Thursday, October 27, 2011

Red Dwarf--"Waiting for God"

Cat, being the shallow character that he is, is difficult to create an episode around. There is an entire sequence in this episode in which he proudly shows off a yo yo he has found to Rimmer. He has absolutely no idea what it is or how to use it, but it is the greatest shiny thing he has discovered in quite some time. One suspects, given the satire of religion that is the main focus of “Waiting for God,” Cat’s stupidity may even be played up here.

Lister discovers Cat’s holy book. Cats read by smell--as one who has rarely been without a cat in his life, I can attest to how apt that idea is--so he cannot read it. He has Holly translate and discovers the cat religion is built around him. Their idea of an afterlife is to move to Fiji and open a hotdog and donut stand. An old laundry ist of Lister’s is a holy text, but confusion over what it meant caused divisions among the faithful. Wars broke out. The one over whether the paper hats at the hot dog and donut shop should be blue or red is still ongoing. Lister is distraught to know he is a god in the first place, much less that people have died because of misinterpretation of things he has written.

It is all fairly standard criticism of religion in general and Christianity specifically from a skeptical point of view. Up until Lister learns how the cat religion turned out, he is excited about being god. He thinks the universe is a cosmic accident without a grand plan. Rimmer does not believe in god, either, but he does think there is a higher purpose out there. He just happens to think it involves six breasted alien women with green hair. That, I believe, is the Art Bell school of skepticism. With a helping of Larry Flynt thrown in, too.

Rimmer is prompted to explore greater meaning through alien contact when Red Dwarf encounters a pod in space. He thinks it is alien in origin, and hopes the aliens can either give him a new body or at least a six breasted woman. In truth, it is a garbage pod from Red Dwarf. Holly and Lister knew that all along, but they let rimmer make a fool out of himself over it just for fun.

“Waiting for God” does not add anything new to the satirical critique of religion. I have heard these jokes so often in the past, I am not even offended. Nor do I care to point out that people are to blame for much of the problems religion has caused rather than theology itself., as least as far as Christianity is concerned. The mockery of Rimmer is amusing, however. Chris Barrie plays him as such an arrogant jerk completely unworthy of his high opinion of himself that the jabs at him never get old.

But you know what does get old/ Talky Toaster. He was introduced in the second episode, but this is the first time he has more than one scene interacting with different characters. I understand he is a fan favorite, but his whole shtick about forcing toast on people because, as an intelligent toaster, he knows that is his only purpose in life is more of a one time joke. Stretching it out over episodes promises diminishing returns.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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