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"They're all dead, Dave"
Red Dwarf: Complete BBC Series 1 (DVD)
Member Name: SpiderJamb
Red Dwarf: Complete BBC Series 1 (DVD)
Date: 14/06/12, updated on 14/06/12 (51 review reads)
Advantages: Intelligent Sci-Fi based comedy, Good mix of Science Fiction and Jokes
Disadvantages: Budget limitations make this series seem dated and confined compared to later ones
1. The End
2. Future Echoes
3. Balance of Power
4. Waiting for God
5. Confidence & Paranoia
Red Dwarf was the most unlikely of sitcoms, featuring a heavy science-fiction slant in its premise. Dave Lister is the last man alive, after being kept frozen in time over 3 million years, on the mining ship known as Red Dwarf. He awakens from stasis to discover the crew all died in a radiation leak and his only companions are: Rimmer, the hologram of his direct superior and quite possibly the most irritating person to be trapped alone in deep space with; The Cat, a humanoid life-form that evolved from the common cat in the same way that people evolved from apes; and Holly, the computer-senile AI system that controls the spaceship, and is responsible for keeping Dave alive.
It's quite an ambitious concept and while the set isn't the most convincing space-craft you'll ever see, the energy and the witty script make up for any visual shortcomings. Shown originally on BBC Two, the show soon gained a cult following for its blend of science fiction comedy and more contemporary humour. Despite being set in the future, there are plenty of references to "our time".
The first series features six episodes, beginning with "The End", which introduces the complicated set-up to the series in less than half hour, including complicated science fiction ideas that weren't commonplace at the time, such as: Holograms representing the dead, Stasis fields that 'froze time' and the evolution of felines to a humanoid form. These aren't concepts you see appearing in comedies, especially sitcoms which are intended to be simple and accessible. As such, this unconventional approach to the story helped the show reach its cult status.
The rest of the episodes rely on building up the relationship between the four characters, focusing mainly on Lister's yearning to be reunited with his deceased girlfriend via hologram, at odds with Rimmer's desire to remain as the ship's sole hologram. The Cat seems to be a one-note joke here, playing up to some of the personality traits of felines, such as: 'claiming ownership of things, eating fishies and grooming himself.' Rimmer and Lister seem more developed and share an odd-couple relationship between the slob and the neat freak, which allows for some funny one-liners and banter between the pair.
This first series is rather bland, in comparison to the later episodes which would include more action-packed plots. The show tried to avoid the sci-fi tropes of aliens and androids, which it would eventually bring into the show in later series but in a clever and subversive way. The scenery indulges in the grey too much, and there is a in-joke in the final episode where Rimmer paints the set a different shade of grey, which is identical to the original shade, but using a different name. Knowing that future episodes take place outside of the confinement of the ship and introduce more visually interesting characters and situations, I did find myself frustrated with these earlier episodes. While I recognise that the show needed to gain its following before it could branch out into some of the more ambitious episodes that would come.
The DVD has a wealth of bonus features on its second disc, such as a very interesting documentary about how the show was made, and the challenges they faced in getting it onto screen. The menu screens are animated like the ship and you can make your way around key elements and locate Easter eggs and special features, such as: Deleted Scenes, Smeg-Ups and audio book chapters for the novel based on the show.
Summary: A good introduction to the boys from the Dwarf, but it doesn't hit its stride until Series 3 onwards
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