– Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC (Bronze Swimming Certificate, Silver Swimming Certificate)
These days, TV re-run comfort food for me means Red Dwarf, the goofy British comedy serial about four misfit losers who fumble their way through a variety of spacy adventures. Lo-fi geekdom, gotta love it. Why? Well the show celebrates the below-average, the less-than-mediocre. Overcoming the odds was a product of genuine incompetence, idiocy and dumb luck. And so it meant so much more. Only by dint of their combined lameness did the four lads survive from one episode to the next, all the while putting the fun in dysfunctional. The bar of achievement was lowered for all of us, and then usually crept under. Plus, the dialogue was loaded such preposterous metaphors and put downs – a laugh track was necessary to sugarcoat them down to acceptable levels for prime-time TV.
The character of Rimmer in particular – an egotistical, neurotic and cowardly fussbudget – was especially admirable. He collected pictures of telephone poles. And so do I. So a few of my favourites, an ode to mediocrity and gangly Dwarf quips…
Are you saying I have a big butt? – Big? It’s like two badly parked Volkswagens!
I can make that guitar sing like a Yukon bear trapper on his annual trip to the brothel.
Careful, sir… it’s about as stable as an Italian taxi driver who’s gotten stuck behind two old priests in a Škoda.
Our chances of escape are about as remote as meeting an interesting hair dresser called Kylie.
Then by coincidence the other day I come across an article that suggests watching comedy re-runs can be likened to spending time with old friends – you feel safe in their presence, they lighten up your world, providing company and comfort at the end of a stressful day.
Go on, say it – isn’t it a bit pathetic to relate to four has-been TV misfits, as virtual friends? Yes, it is. But explain the grin on my face whenever I take a picture of a telephone pole… (And by the way, I do not practice Morris Dancing. Everyone has limits).