- This article is about the Series XI opening episode. For the location/dimension after which the episode is named, see Twentica.
The Dwarfers find themselves trapped in Twentica, an alternative version of Earth under the influence of the Expanoids, which greatly resembles 1920s Prohibition-Era America. Only here, modern technology is prohibited, making the very existence of the hologram Arnold Rimmer and the mechanoid Kryten illegal.
The Dwarfers, including Lister and Cat, must find an alternate homeless and drunken version of Albert Einstein, infiltrate the tech-savvy underground, and try to bring down the authoritarian regime.
Whilst exploring previously unmapped Deep Space aboard Starbug, the boys from the Dwarf loot an abandoned Simulant attack ship, AS Thanatos. Looting the derelict, they find a mysterious glowing artifact, although entirely unaware of it's true purpose or significance, the gang simply use it to prop up the wonky pool table on the upper deck of the 'bug.
On the way back to Red Dwarf, the craft is intercepted by another Simulant ship; this one massive and crewed by Simulants who are very much alive. However, these Simulants are Expanoids, who unlike most Simulants would rather enslave humans than kill them outright. The spokesman of the Expanoids, 4 of 27, hails the 'bug and proposes a trade, whilst also revealing that the artifact the Dwarfers salvaged is the Casket of Cronus, and of great importance to the Expanoids. Lister asks why they want the Casket, and 4 of 27 tells him that it contains the spirit of one of his batch brothers, 23 of 27.
In exchange for the Casket of Cronus, the Expanoids will return a hostage - a certain whiney hologram named Rimmer, even though Rimmer is still on the 'bug. 4 of 27 reveals that he has a very scared Rimmer prisoner on his bridge, and Kryten deduces that it must be a Rimmer that they have taken from the future and brought back into the present. 4 of 27 says that he will not betray the Dwarfers since he is a "warrior and high born", nothing like that dishonorable "3 of 63". Lister then ejects the Casket of Cronus out to the Expanoid ship, and Rimmer is teleported onto the Expanoid ship and taken hostage, before his future self is momentarily beamed back.
During his time on the Expanoid ship, Rimmer learned that the Casket of Cronus was actually an amplifier they needed to plug into their temporal transporter to expand the beam - their ultimate plan to go back in time to change the present. Lister exclaims that they need to be stopped, and Starbug gives chase as the Expanoid ship speeds up to time jump, the former surfing on the slipstream of the latter.
Emerging from the Time Hole, Starbug finds itself in orbit around an S3 Planet. However, a form of electron wavelet - an electromagnetic pulse weapon - surrounds the planet and activates and fries everything aboard Starbug, shutting it down. The EMP also causes an overload of Kryten circuits and Rimmer's light bee, and the 'bug crashes into a desert on the planet, albeit structurally intact and with Lister and Cat unscathed.
Lister reboots using the auxiliary drives, bringing Rimmer back online. Lister then attaches jump leads to Kryten's nipple nuts, restarting him, and Lister tells Kryten to run up and down to recharge his dynamo. Kryten then deduces that they have crash landed in the Southwestern United States of America on Earth, although due to the curvature of space-time, the Expanoids likely landed some time previously, perhaps decades earlier. Lister suggests that they go and find the Casket of Cronus and attempt to undo any damage the Expanoids have done to the timeline, although the Expanoids surely know that the Dwarfers have already arrived.
The Dwarfers walk onto the city, passing by scenes of devastation and ruin in the countryside along the way, and arrive in the city at nighttime. They find the city populated, and a discarded jazz night leaflet reads the date as 1952; however the city appears to be halted in time. There appears to be little or no electric, the streets are lit by gas lamps, and the only vehicles are steam-powered. Kryten deduces that the Expanoids must have arrived in the 1920s, taking over society and halting all technological progress ever since, soon utilizing the apparent police state to enforce the tech ban.
The Dwarfers see signs saying that businesses have been shut down due to violation of the "Prohibition Act", although alcohol seems to be still widely available. Kryten deduces that the ban is not on alcohol, but technological and scientific progress. The point is driven home when the Dwarfers witness a group of police officers smashing up illegal "contraband" - bread toasters - and gunning down the men who were smuggling the toasters.
One of the smugglers hands Lister a hand-held device in his dying breaths, and pleads with him to give it to a woman named Harmony de Gauthier at the Lady Be Good Club; an underground speakeasy-type club to which he gives Lister the address to. With the Expanoids showing up at the scene of the gunfight, the Dwarfers disguise themselves in 1920s attire bartered from a nearby store. Lister, using knowledge gained from his childhood in Liverpool, hot-wires an old Ford Model T automobile for the gang to escape in and aid in their search for the hidden bar.
