Monday, 28 July 2014

TV Series Review: Red Dwarf

For one of our anniversaries Mr Click’s parents treated us to the box set of Red Dwarf series 1-8. When we finished watching The Two Ronnies a couple of weeks ago, we moved straight on to Red Dwarf, having had it hanging around without being taken out of the wrapping for quite a while.

I’m pretty familiar with all of these series of Red Dwarf because we used to have them all on DVD but even before that I was a big fan and they were a staple of my childhood. I actually had a choir teacher at primary school who taught us the theme song, I still sing along with the end credits.

As a child I always liked Cat most of all because he was funny and always wore really weird outfits. This time around I couldn’t really pick a favourite, I even found myself liking Rimmer at some points during the series.

Although there are eight series in this box set, they’re not long. The earlier ones consist of six episodes and then this increases to eight for a couple of series. I’d not seen series seven and eight quite as many times as some of the earlier ones so I found myself enjoying these ones a little bit more simply because the jokes felt newer to me. I especially like the later episodes because they include Kochanski, I liked the addition of her character because it shook up the dynamic of the four man band and allowed them to bring in a few more gender-based jokes that they maybe wouldn’t have gotten away with had there not been a woman in the crew.

Normally programmes that retcon events or get out of things that happened in previous episodes by skipping over them with a brief comment really annoy me. For some reason I just accept it in Red Dwarf. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been watching it for years, or perhaps it’s because it’s just that sort of a zany programme that you can’t help but accept that things are the fluid and liable to change.

One of my all time favourite episodes will always be Backwards, because it’s just so clever. I also liked the virtual reality episodes like Better Than Life and Back to Reality. Obviously there have been more episodes since series eight and so we had to treat ourselves to those as well. Picking up Back to Earth and series ten mean that I’ve added Lemons and Fathers and Suns to my list of favourites.

You just have to love the genius of the Dwarfers going back in time, encountering Jesus and then trying to save Christianity, and being who they are, things get a little smegged up. And the fact that Lister, who by a weird timey-wimey quirk is his own father, trying to offer some father-son advice by getting absolutely hammered to record a video which he won't remember when he's sober. It's classic and fresh and hilarious.

One of the only downsides to the box set that we own is that it is the ‘Just the Shows’. That means there’s no special features. It's a sneaky way to get you to spend a bit more if you want all the extra features. As a child I always enjoyed watching the Smeg Ups and I missed that on these ones. There are Smeg Ups and Making Of documentaries on both the Back to Earth set and series ten. It’s really interesting to see how they went about making the newer series almost twenty years after the very first one. I don’t remember anything about featurettes on the DVDs we used to have but I’d like to watch them if they’re available.

It’s also interesting to see how the comedy and filming style changed over the years, presumably showing the changes in humour, trends and technology as the series progressed. There was a touch of this in the documentary on the series ten set, where they looked back at how things had been done in the past and how they’d had to update them for modern sets and cameras.

We’ve now moved on to watching Blackadder which has a similar sort of vintage, sporadic schedule and sense of humour. I’m quite enjoying our comedy right before bed each night. Again, we're sailing through it so expect another TV series review post in a couple of weeks.

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