Red Dwarf: Help Me!

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by CraigF, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Two things first. Red Dwarf is very expensive here, even in the context of generally expensive BBC shows. I (blind) bought Red Dwarf seasons 1 & 2 in a package years ago, and I thought it was the worst TV show I'd ever seen, a real effort to finish.

    However, I thought it had real potential, and I really liked the premise. I am suspecting many did, not the least important being the BBC who continued it for years. So, can someone please give me an unbiased as possible an opinion of how it went after season 2. Or, if I didn't much like the first seasons, am I likely to not "connect" with the rest too? If you felt like me after 1&2 and changed your mind, especially appreciated to know how/why you changed your attitude. Thanks.
     
  2. Mikel_Cooperman

    Mikel_Cooperman Producer

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    I liked the show from the start but I Do thing it got getter as it went on. that is until Rimmer left.
     
  3. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    The show gets better the more money the Beeb throws at it, up to a certain point. Series 3 saw the introduction of Kryten as a permanent character (played by a different actor who is less nebbishy). Then the holy grail of character dynamics is created in the foursome of The Cat, Kryten, Rimmer and Lister. The way they play off each other is amazing. I think S4 had the largest number of winning episodes, particularly White Hole and Meltdown (Winnie the Pooh + firing squad = comedic genius). I've found the latest series, S8, to be disappointing after the really great S7 (Jane Austen World rocks!) S6 was my introduction to the show and still my favorite (though my fav ep remains White Hole).
     
  4. andrew markworthy

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    Craig, I had a similar experience to you in that I thought series 1 and 2 sucked big time when I first saw them. I only started re-watching it when the foursome David describes came into being and then I loved it and really got into it. It is generally reckoned by RD fans (and I agree) that series 4,5, and 6 are the best ones. Having said that, once you have got into 4-6, series 1 and 2 suddenly appear a lot better for some reason.

    I would personally recommend starting with series 4, working through to series 6. If you like those, then try series 3, then 1 and 2 again, and only at the end try series 7 and 8.

    Series 7 and 8 are a bit of an oddity. To explain the background to this, things were going really well at the end of series 6. Then several things changed:

    (1) Craig Charles (who plays Lister) was arrested on a rape charge. Ultimately he was found not guilty (I *think* the case was dismissed before it even reached court, but I may be wrong), but whilst he was under suspicion, for obvious reasons the show was put on hold.

    (2) When the show restarted, Chris Barrie (who plays Rimmer) was enjoying success in another comedy called the Brittas Empire, and he wanted out. Therefore, Rimmer is not in many of the episodes, and the series lost a key component.

    (3) The first six series were written primarily by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Rob Grant dropped out in series 7, leaving Naylor to do most of the writing alone for the last two series.

    (4) *POSSIBLE SPOILER* To compensate for the sporadic appearance of Rimmer, another character was needed, and so Kochanski was brought into the cast from an alternate dimension and played by a different actress from the earlier series (just don't ask). I think it's fair to say that the fans' response to this was mixed ...

    (5) To some people (myself included) who plays Holly is of importance. I have a personal aversion to Norman Lovett playing the role (don't get me wrong, I'm sure he's a great guy, but I just don't like his portrayal in RD). Norman Lovett plays Holly in Series 1 and - you've guessed it - series 7 and 8.

    (6) The plots in series 7 and 8 took a radically different turn and they lack the familiar feel of the earlier series.
     
  5. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Thanks. Here's what I've got: must watch series 4 - 6. Series 7 is a toss-up. I can skip series 3 and 8 without losing sleep, least at this point. Then go back to 1 and 2 (which wouldn't hurt since it's been a couple years even now).

    Not a problem. Seinfeld took 3-4 seasons (depending who tells it, Seinfeld or us) to hit a stride, though I liked it from episode 1.

