Lost three million years into deep space, the mining ship Red Dwarf – manned by Dave Lister, a low-ranking crewmember who was in stasis when an accident killed the rest of the crew, along with a hologram of his annoying bunkmate Rimmer, a female being evolved from Lister’s pet cat (a race which evolved from feline to biped in the intervening 3,000,000 years), and an android named Kryten – journeys into danger whether its crew wants it to or not.
written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
directed by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
Cast: Craig Bierko (Lister), Anthony Fuscle (Rimmer), Jane Leeves (Holly), Terry Farrell (Cat)
Appearing in footage from the first American Red Dwarf pilot: Craig Bierko (Lister), Chris Eigeman (Rimmer), Jane Leeves (Holly), Hinton Battle (Cat), Robert Llewellyn (Kryten), Elizabeth Morehead (Christine)
Appearing in footage from Camille: Robert Llewellyn (Kryten), Judy Pascoe (Mechanoid Camille)
Appearing in footage from Terrorform: Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat), Robert Llewellyn (Kryten), Hattie Hayridge (Holly)
LogBook entry by Earl Green
Notes: A last-ditch attempt by series creators Grant & Naylor to salvage Red Dwarf’s chances for pickup by an American network (namely NBC) after a disastrous full-length pilot produced by Universal Studios, this isn’t so much another pilot episode as it is a quick-and-dirty presentation reel, shot “in a garage” for a budget that Naylor says, in a DVD featurette about the making of the American pilots, was “a few thousand dollars.” With Universal – and the writers and producers who had stubbornly ignored the advice and experience of the people who’d made Red Dwarf work in the UK – out of the equation, this was an attempt to bring the American show closer to its British counterpart.
Indeed, this includes the wholesale re-enactment of entire scenes from existing episodes. A lengthy chunk of Marooned is re-enacted by Craig Bierko and the new Rimmer, Anthony Fuscle. The newly recast Cat, now a white female played by an appropriately cat-suited Terry Farrell, was the centerpiece of two new scenes based on existing scripts: a “scene” from a “future episode” titled Shutdown with dialogue lifted from Psirens, and a corridor scene with Lister featuring dialogue from Parallel Universe, with a hint that a Polymorph-like hunt is in progress. Bizarrely, this version of the Cat is said to have nine lives – literally – implying something not unlike Captain Jack’s ability to recover from any kind of “death” on Torchwood, but on a more limited basis.
Lengthy excerpts of the original BBC episodes Camille and Terrorform are also shown. Camille was likely chosen to highlight Kryten in a scene that didn’t feature the rest of Llewellyn’s British castmastes. Llewellyn is also heavily featured in excerpts from the original American pilot, though those scenes are kept to an absolute minimum – cast and creators had virtually no goodwill toward the first pilot. All of this is framed with new scenes of Lister and Rimmer managing to get the very simple operation of the ship’s black box log recorded completely wrong. Jane Leeves returned to shoot a single new scene as Holly.
The results are generally more promising, but the effort and the surprisingly effective, almost-fan-film-like guerilla production values were for nothing. NBC didn’t pick up Red Dwarf, and the series resumed production in the UK for its sixth season. That season aired in 1993, two years after the previous season: 1992 was a “lost year” for Red Dwarf, wasted on two pilots which never saw the light of day. (Or, at the very least, they were never intended to – in the DVD featurette, Naylor claims that the second pilot should never have been seen by anyone outside of NBC, but was “stolen and shown at fan conventions.” Scenes from this production weren’t even included alongside the excerpts of the first American pilot for the aforementioned documentary.)
Bierko went on to better things in his TV and movie career, while Terry Farrell, later in 1992, was a very late addition to the cast of another hot science fiction ticket, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, remaining with that show for six of its seven seasons as science officer Lt. Jadzia Dax. Robert Llewellyn had already returned to the UK and didn’t shoot any new material for the presentation reel.
There’s no further record of actor Anthony Fuscle on IMDb, and any attempt to Google his name turns up either mentions of this Red Dwarf pilot, or links to generic male enhancement drugs; we’re assuming that the latter is either a clerical error, or proof that Anthony went on to play Ace Rimmer in another reality with extremely relaxed broadcast decency standards – what a guy. (It’s also just as likely that he’s continued acting, but wisely chose another name under which to work.)