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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Red Dwarf: Series 4
Red Dwarf: Series 4
BBC Worldwide // Unrated // February 3, 2004
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Blair | posted April 7, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Movie

For reviews of Red Dwarf Series 1-3, click below.

Red Dwarf - Series 1 Red Dwarf - Series 2 Red Dwarf - Series 3


Series 4

"Smoke me a kipper, Skipper. I'll be back for breakfast." - Ace Rimmer

Just when you thought things couldn't get any funnier then the first three seasons, along comes Series 4. Easily my favorite Red Dwarf DVD to date, Series 4 has it all; well-written episodes, witty dialogue, a fantastic special features package, and enough laughs to make a Polymorph fall down in hysterics. If you haven't seen Series 4 yet, pull up a chair and stock up on snacks because this DVD will keep you busy for hours when you consider the six episodes, six separate commentaries, and plethora of quality featurettes included. If you haven't got the hint yet, this is one awesome DVD package.

In general as a whole, each season of Red Dwarf gets progressively better until Series 7. But when you start to think about classic episodes, more than a couple from Series 4 spring to mind, such as DNA, Justice, and the ever-popular Dimension Jump. While not every episode from Series 4 is a home run, the ones that are make it one of the most beloved seasons ever made. Here's a breakdown of the episodes:

Camille: This episode starts off with the famous scene of Dave Lister (Craig Charles) attempting to teach Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) to break his programming. Or more simply, lie. This scene coins the infamous quote, "Smeee, heeee!" Trust me, it'll make sense when you see it. Kryten then answers a distress call from a crashed ship on an unstable planet and meets Camille, a 4000 series android like Kryten, only she's the Gti model complete with realistic toes and a slide-back sunroof head. Talk about a hottie. The two fall instantly in love, (or the robot equivalent) but she hides an important secret that could damage their dreams of living happily ever after.

DNA: The crew locks onto a strange space ship, which when boarded looks nothing like a human vessel. Lister and the Cat stumble onto a device that can alter the genetic code of any living thing. Kryten unwittingly gets a biological body after an unsuspecting accident, therefore fulfilling his lifelong dream to become human. Although he soon realizes that being human isn't all it's cracked up to be. Heck, his eyes no longer have a zoom feature and his nipples don't work. Rimmer (Chris Barrie) attempts to create a body for himself out of an ancient dandruff flake, and Lister makes the ultimate sacrifice by altering his body to defeat the hideous curry monster.

Justice: The crew picks up an escape pod with an alleged female occupant. Amidst the guys excitement Kryten warns that the inhabitant of the pod may be something else entirely. So they head out for the penal colony Justice World to discover the truth. The colony is protected by the Justice Field, which makes committing a crime impossible because it inflicts the same crime upon the violator, thus breaking their will to violate the law. But as impressive as the facilities are, the crew soon finds out even the deepest of criminal secrets can come back to haunt them. In Justice World nothing escapes the mind probe, and one crewmember is in trouble.

White Hole: This episode marks the return of the Talkie Toaster. Kryten reassembles the toaster's badly beaten body to test a new technology called "intelligence compression," which substantially increases ones IQ at the expense of ones overall lifespan. They decide to try it on Holly to help her regain her original IQ of 6,000, only things don't go as planned and they soon find themselves floating aimlessly in space toward a White Hole. The lives of the Dwarfers and the well being of the ship rest upon the shoulders of one curry eating slob and his pool stick.

Dimension Jump: This episode is a classic. One of the funniest ever made, and the absolute favorite of Chris Barrie who gets to introduce his new character of Ace Rimmer. Throughout the universe there are an infinite amount of dimensions. Dimensions where a single decision in ones life can branch out and create a whole different chain of events. In another dimension Arnold Rimmer is a handsome, courageous, and humble man who spends his life risking his neck for the well being of others. Naturally, when Ace and Arnold finally meet face-to-face bitterness ensues.

Dimension Jump is not only an overwhelming fan favorite, it's one of my all-time favorites as well. I never cease to laugh at Ace's gutsy heroics, or his famous quote, "smoke me a kipper. I'll be back for breakfast." If you're a fan of the show, you know this episode well.

Meltdown: Kryten discovers a matter transporter device on board Red Dwarf and they run off to the nearest planet with a habitable atmosphere. They soon find themselves in the middle of a war between amusement park wax druids. With the help of Elvis, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and others, Rimmer fulfills his destiny (or at least his Risk board game fantasies) as a victorious military commander.
It's fairly common knowledge that Meltdown is not a fan favorite, but the real question is why not? There's a lot of funny stuff in this episode such as Elvis leading the troops through boot camp, and Rimmer taunting Gandhi and telling him to drop and give him 50. Even the matter transporter running gag makes me laugh out loud every single time. I think this episode gets overlooked because fans feel it's hokey, but I suggest giving it another try because there really are a lot of laughs to be had here.

Those are the episodes, and it's a great group of them too. I'd say it's not a stretch to consider Series 4 in the running for best single season of Red Dwarf. With fantastic episodes, hugely entertaining and informative special features, and a sharp-looking and intuitive interface, Red Dwarf - Series 4 is a smeggin' riot.


The DVD

Video:
(Same as Red Dwarf Series 3)
Red Dwarf - Series 4 is presented in its original 4x3 full screen aspect ratio. Picture quality is significantly better than the first two seasons with pixelation noticeably improved. This is good since pixelation was the only thing that really bothered me about the first two DVD's. Also, picture looks to be little sharper as well. I can't say for sure if the improvement is a result of the transfer or the newer source material, but my hunch is that the source material for this series was in better shape than the first two seasons. But whatever the reason, I'll take it.

