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Score: 9.4 Superb 56 votes

Back To Reality

Episode Number: 30    Season Num: 5    First Aired: Thursday March 26, 1992    Prod Code: NMRE199H
The crew are on an ocean planet investigating a seeding vessel called the SSS Esperanto which was studying the life forms that had been introduced by humans. They find 3 bodies aboard, people who committed suicide, and a haddock who did the same. Lister notices an oil covering everything and Kryten suggests that it is a hallucinogenic venom much like the oil from an octopus or squid.
He does a chemical analysis and rushes the others back to Starbug saying that the oil contains a hallucinogen which induces despair, which is what drove the crew of the Esperanto to kill themselves. They try to escape in Starbug to avoid the same happening to them, but the despair squid chases them and they crash into a rock. Starbug is destroyed.
The gang wake up to find they were playing a computer game called Red Dwarf for the last four years (and they only scored 4%). In "reality", Lister is the rich and successful Sebastian Doyle, Rimmer -- his brother, Billy -- is a ne'er-do-well bum, the Cat is the most uncool, style-less geek you could imagine, named Dwayne Dibley (Teeth stick out a mile, terrible taste in clothes, etc.). Kryten is a half-human, half-machine cop named Jake Bullet.
While leaving the video game building and adjusting to all that has happened, Sebastian finds out that he is the chief of an organization called the Ministry of Alteration which organizes mass murders to "purify democracy".
Bullet kills a cop while defending a young girl and they make a run for it and are chased by the fascist police. Holly, meanwhile, is trying to tell them that they're hallucinating, but they can't hear her.
In their heads they manage to escape the police and flee down an alleyway. Bullet, utterly appalled by his actions, decides to kill himself. So do Billy and Dwayne. Sebastian, despising his mass murdering lifestyle, decides the same. Holly communicates to Kryten on a higher frequency and gets him to open a canister of Lithium Carbonate (a mood stablizer), which his hallucination has convinved him is a fire extinguisher.
The gas revives them just in time and they reflect on why they decided to kill themselves, before leaving behind the Esperanto to head back to Red Dwarf.

Cast and Crew

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Writer: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Director: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Star: Craig Charles (Dave Lister),  Danny John-Jules (Cat),  Norman Lovett (Holly (season 1-2, 8-)),  Hattie Hayridge (Holly (season 3-5)),  Chloe Annett (Kristine Kochanski (season 7-))
Recurring Role: Chris Barrie (Arnold Judas Rimmer),  Robert Llewellyn (Kryten (season 3-)),  Chris Barrie (Billy Doyle),  Robert Llewellyn (Jake Bullet)
Guest Star: Timothy Spall (Andy),  Lenny Von Dohlen (Cop),  Marie McCarthy (Nurse),  John Sharian (new Lister),  Anastasia Hille (new Kochanski),  Craig Charles (Sebastian Doyle),  Danny John-Jules (Dwayne Dibley),  David Lemkin (New Cat (uncredited)),  Julian Lyon (New Rimmer (uncredited)),  Scott Charles Bennett (New Kryten (uncredited)),  Karen Salt (Child (uncredited))

Notes

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In Australia at least, all of the episodes of Season V were produced on video in backwards order, meaning the season starts with Back to Reality and ends with Holoship. (edit)
In 1998, this episode was voted by the British public as the best Red Dwarf episode ever. This is also Stephen Hawkings' favourite episode. (edit)
At the conclusion to this episode and the season, we say farewell to Hattie Hayridge whose character of Holly is written out of the show for the next two seasons. Holly is revived in the season 7 finale, but played by the original actor, Norman Lovett. (edit)

