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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Red Dwarf 2
Red Dwarf 2
Warner Bros. // Unrated // February 25, 2003
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Blair | posted March 24, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

(Intro same as Red Dwarf - Series One)

For most people, it's very difficult to pick just one movie that they consider to be their favorite movie of all time. This is why most just compile a list of their favorites, so as to avoid having to commit to just one title. I too fall into this category and cannot name just one movie I like best, so I've created a top-ten list of my favorite movies. I've then continued on to make another list of ten, to round out a top-twenty list. However, when it comes to TV shows, this is not the case. There has always been just one show that infinitely stands out as my absolute favorite TV show of all time. This show is the British sit-com Red Dwarf.

Red Dwarf is a show that almost never got made. The script had been proposed and rejected several times by the BBC network. But eventually persistence and shear luck allowed writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor to see their quirky creation become a reality.

The first episode aired in 1987. Red Dwarf was considered a gamble at the time because network executives believed a sci-fi comedy just wouldn't work. And they probably would have been right if the show severely lacked that special something to make it truly unique. Fortunately, Red Dwarf was anything but ordinary. The show stood out because it was a comedy first and foremost, and used science fiction to drive the story forward. If the show would have got caught up in all the sci-fi theory and science, it would most definitely have bombed, but because it was very funny, and unique, it quickly became a cult phenomenon.

If you've never seen the show, and I'm sure many of you haven't, then you're in for a real treat, because this show is the funniest sit-com you're ever likely to see. I am a sci-fi fanatic, so I took to this show right from the start, though many of you who aren't into sci-fi as much may have to watch the first three seasons before you get totally hooked. Now the first season is a classic, and is essential to knowing the backgrounds of the main characters, but the show really takes off in the 2nd and 3rd seasons.

So, I'm sure you're dying to know, "what makes this show so damn good?" Well I'm glad you asked. Red Dwarf works so brilliantly because it is the perfect marriage of excellent writing, hilarious characters, and unyielding imagination. Take for instance the plot: Dave Lister (played by Craig Charles), is a lowly chicken soup machine repairman who gets in trouble for bringing a non quarantined cat onto the enormous deep space mining ship, Red Dwarf. As punishment, the slobby, curry eating, low life is forced to remain in suspended animation, forgoing all wages until the end of their mission. When Lister is woken from suspended animation, he finds that he is the only remaining member of the crew still alive. A devastating radiation leak had caused all the crew to die, and as a consequence, Lister remained in stasis for three million years until radiation levels reached a safe level. Now the only people left to keep Lister company are Holly (Norman Lovett) a daffy supercomputer with the collective IQ of 6,000 P.E. teachers, Arnold Rimmer, (Chris Barrie) a holographic image of Lister's annoying, self indulgent roommate, and Cat, (Danny John-Jules) a humanoid life form that evolved from Lister's now ancient pregnant cat. If this group of madcap characters can't make you laugh, then there truly is no hope for you.

Now the show could have done just as well with these characters alone, but thankfully the superbly written episodes make Red Dwarf even funnier. Grant and Naylor really take advantage of the creative liberty this type of show can give them, and as a result, we see this dysfunctional crew undergo situations that are exotic, intelligent, and always side splittingly comical.

If you like science fiction, and you like comedy, then you'll fall completely in love with Red Dwarf. This is the funniest and most entertaining TV show I've ever seen, and will always remain as my absolute favorite. Owning the episodes by themselves is worth double the price alone. So I'm thankful BBC Video has given us this excellent two-disc set that all hardcore Dwarf fans have been begging for. Red Dwarf has finally arrived on DVD, and it's about smegin' time!

Series Two

It's hard to imagine that Red Dwarf could get any better after Series One, but it does. In this season our beloved characters really start to come into their own. The situations are funnier, the characters are crazier, and the writing gets more brilliant. After watching this season, you'll think, "wow, it can't possibly get any better." But you'd be wrong, because believe it or not, from here on out, it DOES get better - much better.

It's no secret that Red Dwarf writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor weren't very happy with Series One. In fact, when Series Two was off and running, they didn't want BBC to rerun the Series One episodes because it wasn't up to their liking on account of they had been restricted as to what content was allowed to end up on the show. However in Series Two, the writing duo managed to gain back a little more input. So it's really here in the second season where we get to see the softer, more humanistic side of Craig and Lister.

On this DVD you'll find some great episodes, like "Better Than Life," which is one of my all time favorites. In this episode Lister, Rimmer and the Cat take part in an advanced virtual reality video game that makes all of your wildest dreams come true. Naturally, Rimmer's corrupted mind spoils everyone's fun.

The Episode, "Kryton" is also a good one, but will severely bother those who are familiar with later seasons because the Kryten in this episode is not the same Kryten we've known to love so much in the later series.

The special effects get better in this series as well, and we start to see our madcap crew in other worldly locations other than the dreary Red Dwarf. I loved this season, and loved the direction the show started to take, but now I can't stop thinking about Season Three. BBC Video needs to hurry up and release the next two seasons because I'm already going through withdrawals.

Here are the episodes for Series Two.

