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The first 3 series were given the remastering treatment in an effort to make the earlier series of Red Dwarf palatable to the overseas audiences, particularly to sell them in the lucrative US and Japan markets. This is not cynicism on my part, but rather the paraphrased words of Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor on the accompanying documentary included in this boxset.
It contains series 1-3, and these have all been 'improved' by adding CGI effects and upped sauturation/resolution levels to the original shows. Series 1-3 in partiuclar always did look very grey, something that the show's creators were never happy with, but whilst the remastered versions do look a lot more colourful and visually punchy, the dull, cardboardy feel of the original sets became part of the earlier series' charm, meaning that some of that charm is lost here.
Far worse however is the franky horrendous intrudocution of CGI effects on top of the original footage. Take the very first episode, 'The End', for example. In one of the very first scenes, in which we are introduced to a squabbling rimmer and lister on maintenance duty, two crudely rendered CGI scutters whizz by at the bottom of the screen, looking like the wacky ident from some Saturday-morning kids tv programme. Nothing dates like CGI, but even when this was originally released it looked jarring and lame. Later on, when Captain Hollister is giving the Eulogy at Mcallister's funeral, the back of a load of heads, again grotesque CG creations, have been added into the foreground to make it look like there are more people there. It all works as well as if someone were to add in CGI Panzers and Schmeissers into an old episode of Dad's Army. As Doug says on the included documentary, (which is rather interesting, if deeply frustrating), it's not as if the old shows have been replaced by these -theyre not even intended for the UK market really-, but its still disheartening to see the much-loved originals vandalised for cash more like this: now I know how all those Star Wars fans must have felt at George Lucas's CGI assaults on his fans' childhoods.
Sometimes it doesn't look so bad- with colourful, hi-tech images added to computer screens, or planets looming from Blue Midget and Starbug's cockpits, but it's ultimately distracting and fake looking, and somehow much cheaper-looking than before. Worse of all is that the beautiful and iconic sweeping model shots of Red Dwarf itself that were so central to the first 2 series in particular have been replaced here by a bland-looking cgi reconstruction, robbing the show of much of it's gravitas, as those original shots (and sombre music, gone from the opening credits) really helped set the scene and mood in the originals.
Aside from the documentary on the remastering process, there are documentaries on series 1 and 2, and these are excellent and were conspicously absent from the original dvds. There is also a very interesting early 'lost episode', entitled 'Bodysnatchers', recreated here in audio and stills only and narrated by the excellent impressionist that is Chris Barrie. These features (and other interesting snippets) make the dvd worthwhile for the red dwarf competist, but the meat of the dvd- the 9 hours of 'updated' shows, are infinitely inferior to the original versions. Not only have lame new effects been added, but lines have been cut, and small edits have been made, with particularly dated or UK-centric references being cut out, so the flow of the shows has been messed about with as well.
In 'Better Than Life', Lister claims that the definitive version of Casablanca is the colourised remake starring Peter Beardsley. Red Dwarf remastered is a lot like that.
Red Dwarf's Bodysnatcher collection is a re-released remastered version of the original Series 1-3 episodes, with scenes adjusted slightly, and best of all, new special effects added and title sequences all synchronised properly. This is purely a release for purists, and so it's difficult to recommend to the casual fan, but it's a nicely presented set nonetheless.
I've discussed the premise in my series overview review, so I'll mention some particular episodes here. The first season was in the awkward genesis phase but it still generates some great laughs - the episode The End, the very first, has some unforgettable moments, and establishes the dynamics that would be successful throughout the show's run. Confidence and Paranoia is very memorable for its battle between two parts of Lister's psyche with gory results.
Series 2 displays a show now in its comfort zone, with the crew meeting Kryten, who becomes a permanent fixture on their ship, and also there are classic episodes here such as Better Than Life, where the Dwarfers play an immersive video game that is, indeed, seemingly better than real life, at least at first. Also, there's Queeg, an episode where the titular computer programme comes along and tries to oust Holly as lead computer, and Parallel Universe, where the Dwarfers meet female versions of themselves with very different values.
