Entangled is a step back in the right direction for the Dwarfers. It manages to juggle three disparate sci-fi plot strands, and just about manages from collapsing under the weight, spurred along by a succession of successful, rapid-fire gags. The A-plot backs the episode up nicely, with the recurring coincidences being a far more successful running gag than the previous episodes have managed. The sci-fi oriented episode of Red Dwarf have always done well, as long as there’s enough mileage to be gained from the central concept. Having Kryten and the Cat become quantum entangled is a cute idea, if presented completely nonsensically, but would have run out steam pretty quickly on its. Instead, it runs alongside two successive B-plots. The Biologically-Engineered Garbage Gobblers, or BEGGS, are just GELFs under a new name. The ropey costumes make them look like particularly battered Kinatawowi from Series VI or VII, but they serve their purpose, providing some decent comedy material while Lister tries to persuade to deactivate his ‘knacker cracker’ groin exploder. Just when it looks like they’re going to run out of funny material for these guys, they kill them off, and move onto the next sequence.
The final segment of the episode, on the space station for the Erroneous Reasoning Research Academy, is a strong enough idea to carry a whole episode, and is perhaps a little wasted in the ten minutes of exploration it gets here. The concept of an academy dedicated to getting things utterly wrong is a stroke of Hitchhikers-esque genius; indeed, SFX have pointed out that it’s easy to imagine Peter Jones delivering Kryten’s monologue on the subject. The de-evolution/re-evolution gun is another missed opportunity (sounds like more was made of it prior to last-minute rewrites). It’s a sci-fi series cliché, but the idea of evolving Lister into a super-genius or rewinding the crew’s evolution is a great one. The Cat would become domestic moggy, of course, but what about Kryten? A toaster?
Professor Edgington is a qualified success. Her dithering persona gets a bit boring pretty quickly – that unlocking code gag goes on way too long – but Sydney Stevenson is perfect in the role. A cute, kooky scientist with a thing for Rimmer could have made a fun character to base an episode around, but she doesn’t last long here. The final airlock gag is well-signposted (unlike the airlock), but wraps up the episode’s other running gag nicely. Rimmer putting himself in charge of health-and-safety is so perfect it’s amazing it hasn’t happened before, and his reams of accident report forms must have elicited a sympathetic response from many a viewer.
All in all, Entangled has a very Series VI feel to it. There’s even a space weevil on the ship. Still, the series continues to hark back to its earliest episodes with classic music and a particularly feline Cat. DJJ gets some of his best material in this episode, particularly in the drive room scene. All the crew get their moment to shine though; Lister’s revoltingly oversized kebab (and this from a man who likes kebabs, may I add); Kryten drying teaspoons with his rear heat vent; and Rimmer very nearly getting laid at last. Some other blasts from the past include the Blue Midget – some lovely model work in this episode too – and Rimmer shifting back to ‘soft light’ and his reddish costume. A good, genuinely funny episode with a nice mix of nods to the past and new ideas.
Good Psycho Guide: Four Chainsaws.
Thoughts: So, this must be the original Rimmer, returned to the ship after adventuring as Ace. I’d had my suspicions, but the discussion of him killing the crew through negligence confirms it – the resurrected Rimmer would have no direct knowledge of that. Wonder what happened to him though…
Best Line: The Cat: “Read my CV: Does not help. Does not clean. Will have sex with anything.”