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Red Dwarf X Blu-ray Review


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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted February 02 2013 - 10:47 AM

Red Dwarf began life as a low-budget comedy series on the UK’s BBC2. Created by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant, the premise found Dave Lister (Craig Charles), a low-grade vending technician, on a deep space vessel, becoming the last survivor when a deadly radiation leak kills the entire crew. Dave emerged from a mandatory stasis sleep (for sneaking a pet cat aboard) after three million years. Everyone he ever knew back on earth is long dead. The only company he has now is a hologram of his “stone in the shoe” co-worker, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), and a vainglorious, self-centered, fashion-obsessed creature that evolved from his pregnant pet cat (Danny John-Jules). That was the first series set up back in 1988. 24 years and ten series (Seasons) later, not much has changed – and that is great news as Red Dwarf X more than delivers what fans have longed for.



Red Dwarf X

Studio: BBC Warner

Year: 2012

US Rating: Not Rated

Film Length: 173 mins

Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080i High Definition

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH


Release Date: January 8, 2013

Review Date: February 2, 2013


“We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Apart from pain. And maybe humiliation and obviously death. And failure. But apart from fear, pain and humiliation, failure and the unknown and death we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Who’s with me?”


The Show

4/ 5


Over the course of eight series, comprised six episodes per series, multifarious science-fiction concepts and tales are explored through the misadventures of the crew, which added Kryton (Robert Llewellyn), a service Mechanoid, in the third series. Red Dwarf became something of a cult classic though its popularity on British televisions means that it did not achieve its cult status by way of obscurity. Rather, legions of dedicated fans, now from around the world, fell in love with the sardonic wit, the drenching sarcasm, and the frequently the clever plotting. In recent years, repeats of the show on a television station in the United Kingdom called Dave (after Red Dwarf’s lead character) clearly demonstrated the lingering appetite for the misfortunes of this crew. In 1999, after a ten-year hiatus, the crew of the Red Dwarf returned to the small screen in Back to Earth. This outing received only middling reviews and reaction from fans though ratings were quite strong. Produced as a telemovie the story found the crew making its way back home to earth only to find their lives were fiction, and actors (resembling them precisely), had been playing them on TV. The material was reasonably good though it sacrificed its typical barrage of laughs for a bigger production and, in one of those rare cases, spent too much time on story and concept and not enough on the ingredients that made the show a favorite – the crew bickering in front of an engaged audience.


The series that began humbly, filmed in front of a live audience, spent the latter end of its initial eight series run distracted by trying to tell larger stories and forwent the small, compact stories that favored the acidic interactions between the characters over almost everything else. Upon its return to its episodic format, Red Dwarf X rectifies all of creative distractions. It is a wonderful return to form. 


Doug Naylor took over the reins of the show a number of years ago and for series X served as writer, director, and producer. An exhausting set of duties, especially with expectations running high (even if the budget and timetable did not equal those expectations). Six episodes, filmed in front of an appreciative audience, find all four members of the crew back in the saddle. Craig Charles and Chris Barrie wear the years since the show’s launch a little more in their respective roles of Dave Lister and Rimmer. Danny John-Jules does not appear to have aged much at all as Cat, and the rubber-faced actor, Robert Llewllyn, is behind enough prosthetics to hide any trace of aging though a tad more rotund now. Together they fill the ramshackle rooms and halls of the Red Dwarf as if not a day has gone by – slipping with ease into their familiar casts and bantering playfully and scathingly as ever before. 


Each of the episodes is well written and riddled with the hilarious verbal-sparring and occasional self-loathing that gave this series a long life. Chris Barrie’s Rimmer has always been the kind of man who ranked below the boot-scrapings one finds on the bottom rung of a ladder, and he has always played it with the perfect amount of unearned pride and weasel-like cowardice. Craig Charles’ Lister is the everyman slob, a blending of rough with tough but not enough smarts to propel either of those traits beyond hindrances. The Cat, a relatively one-note character, has fortunately avoided being over used throughout the years. Actor Danny John-Jules polishes the unaware and sharply dressed feline comfortably every time he is asked to scoot in or out of a scene, often dancing with his own thoughts and preening the laughs within a scene with a drive-by quality. Finally, Robert Llewellyn’s Kryton has long-been a fan favorite because of the actors imbuing of the android with ample amounts of pomp, awkwardness and pettiness (such as his from obsessions with dusting and ironing) and he continues that here without missing a beat.