Arriving at the Lady Be Good Club, the Dwarfers attempt to gain entry, only to be repeatedly turned away by the bouncer at the door for being non-members. Rimmer makes a terrible attempt a being posh and British; Cat tries and refers to Lister as "Lucky Listerano", which coincidentally the bouncer recognizes as the code-name of the renowned British scientist "Uncle" Joseph Lister. Inside, the Dwarfers find the club filled with contraband scientific equipment, tended to by an illegal gathering of inventors, researchers, and theoretical physicists.
The gang find Harmony de Gauthier to give her the handheld device, which she reveals to be one half of an EMP capacitor, to which she has the other half hidden in her burlesque underwear. The capacitor, created by the Resistance Bunnies, is capable of redirecting the the electron wavelet to destroy its creators, the Expanoids. However, Harmony has no idea how the two halves of the device go together, and all the really great professors - such as Einstein, Hubble and Edison - are all either dead or living incognito on the streets. When the gang hear that Einstein is a babbling drunk who pushes a pram filled with string around the park on Hope Street, the Dwarfers decide to go and retrieve him.
However, when they get back to the Lady Be Good, the gang are dismayed when Harmony says that she doesn't recognize "Einstein", and the man they have retrieved refers to himself as "Bob the Bum". As he tries to put the capacitor together - which he refers to as "potatoes" - the bouncer arrives to loudly announce that the club is about raided by police. The patrons of the bar hurry to hide their chalk boards and chemical flasks, whilst a real drinks bar is pulled down and a jazz player pipes up to give the appearance of a real bar.
The Dwarfers are dancing on stage when the police enter, although the police immediately seem through the ruse of the patrons, with the male officer identifying Harmony de Gauthier as one Professor Baldwin. A female officer asks what happened to Kryten's face, and he says that he went bobbing for apples in a cement mixer. Cat manages to convince them he is not a scientist by tap-dancing, but Lister smegs up by drinking a red liquid from an Erlenmeyer flask. As the police pull their guns, the Expanoids teleport into the bar and they order the police to stand down whilst they converse with the Dwarfers.
4 of 27, with the Casket of Cronus on a chain around his neck, explains that he was sent from a distant future where humans had themselves realised that they were not mature enough to handle advanced technology. The purpose of the Expanoids is to prevent that future from ever happening. As 4 of 27 prepares to shoot Lister himself, Lister buys some time by bringing up the fact that, during their first meeting, 4 of 27 had brought into question the honor and breeding of his lieutenant, 3 of 63. As the two Expanoids quarrel, "Einstein Bob" completes the capacitor and shoots the Expanoids with beams from it, shutting down their systems. The police flee as the Dwarfers grab the ray guns from the lifeless Expanoids.
Harmony de Gauthier a.k.a. Professor Baldwin prepares to link the EMP capacitor to a global transmitter, but Lister begs her not to since it would shut Kryten down too. Rimmer tells Harmony to go ahead with it, so that Lister can stay on Twentica with other humans, and Rimmer won't be trapped with him anymore in Deep Space. However, Rimmer soon changes his mind when Kryten points out this would shut down Rimmer's light bee too. Harmony then activates a countdown the capacitor and transmitter anyway, giving the Dwarfers fifteen minutes to get off planet, and Rimmer shouts "LEG IT!" as Kryten grabs the Casket of Cronus and they flee the club.
With Lister piloting at full throttle, Starbug manages to barely escape the orbit of the planet as it goes dark beneath them. Starbug goes back through the Time Hole to its own dimension and timeline, and arrives back on Red Dwarf three million years into the future. The episode concludes with Lister thoughtfully thinking aloud in the sleeping quarters on the lessons he has learned - that humans should be more cautious with technology and remember to maintain their humanity - all whilst Kryten gets him undressed and brushes his teeth in a very motherly manner.
As seen on the Series XI DVD:
- An significant extension to the dialogue in the opening scene of the episode, in which Rimmer warns the others of a massive, mysterious incoming vessel. Lister asks what it is, and Rimmer says that it is bound to be bad, since it always is. Lister asks him to have a little faith. Rimmer says that no unknown ship has ever tipped up and offered to take them on fun day out paint-balling, or even so much as a half day kayaking in East Suffolk. Kryten says that they may have a point, and that they should proceed with extreme caution since it could be a droid castration ship, hell bent on neutering Mr Lister. Cat says they probably wear necklaces made of old dried up testicles, with matching earrings that turn into long dangling ones when they cough. Rimmer then changes his tune, saying that they are probably self-appointed time marines from the future who journey though history hunting down those who have committed great crimes. Cat say that this must mean the guy who invented dungarees. Rimmer suggests that they will be after him due to some never-forgotten, insignificant slight he committed in his youth. Lister suggests that it would be more likely to be because of the accident in which Rimmer wiped out the crew of Red Dwarf.
