Tikka to Ride
|"Tikka to Ride"|
|Red Dwarf episode|
|Episode no.||Series 7
|Directed by||Ed Bye|
|Written by||Doug Naylor|
|Original air date||17 January 1997|
"Tikka To Ride" is the first episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series VII and the 37th in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 17 January 1997. Written by Doug Naylor and directed by Ed Bye, it was the first episode not to involve co-creator and writer Rob Grant.
Series VII was the first series to have extended episodes.
Lister makes a video explaining how the crew survived their battle with their future selves. If the future crew had killed their former selves, they would have eliminated their own existence, and therefore not have been able to destroy themselves. (See temporal paradox.) Therefore, time has reset to a point before the crew picked up time drive. Lister's explanation is too convoluted for the video camera to handle and it explodes. Kryten dismisses the whole incident as "garbled" and more "boring than an in-flight magazine produced by Air Belgium."
Unfortunately disaster has struck - Starbug is still damaged from the battle and as a consequence all the Indian food supplies have been destroyed... not even a single papadum survived. Lister proposes that the crew obtain the time drive again and go back in time to an Indian take-away and order 500 curries (even though Out of Time established that travel to other places (such as Earth) would also require a star drive). Rimmer, Cat and Kryten are against the idea and oppose going back in time, having seen the kind of people they could possibly become. Lister argues that they can use a time drive and avoid that consequence if they don't abuse it like their future selves did; however he finds himself outnumbered and seemingly concedes defeat. However, Lister swaps Kryten's head for one of his spare heads and removes the guilt chip from it, having the now guiltless Kryten reassure the crew that it will be okay. The next morning, Rimmer and Cat are confused when Kryten serves them high-calorie breakfasts, starts smoking and using phrases like "you bet your ass". However, when Kryten assures them it'll be ok to pick up the time drive the two assent and board the ship containing it, intending to go back to the 21st Century to one of Lister's favourite curry houses to pick up a large order.
Their time travel calculations are a little off and they find themselves in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963. They appear at the Texas School Book Depository just as Lee Harvey Oswald is firing at U.S. President John F. Kennedy. They inadvertently knock him out the window to his death below, thereby preventing Kennedy's assassination, though the President was wounded in the throat. FBI agents arrive and attempt to arrest the crew for the murder of Oswald believing that Oswald stopped the crew from killing the president. However, the crew escapes by using the time travel device, which sends them three years forward to 1966.
The crew find Dallas deserted. Wandering the streets, they find a man who has been trampled to death, indicating people left in a hurry. Reading a nearby newspaper, Kryten finds out what has happened...
|“||President Kennedy was impeached in 1964 for sharing a mistress with Mafia boss, Sam Giancana. It was the biggest scandal in American history. Kennedy was sentenced to three years in an open prison in July, '65. J. Edgar Hoover became president; he was forced to run by the mob, who had pictures of him at a transvestite orgy...Soon after his election, the USSR were allowed to install a nuclear base in Cuba in return for Mafia cocaine trafficking between Cuba and the States. With a Soviet nuclear base 30 miles from the US mainland, people fled from all the major cities.||”|
The crew attempt to correct the situation by returning to the day of the shooting and driving Oswald to a higher floor in the building, but this plan still fails to lead to Kennedy's death; by sending Oswald up another floor, they made the shot's trajectory so steep that Kennedy was merely wounded. Lister suggests getting a second gunman to shoot from behind a nearby grassy knoll. With none of the crew willing to shoot the President themselves, Lister travels to Idlewild Airport in 1965 and persuades a post-impeachment Kennedy to travel back to 1963, become a "second gunman" on the grassy knoll, and shoot himself to restore his place in history. The plan works: Kennedy shoots his past self and the timeline is restored. Kennedy grimly thanks the gang for the chance to restore himself to his proper place in history, and fades away as a result of the resetting timeline. Lister, too late, realises he forgot to ask Kennedy for the name of a good Indian take-away. Having seen that Lister has learned absolutely nothing from the experience, the other members of the crew give him a well-deserved beating in return for all he's put them through.
