The Boys from the Dwarf discover a derelict ship with a working time machine aboard. However, they soon meet their future selves from fifteen years hence, and learn they've become selfish, addicted to luxury, and friends with many of history's worst tyrants.
Things are grim aboard Starbug, as the crew have now lost all trace of Red Dwarf. Arnold Rimmer decides to conduct a "morale-meeting" and appoints himself "morale officer". However the morale-meeting turns out to be nothing more than an excuse for Rimmer to vent his feelings about how much he hates everyone. The rest of the crew discuss the bleak lives they're now leading, such as spending Christmas fighting the Pan-Dimensional Liquid Beast from the Mogadon Cluster.
The conversation is stopped when Starbug flies through a strange cloud and begins running into several "unreality pockets" that make them perceive things that are untrue. These include Lister being an android (causing Kryten to boss Lister around as a lesser machine, something he lives to regret), the ship turning invisible, the crew gaining animal heads and everyone forgetting Cat exists. Finally making their way through with their sanity intact due to a stay in stasis, they find a derelict ship and realize the unreality fields were put there to keep intruders away. The reason is the 28th-century ship's amazing cargo: a Time Drive, which can transport a ship through time itself, though on its own it can only move through time, and not space, so when the Dwarfers test it they're still in Deep Space in the year 1421.
When they return to the present they discover the Starbug of their future selves, whose time drive has malfunctioned and can no longer move back in time without data from the "present" crew's time drive. After much debate they decide that Kryten will meet them, since he can wipe his memory of the event and thus stop himself from being affected by the problems of knowing one's own future. Lister, Rimmer, and Cat are then locked in the scanning room. The future crew is anything but familiar: they're completely self-centred, using the time drive to enjoy every luxury imaginable and associating with such historical figures as the Borgias, the Hitlers and Louis the XVI. Future Cat has a "sofa sized butt", Future Kryten wears clothing along with false eyebrows and a toupee, Future Rimmer is older, moustached and obese, as his light bee has manifested the passage of time, and Rimmer's excesses over the past fifteen years. Future Lister is nothing but a brain in a jar of fluid after an unspecified "accident".
Since Kryten had accidentally but strongly implied to the others that Lister is dead in the future, the others spy on what's going on through a microscope hacked into a security camera. Lister and his companions see all, and they then blast their way into the Ops Room. "Present" Lister forces the future Dwarfers off the ship at bazookoid-point in disgust, but rather than give up the opulent lifestyle to which they've become accustomed the future selves threaten to destroy the "present" Starbug, even though such an act would end their existence also.
Even though the future Starbug is far more heavily armed, the "present" crew --even Rimmer-- choose to fight back with the laser cannons, rather than become their future selves. Although they get some good hits on the Future 'bug, Lister, Cat and Kryten are all killed as damage causes their consoles to explode. Hard-light hologram Rimmer survives the blasts, but the ship is about to fall apart. Rimmer grabs a bazookoid and runs through the crumbling ship until he reaches the Time Drive. Knowing that destroying it may be the only way to save the others and wipe out their future selves, he takes aim and fires.
At the same moment, another missile hits Starbug and destroys it in a massive explosion.
Available on the Series VI DVD
- Three cut clips as the crew cope with even more of the unreality pockets. These included an extended take of Cat shaking Lister when nobody can see him or remember him, and Lister says to the others to get their safety harnesses on due to turbulence. Kryten tells them to be calm, since anxiety can prolong the unreality. When the crew have animal heads, Rimmer panics, and Lister says "you've never had eleven pints of Dutch lager have you? This is a normal Saturday night for me."
- As Kryten puts Lister and Cat into stasis in the bunks, he then puts Starbug to autopilot through the unreality pockets. As Kryten prepares to enter stasis with Rimmer in Deep Sleep Unit 2, Rimmer tells Kryten, "If we don't make it, I just want you to know... I don't like you and I never have." Kryten replies, "Thank you sir, that confirms everything." The second bunk is then seen rising up out of view like the first, with icy smoke wisps beginning to seep out. The bunks are then later seen descending and the crew emerging.
- Right before the future Starbug shows up, Cat says that his nose hairs are "vibrating more than a nervous blancmange in an earthquake."
- Kryten discusses the danger of knowing one's future, suggesting that he alone should meet their future selves, since he can then erase his memory of it. Lister asks Kryten what he will do if he can't take the knowledge himself. Kryten says that he will auto-destruct happily knowing he has left the others a number of ready-made sprout lasagne meals to eat. Lister says that he wants to know what happens to himself and debates the merits of knowing one's future. The others says that it likely that he is still a worthless, direction-less space hobo two decades into the future. Cat and Rimmer agree with Kryten that knowing the future is dangerous and vote to go along with Kryten's idea.