- Craig Charles as Dave Lister
- Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
- Danny John-Jules as Cat
- Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
- Kevin Eldon as 4 of 27
- Alexis Dubus as 3 of 63
- Lucie Pohl as Harmony de Gauthier
- David Sterne as Einstein Bob
- Sam Douglas as Bouncer
- Rebecca Blackstone as Big Bang Beryl
- Kyle James as Nearly Dead Guy
- Suanne Braun as Cpt. Dorothy McCutcheon
- David Menkin as Lt. Clarence O'Neil
- In the previous episode, Arnold Rimmer apparently got over his parental hang-ups after learning of his true heritage, and even showed a competent, heroic streak when he afterwards came up with a successful plan to defeat the Simulant Generals. However, in this episode, Rimmer seems to back to his neurotic and cowardly self, with no mention of the events of the last episode. Rimmer does later mention those events further on in Series XI, such as to Snacky the robot during an impromptu psychotherapy session in the episode "Give and Take". Rimmer's battle plans against the Simulant Generals can also be seen next to his bunk throughout Series XI.
- Twentica begins in Starbug and then continues on Twentica; the Red Dwarf ship itself only appears in the final closing shots of the episode.
- The actress Rebecca Blackstone had a minor cameo appearance in this episode, as "Big Bang Beryl", one of the Resistance Bunnies in the Lady Be Good Club. Blackstone formerly portrayed a major villain, Pree, in the previous series of Red Dwarf.
- "Twentica" is the second episode of Red Dwarf to take place in a period-era of America. The first was "Tikka to Ride", the first episode of Series VII, in which were Dwarfers got mixed up in the assassination of JFK in Dallas, Texas, in 1963.
- It has been mentioned in numerous earlier episodes that Kryten can be "rebooted" through using "jump leads on his nipple nuts"; "Twentica" contains the first instance of this ever actually being depicted. Kryten is quite embarrassed by the whole incident.
- Rimmer shouts "Leg it!" in a manner similar to how Lister did when Lister escaped his marriage to his GELF bride in "Emohawk".
- Albert Einstein's cart of strings is reference to the fact his later works laid the basis for developments such as string theory, even though Einstein himself was always at the very least ambivalent and even somewhat hostile towards many aspects of quantum mechanics.
- "Twentica" has numerous connections/similarities/homages to Star Trek. These include:
- The Star Trek original series episode "A Piece of the Action", where Captain Kirk and crew arrive on a planet populated by 1920s-era gangsters. Parallels can also be drawn to the 1930s time travel story "The City on the Edge of Forever".
- The Expanoids are very similar to the Borg and attempt to take over Earth by going into the past, very similar to the film Star Trek: First Contact. Captain Picard also dressed up as a 1920s gangster in that film. Throughout the episode, Lister mentions how "cliche" the Expanoids are.
- Like earlier series of Red Dwarf, Series XI was filmed in front of a live studio audience. However, "Twentica" was the last episode to be shot of Series XI. It was chosen to be aired first since it does not concentrate on any single character. The final scene was actually shot as part of Series XII because of the desire of the cast and production to break for Christmas before the full episode had a chance to be filmed.
- Since Series XI and Series XII were filmed back to back, the special effects and models shots for both series were also done together. Mike Tucker was among the returning crew for the model shots. The filming of the 3D printed Starbug model in the "desert" of Twentica can be seen in a documentary on the Series XII DVD, the next series after this.
- "Kryten couldn't be more fried, if he was a mars bar living in Scotland!" - Lister, after the mechanoid is disabled by the EMP surrounding Twentica
- "I went bobbing for apples in a cement mixer." - Kryten explaining the appearance of his mechanoid head to Cpt. Dorothy McCutcheon
- 4 of 27: So, we meet again.
Lister: You really dont mind a hackneyed old cliche do you?
4 of 27: We are really not so different you and I.
Lister: Now you are taking the smeg.
- "Socky! Other Socky!" - Kryten gets Lister ready for bed
- "A New Model Army", Series XII DVD