When news about Red Dwarf XII first came through, the first image used to illustrate the series was from this episode: featuring a “Krytenised” crew.
The crew venture out in Starbug to recover Lister’s (Craig Charles’s) lost guitar, but as they retrieve it they themselves are kidnapped by a passing ship, the SS Vespasian. It’s crew are the Mechanoid Intergalatic Liberation Front (look for the acronym), who claim will set Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) free from his life of slavery in service to Lister, Rimmer (Chris Barrie) and Cat (Danny John-Jules).
While Kryten is busy attending what look akin to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, the other three are punished by having their brains downloaded into mechanoid bodies and being forced to carry out every task they gave to Kryten. They have to figure out a way to escape before their programming wipes out their personalities, and convince Kryten that what he has been experiencing has not been slavery.
The sight of rest of the cast been cast in Kryten-like bodies is the main highlight of the show. Reportedly Charles, Barrie and John-Jules have since given Llewellyn a lot more respect now that they have undergone the same arduous make-up procedures that Llewellyn has had to go through ever since he started working on the show back in the late 1980s.
There are also some nice sci-fi references in this episode too. Rimmer makes reference to Isaac Asimov’s first law of robotics when pleading with the mechanoids. Personally speaking, I’ve been wondering whether the title of the episode is a reference to the sci-fi novel trilogy Helliconia, set on a planet with a 3,000 year orbit, written by the recently deceased author Brian Aldiss.
This second episode in the series is an improvement on the first, and hopefully Series XII will continue to get better and better.
Red Dwarf XII is on Dave at 21.00 on Thursdays.