Boldly going where no one in their right mind would ever go, this popular cult sci-fi spoof takes you on a joyride three million years into the future. Those ubiquitous anti-heroes of space travel - Lister, Rimmer, Cat and... more » Kryten - are coming to DVD for the first time ever!« less
Darrin Lanchbury | Lake Charles, Louisiana United States | 05/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Red Dwarf is a classic BBC Sci-Fi series with a cult following all over the world. Originally produced an a miniscule budget and a fairly unknown cast, it grew to become one of the BBC's most popular shows and now was a movie in pre-production for a 2004 release.The DVD contains 2 disks with the following episodes from the first series:"The End". We are introduced to David Lister and his superior Arnold Rimmer, two junior technicians on the mining space ship "Red Dwarf". They work together, the live in a cabin together... and they HATE each other. After visiting Titan, Lister smuggles a cat onboard but is caught and sentenced by Captain Holister to spend the rest of the tour in a stasis pod. When Lister emerges he discovers to his horror that 3 million years have passed. While in stasis, a drive plate ruptured and the radiation leak killed the entire crew. Holly, the ship's computer, piloted the ship into deep space and didn't release Lister until the background radiation level became safe. In an unusual attempt to preserve Lister's sanity as the last human alive, Holly resurrects Rimmer as a hologram to keep him company. As the two of them argue with each other they are surprised to encounter a humanoid life form that evolved from Lister's pregnant cat which had survived the radiation by sheltering in the ship's cargo hold...In this episode we're introduced to the two main characters and their hate-hate relationship is defined. This is also the only chance until the last series that we get to see the fully populated Red Dwarf with the exception of a few "flash-back" sequences in later episodes."Future Echos". Over the last 3 million years, Red Dwarf has been constantly accelerating and suddenly breaks the light barrier! Lister, Rimmer and the Cat begin see images of themselves in the future projected throughout this ship. Finally, Lister and Rimmer see an image of Lister aged 171 who has an urgent message for him...An interesting script where the crew end up interacting with future versions of themselves. Of particular note is the sequence where Lister is totally confused by the behaviour or Rimmer only to discover he had been talking to a future version that couldn't see him."Balance of Power". Lister is lonely and asks Rimmer if he can temporarily replace his hologram with Kochanski (a female member of the crew he had lusted over). Rimmer refuses, as he doesn't believe that Lister will switch him back on after his "date". Lister then forms a plan to complete the Chef's exam so he can outrank Rimmer and order him to hand over her disc. Fearing that Lister just might manage to pass, Rimmer has to find ways to distract his subordinate...The mistrust and dislike for each other held by the two main characters is greatly expanded on in this episode. At this point, Kochanski is supposed to be someone Lister fancies, but could never sum up the courage to ask out on a date. Later on in the series, the writers decide to throw continuity out of the window and re-write them as lovers who broke up."Waiting for God". Lister decides learn to read (smell) the books of the Cat-People and discovers that they died fighting over a religion based on the belief of "Cloister the Stupid" who saved their virgin Holy Mother by allowing himself to be frozen in time. Lister realises that he is their "god", however, the Cat is not impressed and wants a second opinion. Deep in the cargo decks, Lister discovers a dieing Cat-Priest who has lost his faith...A humours satire of religion in general and our only glimpse of another Cat-Person throughout the whole story arc. It's also the only decent story the Cat gets in the first series. "Confidence and Paranoia". Lister catches a 3 million year old mutated flu virus and becomes ill. Unfortunately, this new virus causes his fevered dreams to become solid resulting in it raining fish in the cabin, the Mayor of Warsaw combusting and two strange humans appearing on the flight deck. Rimmer recognises them as symptoms of Lister's disease, but Lister falls for the charm of "Confidence" and refuses to get rid of them. When "Confidence" murders "Paranoia" and then tries to convince Lister to remove his helmet in space, Lister realises he's trapped with a madman...This episode is a fan-favourite, mainly due to the excellent gags and the over-the-top performance of Lister's "Confidence". Lister also gets to demonstrate his prowess with a guitar as he gives us a sterling performance of the "Indling Song"."Me2". Lister thought he'd found Kochanski's data disc, but is horrified to find that it's a copy of Rimmer's and now there are two of them running around and putting him down. Eventually, the two Rimmers turn on each other and Lister decides to turn one off - for good...Red Dwarf might be made on a small budget, but the split screen effects of having two Rimmers running around at the same time was perfect. We aslo get to look deeply into Rimmer's troubled past and discover just how he became so petty and annoying...Extra features on the discs include cast comentries,writer & director commentries, deleted scenes, out-takes, trailers, documentry, music scores, photographs and more.Note: The US Region 1 version is missing the "Drunk" featurette from the Region 2 and 4 versions. This was due to the music used in the featurette not being cleared for distribution in the USA in time for release."