Series 3 features numerous classics, such as Backwards, where the Dwarfers encounter a strange backwards land, and also Marooned, an episode which just consists of Lister and Rimmer in a room for the whole episode, a real testament to the quality of the writing in fact. Polymorph sees the Alien-spoofing creature make his first appearance also.
There are so many memorable episodes here that it's no surprise that people have been requesting such an exuberant remaster. Well worth it for fanboys.
Red Dwarf The Bodysnatcher Collection 1-3
Begins his journey as a tone deaf, idle, useless, curry loving, carefree or should that be careless, scruffy slob.
But his character develops
Arnold J Rimmer.
Arnie is the most cowardly, back stabbing, regimented, and pathetic life form to ever call itself human. But Arnie, or big man to his friends, has the biggest transformation of them all because he ends up becoming Ace Rimmer the multiverses greatest hero, what a guy!
The offspring of an idiot and a cripple, he is the most vain creature in all of the multiverses.
His character never really changes.
Cats alter ego, the geakiest, (if there is such a word) squarest being to ever exist. With Zero fashion sense and teeth which are a cross between Alan Carr and Janet st Porter.
Holly - Computer.
Once had an IQ of 6000 but after 3 million years alone has 'gone a bit funny'. Best one liner was "IQ of 6000 isn't that much; it's about the same as 6000 PE teachers".
No Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) in series 1.
Dave Lister is stuck on Mimas and he just wants to get home to Earth, so he enlists aboard the Red Dwarf little realising it will not reach earth for another 5 years.
Dave smuggles a cat aboard the ship but is found out and put into "stasis" for refusing to surrender his cat for dissection.
Whilst in stasis there is a radiation leak which kills all of the remaining crew.
The computer keeps Dave in stasis for 3 million years until the radiation levels are safe for him to emerge.
The ships computer 'Holly' creates a hologram to keep him company and sane. It is the one person in all the Universe Dave hates Arnold J Rimmer.
Dave's cat survived in a sealed hold and many many generations later the cat's species representative emerges to join the motley crew.
Not in series 1 but later on is (Kryten who is rescued from a crashed spaceship and the crazy crew is all together hopelessly flying through the universe).
1. ~The End~
Everybody's dead Dave!
Here we meet the crew, then watch them die and so end up with the terrible trio of Lister, Rimmer and Cat.
Dave wont give up his kitten, ends up in suspended animation whilst everybody else is killed by a radiation leak from a drive plate that Rimmer should have fixed, properly.
Oh and there's Holly a slightly dopey ship computer with the IQ of 6000, equivalent to 6000 PE Teachers!
2. ~Future Echoes~
The crew see 'future echoes of themselves. Rimmer sees Dave blown to bits whilst Dave sees himself with 2 babies.
Dave tries to make sure what is about to happen hasn't happened yet and will not happen if he can help it, get it? Clear as a conundrum.
'How old did I look just before I was blown to bits'?
'How old are you now'?
'35, How old did I look'?
'Erm..... Mid thirties'!
3. ~Balance of Power~
Lister wants to go on a date with navigation officer Kristine Kochanski, but with her being dead the only way is for Rimmer to go 'off line' whilst Kochanski comes 'online'.
Rimmer's refuses as the senior officer and so Lister decides to do a cooking exam so he can outrank Rimmer.
4. ~Waiting for God~
Should have been entitled, "Cloister the stupid". Lister learns that HE is the mythical god of Cat's people otherwise known as "Cloister the stupid".
Cat was the offspring of a cripple and an idiot!
Meanwhile Arnie brings on board which he thinks is an Alien space craft but is in fact an old garbage capsule.
He calls his Aliens the "Quagaars.".
5. ~Confidence and Paranoia~
Whilst searching the ship for Kochanski's hologram disc, Lister mistakenly enters a contaminated area of Red Dwarf. After it raining fish and the mayor of Norway self combusting in the night, the crew wake up to two very unwelcome guests. Confidence and Paranoia.
The title should be read as 'Me 'squared'.
Arnie manages to get two versions of himself up and running with disastrous result.
Don't mention guspachio soup!
The writers Rob Grant & Doug Naylor invented The 'Blue Midget' Shuttle to ferry the crew too and from planets and other spaceships in order to broaden the possible comedic scenarios.
