Well, following the phenomenal success of my posting of my 2002 review of the Red Dwarf series one DVD from the Spring 2003 issue of The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club magazine Better Than Life, here is my outstanding 2003 review of the series three DVD, which was printed in the Spring 2004 issue (#46) of BTL.
Without wishing to be overly rude or disrespectful to the great TORDFC team members who used to put the magazine together, copying Fan Club Members’ grubby hand-written notes into their high tech word processing computer programs (or something), BTL did used to contain a lot of spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes (and I realise that if I make any such errors in this piece, I’ll look something of an arse). However, I am going to copy this review, in full, exactly as it appeared in the mag. There are some of these mistakes, but I would just like to explain beforehand that these are not my fault. They’re THEIRS.
However, the gormlessness on the author’s account (where, amongst other things, I fail to recognise the fact that that’s an Easter Egg at the end of Marooned, and make some toe-curlingly awful ‘Ha ha! Look at me, being cheeky to the Fan Club Chairperson!’ comments) is entirely my own fault, and I apologise profusely.
RED DWARF SERIES III DVD
Well, it’s that time of year again, when you put your feet up, grab a barrel of coffee, and read my review of the latest Red Dwarf DVD. Here we go…
Disc 1: The Episodes
The very first thing you notice is the actual discs themselves. Rather than being plain discs with the RD logo on them, this time we are treated to the discs having the Starbug background, with Lister on disc 1, Rimmer on disc 2.
Once the DVD’s in and playing – we are off. New opening titles feature Starbug heading home for the Dwarf. Upon landing, we are lead through the RD corridors of later years to the Science Room, where Holly is waiting for us, and a bazookoid lets off random fire. From here, as well as selecting subtitles and full commentary, we can go to Select Episode. We then peel off, back towards the landing bay, and up to the lockers over-looking Starbug’s hanger. Hudzen’s theme plays as we choose but after playing twice through the music changes to the party time misic, and Kevin the Polymorph appears. Once he has turned into a rabbit you can select this discs bonus feature, which is an alternative take of the polymorph’s final scene in which it is destroyed. Unfortunately, the effort doesn’t quite work, hence the re-shoot required for the final episode.
It’s worth noting that once again, the animated CD menus are beautifully realised, and when selecting your episode, the items in the lockers as they open show wonderful attention to detail. Books and a toy soldier in “Marooned”, and Junior Angler and a tension sheet in “Timeslides”, even though we only see them for a second or two. Meanwhile, the chapter points are illustrated with moving Polaroid’s.
The commentaries, are as usual, better than the entire DVD’s of the other series although I have to say, they aren’t to my mind, as consistently funny as previous series: On a couple of occasions, it seems as though poor Hattie is being ignored – Listen to Timeslides – She asks one question 3 times, and still isn’t answered! Craig makes a couple of comments throughout that annoy me (as usual!). He disses the effects (while not calling them crap, I think he suggests that they are rubbish – they are great, if a little dated in parts), and during Polymorph, the fans. As the Polymorph “blips” at the beginning of the episode, he moans about fans knowing everything it turns into. Now, I don’t know everything, but some people do. they enjoy it – I mean it’s a laugh innit? plus, its in the Programme Guide.
Whatever, the episodes are as great as ever, and the cast are enjoying themselves – it seems that they haven’t watched series 3 for some time.!
There is actually a couple of things on these episodes I have never noticed before – the first is at the end of “Backwards”, where at the end of the theme tune, we have some interesting “cosmic sound affects”. and second is at the end of “Marooned”. Once all the credits have rolled, we have another 20 seconds looking at the crashed Starbug. This certainly wasn’t on the videos, and I’ve never seen it on the TV – I wonder if it was on the original broadcast, or whether it’s been added for the DVD buyers benefit?
These are over a dozen bonus features on this disc. It really is choc-full! from the Science Room, you can select subtitles for the bonus features for this release which is a nice touch. We’ve also got the usual documentary. This time it’s “All Change – series III”. This really is fantastic – Over an hour of in- depth interviews and profiling of each episode. Theres plenty of information to be learnt here – I mean, I for one didn’t know that Doug Naylor had a false leg! The introduction to the piece lasts 25 minutes, with the episode profiles lasting for between 3 and 15 minutes. Excellent quality.