Not the most polished production, but Red Dwarf did it first
Michael J. Tresca | Fairfield, CT USA | 02/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've never seen Red Dwarf and really had no specific interest in watching it. But my wife rented it, so it was only a matter of time before I was sucked into the madness that is Red Dwarf.
What is Red Dwarf? Why, it's Star Trek: Voyager. That not good enough for you? I speak as a Red Dwarf newbie, so if you're a rabid fan of the series you can skip this.
Still here? Okay: Red Dwarf is actually a ship. A big, ugly floating city. It's a mining colony, to be precise, and it's crewed by a bunch of folks who are much like the working blue-collar slobs you might find in any city. The closest approximation to the atmosphere is the workaday life of the poor saps that get eaten in the movie Alien. It's grungy, it's gritty, and it's very easy to identify with the crew.
One-armed robots known as "scutters" zip around the ship, performing maintenance jobs at the behest of Holly (Norman Lovett), the ship's computer. Holly appears as a floating head on computer screens; a balding, monotone-voiced face with bad teeth and deadpan delivery. Just about everything else has the possibility of talking on the ship, from the food dispensers to toasters. Most integral to the technology are the holographics, used to recreate one dead crewmember whose knowledge is too important to the mission of Red Dwarf. In essence, the hologram is a technological ghost, able to interact with everyone (even sleeping) but incapable of touching or being touched.
Our two main characters are Dave Lister (Craig Charles), an uber-slacker who pretty much doesn't want to do anything but get drunk, high, or laid and his manager, Arnold J. Rimmer (Chris Barrie), an uptight, neurotic stick in the mud. They hate each other with a passion, a problem exacerbated by Lister's insistence on bringing an illegal animal (a cat, played by...well, a cat) on board. This leads to Lister being put into stasis, a sort of benign punishment straight out of Judge Dredd: the prisoner is put in suspended animation and doesn't actually experience the passage of time.
Then Something Bad Happens ? that kills off everyone on board. Except Lister, who is safely ensconced in his stasis prison.
Three MILLION years pass.
That's right, THREE MILLION YEARS. If there's a concept I had difficulty wrapping my mind around, it's the implications of what it means to have three million years pass you by. A lot can happen in three million years. A lot probably SHOULD have happened in three million years. But Red Dwarf had a small budget to start, so you'll have to forgive the three million questions that undoubtedly pop up about a ship in space for three million years. I mean, metal degrades in three million years, doesn't it?
Anyway, the assumption in Red Dwarf is that most things kept working as they always did. Which really does beg the question as to why there was ever a crew in the first place (and perhaps verifies Lister's belief that he may as well slack off as none of it makes any difference).
Lonely and a little crazy, Holly wakes up Lister. To Lister's horror, Holly uses the holographics to recreate the crewmember "most important to the mission," to keep Lister from going crazy: Rimmer. Rimmer's more or less the same as his past self, except he has a huge "H" glued to his head. Rounding out the cast is the evolutionary descendant of the cat Lister brought on board, known only as Cat (Danny John-Jules). Cat is basically Prince with fangs...my wife, who never saw the first season prior to renting the DVD, thought he was a vampire.
