Villordsutch reviews Red Dwarf XII – M-Corp…
They say “time flies when you’re having fun” and here we are – rather shockingly – at the penultimate episode of Red Dwarf XII. This weeks episode “M-Corp” sees Doug Naylor (again both writer & director) take such a subtle swipe at capitalism you may just miss it. I am of course typing this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.
It’s a day of celebrations. Firstly Lister’s birthday where we find him firmly above the forties, then for Rimmer as Lister promptly has a heart attack, though we quickly discover Lister didn’t suffer a heart attack thanks to a probe dropped into his body; it was actually a bad case of indigestion. Then the good news rolls in for all of the crew, as they are informed that a major corporation called M-Corp bought out JMC – along with Planet Earth – back in the 26th Century. The crew would have discovered this takeover years back, but a cat needs to look good and heated curling tongues need to be plugged in.
With the M-Corp updates being installed numerous branded products begin to appear across the ship. Things look rosy for the crew until Dave notices he can no longer see the JMC Leopard Lager in the fridge, though Cat can and demonstrates this by spraying a tin all over Lister’s face.
Rapidly everything that isn’t an M-Corp product begins to vanish in front of him – these eventually include Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat. With Dave now alone in Red Dwarf he spends the days wandering the corridors, until he steps into the M-Corp “Pay-Per-Life” created world with the Virtual Assistant Aniter (Helen George) on hand to sell him any product he can desire. Currency is no issue as his life and subservience to M-Corp will do just fine.
Doug Naylor has shown across the past few decades that he enjoys his sci-fi and M-Corp highlights his love quite well. This latest slice of Red Dwarf takes not only numerous swipes at the corporate behemoths that occupy our daily lives, but also shows rapidly evolving tech isolating certain groups of our society. Watching an older Dave Lister attempting to get to grips with new technology, surely echoes to numerous others who have assisted older relatives with new phones, laptops or tablets — “I just wanna switch this perception filter off so I can see the guys again?”. Dragged through hell and back, alone and unsure, with faces of tech bods thrown at him, claiming to be his friend. You know he was minutes away from phoning Jim or Bexley (for the 27th time) asking them to set up his router because his printer wasn’t working.
Though heavy on the science-fiction, Doug doesn’t leave the humour out of this episode. Mainly this falls to the rest of the chaps to keep it running as poor Dave is punished. There are some excellent moments; two that clearly ring-out are Cat stealing Lister’s food when he appears to drop dead and Rimmer doing an impression of Lister to get the Probe to give up the last man alive’s date of death.
There are a couple of bugbears lodged in this week’s episode for myself, though one could appear as nitpicking. The main one being when the M-Corp software uploaded numerous products appeared across the ship. I know this is a Sci-Fi show involving a Scouser, Hologram, Evolved Cat and Mechanoid – all lost for millions of years on a mining ship, but for some reason I couldn’t accept the fact that all of these products could just appear! The second point is a de-aged Lister is going to be updated via the means of CCTV logs. Yes, well… though it was amusing to see the opening scene of the very first Red Dwarf episode re-enacted.
M-Corp was another slice of enjoyable Red Dwarf. Granted not as funny as last week’s episode Mechocracy, however if you appreciate pulp sci-fi with a nice dose of humour you can’t go wrong with this episode.
Rating – 7/10