Gunmen of the Apocalypse

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"Gunmen of the Apocalypse"
Red Dwarf episode
Gunmen of the Apocalypse (Red Dwarf).jpg
Episode no.Series 6
Episode 3
Directed byAndy de Emmony
Written byRob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date21 October 1993
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Red Dwarf episodes

"Gunmen of the Apocalypse" is the third episode of series VI of the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. It was first broadcast on 21 October 1993, on BBC Two,[1] and went on to win an International Emmy Award.[2] The episode was written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Andy de Emmony.[3] In the episode, the regular cast find themselves in a computer simulation of a Wild West town, facing a gunfight against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Plot[edit]

Dave Lister takes delight in using a salvaged functioning artificial reality (AR) machine to have sex with various female game characters, but is forced by Kryten to suspend his latest endeavour. Reuniting with Cat and Arnold Rimmer, Lister learns that Starbug has strayed into a Rogue Simulant hunting zone. Despite the crew's best efforts, the ship is discovered by a battle-cruiser of xenophobic simulants that despise humanity, and promptly capture the crew after they fail to deceive them. To the surprise of the group, the simulants upgrade their systems, weapons and armour, intending to battle them for sport, but managed to get destroyed by the crew through pure luck. Before their destruction, the simulants' leader has Starbug infected with an "Armageddon Virus", locking the ship on a suicide course with a large volcanic moon. Kryten infects himself with the virus in order to begin creating a "dove" program to counter it, advising the others to watch his dreams.

The group find Kryten combating the virus within a Wild West dream, in which the mechanoid is a burnt-out sheriff in a town called Existence, while the virus operating as outlaw gang called the Apocalypse Boys, consisting of Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death. Seeing him losing, Lister, Rimmer and Cat opt to help him by entering his dream through the AR machine, utilising the abilities of characters from a Wild West-styled video game. Upon arriving and getting Kryten to recognise them, the trio distract the Apocalypse Boys to give him time to create his antidote, escaping the dream when the virus infects the AR machine. Kryten successfully completes the program, cleansing himself of the virus, before using it to free the ship from the virus' control. Starbug plunges into the moon, but resurfaces a few seconds later unscathed, with the crew giving an appropriate "Yeeha!" before flying off into the sunset.

Production[edit]

Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor,[3] the script was originally titled "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse",[4] and then had the working title of "High Midnight";[5] it was later changed to "Gunmen of the Apocalypse". The Western themes of the episode were written first, with the plot framing with the Simulants coming later, and described by Grant and Naylor as a "roast beef western" (parodying the phrase 'spaghetti western').

During filming of the episode, Janet Street-Porter was Head of Art & Culture at the BBC. When she received the ambitious script for "Gunmen..." she sent out a memo that all production for the episode be stopped immediately, because she believed it too difficult to film, too costly and too time-consuming. By the time the Red Dwarf crew received her memo, filming had already wrapped and even post-production already started.[6]

Denis Lill appears as the Simulant Captain and Death. The other 'Apocalypse Boys' were played by Dinny Powell, Robert Inch and Jeremy Peters playing Famine, War and Pestilence respectively. Jennifer Calvert plays the 'Artificial Reality' character in Lister's detective scenario. Steve Devereaux plays Jimmy. Liz Hickling appears as Simulant Lieutenant, Imogen Bain plays Lola and Stephen Marcus plays Bear Strangler McGee.[3]

It was filmed at Laredo a Wild West reenactment town in Kent[7].

Cultural references[edit]

The title is a reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The plot of a drunken sheriff defending his town against an incoming gang of cowboys parodies Rio Bravo. The artificial reality and wild west plot also shows similarities to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun", and to the Star Trek: The Next Generation's episode "A Fistful of Datas".

The episode also has references to the 1971 film Gumshoe, which the AR game of the same name is based on, and "Butch Accountant and the Yuppie Kid" references the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.[8]

The name of Rimmer's video game character likely references the 1907 poem The Shooting of Dan McGrew, in which the title character is repeatedly referred to as "Dangerous Dan McGrew". Lister's name, Philip, is likely a reference to fictional detective Philip Marlowe.

The game itself is named "Streets Of Laredo", after the famous cowboy ballad. Laredo is also the name of the Western town in Kent where this was filmed.

Howard Goodall's soundtrack for this episode is inspired by Ennio Morricone's distinctive style of music in the Dollars Trilogy.

Reception[edit]

The episode was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 21 October 1993 in the 9:00pm time slot.[1] The episode was watched by over 6 million viewers,[9] and it has been described as "the best episode of Series VI".[10] One reviewer described the episode as "an excuse to transport the characters to a Wild West landscape, with results just as contrived as those on the original Star Trek but considerably funnier."[11] The episode won an International Emmy award in 1994.[5]

See also[edit]

  • Backwards, the fourth Red Dwarf novel by Rob Grant, features plot elements from the episode[9] (although the novel's events culminate in Kryten and Rimmer dying).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "BBC - Programme Catalogue - RED DWARF VI - GUNMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  2. ^ "Red Dwarf VI released on DVD". 12 January 2005.
  3. ^ a b c "Gunmen of the Apocalypse cast and crew". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  4. ^ "News From The Dwarf", Red Dwarf Smegazine, volume 2 issue 1, May 1993, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  5. ^ a b "Red Dwarf Series VI Writing". Red Dwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  6. ^ "Red Dwarf Series VI Production". Red Dwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  7. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Red Dwarf, Gunmen of the Apocalypse (1993)".
  8. ^ "Gunmen of the Apocalypse movie connections". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Red Dwarf Series VI Aftermath". Red Dwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
  10. ^ "Series VI review at Sci-Fi Dimensions". www.scifidimensions.com. Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  11. ^ "SCI FI Weekly review - Red Dwarf Series VI DVD". www.scifi.com. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2008.

External links[edit]