Cat (Red Dwarf)

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The Cat
Red Dwarf character
TheCat1.jpg
First appearance The End
Portrayed by Danny John-Jules

The Cat is a fictional character in the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. He is played by Danny John-Jules. He is a descendant of Frankenstein, Dave Lister's pregnant pet cat, and her kittens, and whose species evolved into a humanoid form over 3,000,000 years while Dave Lister was in suspended animation. As a character he is vain and aloof, and loves to dress in extravagant clothing. He is simply referred to as "The Cat" in lieu of a real name.

Character[edit]

The character has no name other than "The Cat" or simply "Cat". He is the humanoid descendant of a modern domestic cat called Frankenstein who had been Dave Lister's pregnant pet cat.[1] He may be the last remaining member of his species, Felis sapiens.[2] His species expanded and evolved into a humanoid form over 3,000,000 years while sealed in the cargo hold of Red Dwarf while Dave Lister was in suspended animation.[1] They formed a religion based on the saviour of Frankenstein: "Cloister the Stupid", the father of their race according to their legends (actually Lister), and "Fuchal", their promised land (actually the Fiji Islands, a place Lister held in high regard and planned to retire to).[1][3] The race eventually splits and descends into civil war, over what colour the hats at the hot dog and doughnut stand Lister planned to open on Fiji were going to be[3] (in the later-published novelization "Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers" the cause of the cat civil war is whether their god was named Cloister or Clister). Ironically the two factions claimed they were going to be red or blue, while Lister had wanted them to be green.[3]

Eventually the two factions formed a truce and built two great space arks to go and search for Lister and the promised land. One of the two arks, following a set of sacred directions (Lister's laundry list, which he lined Frankenstein's basket with), promptly crashed into an asteroid. The other ark seems to have encountered the holoship from the episode of that name, as the scout from the holoship recognizes the cat, identifying him as "felis sapiens" and remarking that there is "no value in future study of this species". The assorted lame, sick and "stupid" were left behind. Over time, they all eventually died off, but a crippled female and a retarded male ("The Cripple and the Idiot") produced The Cat before dying (although his mother's crippled feature was never explained, his father received the title The Idiot due to eating his own feet).[3] It appears that The Cat was mainly raised by a blind Cat Priest, though a brief mention is made to The Cat's mother in the novelization.

As a humanoid cat, he exhibits the qualities of coolness, vanity, and aloofness. He loves to dress well in extravagant clothing, and to dance and scream like the soul artist James Brown. He often carries a mirror and is meticulous about his appearance. His first words in Episode 1 are: "How am I looking? I'm looking nice!".[1] He rarely calls his crewmates by name, often using the term "bud" or "buddy", but also refers to them by derogatory nicknames.[4]

In early episodes, The Cat exhibits typical feline behaviours such as licking anyone who gives him food, playing with 'shiny things' and marking his territory, for which purpose he carries a small spray-can, the contents of which are unknown, in his pocket. While scent-marking, he repeats, "This is mine, this is mine, and all of this is mine." He bats his food around when it is served on the table, explaining to his startled shipmates, "that is what cats do with [live] food!"

His extreme self-confidence results in him thinking himself to be irresistible to women. He is originally very self-centred, acting purely without concern when his old mentor the "Cat Priest" dies, giving Kryten an earring that he [the Cat] hates on the day before his automatic self-destruct and choosing to finish his lunch rather than carry Lister to the medical bay when he collapses. This behaviour becomes less prevalent as the series goes on.

By Series IV, the Cat becomes less obsessed with mating, and begins to develop a friendship with Dave Lister and Kryten, although he maintains a strong dislike for Rimmer. As he learns to relate to the crew, he stops licking them and marking his territory, and even begins to show genuine concern for others on several occasions. He becomes a skilled pilot of Starbug and develops an ability to "smell" dangerous phenomena, even in space—although he does not grasp scientific terms, describing anomalies as either "wibbly thing" or "swirly thing".

The Cat is the only member of the main cast who has not yet been the central role of any Red Dwarf episode. However, a 'lost episode' entitled Identity Within was planned to be the second episode of Red Dwarf VII; it was never put into production due to financial issues.

Style[edit]

The Cat is obsessed with his own superficial attractiveness and has an enormous and flamboyant wardrobe, which he couples with an obsession with his reflection and a penchant for preening.[5] He has been described as "a vain, preening fashion plate who resembles James Brown with fangs",[6] and Danny John-Jules has described the character of Cat as based on a combination of Little Richard's look, James Brown's moves and Richard Pryor's facial expressions.[7] When auditioning for the show John-Jules attended the audition in character, wearing his father's wedding suit, which he described as a "zoot suit".[8] In order to understand the role, John-Jules studied the 1986 book Catwatching by Desmond Morris, learning, among other things, not to blink while in character.[9]

In the first episode the Cat is introduced wearing a pink suit, which Danny John-Jules described as feeling "like an old Cab Calloway suit".[10] Concerning his character, Danny John-Jules has said "He's probably like a little girl the first time she puts on makeup and says 'Hey this stuff looks good...'."[10]

During the first two seasons, the Cat typically dressed in various 1940s-era suits (often gray or pink, with big shoulders and pocket handkerchiefs). He would also wear Cuban-heeled shoes with most of his outfits. He would also wear suits with tailed jackets and ruffled shirts (most notably cream-coloured or reddish-pink). Over the next three seasons, the Cat began wearing flashier outfits (like a tartan three-piece suit) and more leather and vinyl outfits (with boots). He also began wearing brightly coloured hats and coats, such as his zebra-print coat (later revamped to yellow and black). He began sporting more jewellery and earrings.