    It is interesting to me how major characters can just drop out of popular BBC series ("Jeff" in Coupling comes to mind) mid-stream sort of. They sure don't bind them for years the way American TV networks do. You practically have to die to get out of one of those if they want you. TV actors and creators have a lot more freedom in the UK, it seems, but I also suspect they don't make the $$$$ like in the U.S., the trade-off.
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    Curiously enough, on some long-running UK comedy shows, this was literally the case. A macabre joke about Dad's Army (hugely popular show in Britain about WWII elderly volunteers for a type of militia defence force, and largely played by elderly actors) was to watch an early episode and guess the chronological order in which the actors playing the main characters died. In another instance, Last of the Summer Wine (about three elderly men finding insane things to do in Yorkshire) continued until the actor playing one of the pivotal characters died of old age. Remarkably, given that the programme started off with fairly elderly actors, Last of the Summer Wine was one of the longest-running (and possibly the longest-running) comedy programme ever, lasting over twenty years.
     
  7. Malcolm Cleugh

    Malcolm Cleugh Second Unit

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    One of the things which amazes me with Red Dwarf is the quality of the extras. These have to be the most detailed of any TV series (even beats the Doctor Who ones).
    They include very long (over 1 hour) making of for each series. What I love is the honesty, they dont brush over creative differences and cast and production changes.

    In terms of the episodes would agree with comments above S1 to 6 are best. Have only bought S7 and preordered S8 as completist and want all of them.

    Interesting point on UK TV series is the cast changes. This is because I guess compared to US actors they are lower paid and the TV channels (BBC especially) dont usually tie up cast on long term deals. Once a series is successful many actors in the UK seem to want to make "movies in Hollywood" (as they probably perceive this as more glamorous and higher paid if they "make it"). This is especially true of actresses as younger male British actors are less in demand unless they play villans, whereas there always seems to be demand for younger female British actresses.
    The current TV series which most annoys me with constant cast changes is Spooks (US title MI5) where the lead actors change at a regular rate.
     
  8. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I'll offer a somewhat dissenting viewpoint: I think the first two series were among the series very best, with darker humor and the very freaky sense that Lister and company are alone in the universe. Series three and four aren't bad, but they're very different in tone, more a funny sci-fi adventure series than a comedy set against a sci-fi backdrop. Five through seven have their moments, but by the end of S7, I was absolutely ready for the re-invention of the series that "Nanarchy" and #8 provided. Oh, and I loved Norman Lovett as Holly.

    It is interesting to see how often this show re-invented itself, despite having mostly the same cast. If you don't like the first two, it's worth it to give #3 a try, not so much because it's better, but because it's a different take on the idea.
     
  9. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    Jason Seaver - snap! I agree entirely. [​IMG]
     
  10. Tony J Case

    Tony J Case Cinematographer

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    I'm going to offer another dissenting viewpoint: I like 'em all. From season one all the way through season 8. Sure the tone and cast changes flip the dynamic on the ear all the time, but thats good. Don't like what the show is doing? Wait a season and try again.

    I would say stick it out at least until season 3, where they add the Kryten. He really rounds out the group.
     
  11. RobertW

    RobertW Supporting Actor

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    i never could get over the new Holly replacing Lovett. it didn't affect my enjoyment of the series, but i really missed him as Holly, that laconic expression and line delivery, incredibly dry sense of humor.

    haven't really followed the show since series 6, i think, as it's hard to track down when the new series aired on my public tv stations. do intend to pick up the dvd's someday. one of the absolute most side-splittingly funny series i've ever enjoyed.

    but i certainly miss the lovely Claire Grogan as Kochanski in her earliest appearances. was so disappointed when another actress took over the part.
     
  12. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the further discussion. I do plan to try more series.

    Holy crap, these are still expensive here. Much much more reasonable in the UK, maybe I'll buy there. I can't help but feel a "big set" is due.

    Andrew: I do remember Dad's Army. We lived in England at the time when Monty Python was new. Couldn't believe British TV compared to Canada. My dad would just about piss himself laughing when we were watching Steptoe and Son.

