Quarantine (Red Dwarf)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Red Dwarf episode
Quarantine (Red Dwarf).jpg
Rimmer contracts a holo-virus and, with the help of Mr Flibble, turns against the crew
Episode no.Series 5
Episode 4
Directed byGrant Naylor
Written byRob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date12 March 1992
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
Next →
"Demons and Angels"
List of Red Dwarf episodes

"Quarantine" is the fourth episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series V[1] and the twenty eighth in the series run.[2] It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 12 March 1992.[3] The episode, fifth to be filmed,[4] was the first one to be solely directed by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor.[5] The episode has Rimmer contracting a holo-virus and turning against the rest of the crew.


Red Dwarf receives a distress signal from the hologram Dr. Hildegarde Lanstrom. The crew takes Starbug to visit the Viral Research Centre, where Rimmer is requested by Kryten to return to Red Dwarf in an escape pod due to Lanstrom being a hologram (since Holly can only generate one). Naturally Rimmer is put out at this, especially when Kryten pulls a Space Corps Directive on him. Complaining that Kryten only pulls them on him, Rimmer is given a copy of the Space Corps Directive Manual to read on his trip back. Soon, the others arrive at Lanstrom's lab and activate her; however, she proves to have contracted a holo-virus that causes her to become homicidally insane and to have Psionic powers such as hex vision, but that shortens her life span to a handful of minutes. She gives chase, and speaks to Rimmer on the radio, causing him to decide to head back to Red Dwarf anyway. Lister, Kryten and the Cat decide to give Lanstrom the run-around, as the holo-virus will soon kill her. However Lanstrom corners them and is about to finish them off when, just in time, the virus takes its toll and Lanstrom disappears.

The three head back to Red Dwarf, taking the time on the return trip to go through Lanstroms notes. They discover Lanstrom had been working on a theory that viruses can be positive as well as negative, and that she had successfully isolated several positive viruses, including "Intuition", "Sexual Magnetism" and the "Luck Virus", which grants whomever contracts it extreme good luck for a brief time until the natural body defenses combat it and it wears off. Lister takes the chance to test the luck virus, which gives him incredible luck for a few minutes until it wears off.

Returning to the ship, they discover Rimmer has full control of the ship and has had Starbug is redirected to Bay 47, which Lister recognises as the quarantine bay. Having decided to use the Space Corps Directives against the others, he quotes a rule that gets the others thrown in isolation for three months. There, nothing gets in and nothing gets out, not even a microbe. The only things the internees have to entertain them are a chess set with 31 missing pieces, a knitting magazine, crossword books with nearly all the crosswords completed, music tailored to Rimmer's own highly unpopular taste, and a video entitled Wallpapering, Painting and Stippling - a DIY Guide. To make things even more hellish, Rimmer gives them only one bunk between them (due to Lister being the only registered crewmember). Predictably, Lister, Kryten, and the Cat all soon start getting on each other's nerves - much to Rimmer's delight.

After 5 days, they realise they can challenge Rimmer to re-test them and let them out. However, it soon emerges that Rimmer has the holo-virus, having contracted it when he spoke to Lanstrom over the radio. Eventually he appears to the crew wearing a red-and-white checked gingham dress and army boots, teaming up with a glove puppet, named Mr. Flibble, and sentencing his "naughty" shipmates to two hours of W.O.O. (With Out Oxygen), saying "That'll teach you to be breadbaskets." Things look pretty bad, but by using a massive dose of the luck virus, Lister is able to guess the door code to get them out of quarantine. Now on the run from Rimmer, Kryten has a plan to purge the holo-virus from his system. Thanks to the luck virus, all the equipment that's needed just happens to be lying at their feet. Just in the nick of time, Kryten activates the purge and Rimmer is cured. After being informed that Rimmer will be fine, Lister takes it as a sign the luck virus has worn off.

The episode ends with Rimmer, back to normal, in quarantine. Lister, Kryten and Cat appear to him wearing checked gingham dresses, suggesting that they intend to make his stay every bit as maddening as theirs.


Due to Juliet May leaving as director, the remaining episodes were directed by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Quarantine, which was fifth to be filmed in the series,[4] was the first one to be solely directed by the co-creators.[5] Although supposed to be a bottle episode with simple 'dialogue' for the series, Grant and Naylor found it hard going.[5] The main scene of the Cat, Lister and Kryten arguing in the quarantine bay took a grand total of 57 minutes to record, the cast either breaking up with laughter or else having trouble with dialogue that had only recently been delivered. The increasing frustration did, however, add to the effectiveness of the scene[6]

The original idea was to have each of the crew infected with Psi-powers, but this was later changed to the positive viruses story. Time constraints, coupled with the fact that it was pitched as the cheap show, meant that the script wasn't developed as well as Grant and Naylor had hoped. It was the cheap show so that the others were affordable.[5]

Maggie Steed agreed to wear a prosthetic face mask to appear as the dying hologramatic Dr Lanstrom.[7]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Dr Hildegarde Lanstrom references Schopenhauer's "Life without pain has no meaning" quote.


The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 12 March 1992 in the 9:00pm evening time slot,[3] and was considered as one of the better episodes from the series, just behind "Back to Reality".[8] Viewers particularly enjoyed Rimmer's descent into insanity, the character of Mr. Flibble becoming a fan favourite. The episode has been described as one which "epitomizes the blend of sci-fi and comedy that made the show such a hit."[9]


  1. ^ "British Sitcom Guide - Red Dwarf - Series 5". www.sitcom.co.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  2. ^ "TV.com - Quarantine summary". www.tv.com. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  3. ^ a b "BBC - Programme Catalogue - RED DWARF V - QUARANTINE". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  4. ^ a b Series V Preview, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 1, March 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, issn 0965-5603
  5. ^ a b c d Grant and Naylor Look Back, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 11, January 1993, Fleetway Editions Ltd, issn 0965-5603
  6. ^ "Red Dwarf Series V Production". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  7. ^ "Quarantine cast and crew". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  8. ^ Red Dwarf Smegazine: Survey Results, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  9. ^ Dee Amy-Chinn "Red Dwarf", in David Lavery (ed.), (2010), The Essential Cult Tv Reader, page 212. University Press of Kentucky

External links[edit]