Starting with series 6 and on through 7, The Cat's wardrobe was drastically simplified (John-Jules jokingly speculated that this was done as a cost-saving measure). He wore a black pvc jumpsuit (often with gloves) with a limited number of coats or suits worn over it. Ironically, he spent most of series 8 either in his prison jumpsuit or his battle fatigues.

Alternative versions[edit]

Duane Dibbley[edit]

Among his alter egos is the "Duke of Dork", Duane Dibbley, a stereotypical 'dork' and the Cat's idea of a meaningless existence—deprived of any grace or style. He first appears in the Series V episode "Back To Reality," as part of a hallucinogenic experience, designed to cause despair in the Dwarfers.[11] He then returns in "Emohawk: Polymorph II," caused by a polymorph absorbing the Cat's "cool".[12]

Alternate universes[edit]

An alternative Cat is briefly encountered when the Dwarfers meet themselves from an alternative timeline and are joined by Kristine Kochanski; this Cat seems more refined and subdued in appearance, in line with Kochanski's nature, and also has a much deeper voice.[13] Cat's mirror opposite is also encountered in the mirror universe (Series VIII episode "Only the Good..."), a wise professor who finds it ridiculously easy to pronounce profoundly long words, e.g., Caesiumfrankolithicmixialubidiumrixidixidoxidexidroxide.[14] There is a radically different version of himself in an opposite universe where he is known as The Dog.[15] In 'Ace' Rimmer's universe (series IV episode "Dimension Jump) the West Indian priest stationed on the Mimas test flight base bears a striking resemblance to Cat. The Padre smokes a pipe and congratulates Ace Rimmer on helping a sick boy recover.[16]

In other media[edit]

In the episode "Parallel Universe", The Cat performs the song "Tongue Tied", which appears as a dream sequence on a "dream monitor". The song was later released as a single and reached number 17 in October 1993 in the UK Singles Chart. The artist was listed simply as "The Cat".[17]

US pilot[edit]

In the first and second pilot episodes of an American version of the television series, the Cat was played by Hinton Battle and Terry Farrell respectively. (Farrell's version was more outwardly catlike in appearance.)[18][19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Red Dwarf Series 1 Episode 1, "The End", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  2. ^ Red Dwarf Series 2 Episode 4, "Stasis Leak", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  3. ^ a b c d Red Dwarf Series 1 Episode 4, "Waiting For God", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  4. ^ Kryten: "Novelty Condom Head" or "Half-Eaten Lollipop Head"; Rimmer: "Goalpost Head", "Alphabet Head", "Grand Canyon Nostrils" or "Trans-Am Wheel Arch Nostrils"; Lister: "Monkey (primarily used in series one)", "Dormouse Cheeks" or "Gerbil-Face" Note: Cat has only referred to him as "Lister" twice—once in Parallel Universe and once in The Inquisitor; Kochanski "Officer Bud-Babe" ("Officer B-B" for short)
  5. ^ Elyce Rae Helford "'OK, homeboys, let's posse!' Masculine anxiety, gender, race and class in Red Dwarf" in John R. Cook, Peter Wright, (2006), British science fiction television: a hitchhiker's guide, page 243. I.B.Tauris
  6. ^ Garry Berman (2011), Best of the Britcoms: From Fawlty Towers to The Office, page 74. Taylor Trade Publications
  7. ^ Red Dwarf: Tongue Tied video
  8. ^ David Lavery, (2010), Essential cult television reader, page 213. University Press of Kentucky
  9. ^ "RedDwarf.co.uk: Series I Casting". Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Elyce Rae Helford "'OK, homeboys, let's posse!' Masculine anxiety, gender, race and class in Red Dwarf" in John R. Cook, Peter Wright, (2006), British science fiction television: a hitchhiker's guide, page 245. I.B. Tauris
  11. ^ Red Dwarf Series 5 Episode 6, "Back to Reality", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  12. ^ Red Dwarf Series 6 Episode 4, "Emohawk, Polymorph II", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  13. ^ Red Dwarf - Series 7 Episode 3 — "Ouroboros", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  14. ^ Red Dwarf - Series 8 Episode 8 — "Only the Good", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  15. ^ Red Dwarf Series 2 Episode 6, "Parallel Universe", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  16. ^ Red DwarfRed DwarfRed DwarfRed DwarfRed Dwarf Season IV Episode 5, "Dimension Jump", PlanetSmeg. Retrieved 24 May 2012
  17. ^ Cat | Artist | Official Charts
  18. ^ Red Dwarf Series II (19 July 2002). "Dwarf USA | Features". Red Dwarf. Retrieved 23 March 2009. 
  19. ^ "Red Dwarf (1992) (TV)". Imdb.com. 9 August 2003. Retrieved 23 March 2009.