As a fan of the British SF/comedy series Red Dwarf, I
was excited when I heard
that a new three episode mini-series was going to air.
The show had been cancelled nine years
earlier after an impressive eight season run and it was high time to
crew back together again. Then I
remembered that I never finished watching the original run. Co-creator Rob Grant had left after season 6
leaving Doug Naylor alone at the helm for the last two seasons and the quality dropped significantly.
As a matter of fact, I never made it through season 7. But surely with 9 years to think about it
Naylor would be able to craft a decent script right?
Unfortunately no. This miniseries
(presented as a "director's
cut" 70 minute movie as well as the in) suffers from a done-to-death
plot, a poor
script with plot holes and, most importantly, an almost total lack of
Early on in his commentary track, writer/director Doug
Naylor states that one of the first decisions they had to make when
this series was whether to wrap up what happened at the end of season
not. He decided to would take too long,
so they just push the series nine years into the future, which just
be how long it's been off the air. This
was a decision that surely irritated many Red
Dwarf fans. To be fair, he also
decided to skip any type of introduction to the characters, their
how they got where they are in order to make sure new viewers were
irked too. So, if you don't know who
Lister, Rimmer, and
Cat are, just run far away now.
In the time since we last saw the show, several things have
happened. Holly, the computer, is no
longer able to talk due to a short circuit when the control room was
and Lister's romantic interest Kochanski has died.
The ship's water supply is also running low...
they're down to their last tank full.
When Cat runs in and informs Lister and Rimmer that he was
attacked by a giant tentacle from a creature living in the last vat of
the crew (minus the cowardly Rimmer) lower themselves into the water in
titanium diving bell only to be attacked be a giant octopus. (What were they thinking would happen?) Barely getting out of the tank alive, they
discover that a new hologram, one of a female science officer, has been
created. Using the data that she
collected from parts of the octopus she's able to create a dimensional
transport unit that can send the crew back to Earth so that Lister can
mate and repopulate the galaxy.
The device is constructed but something odd happens when
it's activated. Lister, Rimmer, Cat and
Kryten are pulled through a worm hole and end up in (get ready for
Century Earth! But not any Earth, the
real Earth. Our planet!
They soon discover that they don't really
exist and are only characters in a TV series.
One that is about to show its last episodes in fact. So they roam around London looking for their creator so
beg him for more time. In the process
they go to a SF memorabilia store (a real one!
Not a set! OMG!
WTF!) and run into Craig Charles (the actor
who plays Lister) on the set of Coronation Street (a series he's
working in currently.) Even if they find
the creator, will he be
willing to spare their lives?
If you thought the synopsis was comic gold, then you should
check out this series. If, on the other
hand, you thought theconcept was stupid, overdone, and grasping at
the crowd. The fact is I could forgive a
lot if the series was funny, but it is not.
I laughed twice during the whole mini-series, and that was two
more than my sons did. They spend way
too much time on the 'we're only characters' gag. There
are a lot of jokes centered on things
that happened in the ninth season (it only lasted eight) and there were
frequent mentions that the special would be shown on the network Dave
To add insult to injury, Naylor seems to go out of his way
to make fun of fans of the show. At one
point the group enters a comic book/pop culture store that carries a
lot of Red
Dwarf products. The clerk is an
overweight nerd, and it's implied that he has mental problems. In addition the head of the Red Dwarf fan
club has an "H" tattooed on his forehead like Rimmer.
Nice way of biting the hand that feeds you.
In the end, this was really disappointing. The
story was dumb, the plot had some pretty
big holes, and it just wasn't funny.
This series arrives on two BD-50 discs in a single-width
case. Disc one has the move and the
commentary tracks while the second disc includes the extras.
The 1.78:1 1080i (the resolution it was filmed in) VC-1
encoded image looks pretty good. Truth
to tell the old Red Dwarf series never looked that great so I wasn't
a lot but the disc does come through.
The level of detail was much greater than the old show, and the
and contrast were very good. The Cat's
purple outfit really jumped off the screen.
Blacks were nice and solid as well.
There was a slight amount of banding in a couple of scenes but
The DTS HD sounded very good. The full
soundstage was used to great effect
and it enhanced the otherwise poor show.
The fight scene with the squid is a good example, the discreet
tentacles hitting the walls came from all speakers and it really put
in the middle of the mayhem. The range
was good and the sub was used to good effect.
A very nice sounding disc.
The first disc includes a HD set-up guide as well as a pair
of commentaries. The first features
writer/director Doug Naylor by himself and the second includes the cast: Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules
and Robert Llewellyn.
The second disc is devoted to bonus material. The
biggest is The Making of Back to Earth (1080i) which,
clocking in at 72-minutes,
is actually longer than the feature they are profiling.
It covers all aspects of production and
features all of the cast and the important crew members.
It's a good behind the scenes look, but it's
was way too long for my tastes.
The rest of the bonus items are presented in SD. These
include a gag reel (11 min) which is
mildly amusing, 3 deleted scenes with optional commentary that didn't
to the story, a 20-minute featurette on the special effects (most of
covered in the longer docu), the cast at the premier, a signing session
the cast, an EPK, some web videos, many TV promos (none of which were
and a photo gallery.
If you want funny, go watch the early seasons of Red
Dwarf. It's a hilarious show that really
has its moments. I'm just sorry I can't
say the same for this latest offering.
It will disappoint fans and newcomers alike with the
plot and total lack of humor. This is
to be a comedy program, but someone forgot to bring the funny. Skip it.