Doug Naylor went back to basics for Red Dwarf VIII. Having experimented with additional writers on series VII, Doug elected to write the majority of the new season himself. Paul Alexander - whose Stoke Me a Clipper... and Epideme had proved popular - was reinstated as script supervisor, as well as co-writer for a couple of episodes.
As ever, unpredictability was the order of the day. The ending to series VII had viewers already predicting the cliffhanger's resolution (many thought the events shown were part of an unreality bubble), likewise fans anticipated that Rimmer would fail as Ace and return to his crewmates. But Red Dwarf has never been predictable...
Before series VIII Doug had been working on the Remastered versions of series I to III - a return which would prove inspirational. It was decided that the old-style bunk room scenes could be brought back if Rimmer and Lister were forced into a closed environment once more. It also reminded Doug how well the two characters had worked with Hollister - and so the crew were revived (also returning a version of Rimmer to the team) and The Tank was created.
The concept for the season opener, Back in the Red, was an hour-long special which would introduce the new set-up in style. When the episode over-ran - as well as to quell some budgetary difficulties - it was decided that, with some additional scenes, BITR could be a three-parter. Despite this, some moments still had to be shortened.
There had been a suggestion that the nanobotic rebuild was imperfect, with Rimmer thinking he had three sisters, not brothers. The 'courtroom' hearing sequence was also shortened, and the chance of a Lister/Kochanski kiss of life went unused aboard the crashed Starbug.
An episode originally entitled Captain's Office was similarly altered for financial reasons. Renamed Pete, the now two-parter would make use of scenes already excised from Cassandra (namely Archie and the scene where the Cat is beaten up on arrival at Floor 13). An additional Archie scene at the end of the story - in which the creature shot across the captain's office and shot up his nether-regions - was written and filmed, but ultimately not used.
Other moments that went unseen include a discussion in Cassandra on the benefits of conjugal visits, as well as an explanation of the method the computer uses to predict the future. (Time is curved, she calculates along the shorter inside edge.) In the same episode, Rimmer went through most of his crew mates in an attempt to find a person to impersonate him.
Writing on Krytie TV had proved difficult. Originally conceived under the title of No Strings Attached as a tale about Lister's guitar strings, the story was blended with Kryten's attempt to dominate the prison media. At one point, Rimmer and Lister's appeal was to be televised (and rigged to fail) by Krytie TV.
Only The Good is perhaps the first episode of Red Dwarf to have four possible endings. As originally written, Rimmer would have brought the virus's antidote back and saved the ship, which is now deserted save for the main Dwarfers, leaving them very much back at the status quo. A publicity still released early on showed Rimmer watching the departing crew through a window while puffing a cigar - a prelude to the final moments where, as the highest rank on the ship, Rimmer strides down the corridor only to suffer a can attack from the dispensing machine.
The somewhat 'standard' climax was to be replaced with Rimmer returning to the dying ship too late to save it. This downer ending was then set to be augmented with Ace Rimmer's heroic arrival. At the last moment, this too was replaced with a step into the unknown - the arrival of Death itself.
It is perhaps unsurprising that the season climax proved so problematic - Only the Good was not originally written to be the final episode. The final (and too expensive) episode as planned was Earth, an episode which brought Red Dwarf back to the mother planet only for them to pilot the massive ship accidentally through most of the world's major landmarks. Having destroyed most of the planet, they emerge to swap insurance details with one of the few humans still remaining.