Extended Edition/Alternate Ending
Shown as an option on the Series 7 DVD, the Extended Edition of Tikka To Ride continues after Cat, Rimmer and Kryten take out their frustrations on Lister. After managing to correctly use the time drive and steal the Indian food supplies from Starbug before the events of the episode began (thus showing an example of a predestination paradox and allowing Lister to re-stock on curry, papadums and lager), the crew end up storing the food in one of Starbug's cargo holds (ostensibly the same cargo hold it was stolen from in the first place - B-deck). With Lister enjoying a celebratory curry, Rimmer drops a rhetorical thought: "I must've passed this lever a thousand times. Wonder what it's for?" After leaving with Kryten in tow, it doesn't take long for Lister to give into the curiosity planted by Rimmer and pull the lever. The lever, in fact, activates the separation sequence for Starbug, jettisoning the rear section of the ship into space while allowing the front half to fly away; an ace Rimmer had "had up his sleeve for months".
Even though the previous series had ended on a cliffhanger, fans had been forced to wait three years for the resolution. This was due to a number of factors, which included Craig Charles being wrongly imprisoned on charges of rape, Chris Barrie making no secret of his desire to leave the show, and most notably Rob Grant deciding to leave the series, ending his and Doug Naylor's long-standing writing partnership. Naylor was left with the choice of either ending or continuing the series. Although tempted to end it, he later agreed to write two more eight-episode series of the show, as this would allow the episode count to reach 52 and therefore be eligible for syndication.
"Tikka To Ride" ushered in new production values. The cinematic quality and filming of the new episodes meant that the studio audience was no longer viable (however the show was shown to an audience at a later date and their laughter was added). Also the special effects were increasing every series and the majority of the episodes were pre-recorded. One of Naylor's desires for a seventh series was the prospect of international syndication and a movie. This vision was helped with the return of Ed Bye to the director's chair, having previously left due to a scheduling clash with directing his wife Ruby Wax's new TV show at the time. He agreed to return to helm the seventh series, his first Red Dwarf episode since Series IV's "Meltdown".
The arrival of the seventh series was also promoted by the show making its first appearance of the front cover of the Radio Times.
Guest stars included Michael J Shannon who played John F. Kennedy, Toby Aspin as Lee Harvey Oswald, Peter Gaitens as FBI Agent and Robert Ashe as Cop.
Cultural and historical references
The title of this episode is a piece of word-play based on the name of the song "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles, in accordance with the theme of curry on which the storyline focuses, tikka being an Indian spice marinade.
When on the Grassy Knoll, Lister, Rimmer and Cat are dressed up as tramps, an outfit which the normally vain and shallow Cat would not be seen dead in: "Superficial is my middle name". This was based on the Three tramps, men that are reported to have been found in a boxcar behind the Grassy Knoll when the police searched it after the shooting, but were later released. Conspiracy theorists have assumed that they were part of the assassination plot.
The concept of the crew travelling backwards in time and accidentally saving someone's life, leading to a change for the worse in history, was also used in the Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever. In each case the person saved was actually an advocate of peace; however, there were few other similarities between the episodes.
In the commentary for the Series III episode "Timeslides" when talking about Kryten's shouting "Duck!" at the Grassy Knoll line, they note how their characters actually did something similar later on.
At the start of the episode, Lister explains that the crew survived the previous cliffhanger because of a temporal paradox, which made it impossible for them to be killed by their future selves. However, later in the same episode, Kennedy is able to kill his younger self without creating the same paradox. There is no explanation of why there is one rule for the crew of Starbug and another for Kennedy. Similarly, It is explained that by preventing the initial assassination, Russia wins the space race (this is why starbug disappears). This means the JMC never exists and the time drive would never have been found in the first place.
In the previous episode it was made clear that the time drive was only a time drive and not a space and time drive, so the crew could travel forward or backward in time but were still stuck in deep space. It was not explained in the episode how the time drive can suddenly transport them through space, or why, given that they could travel to 1963 Earth, they did not simply travel back to 22nd century Earth as per their original plan.
"Tikka to Ride" has generally been well received by critics. DVDActive called it "a promising start to the series" and noted that it was "beautifully shot, with a movie-style score". DVD Verdict stated "what other sitcom, sci-fi or otherwise, would take on the Kennedy Assassination and an alternative future for the United States had the beloved President not been felled by a rain of bullets?" and concluded that the episode "was majestic". Sci-Fi Online noted that "Tikka to Ride morphs into a surprisingly serious time paradox" but felt that the final plot twist was "a largely pointless contrivance." BellaOnline called the episode "pure silliness, and I mean of the kind that makes Red Dwarf great."
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- Interview: Ed Bye, Red Dwarf smegazine, issue 12, January 1993, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
- Back to Reality, Red Dwarf Series V, episode 6, March 1992
- Posner, Gerald (1993). Case Closed. Warner Books.
- "Red Dwarf VII (UK - DVD R2)". www.dvdactive.com. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
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