In Praise of Arnold Judas Rimmer from Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf - Rimmer
It’s Red Dwarf, man.

Being nerds, we’ve been big fans of BBC hit comedy Red Dwarf since the late 1980s. The misadventures of Lister, Rimmer, Kryten, Cat, and Holly are the stuff of legend, with some of the wittiest and well-observed characterisation mixed with revolutionary and groundbreaking science fiction ideas.

On it, Arnold Judas Rimmer (played magnificently by the multi-talented Chris Barrie) is something of a hate figure. He’s referred to as a “smeg head” and even the android Kryten (programmed to serve all humans) loathes him. But we absolutely love him! He’s smarmy, narcissistic, and cowardly for sure, but his natural wit and insecurity issues always made him a winner with us, so we’re here to praise him as the legend he is.

Arnold Judas Rimmer

Red Dwarf features Lister, who is the last human being alive. He’s on a mining ship deep in space in the aftermath of a catastrophic radiation leak – after three million years locked in stasis, he emerges to find the crew dead and only the ship’s senile computer for company.

He’s joined by the hologram Rimmer (a computer generated version of Lister’s much-hated, now dead roommate) and the Cat, who has evolved into a cat/human hybrid from the cat Lister stowed onto the ship three million years earlier.

As a person, due to his domineering family and youngest brother status, he’s been left paranoid, delusional, insecure, and uptight, often displaying a lack of understanding of people and himself. He is, however, intelligent, but his neurosis ensures he’s destined to be a lowly vending machine repairman.

Arnold Rimmer

This highlights a fascinating element of his character. He’s smart enough to pass the engineers exam which he believes will lead to him becoming an officer and gentleman (thereby accruing wealth, power, and women), but due to his issues, immaturity, and preoccupation with winding up Lister, he doesn’t revise properly.

Instead, he makes a huge regime about how he will revise, which takes up so much time he subsequently can’t study anything. This leads him to scrawl out notes on his arms, although he ultimately panics in his exams and passes out.

As the series progresses, he bonds more with his crew members but doesn’t hold back with his scathing opinions. Now, we like oddballs here at Professional Moron. Endearing oddballs, anyway, who can support their eccentricities with personable characteristics. For us, Rimmer manages this with aplomb.

All Hail, Arnold Rimmer!

We must say then, all hail to Arnold Rimmer! For us, it’s his wit which wins the day. Whilst being self-obsessed and plagued with other neuroses, he amply displays fantastic spontaneous wit throughout the shows numerous series. Whether it’s a scathing putdown, observation, or deduction, it hints at a high intelligence he seems to be oblivious of.

Red Dwarf, by sheer coincidence after we thought of this piece, is returning with two new series. The first one airs in late September 2016 after a four year gap since the last. The series won’t likely hit the highs it had in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but the last one was surprisingly rather good. And with these much-loved characters, we’ll certainly be delighted to have the boys from the Dwarf back. Innit.

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