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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smeggin' brutal, 29 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Red Dwarf - Series 1-8 [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
The Jupiter Mining Corporation ship "The Red Dwarf" has been drifting in space for 3 million years. It's only inhabitants are Dave Lister, the last remaining human in the universe; Arnold Rimmer, a hologram of his dead bunkmate, a creature that evolved from Dave's pet cat; Kryten, a Series 4000 service mechanoid and Holly, the ship's semi-senile computer.

BBC2's sci-fi comedy first aired in 1988 and has produced some ten series, the most recent of which ran on Dave in 2012. The series is distinguished by it's laddish humour, its almost constant leading cast over it's (so-far) 24 year run and its cheap and cheerful production style. It started off as a somewhat disregarded denizen of BBC2, quickly gained a cult following then sold out to the man and went mainstream, went into suspended animation, returned, jumped the shark, got remastered, went back into stasis and was subsequently revived on a different channel (Dave). Bit of a rollercoaster ride, really.

The format of the show has remained more or less constant as a sitcom revolving around the four main characters (played by Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John Jules and Robert Llewellyn, with Norman Lovett and Hattie Haydridge both playing Holly) as they bounce off the Red Dwarf's walls and each other, with frequent encounters with aliens, Genetically Engineered Lifeforms (GELFs), rogue simulants, androids of one sort or another and, not infrequently, alternative versions of themselves (the heroic "Ace" Rimmer and the Cat's appalingly uncool alter ego, Duane Dibley being two stand-out examples). The plots are often based around or make sly reference to) well-known movies such as Cassablanca, Alien, Pride and Prejudice, Blade Runner and Robocop. The "science" which drives many of the stories is intentionally laughable drivel and the sets and SFX are, as already mentoned, cheap and cheerful.

This is classic British humour (Men Behaving Badly owes the Dwarfers a fair debt of thanks) untaxing and unsophisticated on the surface but with an undercurrent of complexity, poking fun at lad culture and authority figures with equal abandon. Noel Coward would sneer, but I suspect he would be secretly taking notes.

Series I starts well. Despite being (at the time) a new production, there is nothing tentative about it, the cast seem comfortable in their roles and the storylines are fresh and fun (note, however, that Kryten doesn't join the cast on a permanent basis until SIII). As the cycle progresses through the first few series there is, of course, some "bedding down" and the humour, the format and the characters all develop and mature somewhat, but it is a question of degree. Despite a very few missfires, the SI to SVI will not disappoint (look out for Bodyswap, Backwards and Back to Reality). SVII and SVIII are less well regarded by fans for various reasons; principally the relationship between the two writers, Rob Grant & Doug Naylor, was dissolved at this point and the show's format changed. The character dynamic was badly upset by the introduction of a new permanent character (Chloe Annett as Lister's long-time love interest, Christine Kochanski is a largely unfunny gooseberry) the partial loss of Barrie's Rimmer, the sudden appearance of a much larger supporting cast (in SVIII) and an increasingly confused and over-involved story arc. While SVII is generally acceptable, SVIII is largely awful and worth a miss. No matter - despite these problems, there are many long hours of laughs to be had from this giant of a box-set.

This DVD Box set presents, as advertised, "nothing but the shows" with no extras. It is ONLY the BBC series, i.e. sI-VIII, and in their un-remastered format at that. Indeed it is simply a reboxing, with original packaging, of the two, 4-series box-sets.

As far as the screen-quality is concerned, despite this being the original unremastered format, SI actually looks better than I had expected or remembered. The remastering process may have added some value, but a good deal less than you would have thought and I doubt that you're missing much if anything buying the series in this original format.

Series Listing

Series I (1988)
1 - The End
2 - Future Echoes
3 - Balance of Power
4 - Waiting for God
5 - Confidence and Paranoia
6 - Me2

Series II (1988)
7 - Kryten
8 - Better Than Life
9 - Thanks for the Memory
10 - Stasis Leak
11 - Queeg
12 - Parallel Universe

Red Dwarf III (1989)
13 - Backwards
14 - Marooned
15 - Polymorph
16 - Bodyswap
17 - Timeslides
18 - The Last Day

Red Dwarf IV (1991)
19 - Camille
20 - DNA
21 - Justice
22 - White Hole
23 - Dimension Jump
24 - Meltdown

Red Dwarf V (1992)
25 - Holoship
26 - The Inquisitor
27 - Terrorform
28 - Quarantine
29 - Demons and Angels
30 - Back to Reality

Red Dwarf VI (1993)
31 - Psirens
32 - Legion
33 - Gunmen of the Apocalypse
34 - Emohawk: Polymorph II
35 - Rimmerworld
36 - Out of Time

Red Dwarf VII (1997)
37 - Tikka to Ride
38 - Stoke Me a Clipper
39 - Ouroboros
40 - Duct Soup
41 - Blue
42 - Beyond a Joke
43 - Epideme
44 - Nanarchy

Red Dwarf VIII (1999)
45 - Back in the Red: Part I
46 - Back in the Red: Part II
47 - Back in the Red: Part III
48 - Cassandra
49 - Krytie TV
50 - Pete: Part I
51 - Pete: Part II
52 - Only the Good...

Red Dwarf IX Back To Earth and Red Dwarf X are NOT included in this box set.

Rimmer: Holly, as the Esperantinos would say, "Bonvolu alsendi la pordiston, laushajne estas rano en mia bideo." I think we all know what that means.
Holly: Yeah, it means, "Could you send for the hall porter? There appears to be a frog in my bidet."
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jun 2013 10:23:05 BDT
S. Hughes says:
Finally, a useful review of the box. Thank you!
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