Dimension Jump (Red Dwarf episode)
|Red Dwarf episode|
Swashbuckling space-adventurer, Ace Rimmer
|Episode no.||Series 4|
|Directed by||Ed Bye|
|Written by||Rob Grant & Doug Naylor|
|Original air date||14 March 1991|
"Dimension Jump" is the fifth episode of science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series IV and the twenty-third episode in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 14 March 1991, written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye. The episode, featuring the first appearance of Ace Rimmer, was intended to end the series; but Meltdown was rescheduled and broadcast last due to the Gulf War.
The episode begins with a young Arnold Rimmer being told by his mother that the headmaster at his school was considering keeping him back a year. Having received the headmaster's notice in the post, she emphasises what an impact the decision could have on Arnold's life. Years later, in a parallel dimension, another Arnold Rimmer exists. Commander 'Ace' Rimmer is a test pilot in the Space Corps: he is heroic, charming, good-looking, intelligent, popular, brave and modest. He eagerly accepts a mission to test-fly a dimension-jumping prototype spacecraft despite never being able to return. After saying farewell to his friends, Ace departs and initiates a dimension jump.
Aboard Red Dwarf, Lister, Kryten and the Cat attempt to sneak away in the middle of the night to enjoy a fishing holiday on a nearby ocean planet on Starbug and escape Rimmer for a few weeks. However, Rimmer discovers them trying to leave without him and is hurt, taking it as confirmation of their dislike of him. Lister feels he has no choice but to invite Rimmer along, to everyone's chagrin. Aboard Starbug, Rimmer soon irritates everyone, excessively commenting on Kryten's piloting, and trying to play Hammond organ CDs for Lister and the Cat. This is interrupted when Ace's ship emerges from a dimensional disturbance, colliding with Starbug. Starbug crash-lands on a water planet, but Ace follows to help, meeting his counterpart aboard Starbug. The two soon develop a mutual dislike, but by contrast Ace and Lister quickly become good friends and, despite Ace's broken arm, the two brave the elements to fix the craft while Rimmer stays aboard and makes snide jokes about Ace.
Once back aboard Red Dwarf, while Ace is patching up an injury the Cat sustained during the crash, Lister and Rimmer discuss Ace. While Lister is in awe of Ace, Rimmer feels nothing but disgust for his counterpart, seeing Ace as an embodiment of all the "breaks" he believes he never received while growing up. When Rimmer asks how Lister would feel in his place, Lister brings up his own counterpart from Ace's dimension 'Spanners', a Space Corps Head Technician, married to Kochanski with twin boys (all Lister's own desires), and says he's happy for him: 'Whatever he got that I didn't, he deserves it'. Lister tries to encourage Rimmer to be happy that another version of him was successful, but Rimmer refuses.
Ace later tells Lister he has decided to leave, finding unbearable the cowardly, bitter and self-obsessed man he could have been. Lister is surprised to learn that, contrary to Rimmer's belief that Ace got the "break," Ace was the one held back a year at school. While Rimmer was allowed to progress and spent the rest of his life making excuses, the humiliation of being kept down forced Ace to change and work harder. Ace bids Lister farewell, inspired at the number of universes that remain to be explored, but doubting that he will ever meet another Arnold Rimmer who is "more of a pain in the butt."
In the decades that followed Ace Rimmer searched countless realities and met thousands of Arnold Rimmers. However he never encountered an Arnold Rimmer as deeply sad and worthless as the one he'd met aboard Red Dwarf. His impossible search continues........
As revealed, the Ace Rimmer seen in Dimension Jump was killed in a crash in Dimension 165. The result was that another Rimmer became Ace. Eventually, millions were Ace Rimmer. The Ace Rimmer in this episode dies after his light bee is damaged by gunfire. At the end of this episode a gas giant is shown, whose Saturn-esque rings are composed entirely of coffins of various hologrammatic Ace Rimmers.
The idea behind this episode came as a result of Chris Barrie (who at the same time as filming this series was also playing Gordon Brittas, another character whose personality led to him being disliked by those around him, in The Brittas Empire) asking Rob Grant and Doug Naylor for the chance to play someone heroic, suffering from what he described as 'git overload'.
The ending scene went through numerous changes. The initial plan was to have Rimmer drop a load of kippers on Ace, but it didn't work on comic or practical levels. Since it was decided that this didn't work well, the text scroll was added in the post production.
Several models for the episode were produced, including Ace's ship, the Io city dome and the Space Corps test space station. Filming of Ace's ship crashing into Starbug involved flying it through space on wires. The Starbug crash site was achieved using an ocean moon miniature construction.
For the first time in the series run, the end theme tune was changed. The director, Ed Bye, had requested a "naff organ sound" to end the episode with. In keeping with the Rimmer theme Howard Goodall performed an instrumental arrangement which played over the end credits.
The regular cast all get to play their alternative universe roles. Chris Barrie plays Ace Rimmer, Craig Charles is Spanners, Danny John-Jules is the Chaplain, Robert Llewellyn is Bongo and Hattie Hayridge got the chance to play more than just a computer head when she appeared as Mellie. Kalli Greenwood appeared as Mrs. Rimmer and Simon Gaffney appeared as Young Rimmer—reprising their roles from Polymorph (and Simon also appeared as young Rimmer in "Timeslides"), while Hetty Baynes voiced the Cockpit Computer.
The spaceship scene that introduces Ace Rimmer parodies the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun and even features similar heroic music. Jaws is mentioned by Lister as to where they're going in the middle of the night with fishing rods. After hearing Lister's nickname given by Ace, Rimmer references Skippy, "'Ace and Skipper?' You sound like a kids' TV series about a boy and his bush kangaroo!"
The episode plays heavily on the theory that for every decision made, the alternative is played in another reality, opening the possibilities to infinite universes where anything could be true. Lister sums this up by saying, somewhere, there may be a super freaky weird reality where Rimmer is the better looking of the two. All the alternative characters appear as 'better' than those in the current reality; Rimmer is heroic and sexually irresistible, Lister is a brilliant engineer married to Kristine Kochanski, The Cat is a morally respectable chaplain and Kryten is a high ranking space corps official, able to give orders rather than receive them.
The episode was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 14 March 1991 in the 9:00pm evening time slot, although it was initially intended to be shown as the series finale, the Gulf War hostilities at the time meant that the BBC showed the episode fifth and swapped the finale with "Meltdown".
Considered to be one of the best episodes by many, it also topped the Series IV list in a Red Dwarf magazine poll—with 7.3% of the overall votes. In the Series IV DVD, Chris Barrie names this as his favourite episode.
- Backwards - the fourth Red Dwarf novel which features the plot of "Dimension Jump" as well as other episodes.
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- Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
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- "Series VI Aftermath". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
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