Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5

Back in 1988, BBC 2 broke one of those unwritten rules. You just don’t do sci-fi comedy on TV! But when the budget allocated to an expected (but never planned) second series of the filmed Ben Elton sitcom HAPPY FAMILIES became available, RED DWARF was ready to step into the breach and lift off. So a minor TV legend was born.

I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about RED DWARF. I hated the first series but grew to admire and even enjoy later series as the characters became more rounded out and the science-fiction elements – monsters, aliens, other planets – came to the fore. Then, worryingly, the science-fiction took over and the jokes went missing. The most recent series, RED DWARF 8 redressed the balance a bit and who knows what direction the legendary and on-its-way-soon,really feature film will take.

But for now here’s another quality DVD release from the BBC archives as RED DWARF series one gets the 2-disc treatment. These six episodes, presented as they were originally screened and with none of that silly remastering the BBC attempted on later series, are a lotfunnier in retrospect. Trading on the classic sitcom sit of people who don’t get on forced to live and work together, the low budget forces the script to up the joke quota. RED DWARF at this point is a comedy first and a science-fiction show a very distant second. It’s all the better for it too and actually damned funny.

THE DISCS: Nice clean transfers of the episodes themselves but the real meat of the discs lies with the extras. The cast supply a rowdy commentary track for the episodes and there’s a curious bonus commentary for episode one where Director Ed Bye and series creators Grant and Naylor discuss the show without any reference to the visuals at all. Most odd. It’s more like a pally comnversation that a commentary. There are loads of (quite rightly) deleted scenes, a nice half-hour documentary about the creation of the show, out-takes(or ‘smeg-ups’ as they’ve become known) and assorted other bits and pieces. A nice selection for a nicely-presented release.

More to explorer