In the Officers Quarters, there are bonus features a plenty. Jim Reaper appears on the vid screen, where we can select trailers. These trailers as it explains, have been recovered from VHS. The first is from the original 1989 run and features the “May Day” scene from Marooned, with the RD theme playing under it, ending with a voice over telling us ” Red Dwarf – Thursday”. The second is actually a trailer for the videos, dating from at least 1992, advertising series II and III. It really is awful – but funny! Back in the bunk room, as you flick from item to item, you notice how slow the selection process is compared to the previous releases. Which is my main grumble about this release.
The tension sheet on Lister’s bunk shows us the deleted scenes, including the “poker” scene from Marooned with the awful FX. Unfortunately, Robert Llewellyn’s “electrifying” first day as a Red Dwarf cast member, that infamous sauna scene from Bodyswap has long since been lost in the annuls of time and is unavailable. One of the most interesting things of this section are the episode introductions from Holly. These don’t get big laughs, although I found the one about Annika Rice quite amusing! We do however, find that they just weren’t funny oh, and Hattie can’t say “phenomenon!”
The Gallery this time round is excellent, based on the Timeslides photographs. Split in to 5 sections, there are 2 lots of Production stills, behind the scenes, models and covers and instant snap-shots. I’d say that around 65% of these are largely unseen and they’re all great. They’re a lot larger and easier to see than on previous series II.
The Gallery also contains one of the two Easter Eggs hidden on this disc. Select “models and covers”, and once the first drawing of Starbug pops up, use your arrow keys to select it. A fascinating feature on the production of the new Starbug Playset toy appears (I want one!), and includes a mention of master model maker Ian Crichton/Kryten! brilliant!
The Scrabble set on the desk contains a tribute to the late, great Mel Bibby, entitled “Building A Better Universe”. Although it only lasts around 8 minutes, its really nice and heartfelt.
Lister’s Guitar, as usual contains the music cues. Not as many this series, although the full length version of “Cash” is worth listening to.
Books on Rimmer’s bunk contain chapters from Better Than Life relating to Marooned (part 2, chapter 6), and Polymorph (part 3, chapters 17 and 18).
An enormous plate of mashed potato contains the “Food” featurette, A kind of solid equivalent to “Drunk” on series I. “Food” however is not as well thought out as the featurettes on the previous discs – the sound track is unrelated(“I got you” by James Brown – I suppose theres a Catty vibe ) and it’s a bit of a botched job in my opinion.
Marilyn Monroe’s foot contains model shots, some of which are absolutely beautiful, while Lister’s tin of Dog Food contains the Smeg ups, again, the majority have already been seen. Although I loved the final one where Starbug just plunges out of Red Dwarf – and goes straight down…
The Recognition Test book contains the most novel of the bonus features – Backwards Forwards. What more do I need to say on the subject – it does exactly what it says on the tin – although you do find that some things make no sense which ever way they are played.
The traffic cone features Hattie Hayridge’s Dimension Jump Diary. This lasts about 10 minutes and features mostly the cast, although she does talk to some of the fans too – notably Paul and Vicky and theres some weirdo with RD tattoos all over her leg and back. Strange person…. (insert knowing wink here!).
Finally – throughout all this, the polymorph has been flitting from thing to thing however once it’s turned in to a rabbit select it and a question mark will appear, with a click you’ve got another Rob/Doug/Ed cartoon. This is funny. They’ve now re-located from Starbugs cockpit to the officers quarters. Oh, and for some reason Rob’s dyed his hair…
As always this DVD is terrific value for money. The past day or 2 I’ve slated it a bit, giving it a paltry 8.5 out of 10. Now I’ve written this review and gone a bit more in-depth, I’ll give it an extra point – 9.5 out of 10 the slow menu section letting it down.
For now though that’s it! Role on February – Red Dwarf IV…
Well I hope I haven’t bored you all too much. I know it’s long but, well there you go! I’m hoping to be at DJ next year, but student life down here in Wales isn’t being kind on my wallet. I’m skint! Ah well we’ll see…
So there we have it, painfully awful punctuation-based warts and all. I was, as I mentioned, at University by this time (No, I didn’t get my degree, why do you always have to bring that up?!), so I suspect that’s why I wrote no more DVD reviews. That and the fact that all the other Red Dwarf sites like Ganymede & Titan and White Hole etc, all did them a lot better.
And no, of course I didn’t get to Dimension Jump 2004…