Red Dwarf-Series 1 (1992)

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Released 3-Dec-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Craig Charles,Chris Barrie,Norman Lovett & Danny John-Jules
Audio Commentary-Bonus Commentary Episode One
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Gallery-Photo
Easter Egg-Baby Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes
Audio-Only Track-Music Cues (45)
Featurette-Drunk
Featurette-Japanese Episode
Audio-Only Track-Audiobook Clips (2)
Featurette-Model Shots
Featurette-Launching Red Dwarf
Web Links
DVD Credits
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 176:31 (Case: 310)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ed Bye
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Chris Barrie
Craig Charles
Danny John-Jules
Norman Lovett
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $49.95 Music Howard Goodall


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Red Dwarf is a BBC production that first aired in 1988 and by its second season had a very large cult following. Thanks to the TV stations in Australia not doing the right thing, we would wait each month for our next instalment of Red Dwarf to arrive from the UK on VHS tape. It is the brilliant creation of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, the same chaps that brought us Spitting Image and are soon to bring us The Red Dwarf Movie.

    The six episodes here appear to be as originally broadcast, not the later remastered ones. Holly is the original (with hair) in all scenes and not the later re-shot and expanded version, and the credits do not include Chris Veale for Digital Effects. They also finish with Paul Jackson Productions rather than the replacement Grant Naylor Productions, just to pick a few simpler indicators.

    The basic story begins on the mining ship Red Dwarf, originally on a two (I think) year mission with a full crew aboard. At the top is the captain, and at the bottom and second from bottom are Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer. These two, with Rimmer just barely in charge, are responsible for the repairs that even the robots won't do. Lister smuggles a cat on board, one that has not been through quarantine. The captain discovers this in one of the funniest moments of the first episode, and orders Lister to hand over the cat for dissection. After refusing to do so, Lister is sentenced to spend the remaining eighteen months of the voyage in time stasis. While he is frozen, there is a terrible accident with the drive plates, resulting in the entire crew being killed. To protect the home world, the Red Dwarf, piloted by the trusty ship's supercomputer Holly, heads out into deep space. By the time the radiation from the accident has dissipated, a lot of time has passed. Lister is released from stasis and finds himself alone on the Red Dwarf, lost in the depths of space. In an attempt to prevent Lister from going space crazy from loneliness, Holly resurrects one of the dead crew as a hologram. Whom does he choose? None other than Lister's least liked counterpart, Rimmer. Also along for the voyage is a creature descended from the original cat that Lister brought on board. He is human-looking but with a very different outlook on life. The series traces this little group's attempts to get back to Earth. They are later joined by Kryton in this brilliant sci-fi comedy.

    Dave Lister is played by Craig Charles. Red Dwarf was his first outing as an actor and he does a brilliant job as Lister, a complete slob. This character is a lager-swilling, curry-eating disaster looking for a spot to happen. Being only a lowly third technician, he is beneath second technician Arnold Rimmer.

    Arnold Rimmer is played by Chris Barrie. Chris Barrie has made a career out of playing the most annoying and smug characters that have ever been brought to life on the small screen. In his series, The Brittas Empire, he portrays another character that you simply just want to kill - that is, once you have gotten up off the ground after being disabled by laughter. Rimmer is the antitheses of a good officer. His opinion of himself is larger than the universe that they are lost in. With a trademark salute that has entered common usage along with 'Smeg Head', he is the character everyone loves to hate. Chris Barrie's ability to completely bring to life this character, complete with an amazing array of facial expressions is nothing short of genius. Lets hope that his recent part in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider leads to our seeing him in many more roles.

    The Cat is played by Danny John-Jules. Again, we see why this series is such a hit, as the character of the Cat is brought to life in such great fashion. Here we have a great script partnered with casting exactly the right person for the part. The Cat, having evolved from cats, rather than apes, has a very interesting view on life, and everything that we associate with regular cats has been amplified and extended into a human-appearing character.

    Holly, the ship's computer, is played in this series by Norman Lovett. The dead-pan delivery of his lines along with his accent and appearance really make this character. According to the documentary on this disc, this character was supposed to be a voice only, but Norman Lovett convinced them to place his face on screen, giving us the Holly that we see today.

The End (30:02)

    The premiere episode begins before the great disaster and we meet Lister, Rimmer, and the rest of the crew. In particular we see Navigation Officer Kristine Z. Kochanski whom Lister has a big crush on. They squeeze the entire plot set-up into this single episode. Each character is defined, as is the way of bringing back the dead as holograms, and the big disaster. Then Lister is re-awakened, Rimmer is resurrected and the discovery is made that they are not alone on the ship.

