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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

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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