I came into Red Dwarf V knowing absolutely nothing about the show. In fact, I don’t know that it’s possible that I could have been anymore in the dark then I was before I screened it. I thought I might be at a loss to review this DVD, but lets just say that once it started up I was able to follow along with it pretty easily. Basically, this show is like what Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs would have been had it been set in Europe. You have a band of people traveling through the solar system(with a crewmate that looks curiously like Max Headroom), and you watch as they encounter different beings and people in ways that appreciate and also subvert typical Sci-Fi conventions.
I liked this show. I find that British humor is imminently watchable. I have no idea why, maybe it’s the way the jokes are told, maybe it’s the jokes themselves, but I always seem to be able to get into the humor. Here I was dealing with a show and with characters that I knew nothing about, but as I watched the crew members interact and get into their various adventures, I couldn’t help but laugh at their foibles. I know that this show is from 1992, but I really appreciated how they attempted so many grand “space” ideas when it was obvious how budget this show was. It wasn’t budget in that they failed, it was budget in that you could tell that that was the whole point.
With this attitude, the fans and those who are unfamiliar will really appreciate Red Dwarf V. Even if you are not a fan of British humor, but just like zany sci-fi you will appreciate this show.
Cast Commentary and Fan Commentary on “Back to Reality”
Everyone seems to be having a good time here. The cast talks about the scenes but everything seems to be very tongue and cheek. I mean, how could these people get together and talk about their work and not do it with a smile? As for the fan commentary there was a contest, I think, and these people won it so they were given the opportunity to comment on the “Back to Reality” episode. Let me just say that all kidding aside, that’s really cool. We get to hear people who really like the show give their thoughts and ideas, and I think it’s really great that they have a voice on the DVD of the show they love.
“Heavy Science” documentary, “Dwarfing USA”, “Bad Guys” Featurette and The SFX of Red Dwarf “Heavy Science” is actually a documentary on the making of Red Dwarf V, and the most interesting part for me was how seriously it seems to have been taken. There are words like “complex” and “complicated” being thrown around, and there was nothing about this show that really seemed that complex, but I am sure that logistically there was a lot happening that could have created problems with the production. “Dwarfing USA” is a look at when they tried to bring the show over and make it in the US. I’ll just leave it at that because anybody watching the US version of “The Office” knows that that is just a HORRIBLE idea. While to me, any mention of “real” SFX and this show might seem like a contradiction in terms, I guess making this show isn’t as easy as it looks. In fact, there is a great little tongue and cheek moment at the beginning of this piece that I wasn’t sure how seriously to take the whole thing because of it.
Deleted Scenes and Smeg Ups
Deleted scenes are the typical fare in my opinion. I guess for fans they have a purpose but to me it looked like just another way to cram more into the DVD. Not that there is anything really wrong with that, but as I am not a “true blue” fan I probably didn’t get as much out of these scenes as I could’ve. Smeg Ups are “screw ups” and you can guess that with a British comedy, done in front of a live audience that there are plenty of “bleeps” as the language is deleted during the multitude of “smeg ups”.
Trailers, Idents and Episode Intro, Raw FX Footage, Isolated Music Cues, “Dave Hollins” Radio Sketch, Photo Gallery, Weblink, 12-page Collector’s Booklet and Easter Eggs
Glossed over a lot of this stuff but as you can see they really went out of their way to leave nothing off these DVDs. I really liked having the Collector’s booklet because it helped me navigate through the disks. When I first opened these DVDs I was lost and this booklet really made my life easier. Fans will really appreciate the radio sketch because from what I understand this sketch led to the creation of this show. If all these extras don’t make you excited then nothing will!
Full Screen. This plays into the whole aesthetic of this DVD set. If this show was in wide screen, it seems like it might make Red Dwarf V almost too legitimate in terms of being a science fiction piece. This isn’t a problem because with the set design and full screen look of this show, it adds a bit of nostalgia even though I feel odd recalling the early 1990s as a nostalgic period. These shows have a brightness to them that is a bit harsh, but only because I think my eyes are so trained to view things in the filmic medium. I also love how this show is made to look cheap. It’s sort of like Lost In Space, only it doesn’t take itself as seriously. In fact, the most hi-tech thing on these disks are the DVD menus!!
Yet another DVD that doesn’t tell me what kind of sound I am hearing. Are they trying to save money on printing costs? Everything sounds fine although a few times I had to replay the DVD just to make sure that I had heard what they said correctly. I think this has more to do with my understanding of the British dialect and accent then it does with the sound quality of this DVD.
The cover for this DVD just looks bad but that is the whole point of this show!! At first I was a bit put off by this, but then as I got into the DVDs, watched the episodes and the special features everything quickly made sense. The cover has an aqua background with two characters from the show on it. The back features some more of the major players and a minute(not even a brief) description of what this show is about. They list all the special features which make me think that this 2 set DVD pack is really for the fans. Maybe it could have been a bit more descriptive, just so that it would be more accessible to those like myself who know nothing about the show, but I like that they service the fans first and let everyone else play catch up.
Red Dwarf V was a very enjoyable, enlightening screening experience. You have to understand, I went into my viewing of these DVDs with the lowest possible expectations. I thought that this show was going to be pure crap. Garbage. I was actually reminded of “The Young Ones” which is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I found the characters to be similar even though the settings of both shows were completely different.
While Red Dwarf V may not be one of my favorite shows(who knows if I will ever watch it again), I did enjoy it and I have to think that fans of the show are going to be very happy with what the DVD’s creators have given them. This 2 disk set pulls no punches in the “extras” department and as a result prospective buyers will be very pleased. I also loved how this show subverted the many genres that it seems to be reveling in. There are moments that you think the material is getting serious then it pulls the rug right out from under you.
Red Dwarf V is funny stuff!