Later series broadened the show's horizons until at last its premise was so diluted as to be unrecognisable, but in the six episodes of the first series the comedy is witty and intimate, focusing on characters and not special effects. Slob Dave Lister (Craig Charles) is the last human alive after a radiation leak wipes out the crew of the vast mining vessel Red Dwarf (episode 1, "The End"). He bums around the spaceship with the perpetually uptight and annoyed hologram of his dead bunkmate, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie, the show's greatest comedy asset) and a creature evolved from a cat (dapper Danny John Jules). They are guided rather haphazardly by Holly, the worryingly thick ship's computer (lugubrious Norman Lovett).
On the DVD: Red Dwarf I arrives in a two-disc set, with all six episodes on the first disc accompanied by an excellent group commentary from Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John Jules and Norman Lovett. (There's also a bonus commentary on "The End" with the two writers and director Ed Bye.) The 4:3 picture is unimpressive, but sound is decent stereo. The second disc has an entertaining 25-minute documentary on the genesis of the series with contributions from the cast, writer Doug Naylor and producer Paul Jackson. Navigate the animated menus to find a gallery of extra features, including isolated music cues, deleted scenes, outtakes ("Smeg Ups"), a fun "Drunk" music montage, model effects shots, Web links, audiobook clips, the original BBC trailer and even the entire first episode in Japanese. --Mark Walker
The BBC was highly suspicious of anything with a 'science fiction' cachet - and couldn't accept that space travel, in the company of a dead man, could be funny. You wonder at this reluctance. Previous SF ventures - like "Dr.Who", "Blake's Seven", "Quatermas" - had become cult classics.
But the dominant television SF was American - clean-cut, moral, highly educated crews, travelling in clean, highly sophisticated space craft with the most advanced technology known to the imagination, wearing clean clothes (mini skirts and tight, tight uniforms), and pursuing a clean, glamorous lifestyle in which they made throw away allusions to science and scientific theory (and fantasy).
Red Dwarf is a mucky great space freighter ... the sort of thing you could imagine getting stuck behind just when you were planning on going into warp speed. It was crewed by misfits and rejects. No sane person on earth would employ these people, so they ended up as the crew of this hulk, enduring the boring routines and hazards of space. The best their technology could manage was a talking, existential toaster ... and other devices which made an art out of dysfunction (not least, the ship's computer). This is the working class in space - mucky slobs, boiler suits, not a Shakespearean Company accent in earshot ... and a real Scottish engineer who beamed beautifully.
The potency of Red Dwarf lies in its claustrophobia and the iconoclasm of its setting and theme.... Read more ›
The episodes are viewable either individually or as a combined unit, allowing good flexibilty, not unlike most other DVD releases. The introduction animation and title menu is particularly special, showing a great variety of objects and entrance aboard the ship.
However, the thing that truly separates this DVD from the rest is it's individual extras disk. Only Red Dwarf could come complete with an entire episode in Japanese! The outtakes and smeg-ups have been previously available in the main, but the superior quality of the DVD really brings Red Dwarf to the present.
An excellent DVD of the entire first series, and extras that are impressive to say the least. Entertainment at its finest in your own home from Grant Naylor and the BBC.
It's great to finally see this classic commedy on DVD - it's well overdue!!!
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