Once again the crazy adventures of the misfit crew aboard the mining ship, Red Dwarf, have been released on DVD. Debuting in 1988 on BBC, the popular series releases a new season every few years. This latest season is its tenth although there never really was a season nine, but that really doesn’t matter because in a strange way it kind of fits in with the goofiness of the sci-fi theme and logic that completely distorts any rational theory of space and time. In other words, if you’re looking for a show that seems scientifically plausible, then you’re looking in the wrong place. This is a comedy that relies more on the ineptitude of the characters and how they deal with bizarre situations than being scientifically correct.
The show is about Dave Lister (Craig Charles), the last human being in the universe. He is a simple vending-machine repairman aboard a mining ship, the lowest member of the crew and one of the biggest slobs there ever was. If you had one person to represent the human race, he would not be anyone’s first choice. While he is serving time in suspended animation for smuggling his pet cat aboard, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), the second lowest-ranked member botches up a repair job, releasing deadly radiation killing the entire crew.
Three million years later, Lister is released from suspended animation to find that he is the only human in existence. Humanity has been completely destroyed and the only intelligent life left on board is a computer hologram of Rimmer; the ship’s computer Holly, who has gone completely bonkers; and Cat (Danny John-Jules), a creature who has evolved from Lister’s pet cat. Eventually, they will find the cleaning robot Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) to round out their ship of fools.
The best episode of the season is without a doubt “Father and Suns”. It was established in previous episodes due to strange manipulations of the timeline that Lister is his own father. So every year on Father’s Day Lister writes a Father’s Day card to himself that will be delivered exactly one year later. And so he will be surprised to get the card, he gets so drunk that he blacks out and doesn’t remember what it was he actually wrote. But this year being a little depressed about his life he is shocked to find a video demanding that he change his life style and apply for robotics classes. And if he doesn’t do it, there will be consequences. The writing of this episode is brilliant as he fights, argues, and manages to outsmart himself.
Other notable episodes are “Lemons”, where the crew finds themselves transported back to 23 AD where they meet a man named Jesus; “Trojan” featuring Rimmer’s brother Howard, who is also a hologram; and “The Beginning”, which finds the crew trapped by a Simulant War Cruiser and ends with a revelation that could change the entire crew.
The DVD release contains two DVDs with six episodes on the first disc and three special features on the second. “Smeg Ups” is your standard blooper reel and the “Deleted Scenes” are excerpts from all six episodes and are very similar to what was left in. “We’re Smegged” is an incredibly long feature. When you consider that the entire season was about four hours in its entirety, a two-hour feature focusing on the making of each individual episode seems quite intense. While not everything in the feature is truly needed, it does give an interesting perspective on how they were basically winging it from show to show and how surprising it was that they managed to get it completed considering all the problems they kept running into.
While you can see the signs of the crew aging as it’s been nearly 25 years since the series first aired, the chemistry and magic are still there. It’s obvious by watching the Special Features that they all get along and really believe in what they are creating and in the characters that they have given so much to. If you’re a fan already then you’ll be pleased with the new release, and if you’ve never heard of Red Dwarf then you are really missing out and should start by getting the first season. You will not be disappointed as it is truly one of the best comedies to come from the BBC.
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