Until series 8 I'd enjoyed every episode of Red Dwarf except Stoke Me A Clipper in series 7. However when seen again on the recent DVD after a long hiatus it's much better than I remember. So has time been good to series 8, enough to soften any initial prejudices? Yes with reservations is the succinct answer though it remains my least favourite series. It remains too bright and colourful with an excessive number of bodies contravening Space Corp Directive 1234567B. Nevertheless, and this is admittedly an unorthodox approach to viewing a DVD, if you listen to it rather than watch it you will develop a new found appreciation for the quality and strength of the comedy in the script. As a result thereafter your viewing pleasure is enhanced. I know it's a TV programme and this is a DVD and 50% or whatever percentage is visual but if you consider Red Dwarf's origins lie in a radio sketch show, Dave Hollins Space Cadet, and there are audio adaptations of the novels and a BBC world service radio series, it's a medium Dwarf has already proved itself successful in. After all this is sci-fi and duly requires imagination to appreciate it fully and what better way to imagine than to just listen and create your own visual interpretation. And don't just confine that experience to this series try it with the others in particular Meltdown from series 4. This episode has a low approval rating because of its visual appearance but as an audio episode it's brilliant.
It goes without saying Grant Naylor work extremely hard and with unbridled passion to ensure that the extras accompany each release are supreme and this will be no exception. In time this series will be more widely appreciated. I know I enjoy it more now than I ever did in 1999. However here and now it is the quality of the extras that will be the main attraction for this release. Overall 4 episodes provide a good standard of viewing pleasure with all 8 shining as an audio only experience. Buy it to complete your collection but also buy it because it's better than you may remember. I love Red Dwarf and it saddens me greatly after much soul searching I can only award this a three star rating. Having given series 7 a four star rating in a previous Amazon review, I would award series 1 the same and a full five stars to series 2 - 6 inclusive. Series 8 falls short of achieving their incredibly high standards so I can't honestly reward this release a higher status. Whatever comes next in the Red Dwarf saga be it the long awaited movie or six one off specials broadcast one a week over 6 weeks can only benefit from the hindsight afforded from this series.
Namely, the crew of Red Dwarf are back - recreated by the nanos. This means that Mac McDonald makes a very welcome return as Captain Hollister. Also, Holly (played by Norman Lovett) is back for the entire series after his brief return in Red Dwarf VII's 'Nanarchy.'
The bunk room setting returns for VIII, with many classic Lister/Rimmer conversations just like old times. However, more scope is now available for much more to happen with the entire crew back.
'Back In The Red' is a three-part episode that kicks off the series. However, this DVD release will allow you to watch the entire and xtended version of 'Back In The Red' (maybe the closest we will get to feature-length Dwarf if the film doesn't happen.) Not only this, but the two-parter 'Pete' is also viewable as an hour long episode here. Firm fan favourites Krytie TV and Cassandra also appear here.
Extras will include the usual high standard cast commentaries, documentary, featurette, easter eggs, deleted scenes, smeg ups and the like. In short, the usual superb quality and quantity that have come as part and parcel of the seven previous Dwarf DVD releases.
Being the eigth and (probably) final series of Red Dwarf, completists will already have this on their pre-order lists. If you are someone who does not, I urge you to do so. You may not quite get the adventurous voyages deep into space on Starbug that series 6 & 7 offered, but what I gaurantee you will get is a whole lot of laughs. After all, is that not what a comedy show should be for? Plus, where better to be than back on Red Dwarf itself!
A great series of a brilliant (and much missed) show.
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