For these new episodes, the crew contends with the long-existing paradox of Lister being his own Dad, Rimmer’s distress at never achieving office status, the unexpected outcomes of quantum entanglement, and a messianic encounter that will give everyone pause. Classic Dwarf material


The Episodes

1: Trojan

2: Fathers and Suns

3: Lemons

4: Entangled

5: Dear Dave

6:The Beginning


The Video

4/5


Red Dwarf  is presented in superb looking 1080p framed at 1.78:1 – matching is broadcast ratio in the UK (and in Canada, New Zealand and Australia). A razor sharp image with bold, bright colors fills the screen from scene to scene. Blacks are solid too. Flesh tones are rich and even the studio lighting does not seem harsh in any way – even during the episode Lemons where the crew find themselves back in time, in the early Anno Domini years where they encounter a young man who may very well be Jesus.


The Sound

3.5/5


Red Dwarf has never been an aurally stand-out show. The music in the opening, the various external visual effects shots (which are the finest they have ever been here), along with audience guffaws and applause make up the bulk of the action outside of the front channels where the dialogue take precedence.  The 5.1 DTS-HD track allow for the audio to be cleaner, crisper than the DVD editions of the previous series’ – besides Back to Earth – and that counts for something


The Extras

4/5

(Available on disc 2)


We’re Smegged – HD (1:22:00): This ‘exclusive feature-length documentary’ is a terrific piece chronicling the return of the series to television sets. Interviews with the cast and crew are in-depth and rewarding.


Deleted Scenes – HD (30:00): Optional writer commentary is available on the numerous deleted scenes that run for almost 30 minutes               


Smeg Ups – HD (13:00): Very funny outtakes reel



Final Thoughts


Red Dwarf’s resurrection due to the popularity of its reruns on a television station named after the character of Dave lister is a great story unto itself. That this tenth series found its way back to the tight-spaced sparring that set it aside from other shows through the years is a dream come true for fans. Not everyone was as won over as this reviewer was. However, those few rough edges here and there aside – clearly the result of a rushed production schedule – Red Dwarf X is a delightfully strong season.


A majority of high praise from fans, solid ratings, and what seems like an unquenchable desire to see the Dwarfer’s continue their exploits, all bode well for the cast and crew returning for an eleventh series. Bring it on!



Overall (Not an average)

4/5


Neil Middlemiss

Kernersville, NC




"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection

#2 of 3 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney

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Posted February 05 2013 - 03:38 PM

Are you sure it's 1080p and not 1080i (interlaced)? The reason I ask is, as this was shot for UK television, its original broadcast format would have been 1080i (not p), at 50hz (to match the refresh rate of UK broadcast standards). Like "Back to Earth", "Being Human" and other UK-HD shows, this blu-ray is probably a 1080i/60hz "standards conversion" from the 1080i/50hz original, as 50hz isn't in the US specification (and many players, most notably the PS3, can't handle 50hz, which would necessitate a 60hz conversion). The UK (Region B) version of this title is 1080i....

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted February 06 2013 - 04:03 AM

Originally Posted by AndyMcKinney 

Are you sure it's 1080p and not 1080i (interlaced)?

The reason I ask is, as this was shot for UK television, its original broadcast format would have been 1080i (not p), at 50hz (to match the refresh rate of UK broadcast standards). Like "Back to Earth", "Being Human" and other UK-HD shows, this blu-ray is probably a 1080i/60hz "standards conversion" from the 1080i/50hz original, as 50hz isn't in the US specification (and many players, most notably the PS3, can't handle 50hz, which would necessitate a 60hz conversion).

The UK (Region B) version of this title is 1080i....

I believe you are correct. The case indicates 1080p but I should know better than to go exclusively by that. I'll amend.


Thanks.


"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection




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