The second series of Red Dwarf
was, as Danny John-Jules says in the accompanying DVD commentary, "the one where it really went good." First broadcast in the autumn of 1988, these six episodes showcase Rob Grant and Doug Naylor's sardonic, sarcastic humor to perfection. The cast had gelled and the occasionally erratic tone of the first series--which was made a little too much in the shadow of Dark Star
and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
--is replaced by a confident assurance that the show's mix of sci-fi in-jokes and gags about bodily functions really does work. There's more color this year, too, as the drab sets are spiced up, a little more money has been assigned to models and special effects, and the crew even goes on location once in a while.
"Kryten" introduces us to the eponymous house robot (here played by David Ross), although after this first episode he was not to reappear until series 3, when Robert Llewellyn made the role his own. Then in "Better Than Life" the show produced one of its all-time classic episodes, as the boys from the Dwarf take part in a virtual reality game that's ruined by Rimmer's tortured psyche. Other highlights include "Queeg," in which Holly is replaced by a domineering computer personality; the baffling time-travel paradox of "Stasis Leak"; the puzzling conundrum of "Thanks for the Memory"; and the astonishingly feminine "Parallel Universe." --Mark Walker