All three of the DVDs released so far have been promoted by giving away a free disc through a popular publication. Strangely, both of these free discs have been released after the actual DVD itself, and, not so strangely, both have featured a popular episode and a sneak preview of some of the extra features.
The first promotional disc was mouted on the cover of issue 45 of DVD Review, released late November 2002. The cover itself contained the catchy and intelligent slogan: “SMEG OFF! Sci-Fi comedy from the BBC”, and the Series I DVD was given three (yes, a mere three) stars, despite the reviewer hardly having a bad word to say about it in his write-up. This rather annoying discrepency is also present in Starburst‘s reviews of Red Dwarf products, and it gets on our B-cups.
Anyway, the promotional disc itself, despite being in a DVD-style case, is actually a VCD – which means that the picture quality is not as good as the DVD. While we’re on the subject of its faults, we might as well draw your attention to the rather ugly cut off, where the shot of Craig Charles painting the ship switches to the CGI ship from the front of the cover, which is in place of the white section on the proper DVD, where the BBFC certificate and technical details are. On the front of the cover, the ship is much darker than it is on the proper DVD, which means that the shadows look rather too black. Other differences between the covers, aside from the captions and magazine logos, are that the Red Dwarf logo on the front is not foil-embossed, and the one above Lister’s head on the back is missing. The VCD cover does include four screenshots on the back, in place of the big extras list and certification, and they have been cropped to a 16:9 ratio, for no adequately explained reason. The disc itself, however, has the detail of the ship on it, and looks far, far better than the standard plain BBC discs that the series come on.
As for the contents of the disc, the main feature is Future Echoes, which was probably chosen as it is widely considered the best episode of Series I. This is fair enough – as long as you know the basic premise of the show (the last human, a hologram, an evolved pet and a computer on a big spaceship), you’ll find the episode funny. As bonus features you get a deleted scene, which is unsuprisingly the funeral scene from The End, as this is by far the most intriguing and talked about deleted scene from Series I. Not only that, but you also get ‘teasers’ of the Launching Red Dwarf documentary and the Japanese episode, which are each about four and a half minutes long. The former fades out rather nastily in the middle of a clip of Peter Risdale-Scott, and the latter gets tedious after two minutes, frankly. Quite why they chose this to entice new fans to the product we’ll never know. Despite these faults, this served as a rather good promotion for the series, and when you bought it, you got a rather good magazine attached to the back.