Thirty-two years after Red Dwarf premiered on BBC Two, the show is paying off a joke made in the pilot. At least that seems to be the plan in the trailer for a new feature-length special.
Red Dwarf is kind of the prototype for shows like Futurama and Avenue 5: A sometimes dark, sometimes super slapstick comedy about loneliness, smegheads, and occasionally the inhumanity of capitalism. In the pilot, Dave Lister, a grubby slob on a mining ship in deep space, is put into stasis for smuggling a cat onboard. The pregnant cat hides in the cargo hold and the two are the only survivors when a radiator leak vaporizes the rest of the crew.
Three million years later Lister awakens as the last human in the universe and goes on a quest…to honestly just have a nice time and maybe find some good Indian food. He’s joined by a hologram of his insufferable roommate, Rimmer; the ship’s computer, Holly; and a mad robot, Kryten.
His cat, meanwhile, has spawned a new race that evolved into something resembling humans. One member of the new race, Cat, joins Lister on his adventures. Cat looks human but, because he’s a cat, also has incredible fashion sense, a tendency to ignore others and nap, and a profound love of fish.
We never really learn much more about Cat or his culture, apart from a few one-off jokes. The rest of the cats left in arks before Lister came out of stasis. The new feature-length special appears to finally bring them back, as one cat hunts the crew down and Lister questions if he’s a god to the race.
And look. This makes sense. When I watched the trailer I honestly thought the joke about Lister being a god to the cats had already been made—more than 30 years ago. It is actually kind of astounding it hasn’t been made until now.
The new special will air on the British channel Dave (no relation!) April 9. There’s no word when it will arrive in the U.S., but previous seasons have aired on PBS pretty consistently.