Quotes

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Jake: (Whips out his badge) Bullet, Cybernautics.
Cop: That's traffic control.
(edit)
The crew stumble out of the AR Red Dwarf game.
Lister: This is a very, very bad dream, right?!
Rimmer: I'm not a hologram.
Kryten: I'm half human!
Cat: What the hell's happened to my teeth?! I can open beer bottles with my overbite!! (edit)
"Billy": This is a nightmare. I'm on the run from the fascist police with a murderer and a mass murderer and a man in a Bry-Nylon shirt. A flotsam, jetsam, human wreckage, sputum bag who smells like a yak latrine. And now my best flashy mac' is about to be splattered with an android's brain. I'm after you with the gun. (edit)
"Billy": William Doyle. "William Doyle." Good ol' Bill Doyle. You know, that sounds like a hell of a good name to me! Probably connected with the Boston Doyles. Old money, blue chip stock. You know, I think it's all starting to come back to me now.
"Sebastian": What puzzles me slightly is what a man of such undoubted good breeding would be doing wearing a coat that smells like an elderly male yak has taken a leak in both the pockets.
"Billy": Well, isn't it obvious?
"Jake": No, it isn't.
"Billy": Oh my god! My name's Billy Doyle and my cologne is "Eau de Yak Urine." (edit)
"Jake": Jake Bullet, Cybernautic Detective. I like that! That sounds like the kind of hard-living flat foot who gets the job done by cutting corners and bucking authority. And if those pen-pushers up at City Hall don't like it, well, they can park their over-payed, fat ass's on this mid-digit and swivel till they squeal like pigs on a honeymoon.
"Billy": On the other hand, "Mr. Bullet", perhaps the Cybernautics division is in charge of traffic control. You just happen to have a rather silly macho name. (edit)

Trivia

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Sebastian Doyle's car is in Bay 47, which is the same bay on Red Dwarf that the quarantine facility was in "Quarantine". (edit)
The Dwarfers have (supposedly, during their hallucination) been playing the Red Dwarf TIV for five years...why haven't their hair or nails grown? It's easy to guess that an attendant could trim their nails, but how would they cut the Dwarfers' hair whilst they were wearing helmets? (edit)
Response to "New Dwarfers" game: I think that the fact that they're only 20 minutes in and have already got so far is deliberate on the part of the despair squid, in order to emphasise just how poorly Lister and the others were apparently playing and make Lister feel even worse than he already does about their situation, steering him even further to thoughts of suicide. Moreover, it isn't fully explained whether real time and gameplay correlate completely - 2 years in the game could be 20 minutes in reality. Although they've supposedly been in the game for 5 years, game time and real time may still not match up absolutely. At any rate it's all a hallucination anyway so doesn't have to make perfect sense. (edit)
When Lister looks in on the New Dwarfer's game, the scene that they are playing is much too far in given that they have only been playing for about 20 minutes. Really Lister should have been watching their version of 'The End'. (edit)
Andy says that it is an irony that Lister turns out to be God as he is an atheist, but in season 3's 'The Last Day' Lister says he is a pantheist. (edit)

Allusions

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Cat: This is like Saturday night at the Wailing Wall.
The Wailing Wall is a temple ruin in Jerusalem, a sacred site of mourning, pilgrimage and prayer for Jewish people. One way to offer prayer is to speak them aloud or 'wail' at the wall. (edit)
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Community Reviews (2)

 

PKKendrick
Report Abuse 1 user agrees
with this review
9.0
Superb
Back To Reality
"Exactly why I watch this series"
The crew come across a giant squid on a ocean world, making them have hallucinations, where they are in a facsist world, where they try to kill themselves. where only Holly can stop them. First time we see Duane Dibbley.
Continue » Posted Feb 18, 2007 6:38 am PST

plumber-man
Report Abuse 1 user agrees
with this review
9.3
Superb
Back To Reality
"Another great installment"
The crew encounter a giant squid on a ocean world, which causes them to hallucinate they are in real life, but they are actually in a facsist world, so they try to kill themselves. But Holly manages to stop them. First appearance of Duane Dibbley.
Continue » Posted Oct 20, 2006 8:14 pm PST
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Episode Vital Stats

 
Episode: Back To Reality
Season Number: 5
Episode Reviews: 2
Episode
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