If there's a weakness in the show, it's Cat. He has little to do and is only really amusing to people who have cats, in which case he's either hilarious or very obvious. He does help liven the show up by hopping around and screeching in colorful outfits in a series that tends to have very little movement. There's also the dreadful long shots of the model that is Red Dwarf. These boring pans seem to take place every five minutes and make you really feel like you're trapped on the ship along with Lister. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
The humor is decidedly British, which is good if you're British and not quite as good if you're not. There are a lot of references to European popular culture that are easily lost on Americans (I know I was confused a couple of times) as well as 80s references that really date the show. Still, I was a child of the 80s so I got most of those jokes.
What's amazing about Red Dwarf is its ability to go for the absolutely lowest fart jokes and simultaneously work in high-minded science fiction concepts. Everything from faster-than-light travel, time travel, and holographic technology is explored at any one point in time. This can make the series both confusing and surprisingly fresh, depending on the circumstances.
The first season has almost no budget, but that only adds to the claustrophobia. It does have a lot of funny witticisms, but you have to get past the accents. Lister slurs a lot of his lines (as well he should), which makes him sometimes difficult to follow. But I find it difficult to be too harsh with the show...it's like criticizing an off-Broadway show for being off-Broadway.
What's most telling is how much Red Dwarf influenced other science fiction shows. Star Trek Voyager is an almost play-by-play rip off of Red Dwarf, down to the holographic doctor, the resident comic alien, and the fact that the crew is so far out in space that no laws apply. The only thing that's missing is hostile aliens, but I'm sure they'll turn up soon enough.
It may not be the most polished production, but Red Dwarf did it first."
Seinfeld In Space
Michael Meunier | Brooklyn, New York | 04/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't listen to that detractor John Tilelli- He's just a pediatric cardiologist from Bumblehump Florida. I checked out his reviews. His idea of good Sci-fi is aparrantly limited to Men In Black II. I'm not surprised this was a little over his head. It's true that the classic RD foursome (Rimmer,Lister, Cat, Kryton) wouldn't coagulate until after this season, however, these episodes are hilarious and the actors are playing around- experimenting with the new format of television sci-fi comedy. Like all great English episodics, this series didn't need to rely on special effects, or stars, or gratuitous sex and violence. Not that I mind those things, but the English have had a television focus on story and characterization- and those two elements are very present in Red Dwarf. If I could get an uptown Bergdorf's fashion maven into this show almost as much as she liked Absolutely Fabulous, you and your friends will get hours of fun out of this set. Crack open a couple of cold ones, break out the store of marijuana gin, and watch these petty, inconsiderate, slobs go at each other- you'll see shades of you and your friends in them..."
The Very Start Of It All
Slade Simon | Scottsdale, AZ USA | 04/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Red Dwarf is one of those ever changing series. You can't judge the complete series on the first two seasons. The first season is a fairly basic sitcom. Most of the budget was spent on the main ship, Red Dwarf so they couldn't even afford to take the crew off the ship. There were also some problems in getting the sets to look the way the creators wanted it. The set has too much grey in it. If you look at the exteriors of the ship, there is a tea bag hanging on the bottom of the ship. Due to a method of punishment used on the ship (suspended animation without pay), Dave Lister ends up being the last human alive. The computer, Holly, is supposedly intelligent and provides some conversation for Lister. The ship's computer also maintains a hologram of one of the crew - Rimmer. Rimmer is a total smeghead. Also, Lister's pet cat, Frankenstein had kittens, and the cats eventually evolve into humanoid creatures while still having some basic cat traits. If you don't like this first season, give season 3 a shot. Only the first two seasons are fairly simple. The changes made in third season stay in place for the rest of the series, but the stories continue to develope and change. So far, this series has the best commentary I have ever heard - if you stick with the actors. They actually joke around and comment on the scenes. The bonus commentary with the show's writers and director during the first episode is kinda dull, and, if you watch the other extras, you don't learn much new information. The bonus commentary is only available from the episode selection menu, not the main one. The commentaries are also very unprofessional. During the writers and director's discussion, you can hear what sounds like a new mail sound from a PC. And during the actors commentary on Confidence and Paranoia, a cell phone rings. It's at the very end of the episode.The DVD has several extras on a second disc - deleted scenes, smeg-ups (bloopers), isolated music, photos. This is an ideal DVD set for true fans. Trivia:
Danny John-Jules (The Cat) also appears in Blade II and has appeared on stage in Starlight Express. Chris Barrie (Rimmer) can be seen in Black Adder III "Nob and Nobility" where he plays the part of a French revolutionary."