Future Echoes (28:56)

    As the ship approaches light speed, the crew start to see images from the future. At first they don't understand what is happening, leading to some wonderful comedic moments. The quality of this show just shines in this episode as the actors play against each other and often themselves using split screen techniques. In reality, they would have been working against an empty room, but not once does the comedic timing skip a beat.

Balance of Power (29:52)

    Sick of being second on a ship with a crew of two, Lister decides to try to pass the exam to become Rimmer's superior. This panics Rimmer into some lovely underhanded manoeuvring to prevent this from happening.

Waiting for God (28:33)

    The race of beings that descended from Lister's cat have a belief, a religion that is based on Lister's original dream to set up a farm on Fiji. Lister is perplexed to suddenly find himself as the God of a race of cat people. Meanwhile, Rimmer has found a pod of unknown origin and is getting ready to meet superior aliens from a far away galaxy.

Confidence and Paranoia (29:40)

    Entering a section of the ship that has not yet been decontaminated, Lister comes down with a mutated virus. This virus splits out and makes real his confidence and his paranoia.

Me2 (29:28)

    Making what is probably the biggest mistake of his life, Lister suddenly has two Rimmers on his hands. If one can drive you to distraction, imagine what two can do, even to themselves.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Unfortunately, this transfer is not the best. Whilst some of the problems are related to the source material, there are a number of compression-related problems.

    The transfer is presented at its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is probably as good as a video production shot in 1988 can be. In other words, it is not particularly sharp. Shadow detail is good and low level noise is limited. Sharpness is also affected by any motion - examine Lister as he enters the scene in Episode 2 at 24:25. While some of this is undoubtedly video motion blur, it goes beyond what we would expect such as at 11:05 in the final episode where the two Rimmers become bouncing blurs.

    The predominant colour here is the ever-present grey of the Red Dwarf corridors. Colours other than this are not too bad but are a little drab at times.

    The bit rate is down a bit in this transfer with a disappointing average of around 6 Mb/s, and with many sections receiving even less than this. Compounded by the video noise present, just about every scene has some form of blocking or posterization present. The background has constant pixelization. Examples can be seen at 7:05 in the first episode and just about anywhere else you care to look. At this same location there is an example of the loss of resolution that occurs during scene changes as well. There is fairly major blocking in any moving object, particularly in the faces of the characters. A clear example is at 16:09 in the final episode. Another example is at 7:21 in the final episode that includes Lister's entire jacket. We also have posterization in the backgrounds and the foreground such as at 16:09 on Lister's face. The video noise present, particularly in the darker scenes has not helped the compression problems at all.

    As this is video sourced, there is aliasing present.

    The subtitles are almost word-for-word. They are easy to read, and include some audio cues. There are no subtitles for the commentaries.

    This is a dual layered disc. I assume that the layer change occurs somewhere in between the content as I spotted no pause while watching. The second disc is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks on this disc. The first is the original mono soundtrack, the second is a commentary by the cast and the third is a commentary by the writers and the director. This final soundtrack only covers the first episode. From the second episode onwards, it contains a copy of the first soundtrack.

    Overall, the main soundtrack reflects the limited budget under which it was created. While functional, there is nothing exciting in the audio department.

    For the most part, the dialogue is very clear and easy to understand. There are a couple of occasions where the laughter from the live audience does drown out the occasional word. There are no problems with the audio sync.

    The music is only used in limited spots; the opening and closing credits, the 'time passes' outside shots of the Red Dwarf, and some other dramatic or comedic moments. The theme music is particularly good and I love the use of interpretations of well-known music with their own particular Red Dwarf twist.

    There is no surround activity and limited subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menus are a wonderful 3D animation based on the interior of the Red Dwarf, in particular the control room. Selecting a sub menu runs a great little 3D tour on the way to the next menu. Fun to see and easy to navigate, they are presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Disc 1

Cast Commentary (176:31, all six episodes)

    Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Norman Lovett get together to tell us about the first season of Red Dwarf. This commentary seems very much like you had invited the chaps over to watch Red Dwarf and they sat around and made comments and jokes throughout, although on many occasions they themselves become caught up in the show and say nothing for a while. While there are some interesting titbits in this and it is very obvious that they had an absolute ball doing this show, I feel that this commentary may have been better served by a little scripting. The original audio comes from the centre speaker while two commentators each come from the left and right main speakers.

Bonus Commentary (30:02)

    This commentary has Ed Bye, Rob Grant and Norman Lovett telling us about the origins of the show. It plays over the first episode but unfortunately bears absolutely no relation to the on-screen action. Still, there is lots of interesting information for Dwarf fans even though some of it is a repeat from the included documentary.

