“ Genre: Television - Red Dwarf / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Parental Guidance / Director: Doug Naylor / Actors: Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn ... / DVD released 2009-06-15 at 2 Entertain Video / Features of the DVD: Box set, Director's Cut, PAL „
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I have been a huge fan of Red Dwarf from it's very beginning and recently bought the entire collection. I didn't really understand the criticisms which were thrown at the later series as I thought these were extremely funny to.
The basic plot is Lister, the only human onboard has been floating around in space now for what seems like forever, he was the only survivor of the former ship and has been joined by a robot called Kryton, a cat who through the explosion became a cat like human and a hologram.
Now though a portal has been opened temporarily which will give Lister the opportunity to go into to get a female, to then restart the human race. This is the only plot I can give away because the rest unfolds over a three part mini series in which they all find themselves on this planet only things are not what they perceived them to be.
I would like to say that this is a brilliant and memorable three parter which recaptured the brilliance but alas this is not so. There are a few moments of relative humour at the beginning but then any hopes of a return to form become an absolute shambolic mess. The stars seem out of place and wit is desperately lacking. What brought this into sharper focus was the fact there is no canned laughter and while the previous attempts certainly didn't need it, this now seems completely empty with it's absence.
It is very difficult to understand what the writers were trying to do here. While they have not tarnished the brilliance of the previous efforts they have left me feeling very disappointed with this one. There is absolutely nothing of any value in this and in fact by the end of the second of the three it becomes painful watching this.
In the past few months I've been watching every single Red Dwarf episode on DVD. I've tried to watch all of the extras on the DVD's as well as listening to the cast commentaries. The show has never been everyone's cup of tea, but for me I've enjoyed every episode (even some of the more self-indulgent ones from series 7). When I heard that they were going to make a special last year I was really pleased that 'Dave' had the courage to do what the BBC couldn't be bothered to do - make some classic television!
Reading the mixed reviews of Back to Earth before seeing it for myself, I was a little hesitant. But then the majority of peoples complaints were similar to those critics of series seven and eight - that the jokes had been replaced with effects and plottage.
Back to Earth is set nine years after the last series and deals with a mysterious squid that infiltrates the crew's water supply. When the squid vanishes Katerina Bartikovsky (Sophie Winkleman) a former Red Dwarf science officer turns up. She manages to invent a machine that will send them back to earth and therefore help Lister repopulate the future existence of mankind. However, when they get back to Earth they find themselves in an alternative reality - one where Red Dwarf exists only as a television programme. The crew then attempt to track down themselves as actors and then head off to the 'creator' to find out their fate.
I really enjoyed Back To Earth, it was really good to see the cast back together and back on form. You might think that the guys might be a little stale after so long apart, but the chemistry is still there - especially between Rimmer and Lister. In particular, Craig Charles has improved significantly as an actor - probably down to his stint on Corrie.
The special effects were also excellent. Its great to see Red Dwarf with some decent FX after years of shoddy model shots and rubbery alien costumes.
The plot was a little too similar to that of League of Gentleman's Apocalypse, but I liked the elements of the show where Red Dwarf and reality clashed. For instance - where the cast of Corrie and Dwarf meet and the Starbug car was inspired! I didn't like the overuse of the Blade Runner references which I felt was a bit unnecessary. Another minor gripe was the use of a previous alien from series 5 to answer the disjointed ending.
God bless Dave for having the balls to do what the BBC couldn't be bothered to do. I really hope that they make some more next year as I think the chemistry is still there. Dwarf works well still and doesn't need to pander to the new wave of British comedy. It exists brilliantly on its own and I look forward to its future.
You'll be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of Red Dwarf than me - I've seen each series numerous times and own them all on DVD - and after various rumours about a film that was eventually nixed, I was very pleased to hear that finally, we'd be getting some more Red Dwarf on our screens.
However, sadly, the end result is basically a big misfire. The new special takes place 9 years after the end of the last series, with Kochanski dead, and a squid having taken over the water system aboard the ship. Furthermore, with the help of another hologramatic member of the ship, a hole is torn in our dimension, allowing Lister to slip out with the hope that he will find a mate in another dimension and be able to continue the human race, of which he is the only survivor.
He materialises on Earth along with Kryten, Kat, and Rimmer, but they wind up in a world where Red Dwarf is a TV show (so, in fact, our world), and find some very strange goings on in that stead. It was quite a shock for fans, and while the idea had some potential, it sadly never managed to take off due to some thoroughly lazy writing. One memorable instance involves Dave talking to two children on a bus, who remark that the new episodes of Red Dwarf are now on Dave (the show which actually DID air them on their first run), causing unintentional laughter and a lot of cringing.
The problem is that this comeback is just too self-serving; it also references Blade Runner numerous times, but to the point that it's just a copy without adding any of its own wit or panache. Sadly, this was not worth the wait and is basically a big botch job that's only to be watched by big fans as long as you keep your expectations low.
After the abominable car-crash that was Red Dwarf series 7,which removed the laughter track and made the transition from endearing sci fi sitcom to cringeworthy and unfunny sci fi comedic melodrama, the show hinted that it might be back on track once more with series 8, which, though still greatly inferior to series 1-6, reintroduced the laughter track and largely returned to the original sitcom formula, making the show at least watchable once more. 'Red Dwarf- Back to Earth' mercilessly crushes these hopes however, acting as the long-running series' swansong and a crushingly disappointing one at that.
The premise is an unoriginal one- the crew discover that they are in fact just characters on a tv show, and end up returning back to Earth in order to kill their creator before he can kill their characters off once and for all. The show pays homage to Blade Runner here, complete with a scene in which the crew get blasted through numerous planes of glass, but it all feels very tired, giving the impression that the plotline was adapted more for a lack of any more imaginative ideas than for any other reason.
The laughter track is gone once more, as are almost all of the jokes, and the show is back in the awkward melodrama territory of series 7 again. The only good think I can think to say about it is that Kochanski doesn't feature in it due to her being dead, which is a definite bonus as her character added nothing whatsoever to the show. A female hologram played by the actress who plays Big Suze in Peep Show pops out throughout the programme, but though the actress' performance is decent her character is largely pointless, dying halfway through without contributing anything of any importance to the proceedings. Craig Charles (aka Dave Lister) has a role on Coronation Street, these days, and in another 'homage' the Red Dwarf crew end up paying a visit to the Street in a little car mocked up to look like Starbug, before having a natter with the soap's Steve Macdonald in the Rovers Return. Its all utterly derivative and cringeworthy, and the special as a whole feels like nothng but a last ditch attempt to wring a last little bit of money from the Red Dwarf franchise now that the Red Dwarf Movie has been eternally consigned to development Hell.
The DVD comes with numerous added features, including deleted scenes, director and cast commentary, blooper reels and a making of documentary, but no amount of polishing is going to change it from being anything other than a turkey at the end of the day.Cynical, pointless and irredeemably worthless, 'Red Dwarf Back to Earth' is a final insult to fans of the show and should be avoided at all costs.
* All-New Exclusive Documentary
* The Making of Back to Earth
* Bonus Features
* Cast Commentary
* Director Commentary
* Smeg Ups
* Deleted Scenes
* Web Videos
* Photo Gallery
* Easter Egg
* includes both Director's Cut version of Back to Earth and the original televised version.