Kryten make his appearance but it is not THE Kryten that will eventually stay with the crew.
Here he is played by David Ross but later of course by Robert Llewellyn.
The Dwarfer pickup an SOS call from a crashed spaceship, Nova 5, and all put on their best togs to go and meet the ladies that need rescuing.
Unfortunately they find a 'Norman Bates' style robot serving tea to 3 skeletons.
Packed with a multitude of sexist jokes and gibes at each other.
Kryten joins the crew and for a while is Rimmers slave.
8. ~Better Than Life~
The mail arrives via a pod that has been chase the ship for millions of years. Dave's won the Lottery but it's too late now.
Included in the post in the total-immersion computer game called "Better than Life".
Highly addictive and outlawed in some universes the boys can't wait to play!
They can have all their wishes granted but Rimmer ends up ruining all for them.
9. ~Thanks for the Memory~
Its Rimmers 'Deathday' and the boys set about celebrating only to wake up 4 days later to find bizarre things have happened.
A 'who-dun-what' with clues to unravel and who broke Daves foot?
10. ~Stasis Leak~
There's a stasis leak on floor 16 allowing the crew to go back in time to 3 weeks before the radiation leak happened on the ship. They try to change history but it all goes awry with the usual consequences.
The boys keep belittling Holly and when he Holly goes off line for a bit and his back up takes over. His back up is called 'Queeg' and soon he wants to stay 'online' so he and holly battle it out for supremacy.
Better the devil you know!
12. ~Parallel Universe~
The crew test out Hollies new invention, 'the holly hop drive' which should take them back in time 3 million years. It works ! But it only takes them back 3 million years exactly where they are in space now!!!
However it slips them dimensionally into a parallel universe and here they meet female versions of themselves with hilarious results.
The funniest being cat meeting his opposite number a scruffy flea ridden dog.
Saw changes to the title sequence which was more upbeat and modern. Also at this time the now recognisable Red Dwarf Logo was formally introduced and the uniforms had a more futuristic feel.
The Blue Midget of series 2 was dropped and it was now known as "Starbug".
Kryten was now a main character in the show but the original actor David Ross was unavailable to continue to play him and Robert Llewellyn stepped in, permanently.
Another change was Holly changed from Norman Lovett to be replaced by Hattie Hayridge.
Norman would return for series 7 and 8.
13. ~ Backwards~
One of my personal favourite, Rimmer takes Kryten on a flying lesson in Starbug but they fall into a black hole and end up in another universe where time moves backwards.
They make a living as the Backward Brothers, with hilarious results.
14. ~ Marooned~
Holly has to navigate through 5 black holes and so the crew leave Red Dwarf. However Lister and Rimmer crash on an asteroid and Lister secretly burns all of Rimmers prized positions and has a choice of either dog food or a pot noodle. He chooses the dog food!
Hint next time perhaps someone should clean the bits (5 specs) off of Holly's screen.
15. ~ Polymorph~
The guys tangle with a shape changer called a polymorph. It's hungry and the boys don't want to be sucked so they load up and go hunting for it, watch out for the vending machine.
16. ~ Bodyswap~
Very funny one this one, basically Rimmer and Lister swap bodies so that militaristic Arnie can get Lister into shape.
But Rimmer finds having a body is too much to handle and drinks and eats himself to the point where Lister gains a stone and an extra spare tyre.
17. ~ Timeslides~
Not one of their best sketches this one, Kryten is developing photos when he notices that the photos are 'alive' and the crew can get inside them to go back in time and change things. As you might expect thing don't go quite to plan.
18. ~ The Last Day~
Kryten must die!
Kryten has reached his sell by date and a super strong android has been chasing him down to ensure his destruction and replacement. The boys have a party and then decide to stand up for Kryten.
Language English, oh and Esperanto
Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital Stereo
Sub Titles: English
Hearing Impaired: English
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 4
Overall the both discs are very watchable and worth every penny. The three series are superb and hilariously funny to watch.
The BBC have outdone themselves with this series and putting it to DVD is just brilliant.
The characters develop before your very eyes as the series progress and the humour just keeps on getting funnier.
Sit back and enjoy these 18 episodes.