Easter Egg (5:31)

    On the main menu on Disc 1 there is a clipboard to the right of the console. You can select the hand-written note (with 4691 on it) by moving left from the Select Episode selection. Once selected, hit Enter and you will be taken to a door with a combination lock. I have no idea where you could possibly get the four digit combination that you enter to pass this door... Once you have entered the four numbers, you are taken to a 5:31 cartoon spoof of the documentary. Styled similarly to South Park with only the mouths animated, it includes Ed Bye, Rob Grant and Norman Lovett. It is presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

 

    This rounds out the first disc and leads us to the second.

Disc 2

Documentary : Launching Red Dwarf (25:30)

    Paul Jackson, Doug Naylor, Peter Scott and the cast talk about the genesis of Red Dwarf. This is probably the best of the bonus material and is very interesting. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Photo Gallery

    25 images presented in an inset control panel with a Next, Back and Menu button. They include shots from the series, artwork for the scutters, the video covers from America, Australia and the UK, and then finishes off with the order form for the model of the Red Dwarf. Where appropriate, text appears at the bottom of the screen giving us some information about the picture.

Audio Cues (22:30)

    A collection of audio bites from the series, starting with the main theme (0:51) and following on with the opening theme (0:58) and so on through the music of the series. Whilst interesting in itself, my only concern was that the menu stays on-screen as the music plays - 22 minutes is too long for the one image on many displays. The backdrop is Lister tying to play the guitar and all clips are Dolby Digital 2.0.

Audio Book Clips (18:48)

    Chris Barrie reads two chapters from the audio book "Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers". The material is recognisable for the episode from which it came, but the content and story are somewhat different. This also showcases Chris' ability with voices - each of the character's dialogue sounds very similar to the real actor. There are two chapters; the first runs for 12:19 and the second for 6:29.

Model Shots (5:22)

    A series of fly bys of the model Red Dwarf. These are the motion controlled shots used for the external shots of the Red Dwarf. There is no audio.

Drunk featurette (3:57)

    A collection of all the scenes where the Red Dwarf crew end up under the weather. This appears to include scenes from every series, including that great scene from Backwards, all set to an appropriate song.

Deleted Scenes (20:54)

    These are not outtakes but actual deleted scenes, scenes that were either deleted for time reasons or rewritten and re-shot. They are interesting in parts, particularly as one scene explains the reason that Lister appears to select the wrong Rimmer at the end of Me2 and another contains the 'dropping chair' mentioned in the commentary. Before each scene is a text card telling us a little about the scene. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Outtakes (3:36)

    There are only 3:36 worth of these, and considering that there are two tapes (Smeg Ups and Smeg Outs) in existence, this is a little thin. Maybe they are going to spread the material across the entire series. Those included are only from the first series. Presented at 1.33 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Japanese Episode (24:27)

    With the later opening credits with the rotten digital Red Dwarf, I found this amusing for about 30 seconds. After the laugh of the strange choices in accents for our characters, there is nothing left to be amused about because you can't understand the jokes. They could have gotten away with just the first ten minutes and used the space for something else. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer (1:10)

    On Monday, Red Dwarf blasts off. At least that is what the voice-over tells us. This appears to be the trailer that was aired on BBC TWO. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Easter Egg (2:32)

    On the Bonus Features menu there is a small Polaroid stuck to the wall above Lister's bed. It can be selected by moving left from the picture gallery selection. It contains the Polaroid shot that is taken at the end of Me2. It starts blank and develops over the next 2:32. If paint drying is your thing then this is a great extra.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc has not yet been released in R1. This is without a doubt the exact same material as has been released in R2 but the reviews there are quite complimentary about the transfer with only one review mentioning some minor blocking. I haven't seen the R2 personally but I think they might be underestimating the problems with this transfer - maybe they are allowing for the age of the material and the video source. Until the R1 is released (although that opens another can of worms with conversion from PAL to NTSC), this one is purely a price/availability decision.

Summary

    Despite the problems, this material does look better than the VHS tapes, and won't degrade after the multiple viewing that this material encourages. Red Dwarf is a fantastic series and anyone with a sense of humour will have an absolute ball. Get all your friends around and have a great Red Dwarf night working your way through this disc. Far be it from me to suggest what you do during the drunk feature :-)

    The video is disappointing.

    The audio is as expected from this age and budget.

    There is a good range of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Monday, November 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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Comments (Add)
Deleted Scenes? -
Deleted Scenes are on the lower bunk, press UP from Drunk Featurette - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio)
First Disc Easter Egg - James O
What version? -
Re: What Version? - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)
ATTENTION ALL RED DWARF FANS 1ST NEW EPISODES IN 10 YEARS -
ATTENTION ALL RED DWARF FANS 1ST NEW EPISODES IN 10 YEARS - Le Messor (bio logy class)