- Superfluous time with the future Dwarfers. Lister's brain-in-a-jar says that it "nice to get out and about." Kryten turns around his future self and says "why couldn't you have let him die?"
- We see Lister's point of view as he observes Kryten and the future Dwarfers in the other room using the security camera. Lister sees the future Dwarfers as though through a periscope.
- More of Kryten defending Urine Recyc Wine to the future Dwarfers, who are used to the best of the best. Kryten then gets out some caviar, but future Rimmer complains that it isn't beluga caviar but sevruga, which he doesn't like. Future Rimmer says how dare Kryten fob them off with second best, whilst future Cat says that Kryten is insulting his palate with his poison.
- The future Dwarfers expand more on their disturbing social circle. This includes Hermann Goering, Vlad the Impaler, Catherine the Great, and Emperor Nero, as "the dudes who show you the best time." Brain-in-a-jar Lister justifies it by saying "who wants to go round Mahatma Gandhi's for an all-night rave?"
- The original episode ending - which had been leaked to the fans before broadcast - was replaced with a last-minute Starbug explosion and a teasing cliffhanger. The original ending included the bloodied corpses of Lister and Cat. Rimmer is actually destroying the Time Drive with the bazookoid, the force of which throws him back. The flaming, debris-strewn corridors begin to change around Rimmer, going back to their previous state, and Rimmer happily exclaims that he is a hero. The crew resurrected, they decide to celebrate being alive, having defeated their future selves (with Rimmer being uncharacteristically modest about his heroics), and Kryten notes that they have relocated the vapour trail of Red Dwarf and are only six days behind. Kryten brings out chilled margaritas, but it is actually Urine Recyc Wine, and it leaves them all with a foam mustache that they cannot remove.
- This would seem to contradict "Future Echoes" where the future can't be changed, then again in this episode there are two versions of Starbug and two versions of the same crew meeting in the same point in time and space, which is a paradox. That may have made it possible to alter the future as Rimmer was able to destroy the time drive, resulting in the events that follow in "Tikka to Ride".
- Future Rimmer's change in appearance would seem to imply that he reprogrammed his appearance as in "Rimmerworld" he was unchanged after six hundred years there. Though why he would is questionable, though maybe to fit in better with the aging Cat and previously Lister. The aging of actor Chris Barrie has also caused this point to be raised as a concern over his appearances in later series, especially Series X and the Back to Earth specials. Or simply the Hologram Simulation Suite calculates for holograms aging, and the light bee when out of range cannot.
- This episode was notable for a rushed production given the writing of the script. In fact prompters were installed in the Starbug cockpit set in order for the actors to read their lines, some of which dialogue was edited while the cameras were rolling.
- It is implied that catnip is a narcotic to Felis sapiens as Cat commented that going through multiple unreality bubbles is "worse than triple-strength catnip!"
- There is reference to a mysterious being in this episode, the Pan-Dimensional Liquid Beast from the Mogadon Cluster; it is said to have formerly attacked the Dwarfers, although this has not been seen in the television series.
- Rimmer shows that he can be resourceful and even heroic in destroying the Time Drive. This foreshadows the events of an episode in the next series, when he leaves Starbug on Wildfire to attempt to become Ace Rimmer. The later Rimmer, resurrected by the nanobots in Series VIII, is as weaselly and cowardly as the old Rimmer first was. Becoming a hologram again during the 1999 - 2009 Bridge, this Rimmer also shows his heroic quality in the Series X episode "The Beginning", where, after learning his true parentage from the holo-lamp, feels finally free of his father's disappointment in him. This enables him to come up with a plan to save the crew from a Simulant Death Ship.
- Kryten: We're still in deep space, sir, only now we're in deep space in the 15th century. Isn't it wonderful?
- Kryten: Herman Goering is a "bit dodgy"?
- Kryten: Mr. Rimmer?
Rimmer: Better dead than smeg!
Lister: Cheers! Cat?
Cat: Better dead than sofa-side butt.
Kryten: Better anything than that toupee!
- Rimmer: Kryten?! There may be a what? A way out of this? Is that what you were gonna say? ... Speak, Kryten! How can we change what's happening?!
- The title of the original script for this episode was "R.I.P. Dave Lister". This was then changed to "Present from the Future", and finally "Out of Time".
- This could have easily been the last episode ever of Red Dwarf. A new series was not aired until 1997, over three years later. This was despite the interest of the BBC in creating another series after the success of the previous few series. The hiatus was caused by the end of the Grant Naylor writing partnership and the Red Dwarf chaos that followed. New Red Dwarf was released during those years, however, in the form of Doug Naylor's and Rob Grant's conflicting sequels to the novel Better Than Life called Last Human and Backwards respectively.
- Despite introducing four new characters, they are all played by the main actors.
|Red Dwarf: Episode List|
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