Something shocking happens in the seventh series of Red Dwarf. A woman becomes a full-time member of the cast. Yes: an actual proper woman, with XX chromosomes and everything. Until now, Starbug's basically been a packet of pork scratchings away from being an old-man-pub in space, but her peachy-faced, flowing-haired, unstinky presence changes everything. Before we get onto that, though, there's the matter of the series six cliffhanger to resolve.
You'll remember they were attacked by their future selves, but decided to fight back. Even Rimmer rose to the occasion with his Churchillian call to arms: "Better dead than smeg." They were blown away, of course, but that resulted in a time paradox which meant their future selves never existed in the first place, meaning time had to be reset. Got that? The upshot is they're all OK, except for one small thing: the curry supplies have been utterly destroyed. Having coped with living in a world without humans, Lister now faces a far more nightmarish scenario: a world without curry.
As a mark of respect, Rimmer suggests they have a minute's flatulence, but Lister has the bright idea of using the time drive – the one that got them in so much trouble with their future selves – to go back in time and stock up on curry. Except they end up in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963, the day of President Kennedy's assassination, which they accidentally avert. Good news, right? Well no: it's revealed that the world becomes a much worse place as a result, so they're forced to reverse their intervention – with help from Kennedy himself, who turns out to be his own assassin. Take that, Oliver Stone!
Next up, it's the return of Ace Rimmer – but not the original one. It turns out Rimmers from countless parallel universes have all taken turns to become Ace, and now it's OUR Rimmer's turn to take up the mantle. What follows is the most inspirational training sequence since the original Karate Kid, with Rimmer donning a dashing wig and flying off as the new Ace. What a guy!
As if a Rimmer-free Starbug isn't reason enough to celebrate, the remaining Dwarfers soon encounter a temporal rift in the cosmos (aka, a wibbly, swirly thing) which is a getaway to another dimension, where Kochanski – Kochanski! – is still alive. She requests a sperm sample from Listey in order to kickstart the human race, which sets into motion an increasingly bizarre series of events that... well, there's no easy way to put this, but basically Kochanski turns out to be Lister's mum, and Lister turns out to be his own dad. And you thought the first Back to the Future film was ominously pseudo-incestuous.
Trapped in our dimension, Kochanski replaces Rimmer on Starbug, much to Kryten's grinding, shrieking displeasure. He's worried she'll take Lister away from him, you see, which is a fairly irrational worry given that Kochanski has about much lust for Lister as Lister has for salad vegetables. Indeed, Lister's next romantic moment comes with Rimmer, in a scene that must rank among the most hernia-inducingly funny in all of Red Dwarf. Yes, Rimmer makes a sudden return from Ace duties, Lister confesses he's missed him, and the pair end up locking lips. It's only a dream, but one worrying enough for Kryten to create a virtual reality theme park called The Rimmer Experience to remind Lister of just what a complete and utter smeghead Arnie was.
Later on there's yet more oddness when Kryten crosses paths with his "brother" Able, a drug-addled wreck of a mechanoid who reveals that he and Kryten were created by Professor Mamet as a kind of parody of a boyfriend who'd jilted her. Which is a bit of a downer, as revelations go, but things get considerably grimmer for everyone when an "intelligent virus" called Epideme infects Lister. More irritating than a daytime quiz show presenter, the virus leads to the loss of Lister's arm. The only cure is to get nanobots to repair his limb – the same nanobots that made off with Red Dwarf after shrinking it small enough to fit inside Lister's laundry. An unpleasant fate by anyone's standards.
Having located Red Dwarf, Kryten then instructs the nanos to return it to its original size, but it's fair to say they go a bit overboard – the ship that results is Red Dwarf on steroids. Bad things are about to happen...