Ah well, here we go again.
In my opinion, Series VI was the last great Dwarf series to be released. In fact, V and VI are both in my top 3 series, so it’s nice that they’ve been released so late on, with all the extra cash and experience that comes with it.
The first thing you will notice as you load up your first DVD is that the disk menus have moved away from the Red Dwarf template of III, IV and V. This is, of course, in line with the setting of the series moving away from Red Dwarf and onto Starbug.
After a montage of stock Starbug clips, ending on a shot of the crash from Psirens, we switch to CG and glide in through the airlock, in to the mid-section and finally settle on a bank of monitors. The episode select menu is in the cockpit and the special features menu is set in the Officer’s Quarters upstairs. As you come to expect from Digital Deluxe, these menus are utterly gorgeous, if a little over done at times (long animations in between menus can get annoying after a while).
All the episodes, as usual, are presented in their broadcast form and so we don’t get that terrible “Jail bait ball girl” cut from Gunmen, as seen in the Six of the Best box-set and the majority of TV repeats. We have picture and sound quality throughout, as the episodes have gone through the usual clean-up process.
The cast commentaries are very good, and the less cluttered feel of the Craig-less Series V commentaries is back, due to the absence of Hattie. I found 5 people talking over each other just a bit too much to bear in III and IV. Chris seems to have a new found confidence and contributes quite often, which is excellent. Oh, and Craig’s ham joke just gets funnier and funnier! For me the humour is in the repetition of the joke.
The Fan Commentary is also worth a dabble, but I found this one less enjoyable than the Series V one. Steve ‘Cpt Darling’ Harris is excellent, but we don’t hear enough of him… and you find yourself just listening to some woman *wrongly* state that Sega Mega-Drives had coloured loading bars! This error ruined the whole DVD for me. No, honestly.
And so, we cast aside Disk 1 like used tissue, and stride purposefully onto to the not inconsiderably meaty, disk 2.
It’s come to a point now where you just don’t worry about these DVDs anymore. You *know* with every inch of your body that a new Dwarf DVD will mean excellence, and by golly this DVD has topped the lot! The original documentary The Starbuggers is business as usual, with the cast and crew and the talking and the RUSHES and the “Craig, Craig, Shut up!”. The highlight of the documentary is probably the Emohawk: Polymorph II section (which was actually premiered at last year’s DJ) which has a fascinating story about the cast being pelted in the face with compressed air and debris during a special effect gone awry. During which, Danny sustained an eye injury (as shown with a lovely rushes clip). As always this is very nicely edited (not once does it feel like it’s dragging or moving too fast).
On top of the massive-o-docco, we have two mini-documentaries in the shape of Robert Llewellyn’s Return to Laredo and Howard Goodall’s Settling the Score. These are wonderful. The former involves Robert Llewellyn (sadly sans cowboy hat) wandering around the faux western town of Laredo, talking to the inhabitants, and reminiscing about the shoot. It is here we hear one of the DVD’s FIVE renditions of that bloody Craig/Horse story.
Howard’s Settling the Score is a real gem, though. Mr. Ellard interviews the main man about the composition of his Red Dwarf score, complete with full musical accompanyment on his trust piano. This, just like his recent series Howard Goodall’s 20th Century Greats is an utter joy to behold. On top of this we get one utter peach of a treat, when we get to hear Howard’s original demo for Tongue Tied. Yes! These mini-docs are certainly worthy successors to V’s magnificent SFX of Red Dwarf and Dwarfing USA, for sure. You certainly can’t beat a well done retrospective.
This DVD set certainly chalks up a considerable number of rarities, and leading the way is the wonderful Behind the Scenes collection of extras. We have; an Emmy Interview with Director Andy DeEmmony, some silent footage of Peter Wragg’s VisFX team working like troupers on various models and, best of all, the rushes from the aborted ‘Making Of’ video, which was filmed for one day during the studio recording of ‘Psirens’. It’s a massive shame this was never seen to some sort of conclusion but to have what was filmed on DVD is rather excellent. Witness first hand the application of KY to a Psiren and Craig Charles openly flaunting the No Smoking rules.
Deleted scenes, then. 43 minutes and 11 seconds of them, to be precise. It’s pretty much business as usual, with trimmed lines here and there which were rightly removed for pace reasons. One thing I did find with these ousted scenes, and something I’ve not really thought with the previous DVDs, is that the cut stuff really *is* very funny. Very, very funny in fact. Emohawk stands out as the episode with the funniest (and most) deleted scenes. Extra dialogue of Rimmer expressing his concerns on trusting their entire navigation on the Cat’s least favoured nostril and some nice dialogue between Ace and Duane really make you sad that this show was only 29 minutes long.
Musical featurettes, eh? I’m starting to wish I didn’t defend them so much back when I and II were released. Ah well, some people do still like them, apparently. This time we’ve treated to the theme of ‘Sick’ (not that the theme has any relevance to the clips) with music by someone or other, I dunno.
On a more positive music related note: the Music Cues. Yummy. Series VI certainly sees a hell of a lot of episode specific music, rather than stock incidental stuff, so this makes for varied and interesting listening. From the classical piano pieces of LegionOut of Time, this stuff is as good as anything you’ll hear in popular music at the moment, with your Nellys and your Dizzy Git-Faces, or whatever the hell he’s called… However, it is a shame the full Tongue Tied demo didn’t make it onto the disk anywhere (yes, I know it has no relevance to series VI, but shush). Also, as with Series V, you’ve got yourself a nice Dave Hollins sketch to remind you how Red Dwarf first took root. And it’s jolly funny, too!
As with the music cues, the model shots also got more episode centred, allowing for better details and much more diverse collection of model work. Watching 20-odd minutes of silent model footage may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s the inclusion of footage like this (that could so easily have been left out) that make a DVD package for me. You don’t get this sort of stuff on Star Trek, or Star Wars DVDs do you? And they’re multi-million pound franchises!
Right, there’s just enough time to mop up the remaining issues and allow you to get on your way to do whatever important thing you’ve been putting off by reading my rubbish. The Smeg-Ups all seem to present and correct, all of which appeared on the early nineties videos Smeg Ups and Smeg Outs. You get three trailers this time round, all captured from the VHS archive of dedicated fans (for some reason I love having these is nasty grainy quality, it just feels all authentic), all of which are BBC TWO TV spots, complete with a faux American gravely voice man.
The Image Gallery is just lovely, lovely, lovely. In vast contrast to series I and II, tonnes of production shots, set shots and behind the scenes pictures were taken, and now they have found their true home, to be remembered for alway. For your money you also get a nice selection of design sketches and video covers, too.
And finally, just to put even more icing on this already well iced cake, this set comes complete with the usual brilliant CG art work (in this case, The lAst Chance Saloon) by Chris Veal and a collectors booklet written by GNP Associate Producer Andrew Ellard. No factual errors spotted as yet, but there’s till time, Andrew. You’re not safe yet!
So, that concludes the review, but I really feel like I’ve not even started to do this DVD set justice. So, my advice to you is to get this DVD, cook yourself a Chicken Vindaloo complete with Beer Milkshake, drink some lager, take learning drugs, wear your underpants inside out, stain your shirt with crisp, ink and general dirty marks, play the guitar badly, cook a roast beef cake, say smeg at least once every two minutes and soak in every last inch of this magnificent DVD.