Ganymede & Titan

Series V DVD Reviews: Mags

G&T IS BEING RUBBISH AGAIN. Still, at least we're not as bad as this. Anyway: a couple of magazine reviews of the V DVD for you; I'll do some website ones this weekend. Firstly, dreamwatch:

dreamwatch cover - issue 124Red Dwarf: Series V (Dreamwatch Recommends!)
• BBC • Region 2 DVD, �19.99 • Special Limited Edition Gift Set (featuring a Corgi model of Starbug), �24.99 • Web: www.reddwarf.co.uk

Lister (Craig Charles), Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Kryten (Robert Llewellyn), Cat (Danny John-Jules), and Holly (Hattie Hayridge) continue their travels, including getting stuck in Quarantine and being judged by The Inquisitor...

Produced before Red Dwarf started to get too glossy for its own good, the fifth series combines fine storylines and strong production values with vibrant characterization and hilarious gags to offer its best year. This six-episode series from 1992 certainly boasts the show's most imaginative and side-splitting episode, the virtual-reality-drama-with-a-twist Back to Reality, while its remaining five episodes range from the very good (The Inquisitor and Demons and Angels) to excellent (the character-driven Quarantine and thge Rimmer showcases Terrorform and Holoship).

A comprehensive selection of DVD extras is headed by the superb new 75-minute documentary Heavy Science, which offers a surprisingly honest look at the making of Series V. Further secrets are revealed by the effects-focused featurette The FX of Red Dwarf and the six cast commentaries with Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn. Back to Reality is also the subject of an enthusiastic fan commentary.

Around 40 minutes of previously unseen footage forms the Deleted and Extended Scenes section, and another selection of amusing outtakes can be found in the Smeg-Ups. Dwarfing USA offers a fascinating and forthright 30-minute look at the making of the aborted US version of Red Dwarf, and features brief clips of its pilot episode (but, alas, not the whole episode!) Other extras include Son of Cliché (the 1983 radio sketch that inspired Red Dwarf), and the sole duff bonus item, a Bad Guys featurette showing clips of various villains. A Gallery, Raw Effects Footage, Trailers, and the Music Cues (feauring the 10 principal pieces of music) complete the line-up.
Mike Thomas

Dreamwatch Verdict 9 One of Red Dwarf's best years arrives on DVD with a smegging fantastic selection of extras.

Not much to moan about there. My main contention is with the "produced before Red Dwarf started to get too glossy for its own good"; this is absolute bollocks for any number of reasons. Watch out this Saturday for an article about it; I've already got a rough draft here. Also, I really wish people would stop referring to Son of Cliché as a "sketch". But I do completely agree with the verdict.

Onto Starburst, then:

Starburst cover - issue 318Red Dwarf - Series V
Starring: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie
Directors: Juliet May and Grant Naylor


By this stage Red Dwarf had achieved mainstream popularity, and consequently series five is sleeker, faster and filled with (for '90s TV) stupendous effects. It's also crammed with high concept stories: a crew of holograms in Holoship, a psi-moon reworked by Rimmer's mindscape in Terrorform, and the Dwarfers reviving from four years in the a [sic] total immersion video game in Back To Reality. Clever stuff, but the humour isn't so rich as before, and the wealth of costume gags is a sure sign of a comedy beginning to go off the boil. 3/5

Commentary
A poorly Charles fails to make the cast recording, so it's up to his colleagues to carry it, with accomplished impressionist Barrie filling in. You'll barely notice the difference. Four fans provide a seperate commentary for Back To Reality; prepare for 30 minutes of bland banter.

Deleted Scenes
Fifty minutes of unused material, with a large chunk from Holoship - 'the longest script to date'.

Behind the Scenes
Heavy Science (76 mins) provides the whole story of the season's production, with input from every principal cast member, director Juliet May and the writers. But the disc's highlight is Dwarfing USA, a candid look at the power games, petty politics and mistakes made in the making of the US pilot. It's fascinating, with heavy criticism of the star Craig Bierko and a wealth of clips of the, "Botched, horrible version of our pilot". But why isn't the episode included in its entirety?

Other Extras
Smeg ups, raw effects footage, Trailers, music cues... the lot. 5/5

Red Dwarf V Picture 1.33:1 Sound DD 2.0 R2 Cert 12 Year 1992 R2 Avaliable November 9 R2 Price £19.99 Distributor BBC

Oooh dear. Any review that gives Red Dwarf V 3/5 has something wrong with it.

So then: I'm not convinced that Dwarf's mainstream popularity had anything to do with the increased effects; indeed, Heavy Science itself reveals that the increase in budget was minimal. More likely is that the team just got even better at spending the money, and the scripts were getting more ambitious. The humour is certainly as rich as before in my opinion, but that is at least a vaguely debatable point; what really is stupid is the dig at costume gags. For a start, there's nothing wrong with them - in fact, a lot of them are hilarious. Low Rimmer, anyone? Secondly, Dwarf has always had them. And thirdly - just count the total number of gags. Then count the number of costume gags. Divide them. You should end up with a number that proves that the number of costume gags is not even approaching a "wealth" in the grand scheme of things. "Going off the boil?" Red Dwarf V can easily lay claim to being one of the best series of the show...

Still, it's nice that the extras gets the recognition they deserve. A small point: "the writers" weren't interviewed for Heavy Science: simply one writer. It wouldn't usually matter, but seeing as Rob Grant is sorely missed on the DVDs, it seems an odd thing to get wrong.

The question about the pilot ("why isn't the episode included in its entirety?") rankles: it's pretty fucking obvious why: rights issues. And even if they didn't know, it's an easily researchable question on the internet. Still, it would be interesting to know exactly what the rights issues were. Until recently we didn't even expect clips to be clearable, and yet here we are. Is it a cast member vetoing their appearance? Is it simply that clearing the whole thing would cost too much money? Or perhaps it's something rather more complicated; the world of telly rights is rather complex, and even more so on a pilot which was never intended to be publically viewed.

Anyway: poor review. Although not, I suspect, as irritating as the SFX one will be next issue (it isn't in the current one, oddly). I'll be in touch. If you've got any mag reviews of the DVD lying round, you could always scan it in and send it us. I'm on a limited budget at the moment. Spare a copper for a poor Red Dwarf site?

With the emphasis on poor, of course.


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