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Red Dwarf: Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD] (1988)
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Frequently bought together
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3.Balance of Power
4.Waiting for God
5.Confidence and Paranoia
DVD Special Features:
Disc 1--Cast commentary; Bonus writers' and director commentary on "The End"
Disc 2--Documentary: Launching Red Dwarf
Japanese episode: "The End"
Model effects shots
Isolated music cues
Talking book chapters
Original BBC trailer
Notoriously, and entirely appropriately, the original outline for Doug Naylor and Rob Grant's comedy SF series Red Dwarf was sketched on the back of a beer mat. When it finally appeared on our television screens in 1988 the show had clearly stayed true to its roots, mixing jokes about excessive curry consumption with affectionate parodies of classic SF. Indeed, one of the show's most endearing and enduring features is its obvious respect for the conventions of SF, even as it gleefully subverts them. The scenario owes something to Douglas Adams's satirical Hitch-Hiker's Guide, something to The Odd Couple and a lot more to the slacker SF of John Carpenter's Dark Star. Behind the crew's constant bickering there lurks an impending sense that life, the universe and everything are all someone's idea of a terrible joke.
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
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From the Adventures of Don Quick to Supernova. from The Hitchikers's Guide to the Galaxy to Hyperdrive, no comedy science fiction show made over here has gone on and on coming back to a warm reception series after series like Red Dwarf.
If you've never seen it, here's the premise.
Dave Lister played by Craig Charles is put into stasis ( like suspended animation) for smuggling a cat aboard the ship Red Dwarf. While he's in stasis, a radiation leak kills off the crew and he's revived millions of years later as the last human being with ship's computer Holly (Norman Lovett), a holgram of dead bunkmate who he never got on with Rimmer (Chris Barrie) and a catlike humanoid who evolved from the ship's cat
"You evolved from apes, he evolved from cats, he is a cat". Cat is played by Danny John Jules.
The cast are perfect and could not have been bettered. Craig Charles is wonderful as slobby Lister, Chris Barrie a marvellously career minded failure of a Rimmer, Danny John Jules makes all the cat's appearances a highlight and the deadpan Norman Lovett as Danny John Jules notes in commentaries flies in like a bomber to drop comedy one-liners.
This is not quite a show at critical mass yet, don't get me wrong I enjoyed it when I watched the 1st broadcast. I remember thinking at the time, it's not quite there yet but no way was I going to miss the next run (announced if memory serves at the end of episode 6).
The characters are at a more raw state here. The Cat is at his most catlike in series 1 performing rolls, spraying his scent ( don't worry it's with a can), wanting to eat and sleep and never directly involved with any of the plots. Danny John Jules' dance background pays dividends for the character's body language.
Lister as at his most slobby here, almost never in a T-shirt that isn't stained. He just wants to bum around. He's almost got a touch of the teenager about him, hung up over Kristine Kochanksi (the girl he never asked out).
Rimmer is here at his most unlikeable for much of the series, glee at Lister's possible death in Future Echoes, treating the Cat as a lower lifeform but there are signs he is not all bad e.g. in Confidence & Paranoia he clearly doesn't want Lister to die when he finds him collapsed in a heap.
Holly is the 1 who changes the least as the series progresses. He's there like a straight man who keeps delivering gags.
I'm far from the 1st to say this but it's surprising how much funnier it seems now going back after watching later series.
Of the 6 episodes; "The End" sets up the premise, showing us Lister and Rimmer befroe the radiation leak and then showing us how it's all changed. dragged back a tiny bit by the unavoidable amount of exposition but still plenty of good gags.; Lister saying after leaving stasis that he had given up smoking for quite a while but is back on them now, and Holly saying that Kochanski (now a pile of white dust) would be of little use in Lister's dream home in Fiji unless it snowed a lot and he needed something to grit the path with.
"Future Echoes" is the 1st RD classic, a delicious mixture of sci fi concept (light speed resulting in cryptic viewing of things that will happen in the future) characters and comedy. Great lines include Rimmer reusing Lister's comment that "death isn't the handicap it used to be in the old days", having seen Lister's apparent death.
"Balance of Power" doesn't quiet hit its marks but is still a good character episode for Liste & Rimmer. Listyer plans to pass a chef's exam so that he will outrank Rimmer and can order this chain of command respecter to give him hidden cigarettes & Kocahnski's holgram disc.
"Waiting for God" is not classic but for my money underrated. It reveals that the cat race made Lister their God for saving the Holy Mother (his pet cat Frankenstein). Lister deals with this information meeeting a dying cat priest, a wonderfully moving performance from Noel Coleman.
