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on 14 February 2013
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 and Kryten, a Series 4000 service mechanoid.

BBC2's sci-fi comedy first aired in 1988 and has produced ten series; it 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, as Holly would have said.

Back to Earth represented a return to the telly after a 9 year hiatus, airing on Dave in 2009 on Dave as a three part mini series. The crew of the Dwarf find themselves transported back to 21st century Earth only to discover that they are characters in a hugely popular sci-fi comedy series, and are about to be killed off by the writers. Clearly they have to do something about this, so set off on a journey to track down The Creator and plead for a new series.

Now. There's good and bad to all this...

The BBC series ended on a low with SVIII. I won't go into details, but while I could happily watch SI to VII back to back on continuous loop, I could, just as happily, remove the last two discs from my box set (Red Dwarf: SI - SVIII) and use them as drinks mats or bird scarers. I rather get the impression that the writers/producers probably feel the same way. The continuity is such that it could just as easily follow-on from SVII as VIII, there are numerous references to a mythical ninth series ("the best series yet") and many of the worst elements of SVIII (pretty much all of it, to be honest) have been dropped from B2E.

Indeed, the writing is good enough that B2E could be considered a return to form. The gags are funny and the story is an good one and is done in the best traditions of the earlier series. It may not rank alongside the series' heyday (SIV to SV, in my opinion) but it easily beats SVII and SVIII. B2E does suffer however. Red Dwarf is at it's best as a series of self-contained weekly adventures and a three-parter or feature length episode strains Naylor's writing ability as well as the viewers' patience. It's just too long. Note that this release of B2E can be played as either a single feature-length episode or in the original three part format. In the latter case, the flow suffers somewhat between episodes and in the former, it is the internal continuity that breaks down somewhat. Take your pick.

The cast's performances are absolutely fine. No acting Oscars I'm afraid, but Craig Charles does deliver a couple of surprisingly touching scenes regarding his relationship with Kochanski. It's great to see the character balance restored after the aberations of the previous two series - all four of the leading lads are on form and have more or less equal air time, where SVII and SVIII focussed too much on the Lister/Kochanski affair, to the detriment of the tried and tested "Space Jockeys Behaving Badly" theme.

The story is very much a homage to Blade Runner and this has annoyed some fans. I rather liked the idea and enjoyed B2E all the more for spotting the references. I do admit that some rather heavy-handed pastiche strayed into parody in places which may be the source of criticism. On balance though, I thought it was done quite well.

I do wonder that, for all it's good points, it was a lost opportunity. The SFX on the Dwarf at the start are rather tasty (albeit in stark comparison to the cheap and cheerful FX of the early series) and tantalisingly suggest what could have been... All that CGI capability might have turned out a very eyecatching sci-fi comedy set on Tatooine, or Ringworld or drifting through the Crab Nebula but no! In the end the series is set on... 21st century earth, including a brief visit to Coronation St, for heaven's sake - talk about recycling sets!

In the end, this is a bit of a curate's egg; not as good as the best but far, far better than the worst. It's a shame that B2E is hard to enjoy without reference to its egregious predecessor, but on balance it is still a very worthy addition to the Red Dwarf library.

This release includes an "Extras" disc which contains a 2-part documentary. It's a bit "ho-hum" but nice to see and hear the cast out of character. There are some other bits and pieces, but the best reason to buy this is the first disc, not the second.

Bartikovsky: "In my country we have word for people like you."
Rimmer: "In my country we have several."
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on 8 August 2016
I'm a massive Red Dwarf fan so naturally I was disappointed when this was first shown over three nights on Dave. The cgi sets and cgi scutters just seemed out of place and like a short cut had been taken. The episodes were shallow and lacked their own identity and the same can still be said for the DVD. However, watching the directors cut where all three episodes are combined into one extended show it works so much better. For years I held back on completing my collection as I didn't think Back to Earth was a worthy addition to the series. Now I've seen it as just a longer special episode I can appreciate it more and am pleased to have completed the collection of Series 1-10.
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on 17 February 2015
Being the avid Red Dwarf fan that I am, I couldn't wait to buy this DVD, even though I hadn't seen it. How disappointed I was. This has to be the worst series of Red Dwarf. The plot is, quite frankly, stupid. The crew finding out they are merely characters in a TV series then trying to track down their creators and going to Coronation Street to track down Craig Charles is ridiculous. As with series 7, there's no live audience and I personally think Red Dwarf benefits from being filmed in front of a live audience. I don't really know why, it just seems to lack something when it isn't. Thankfully, series 10 was a huge improvement on this.
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on 25 October 2017
Im so lad they brought back red dwarf. Still one of the best comedies ever. These episodes aren't as funny as some of the others but it was a great way to bring the show back after all these years even if t still doesn't explain the end of series 8
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on 11 October 2016
The DVD may be slightly over-priced for something released back in 2009 however the contents of the discs don't fail to amuse. I was very sceptical when purchasing the DVD as reviews claimed Back to Earth wasn't the strongest series from Red Dwarf. If you play the whole directors cut feature, it just feels like an hour Red Dwarf come-back special which works perfectly however the separate episodes don't. They slow down the plot just as it gets going and ruins the overall feel of the program but the second disk helps bring it back. The amount of special features on DVD's now are becoming less and less however Back to Earth offers a separate disk packed with TWO behind the scenes / making of documentaries, deleted scenes and the amazing smeg ups. Broadcast trails are also included, although they don't offer a lot but it's nice that they were included.

Overall the DVD pack is great for any Red Dwarf fan however can disappoint those who are hard-core fans.
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on 15 March 2016
Meh. This was really disappointing. It was rather a lot of money for essentially one long episode and I just didn't like the idea of the whole thing, them discovering they are really just tv characters and going to Earth etc. It just didn't do it for me and there were nowhere near as many laughs from me as in previous series'. It also really irritated me that it didn't follow on from series 8 at all really.
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on 10 March 2018
When i saw this on TV i wasn't sure about it, but having just watched all the dwarf prog's again and then got this, it is better than i remember, and better watched as one programme.
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on 12 April 2015
great dvd to have. despite other fans picking fault at unneccesary details, i like all of the dwarf series'. it was odd when it came back a few years ago and rimmer was a bit fat, but that didn't stop the show remaining enjoyable.
this, as with all the others is very enjoyable and if you like genuinely red dwarf, then you'll like this just the same.
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on 26 May 2017
As a real Dwarf fan seriously disappointed, their worst outing in my view!
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on 1 February 2018
Like all the Red Dwarf programmes, but this is favourite as it's the one with the guys from Coronation Street.
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