As with Series I, Series II was eagerly anticipated and pre-ordered from Play as soon as it was listed. I’m not sure if this puts you on the top of the pile for despatch for what, but for the second time I received my DVD on the Saturday, a whole two days before the release date. Marvelous.
This suited me down to the ground as I was attending the official launch on the Monday so I was able to get some good watching in before hand.
As fully expected, Series II was made in the same mould as Series I with features being almost directly parallel to that of the first DVD. The first disk still has all 6 episodes on coupled with commentaries for each episodes performed by the main four of; Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Norman Lovett. The second disk remained packed full of extras with only the one Easter egg this time. So, disk 1…
DISK I – Episodes I to VI and commentary
Something happened to Craig Charles in the gap between Series I and II (and it wasn’t a very big gap) that made him an all round better actor. In fact, the whole cast seem to perform more of a unit and, what’s more, the audience actually know these characters which allows the actors to play to them much more effectively making some of the scenes wonderfully funny and natural. Changes to the series include a smidgen more colour into the set and clothing and the face of Holly appearing much more human and less pixilated as in Series I. Good changes all round.
The image and sound is brought up to scratch with the same effectives as Series I. It’s such a big difference when this sort of clean up work is applied to old VT such as this, and it makes you wonder why anyone ever bothered with the Field Removal technique used for the re-mastered series and VII.
The commentary is more of the same with some wonderful banter going on between the cast members and the obligatory picking on Norman. The stories surrounding the filming and subsequent nights out are hilarious and also some interesting stuff about some bitterness between Craig and Chris about who was getting the funnier lines. A noticeable difference is the absence of a ‘bonus’ commentary by Rob, Doug and Ed. Mainly because they couldn’t get them to record and new one and they couldn’t pillage any more stuff from the ‘Six of the Best’ CD interview.
The menu system is heavily borrowed from series I (mainly because, of course, they both used the same sets) but are effectively spruced up to reflect the look and feel of the second series. The incidental music has been changed for the moving between screens as has the Holly loop footage and, brilliantly, the simulation of the set lighting.
The menus look just as good, if not better than the previous DVD, manly due to all the extra things of interest lying about like the Holly Watch, the Holly Hop Drive and a pile of post. Now let gets into the meat of things, the extras.
DISK II – The Extras
As I mentioned earlier many of the features on this series draw direct parallels with that of series I. Launching Red Dwarf is replaced with a Doug Naylor interview, the ‘Drunk’ featurette with ‘Alternate Personalities’ and so on.
Photo Gallery – A few more photos this time round as the budget increased as did the amount of production stills taken. Despite this, still a little thin on the ground for anything new.
Deleted Scenes – These are, as ever, very interesting to watch but there is still a hint that these scenes were cut for quality reason rather than for time. The cat singing scene was pretty interesting, but at the same time rather rubbish too.
Smeg Ups – Same old, same old. We’ve seen them all before but the DVD would not be complete without them. Always a giggle to watch.
Original BBC2 Trailer – This is a rather poor trailer compared to the Series I effort. It basically just shows, the rather over played, Holly / Dogs milk scene and has no voice overs or clever editing. It’s still well worth including on the DVD, however as original continuity is always fascinating in its own way.
‘Alternate Personalities’ Featurette – Despite many of the clips not living up to the title this is yet another well put together and edited piece. Set to the music ‘Little Green Bag’ played by the George Baker Selection this featurette does exactly what it says on the tin, gives you some alternate personalities in a featurette.
Red Dwarf A-Z Documentary – First seen on Red Dwarf night in 1998 and then released as part of Series VII Byte III, this documentary is nice little feature. You may even recognise yourself in the fan convention section.
Doug Naylor Interview – An incredibly interesting interview with co-writer and creator, Doug Naylor. He tells us about production of the second series and just how little input he had back in the days when the production company wasn’t his own.
Tongue Tied Uncut – What you have here is basically what we got the on ‘Smeg Outs’ video without all of the dire claymation bits cut in. It’s the full on stage performance given by Danny, Craig, Chris and Norman with choreography by Charles Augins (Queeg).
Isolated Music Cues, Talking Book Chapters and Special Effects Raw Footage – All of the above are fanboy pleasers (and boy was I pleased). The best of the lot has to be the Isolated Music Cues as you can listen to all of the music and incidental stuff on demand without any of the show getting in the way. The Special Effects Raw Footage is also nice to see and significant more packed than the series I collection, with Red Dwarf, Blue Midget and Nova 5 shots included. Finally, the Talking Book Chapters have yet more extracts from the book ‘Infinity: Welcomes Careful drivers, and is fairly relevant to the events in Series II.
In summary, a fine follow up to the Series I DVD with a nice taste of things to come. As with the other one you really get the feeling that they have done everything possible to make this DVD something special. There’s certainly room for improvement and expansion. Let’s hope we can see the money made from the I and II sales translated to the next set of DVDs.