurst would not clear them for release.
With a seventh episode slot left over at the end of production, Grant and Naylor decided to go back and re-shoot certain scenes and drop others that they felt did not work. Scenes removed include Lister ejecting the crew members' canisters into space and Rimmer conducting his own eulogy. One of the more drastic changes was the ship's computer, Holly. Initially shot as a voice over, Norman Lovett had convinced the creators to have a disembodied head on screen. The Holly scenes from the first three episodes were re-edited to feature the newly shot lines with the head of Holly. Altogether, approximately two-thirds of the broadcast episode was composed of reshoot footage.
Set Designer Paul Montague gave the ship interiors a grey submarine look. Walls, floors, bunks, cans and even cigarette packets were coloured grey. The "Welcome Back George MacIntyre" reception featured bright red plastic chairs, which had to be covered up with jackets to avoid harsh clashes of colour. Montague would be replaced by Mel Bibby for the next series, who gave the set more colour.
- Originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on the 15 February 1988 in the 9:00 p.m. evening slot. The episode gained an impressive 5.1 million viewers from its first showing, which was respectable for a post watershed BBC2 programme. The BBC had also received letters from viewers regarding the quality of the series as a whole. An audience Appreciation Index score of 80 (out of 100) was also seen as a sign that the series had done well. Co-creators/writers Grant and Naylor were so embarrassed by the first series that they had requested that the BBC not repeat the episodes as they felt that a it would harm the following series. The video release of the first series was held back, making the first release of the series — featuring "The End" on tape one and "Confidence and Paranoia" on the second tape — hotly anticipated. Series I episodes performed poorly in a Red Dwarf Smegazine poll. This was perceived to be because fans had not seen, or had forgotten, the episodes — Series I not being repeated until 1994. However, the episode was considered as the best from Series I.
- The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s. Changes included replacement of the opening credits (re-instating the original idea of the one shot pulling away from the ship), the picture has been given a colour grade and filmized, new computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf flying through space, and visual, audio and scene adjustments. Changes specific to "The End" include bluescreen elements added to the opening scene with skutters - small maintenance robots — placed in the foreground of Rimmer and Lister. Silhouettes of the crew's heads were added to the foreground of George McIntyre's funeral scene. Background noise was added to the soundtrack to give the impression that the ship was busy with a full crew onboard. The George McIntyre funeral scene was trimmed down, with shots that did not work removed, and a new shot of the canister leaving the ship was inserted. Music and sound effects have been added to Cat's entrance, with hissing noise added when he tries to frighten Lister and Rimmer. Cat evolution images inserted when Holly explains to Lister that Cat has evolved from his pet cat Frankenstein.
- Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers - the first Red Dwarf novel features an expanded version of events from this episode and builds on the backstory as well as featuring new stories not seen in episodes.