"Confidence and Paranoia" again has a great SciFi concept- flu has mutated into a strange new virus where Lister's hallucinations are real. 2 of them become people. Interesting but uneven
"Me2" delivers the 2nd classic as Rimmer has himself duplicated as a 2nd hologram and moves in with himself but soon finds you really can be your own worst enemy. Note here that of himself, Rimmmer says "What a Guy!" which will later become the catchphrase used to describe his more heroic alter-ego Ace Rimmer!
For information these are original versions not the remastered special edition ones and watch for the 1st incarnation of Talkie Toaster
We get a cast commentary which is like having a few beers with boys from the Dwarf. Plenty of gags and reminscences e.g. a running joke about Norman Lovett's hair, jokes about who stomped over other people's lines and how difficult launching the show was..
"Launching Red Dwarf" rather than an overview of series 1 is a thorough look at how it got written, commsioned , cast and finally recorded and has interviews with cast and crew alike. Particularly good is an interview with unsuing hero Peter Risdale Scott.
There are also deleted/extended scenes -1 to watch for has a mass funeral for all the dead crew with Rimmer delivering his own eulogy
there are clip based feaurettes and even a Japanese dubbed version of the 1st episode , which interestingly is the remastered special edition one
There is a bizarre easter egg. In the end titles of Future Echoes, an instantly developing picture is held before the camera. here we can see the whole recording of that moment. A thumb, a photo and voices and boy does it go on.
A great start to the series and the DVD range with the extensive special features we have come to expect as sci fi fans
As always, I will try and give a balanced review of the show and also of the product.
Craig Charles stars as Dave Lister who after being released from a stasis pod aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf is informed by the ships now-senile computer Holly (Norman Lovett) that he is the last human being alive in the universe after the crew was killed by a fatal radiation leak. But he is not alone...
In order to ensure Listers sanity Holly brings back Arnold Rimmer (played by Chris Barrie), Listers old bunkmate and superior - much to Listers frustration as he (along with the rest of the now deceased crew) hates Rimmer with a passion. The motley crew soon discover that there is another life form aboard the ship, a descendant of Listers pet cat Frankenstein. The "Cat" (played by Danny John-Jules) joins Lister, Rimmer and Holly as the gang end up experiencing all sorts of wild sci-fi nonsense on board Red Dwarf as the ship continues aimlessly through space on a journey back to Earth.
Each of the main characters are brilliantly cast and play very well off one another with excellent comic timing and some classic one liners that fans of the show will remember to the letter, and with good reason. Each episode (there are 6 in total, as with most British comedy series) has an interesting and funny story ranging from the crew seeing future versions of themselves to encountering the personified "Confidence" and "Paranoia" of Lister to name just two (I don't want to spoil anything!)
As the show was filmed at the end of the 80's it certainly has a cheap look to it with most models and sets being constructed from everyday objects (see the PC keyboards glued to the walls) but to be honest this just adds to the charm of the show.
The DVD set consists of two disks with the 6 shows on the first and the special features on the second. There are cast commentaries for each of the 6 episodes which are very entertaining and will offer lots of nice facts and titbits for fans while the accompanying documentaries, outtakes, and deleted scenes certainly provide a lot of extra material considering the age of the show.
Unfortunately, my version of the DVD has very plain and boring silver disks with the usual labels on it such as BBC, DVD and of course "Red Dwarf Disk 1 & 2" but later seasons (3 onwards) have coloured disks to match the corresponding colour of the boxes. This may have been changed for later reissues though but mine is an original one. This is hardly a big issue though - just something of note.
My only gripe with the features on this set is that there is not an in-depth documentary covering each episode as there is for series 3 and onwards but as this was the first set to be released on DVD it's understandable that this was a later thought. There is however an interesting 25 minute documentary covering the genesis of the show with interviews from the key players. Rather annoyingly though, Rob Grant (the co-creator alongside Doug Naylor) is nowhere to be seen which is unfortunate as it would have been nice to hear some stories from him also.
Other extras are really only for die-hard fans but it's nice to have (e.g. the Japanese version of the first episode) but certainly interesting to see if you are really into the show.
Red Dwarf was always going to be (and probably always will be) a cult comedy show but there is little not to like from creators Doug Naylor and Rob Grant who have crafted a truly brilliant sci-fi comedy against the advice of colleagues and executives at the BBC at the time. The show has gone on to span 8 TV series, a follow up `9th series' entitled "Back to Earth" and now UK TV channel DAVE have commissioned a 10th series of Red Dwarf set to air later in 2012.
It's great to have this classic show given the proper DVD treatment and I would recommend it to anyone who loves the show, has seen the show in parts or fancies trying something new!