Red Dwarf may seem like an outlier in British comedy, being a wildly conceptual sci fi sitcom among a tradition of shows set in realistic, even humdrum locations. But beyond the intergalactic sheen, the series is built on the bedrock of most great half-hour shows, taking a collection of mismatched individuals and trapping them together so that sparks may fly.
A show that initially seemed destined for cult status at best blossomed into a UK comedy juggernaut, boasting eleven full seasons, a miniseries and a TV movie, with several canonical novelisations besides.
Like all great comedy, the success comes down to the characters, and Red Dwarf can boast some fantastic creations. As with most British shows the writers keep things contained to a small core, allowing them to get deep into the personalities, and even in some casesshow some genuine growth and development.
A show that demonstrated remarkable consistency (to a point), Red Dwarf threw out few genuinely duff ideas, but of course some characters are better than others. Here’s how the Red Dwarf crew stacks up from worst to best.
9. Kryten 1
The first iteration of subservient android Kryten was meant as a one-off character, and from his portrayal in his titular episode, it’s not too hard to figure out why. David Ross’ simpering performance is funny in small doses, but no way could the ‘bot have become the missing piece of the Red Dwarf crew in this iteration.
The episode itself has plenty to enjoy, including the ghoulish sight of the unwitting Kryten continuing to serve dinner to his long-dead crew, but from there it’s pretty by the numbers stuff - Rimmer takes control of the droid and bosses him about until Lister teaches him the value of rebellion, allowing Kryten to whip off into space, presumably never to be seen again.
Ross does exactly what’s asked of him but is hampered not only by the greater depth afforded to Robert Llewellyn’s Kryten but the shoddy costume, giving the actor very little room to actually perform.
While Kryten would go on to become one of the most likeable characters seen on Red Dwarf, the initial version is at times offputting, and the reboot was unquestionably the right move.