    Edit: each series is just about half the cost in the UK (less VAT) compared to in Canada. When the BBC puts out "complete" sets they are a good deal even here. I am kind of hoping for that, but OTOH you can't do that until a program is over. I do not wish the end of RD for the diehard fans, but the cheapskate in me asks: is it imminent? [​IMG]
     
  13. andrew markworthy

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    Craig, not cheapskate at all, just very practical.

    The answer to 'is it all over?' is not very clear cut.

    There is talk that there will be a RD movie, and last thing I heard was that this had at last got the green light, but checking the official website it doesn't look as if filming has started yet. If the movie takes place, I seriously doubt if another TV series will follow, and even if the movie is never made, I think it's doubtful if the cast will then settle for making another TV series.

    All this is a bit awkward, because without spoiling anything, it's safe to say that Series 8 (the last TV series made) ended on something of a cliffhanger. A denoument is promised some time, but what form this will take is unclear - I've heard that it may even be in the form of a book.

    With regard to waiting for a box set, there is a box set of sorts already available in the UK. Called 'Red Dwarf: Just the Shows Volume 1' it contains DVDs of shows 1-4, but (and this is the important bit) with no extras . It doesn't require an Einstein to work out that there is likely to be a Volume 2 offering vanilla versions of 5-8 in the near future.

    I would place a small bet that we will see a box set bringing together all the current individual series issues (including extras) contained in a big cardboard sleeve in time for next Christmas and at a considerable price (though at cost per unit it will be somewhat cheaper).
     
  14. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Just out of curiosity, and I realise this is off topic, but - has Summer Wine been cancelled? I know one of the main actors died a couple of years ago, but I thought they brought in that actor's son to fill his place as a new character, so I thought it must still be going on.
     
  15. Tony J Case

    Tony J Case Cinematographer

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    The key thing being that the movie has had the green light for . . . well, forever now. Now while movies do get made after a decade in pre-production limbo (spiderman, for example), I've seriously got my doubts about ever getting the movie.
     
  16. andrew markworthy

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    There were some rather stronger optimistic noises that things were going ahead last year, and it appears that things are moving according to web site, but as you say, I wouldn't hold my breath. Having said that, Hitchiker's Guide took an eternity to come to the big screen, and that pales into insignificance next to how long a Lord of the Rings film was in the pipeline (have a look at Humphrey Carpenter's excellent biography of Tolkein to see some of the film projects touted after the books were first a success).
     
  17. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Thanks, Andrew.

    And, on the subject of Red Dwarf - I'll agree that series 4 to 6 are the show's height, and you may find them worth watching before you dismiss the entire show. Personally, I did not like series 7 at all, but thought series 8 was quite enjoyable. (Plus I liked the new Kochanski more - unpopular view I know.)
     
  18. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    What I want to know is where the hell is it? I've searched all the usual places over here like Future Shop, Best Buy and HMV but have yet to even see a copy of Series 7 on the shelves.[​IMG] Ticks me off when they don't have the stuff I want on street date.[​IMG] I guess I'll just have to check back later in the week.


    Actually, I like the new Kochanski too......she's quite attractive. [​IMG]
     
  19. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    I'll pipe up for a 'me too'... her pity session with cottage cheese with pineapple chunks in was one of the funnier moments in Series VII (though I will have disagree with you on the 7 vs. 8 debate... I found 8 to be the same plot pretty much every episode, though I did enjoy the Pete two-parter quite a bit).
     
  20. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    I haven't watched series 7 or 8 in quite a while, so I can't really comment in too much detail. From what I remember, I can see what you mean about similar plots in season 8. I just remember that, when I was watching them, I didn't find series 7 terribly funny, but I laughed a lot more at series 8. Not quite up to series 4-6 heights, but still much funnier. The dramatic change in the show 's concept really rejuvenated it, I thought.
     

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