The Start of Something Great
Duane Thomas | Tacoma, WA United States | 02/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In Britain a TV show like Red Dwarf gets only six episodes a season, compared to the 20-plus common in the US. The good news is that, with all their efforts bent toward a mere six eps, they can make those the best six episodes possible.Red Dwarf is the name of a mining spaceship. The first episode in the series - called, paradoxically and charmingly, "The End" - introduces us to Dave Lister (Craig Charles), uber-slacker and lowest ranking person on Red Dwarf, and Arnold J. Rimmer (Chris Barrie), stupid, rude, officious control freak and second lowest ranking person on Red Dwarf. (Obviously AJR is destined to become the series' most popular character.) Since Lister is the only person he outranks, AJR of course dedicates most of his waking hours to making Lister's life hell. This would work if Lister gave a damn about anything Rimmer might say or do. Instead he regards Rimmer with the total contempt usually reserved for a high school stoner contemplating a junior ROTC cadet who takes himself WAY too seriously.A horrible accident kills the entire crew except Lister, who emerges from suspended animation millions of years in the future to find himself a long, long, long, LONG way from Earth, his only companions the computer personality Holly - I have to point out the obvious play on 2001's HAL (played as slightly dense by the wonderfully deadpan Norman Lovett); a humanoid cat (Danny John-Jules) whose main occupations are eating, sleeping and admiring himself; and his old pal Rimmer, generated by the ship's computers as an intangible but visible hologram, surviving to badger Lister millions of years after AJR's own death. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.In this first season, the lack of a serious budget shows. The sets are drab in a Blake 7 kind of way. In one scene, showing much of the crew of Red Dwarf at a banquet, jackets are thrown over seat backs both to add a bit of color and hide the fact these are all modern, cheap cafeteria chairs. Almost all the budget went into building the sets; the Red Dwarf mock-up; and robotic "scutters," cute as hell, small janitorial robots (which never worked well, an ongoing source of irritation for everyone making Red Dwarf). Every episode takes place on the ship, simply because there was no money for location shooting. Series creators and writers Doug Naylor and Rob Grant had very little power to control the show during this first year. Otherwise they would've done things differently regards set decoration, direction and character development.For all that, even in these early episodes Red Dwarf has SOMETHING. The "something," of course, being the relationship between Lister and Rimmer, the Odd Couple of outer space. Over the years this relationship would be expanded upon, and modified somewhat, but its rock solid appeal was there from the very start.I'd been told for years before watching this DVD that Red Dwarf was a "very confusing series, hard to get into, but stick with it, it's worth it." For years after its introduction, because every Power That Was considered the first season so inferior to what came later, the episodes on this DVD were never rebroadcast, either in Britain or the US. I can see where this would be a confusing series to jump into in the middle, not knowing the backstory, why Lister is stranded on Red Dwarf, that Rimmer is a hologram, etc. Since my first exposure to Red Dwarf, by contrast, was watching Series 1 on DVD, to me it made perfect sense.This two-disk DVD set was obviously a labor of love for the people putting it together. It's been given top drawer treatment all the way around. The quality of video transfer is excellent, the colors (such as there are) crisp, the audio clear. The second disk is chockful of amusing "extras." The only negative, to my mind, is that the enclosed Red Dwarf booklet, while very well-done, reveals secrets from later seasons. While I'm sure this is all old news to longtime series fans, as a new fan whose first exposure to Red Dwarf was this DVD, I found it a bit irritating.Buy this DVD, it's the perfect introduction to one of the most imaginative, funniest television shows ever. If you have any liking for science fiction, or any sense of humor at all, you will love it."