Red Dwarf continues to steam through space, Lister and Rimmer continue to get on each other’s nerves, Cat continues to be incredibly good-looking, and Kryten continues to be mildly neurotic: life goes on. But when an unforseen water shortage hits the ship, endangering Cat’s and Lister’s continued existence, it’s apparent that some other form of life has gotten on board as well. Everyone – minus Rimmer – piles into a diving bell to explore Red Dwarf’s enormous water tank, and they find an enormous squid-like creature there. Lister manages to chop off one of its tentacles before Rimmer stops panicking long enough to raise the diving bell to safety; the being then appears to dimension-jump off the ship under its own power. To make matters worse, another hologram appears – a former member of Red Dwarf’s crew who has been brought online to provide more effective assistance to the crew than Rimmer can provide. Since the ship can only sustain one hologram at a time, Rimmer is therefore expected to forfeit his existence.
Cast: Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat), Robert Llewellyn (Kryten), Sophie Winkleman (Katerina)
Notes: Back To Earth takes place nine years after the eighth season of Red Dwarf (which fits since it was filmed and broadcast ten years after that season); somewhere in the intervening years, Kochanski met a tragic fate and is still mourned by Lister. (Next to Kochanski’s photo in the ship’s memorial observatory is a photo of the late Mel Bibby, who designed the more elaborate sets seen in seasons 3-8.) Holly is curiously absent for the entire story. Unlike the rest of Red Dwarf, Back To Earth was bankrolled by UK cable/satellite comedy channel Dave (appropriately enough) rather than airing on the BBC, though perhaps “bankrolled” is a term that should be used very loosely, as the budget for Back To Earth was no larger than the entire budget for the final season in 1999. Back To Earth does not reflect the storyline developed for the aborted Red Dwarf movie project, a much-mooted project that never got off the ground in the intervening decade due to a series of equally aborted financing deals. This is also the first Red Dwarf episode without an audience laugh track.
LogBook entry by Earl Green