Top positive review
"Approaching Critical Mass"
on 4 November 2016
Each series of Red Dwarf tends to be different to the one before it. For my money the only groups of 2 that are really alike are 3 & 4 and here 1 &2. Series 2 is like series 1, only much better.
The characters change a bit, except for Norman's Lovett's Holly who still flies in to drop comedy bombs.
Craig Charles' Lister is a tad less slobby than in series 1. No more dribbling drinks down the front of t-shirts on camera.
Chris Barrie's Rimmer is still the uptight foolish jobsworth but there's a bit more pathos, a process that began toward the end of series 1. It's a tribute to the talent of both actors that (as they stated) they did not get on well at this time but still produced great moments in their 2 handed scenes.
The character that changes the most is Danny John Jules' Cat. The more catlike cat's appearances were a highlight of series 1 but he could not really be involved with the plots and it would have been hard to sustain the character like that. Now he's less catlike (though John Jules never loses his inner cat) & slightly more human (if you like it's the effect of spending so much time with humans) and able to be integrated into stories properly. All the cast work with character development to deliver great moments.
"Kryten" is a sort of audition piece for the regular character from series 3 onward. With a different costume and notably less effective mask to the later versions, the lovable robot is played as an English butler/servant type by David Ross. A great launch for series 2 and full of funny moments. watch for Neighbours mickey take "Androids" & Rimmer's wannabe nickname ("it's just no one used it no matter how many times I let them beat me up" ) being Ace!
"Better than Life" pre-empts virtual reality by a few years with a computer game that feels real and is shaped by the players' desires.
"Thanks for the Memory" is a classic. very clever stuff as the morning after the night before (When they partied to celebrate Rimmer's Death Day!) Lister and the Cat wake up to broken legs, a mysteriously completed jigsaw and a missing ship's black box. What happened?
"Stasis Leak" is similarly clever stuff. A photo showing Lister apparently married to Kochanski leads them to travel back in time via a stasis leak to find out what happened. When you rewatch it and pore over scenes shown from 2 different perspectives you won't catch anyone out e.g Rimmer hurrying past his earlier self hiding his face happens both times!
"Queeg" introduces martinet back up computer Queeg. The episode is a rare and wlecome opportunity to showcase Norman Lovett who gets much more to do here.
"Parallel Universe" opens on a song "Tongue Tied" (you'll find the full video in the extras), don't worry there's a reason for it. Then we are soon whipped into a parallel universe with a different Red Dwarf. Lister and Rimmer meet female versions of themsleves and a special mention for Suzanne Bertish who's fantastic as Arlene Rimmer. Watch for series 3-5's Holly, Hatty Hayridge as Holly's female equivalent Hilly.
Extras include a cast comentary more of the same fun as the series 1 one, Norman Lovett reveals he still wishes the situation that led to his departure had not caused him to leave before series 3.
Reheated having been hastily put together for Red Dwarf night in 1998, "The A-Z of Red Dwarf" is no more than a mildly enjoyable hodge podge where celebrity soundbites include Stephen hawking, Sir Patrick Stewart (wishing there had been some RD humour in Star Trek!) & poignantly Sir Terry Pratchett.
Much better albeit shorter is an interview with co-creator and writer Doug Naylor covering some of the main points in the making of series 2 e.g. trying out Kryten, introducing colour to the sets, Suzanne Bertish's unusual approach (saving it up for the recording) and also revealing why a series 1 repeat was resisted.
There are some chapters from the talking books of Grant Naylor Red Dwarf novels performed by Chris Barrie an original trailer & a photo gallery.
There are deleted/extended scenes notably the cat's duet with the toaster. John Lenahan ( the original toaster) never got to record his lines so they are subtitled.
not as good a crop of extras as series 1 and nowhere near as good as later releases so sorry but a point came off for that. For all that though highly recommended and well worth the trouble of buying..