Just The Shows – Volume 1

Ah. Saturday morning. Usually, a time to rush downstairs excitedly, and wait by the letterbox and wank repeatedly until the latest Dwarf DVD arrives. However, this Saturday was different. Less of an excited run, more of a bleary-eyed groan as Gilbert thrusts a package into my hand. “Apparently, it’s Just The Shows – Volume 1, sir.”

So, what do we get for a cool, crisp £24.99?

Packaging

Just The Shows cover.So, what do we get for a cool, crisp £24.99?In one word: lovely. There has been some speculation as to exactly how the packaging was going to work. So, here’s a step-by-step demonstration of how the digipack opens out. Something which I believe even beats The Red Dwarf Boom Guide for pure unadulterated sadness.

How the Just The Shows DVD folds out. WELL DONE JOHN.

It works really, really nicely. As soon as you open up the digipack, you get a synopsis of each episode – open it out again, and the four discs greet you; the corresponding background behind each disc being a particuarly good touch. And when you remove each disc – bang, the chapter headings greet you. Perfectly designed.

There was one suggestion (from a misleading image of the cover) that the release might be in a CD-sized case. This would actually have been really nice; after all, TOS did say that the release could be “a handy back-up for the Red Dwarf fan looking to ‘travel light, move fast'”. But it’s a minor quibble.

The Discs

Picture of the discs themselves.Hey, I’m sorry. But I’ve got Ian’s legacy to live up to; I’ve got to be completist.

Anyway: rather nice. Thank fuck the BBC started using picture discs. Poor old original Series 1 and 2 releases. Another minor quibble, though: The text on the discs reads “Red Dwarf I Vol. 1”, “Red Dwarf II Vol.1 “, etc – making it look like each disc is only half the series!

Some might also think the overall greyness of the release looks rather drab. I think it’s quite classy; besides, it has to be a colour that the main eight releases won’t be, and that leaves precious little else to use. (Insert your own joke about ocean/military grey here.)

Interactive Menus

Series 1 Menu.These are really nice, actually. An excellent still model shot, with atmospheric space noise in the background. Select an episode, and you go straight into it – there isn’t even a chapter selection screen for each episode, although the chapters themselves are still there for you to manually forward through. The subtitles are also easily switched on and off, without going to a seperate menu.

In fact, whilst I’ve always been a strong defender of the Red Dwarf menus in the past, it is lovely just to be able to watch an episode straight away without all the faffing about…

Incidentally, the pictures are: Red Dwarf itself for Series 1, Blue Midget for Series 2, Starbug for Series 3, and Justice World for Series 4 – see the TOS article on it for pictures of each of them. (I’d link to the article direct, but there seems to be a bug with their use of frames which keeps redirecting me to the front page instead of the article. Sigh.) Let the endless debate as to what will be used for Series V-VIII begin… NOW.

The Episodes

They’re the episodes.

Picture/Sound Quality

I have no idea. I’m not that sensitive to that kind of thing. Fuck off.

Hey, at least I admit it, rather than ramble on about “film stock” for these releases like most reviews of Dwarf do…

Extras

I can exclusively reveal that there is one extra in this release!

Yes, it’s the one tacked onto the end of Marooned so they could recertificate the episode. (See our Andrew Ellard interview for more details.) Obviously, this had to be there, or else they would have had to use the 15 rated version and bump up the certificate.

As for others, I’m no magical wizard person, but from what I can tell this is exactly what it says on the tin – Just The Shows. If I was creating them, I would have found it difficult not to sneak something else on there, but I suppose that would have negated the entire point of the release.

Why?

Ah, the $£64,000 question. I must admit, when I first heard about this release, I thought “What the fuck?” It seemed to me absolutely pointless.

Emotionally, I still feel like that. It’s not exactly that I can’t put myself into the position of someone who doesn’t like Red Dwarf as much as I do, or simply has no interest in extras, as much as that I can’t imagine what it’s like to like a series enough to want it on DVD, but then not be interested in the extras – whatever that series is.

Logically, of course, the rebuttal to this is – IT’S NOT AIMED AT YOU, YOU FUCKING TWAT. I’m an anal, obsessive cunt, who to be honest is quite interested in Peter Wragg’s bowel movements. This release is simply aimed at people who want to stick it in the DVD player and (shudder) “have a laugh”. I think such people should be SHOT for not being PROPER FANS personally, but you can’t argue with demographics.

And you can’t really argue with the price, either. From Play, it’s £24.99 for four series, compared to £51.96 for the seperate releases. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s going to appeal. But then, I’d probably just buy my favourite two series, with the accompanying extras. Because I’m a cock.

Conclusion

Buy it if:

a) You’re any of the categories of “fan” above,
b) You’re short of money, or
c) You’re an obsessive collector.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the release is just how different Red Dwarf is between The End and Meltdown. Is there any sitcom that has changed and developed quite as much? It’s quite amazing, especially within a period of just four years. Just one of the many things that makes Dwarf special.

Final analysis: I agree with everyone else. It should have been called Just The Shows: Byte One.

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