Audio:
(Same as Red Dwarf Series 3)
As with Series 1 & 2, this DVD comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. The sound on the first two DVD's was excellent, and the trend continues here. Dialogue is crisp and easy to hear, and the music and special effects sound every bit as fresh as they did when they originally aired over the BBC network.

Extras:
Once again I'm blown away at the quality of features included on this set. We get actor audio commentaries for each episode, deleted scenes that are actually worth watching, bloopers that'll make you laugh just as hard as the episodes themselves, several featurettes that give you a true sense of what it was like behind the scenes during the filming of the show, and more actor interview clips than you can shake a groinal socket vacuum hose at. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the special features on these discs are first rate and should cause several Hollywood studio bigwigs to crawl under their Ferraris with shame.

Let's break down the features, shall we?

Smeg Ups: This is a collection of bloopers specific to Series 4. Here you'll find 10 minutes worth of messed up lines, misbehaving props, tongue-tied actors, uncooperative animals, and off camera impersonations. Everything here is wonderful, but as usual, Chris Barrie steals the show. Barrie has a knack for turning a screwed up line into a scene funnier than the joke he was trying to spit out. I give credit to his amazing facial expressions and awesome comedic timing. It's no wonder he's my favorite actor on the show. (10:40)

Trailers: Like in Series 3, here are two trailers that were recovered from "lost" BBC footage.

Lurve: This is a funny little musical collage of love scenes found throughout the entire Red Dwarf series. Most clips are funny, a lot of them being very gross. This is a great addition to the set. (3:02)

Gallery: This is huge collection of production stills and behind the scenes photos. If you love the show, you'll eat these things up. For example you get to see several shots of Ace Rimmer, as well as Lister's huge space mump covered noggin.

Music Cues: Here are musical tracks found throughout Series 4. Standouts are the Elvis theme sung at the end of Meltdown, and Ace's themes, which sound remarkably similar to Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." Coincidence? I hope so.

Deleted Scenes: There are a ton of deleted scenes to be found here, twenty minutes worth to be exact. But unlike many major DVD releases with deleted scenes, these are actually worth watching. Here you'll see extra scenes with Kryten and Camille, such as an alternate dancing scene, also a great scene from Justice where Lister gets pooped on by a giant bird, Lister's entire pool fantasy from White Hole, various failed special effects, and several scenes of dialogue that were cut for time and pacing. Overall this is a wonderful set of deleted scenes that you won't have trouble getting through. (20:47)

Can't Smeg Won't Smeg: This feature totally took me by surprise. I'm sure our readers from the UK were familiar with this episode of Ainsley Harriott's Can't Cook, Won't Cook, but me being here from the states, I had never seen it. And as hokey as it may have been, it was still enjoyable to watch, mainly because it was totally new to me. Personally, I'm not a fan of Harriott's show or mannerisms but I was willing to suffer through it in order to see the Red Dwarf crew in action.

For those not familiar with Ainsley Harriott, he hosts a cooking show in the UK called Can't Cook, Won't Cook, which focuses on teaching people to cook who basically don't know a salt shaker from a cheese shredder. I imagine I'd enjoy the show more if Harriott decided to take sedatives before the cameras started rolling, but I digress.

In this episode Harriott invites the crew of Red Dwarf (all in character) to come on and make a wonderful exotic dish. Lister and Kryten team up against Rimmer and the Cat. Thankfully however the Cat decides to leave and is replaced by Duane Dibbley, the Cat's nerdy, thermos-loving alter ego. Once the crew gets past the horribly unfunny scripted stuff, such as Harriott yelling for no apparent reason, and Kristine Kochanski (Chloe Annett) going on for way too long about her big butt, (this was so not funny I was wincing in pain) things start to get rolling. Once the cooking begins, the comedy picks up. I won't say much more, but let me mention that I'm surprised no one lost a finger with all the insane knife wielding that went on. Overall I enjoyed the show, if for nothing more than to watch Duane Dibbley strut his onion-chopping prowess. (26:30)

Ace Rimmer "A Life In Lame": Here's montage of clips of all the scenes with Ace Rimmer throughout the series. If you like Ace, then you'll enjoy this feature. (11:12)

Audio Book Clips: Chris Barrie narrates two clips from the audio books Planet Pool, and Talkie Toaster.

Model Shots: Here you'll find video footage of the models used on the set of Red Dwarf - Series 4. Series specific shots are Ace Rimmer's Mima Base, Starbug's ocean crash, the DNA ship, and the ornate Justice World model. (Note the garden dome on the Justice World model for the park scene that was cut out.)

Built to Last: This is the main course for the special features disc. This lengthy featurette offers a nice informative intro to Series 4, then goes off and describes a little about each episode by way of actor, director, and producer interviews. This is a brilliant piece of fan candy that any Red Dwarf lover will drool over.

Easter Egg: Dimension Jump interview with the creators of the show. They talk about how the character of Ace Rimmer came about. This is interesting stuff, but way too short. (1:42)

Final Thoughts:
What can I say? The people over at BBC Video could slap these episodes on a blank DVD-R and write "Smeg head" on the label with a magic marker and I'd still love it. Thankfully though, they continue to create a product with the kind of quality and professionalism that has made these discs the most prized pieces in my DVD collection. The episodes of Series 4 are pure comedy classics and the special features will make any fan quiver with excitement. If you're a fan of the show go buy this DVD. However, if you frequently look at bananas and call them small, off-duty Czechoslovakian traffic wardens, then you probably own it already. Highly Recommended

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