Episode 1: Kryten
Episode 2: Better Than Life
Episode 3: Thanks For The Memory
Episode 4: Stasis Leak
Episode 5: Queeg
Episode 6: Parallel Universe

Besides the episodes getting more creative, the features offered on this set get more entertaining. Here we get a great package of supplements highlighted by two featurettes, "Red Dwarf A-Z" and "Alternative Personalities." These two featurettes are extremely entertaining, and take you on a visual roller coaster ride with various scenes throughout all eight of the Red Dwarf seasons. This is awesome stuff.

This is a tremendous DVD, and I get totally excited just thinking about the rest to follow. If you're a fan of Red Dwarf, then you know what you have to do. If you've never seen the show, go buy Season's One and Two right now. You can send me hate mail later. But if you love good comedies, I'm sure you won't be sorry.


The DVD

Video: (Same as Red Dwarf - Series One) Red Dwarf is presented in 1.33:1 full screen. Considering the age and budget of this show, Red Dwarf looks fantastic on DVD. It is by no means a reference disc, as tons of pixelation can be seen in the background, but it still looks substantially better than I remember seeing it years ago on TV. The picture is very sharp, and the print is cleaner than I would ever have thought possible. I expected to see tons of spots and blemishes on this transfer, but there was none. For Series One, colors are something you won't find in abundance here. The entire series is grayish, and has a dingy, industrial look to it. Because of this, flesh tones looks awful and the rare appearance of color looks anything but bright. But this is the way the show originally looked, so the DVD is merely reproducing the episodes as accurately as possible. I was very impressed with this video transfer, and aside from the pixelation, the end result is more than adequate.

Edit: I noticed the color on these episodes looked slightly better than that of Series One. From here on out, each season will look better than it's predecessor, as the budget increased and the filming equipment got more sophisticated. Also, there is much more color present on the sets of the show, so this also contributes to the more color presentation.


Audio: (Same as Red Dwarf - Series One) Here we have a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, and just like the video transfer, the audio is excellent as well. Again we're not talking reference grade excellent, but excellent considering the condition and budget of the original show. Dialogue is clearly heard most of the time, but can be occasionally hard to understand. The music on this disc sounds great, and is very clean and free of any distortion.

Extras: Red Dwarf - Series Two continues the extra features extravaganza with many of the same features as Series One, but adds a couple of highly entertaining featurettes.

Cast Commentary: You'll find all of the audio commentaries Disc 1. Just like the Series One DVD, here the original cast of Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, and Norman Lovett give a lively and humorous inside look to the making of the entire second series of Red Dwarf. All six episodes have a commentary on them, and all six of them are worth listening too. The group likes to talk over each other so it is often hard to hear what's going on, but overall this is a great resource for Red Dwarf fanatics.

Deleted Scenes: Here we find an assortment of scenes cut from Series Two. Many of these scenes include additional dialogue that had to be cut from existing scenes for length. It was great to see many of these scenes.

Smeg Ups: Like the Series One DVD, we get an absolutely wonderful assortment of actor bloopers. As usual, the funnies of which always involve either Holly (Norman Lovett) or Rimmer (Chris Barrie).

Original Trailer: This is the original Series Two trailer as shown on BBC Two. Once again, I don't have any clue what these trailers are supposed to convey, as they seem random, and utterly meaningless. But it's still nice to have them here.

"Red Dwarf A-Z" Documentary: This is a stupendous 25-minute documentary on some very memorable moments of Red Dwarf. What is done here, is a scene is picked out that corresponds with each letter of the alphabet. So for "A" we see a brief clip of Arnold J. Rimmer being, well, himself. This is very entertaining to watch, and is a great way to recap some wonderful moments on the show, as well as learn some things even the most hardcore fans might not have known.

Doug Naylor Interview: Here's another interesting interview with Doug Naylor. Here he gives some great information about the problems they had filming Series One and Two.

"Alternative Personalities" Featurette: This was a great little featurette set to a fabulous song. (If anyone knows exactly what song this is, please email me!) This (3:20) feature shows us the glimpses of the huge array of alter egos our wacky heroes have undertaken over all eight seasons. This is a very nice addition and definitely made me laugh.

Tongue Tied - Uncut: This is the original uncut version of Cat's song-and-dance dream, Tongue Tied. This is kind of a hokey number, but very memorable. I was glad to see this on this DVD.

Special Effects Raw Footage: Here we see many model shots of the "Blue Midget," the small surveyor ship used during Series Two.

Isolated Music Cues: Here we have music cues given in the same fashion as the Series One DVD. In addition to more character appointed songs, we also get the entire version of "Tongue Tied" and "High Noon."

Audio Book Chapters
: Here are two more chapters of the Red Dwarf novels read by Chris Barrie.

Photo Gallery: This is just like the photo gallery on the Series One DVD, except we get photos taken during Series Two.


Final Thoughts

God I love this show. Each season is amazing and has something unique to offer. Series Two is where Red Dwarf starts to transform into the wonderfully hilarious comedy we know and love today. And watching the fantastic featurettes on this DVD instantly refreshes my memory to all the insane laughs this show has to offer in later seasons. If you've never seen the show before, you have to go out and at least rent these discs. I'm confident when you see them, you'll be completely sold just as much as I am. Red Dwarf is sci-fi comedy at its best.

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