A bare fist fighting expert, players could select Dan from a list of three characters, which also included Brett Riverboat and The Riviera Kid. When the Armageddon Virus attacked Starbug's Navicomp and Kryten's mind, the rest of the crew were able to project themselves into Kryten's western-style dreamscape. They each took on the skills and costume of a different gaming character. Arnold Rimmer chose Dan McGrew.
Dan's costume consisted of a brown suit, white shirt, black ribbon tie, Stetson hat and a long brown coat. Although he was shown to carry a revolver, Rimmer never used it. When attempting to talk tough, Rimmer affected an American accent.
The fact that his character was a hand to hand combat expert, coupled with the invulnerability of AR, made Rimmer much more courageous than normal. He was quite prepared to fight Bear Strangler McGee after he had used the man's hat as a vomit bowl, before Lister talked their way out. When the patrons of the Last Chance Saloon tried to stop the Dwarfers from leaving, Rimmer was forced to use McGrew's fighting skills to defend them all. He punched the first assailant twice, kicked the second in the stomach, backhanded the third and dodged a blow from a fourth before throwing him over the bar. He then pronounced the fight as being "Marvellous."
Later, as the Apocalypse Boys arrived to confront Kryten, McGrew joined the others on the street. When the virus spread to the AR console, he lost his fistfighting skills. Rimmer didn't realise this at first and challenged War to a one-on-one battle. Upon learning his skills had vanished, Rimmer first tried to talk his way out of the fight, then exit the program, while War hit him repeatedly over the head with a hitching post. He was saved when Lister managed to remove his AR helmet. ("Gunmen of the Apocalypse")
Behind the Scenes
The name Dan McGrew was almost certainly lifted from the narrative poem "The Shooting Of Dan McGrew" and subsequent films based upon it. During commentary for the episode, it was noted that Chris Barrie's accent for McGrew sounded almost exactly like his Spitting Image impression of Ronald Reagan, who had starred in numerous westerns and was known for reciting the aforementioned poem in public.
Barrie was very nervous of riding a horse during filming, since it had no engine. He was less than impressed when Craig Charles caused all the horses to stampede for fun while the actors were riding them.