Episode 1. Trojan
Things kick off with an episode filled with more screwed-up family angst than a dozen Greek tragedies. Boarding a derelict ship floating in the depths of space, the Dwarfers come into contact with a hologram named Howard Rimmer. Yes, it's Arnie's hated, high-flying brother, leaving Arnie with no option but to pretend he's a captain as well, with Lister, Kryten and the Cat his faithful crew.
Of course, Rimmer needn't have worried. It turns out that failure runs in the family, with Howard eventually revealed to be an underachieving gimboid as well. There's no time for the bros to kiss and make up, though, with Howard's seemingly faithful simulant pal turning out to be a few microchips short of a motherboard and going berserk with a gun. Eventually, Howard gives his life to save his brother, although Rimmer can't help taunting him even as he flickers out of existence. Well, that's our Arnold for you – we wouldn't want him any other way.
Episode 2. Fathers and Suns
There's no denying that Holly is a much-missed presence on the ship. As Rimmer nostalgically notes, they just don't get the same quality of cock-up these days. Thankfully, they get a new ship's computer named Pree in this episode, leading to some of the finest, A-grade, choicest-cut cock-ups in Red Dwarf history. Pree turns out to be a homicidal control freak – yes, even worse than Queeg – who jettisons Lister from the ship.
This is partly Lister's own fault, mind you. Having decided he's been a very lax father to himself (remember, he was conceived with his own sperm), he goes a bit Norman Bates, scolding himself for being a useless son and resigning from the ship's crew to force himself to get his act together. Trouble is, as he's no longer an official crew member, he's promptly booted out by Pree. As there's no reason for the Red Dwarf to carry on without a human on board, Pree then attempts to fly into the nearest sun, and it's down to the crew to stop her. Incredibly, Lister manages it after getting back on board and using a reasoned, logical argument to make Pree shut herself down. Yes: Lister uses logic. And you thought him being his own father was far-fetched...
Episode 3. Lemons
OK, so this episode sees Jesus declared to be actually dumber than the Cat, but anyone of a religious or murderously faithful disposition should count to 10 and breathe easy: it isn't what you think, honestly. But let's start at the beginning, with the Dwarfers stumbling across a device that can make you young again. Sadly, it's Swedish-made, meaning they have to assemble it themselves. Naturally, they smeg that right up, and activating it throws them back to Earth in the year 23AD.
On a quest for lemons (they need them to make a battery to get them back to Red Dwarf), they soon cross paths with a certain hippy-haired chap by the name of Jesus, who they end up taking back to the Dwarf with them – where Jesus reads all about himself in the history books and is appalled by the bad things done in his name. Returning to Earth, he decides to sabotage Christianity by destroying his own reputation, but luckily Lister talks sense into him – just before realising he's not actually THE Jesus after all. He's just a beardy bloke with the same name. And taste in sandals. Hallelujah!
Episode 4. Entangled
Episode four opens with one of the unloveliest sights known to humankind: Dave Lister dining. By which we mean, Dave Lister pushing his face into the squidgy recesses of a chicken doner kebab. Believe it or not, though, things get even grosser with the arrival of the Biologically Engineered Garbage Gobblers, aka Beggs, discovered by the Dwarfers on a moon. Imagine if Brian Blessed had a nasty industrial accident: that's what these chaps look like.
Thanks to a bit of unpleasantness over a card game, the Beggs attach a bomb-type device to Lister's groin. The Dwarfers quickly head to the space station where the device's inventor is supposed to be. Sadly, the station is an academy devoted to incorrect, misguided theories (its researchers include football refs and weathermen), so when they wake Professor Edgington up from stasis, she turns out to be pretty much wrong about everything (to the extent of actually fancying Rimmer). Somehow, the Dwarfers manage to save Lister's dangly bits from exploding and Rimmer even looks set to his end away – before the lovely professor gets sucked into space by accident. Smeg.
Episode 5. Dear Dave
After the recent antics with hairy, garbage-eating man-beasts and Jesus and whatnot, the Dwarfers have a bit of rest and relaxation time in this episode. By which we mean, Lister sits around moping like someone who's listened to one too many Smiths records. Well, we can't really blame him for being a bit down about the end of humanity and everything he holds dear. Why, not even the flirty attentions of a giggly vending machine can help alleviate his woes.
But, just as things are about to get too much (Lister's now so unmotivated he's taken to dipping his biscuits in the fish tank), in comes a mail pod stuffed with thousands of letters dating from, ohh, millions of years ago. Among them, a missive from Lister's old girlfriend Hayley Summers – telling him he might be the father of her imminent child! Cue lots of angst and soul-searching, especially as she also confesses to her fling with Roy, an arch-smeghead colleague. Of course, he turns out to have been the actual dad all along, which tips Lister over from depression to wild, grimacing fury. Hey, at least he's not moping anymore, eh?
Episode 6. The Beginning
Could this be the most spectacular episode of Red Dwarf of all time! What with its big explosive spaceship battle scenes, holographic messages and blundering droids, it even stands comparison with Star Wars. Except that it cost 1,000,000 times less to make and doesn't contain Jar-Jar Binks. So wins all round then.
Basically, the Dwarfers are set upon by a death ship full of nutcase simulants who, in between committing gross acts of ritual self-disembowelment, like nothing more than to kill humans. And any non-humans who happen to ride along with humans. Bad news for our lot then, especially when they end up seeking refuge in the Blue Midget and relying on Rimmer to come up with a battle plan. And you know what, he actually does. After a holographic chat with his dead dad, who reveals that Rimmer was actually the bastard son of their gibbering idiot of a gardener, Rimmer is finally liberated from his past and actually devises a strategy for kicking simulant butt. What can we say – the man's a working class hero.