This is monumentous. A pivotal moment in Dwarf‘s history. I’m still in shock.This is it, people.
Yep, SFX have done a non-annoying review of VII!
Well, non-annoying to me, anyway. I’m sure people who love VII will find plenty to get irritated about:
RED DWARF SEASON SEVEN
The point where it really went downhill.
2005 • 12 • 240 mins • £22.99 • OUT NOW!
Director: Ed Bye
Starring: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, Chloë Annett
2/5 stars | Extras: 5/5 stars
Rob Grant’s gone. Chris Barrie’s set to follow mid-season. Both needed replacing and, unfortunately, neither replacements really worked. Lovely though Chloë Annett is, her Kochanski can’t fill Rimmer’s shoes, while the replacement writers brought in on four of the season’s eight episodes just couldn’t capture the spark that Rob and Doug had while working together. You still laugh, but it’s more that “polite bemusement” laugh than the hearty chortling of the earlier seasons. There are still moments of genius – you’ve got to love the Rimmer song in all its horrible glory – but all in all season seven is just a shadow of what Red Dwarf used to be.
DVD Extras: Worth buying for the extras alone! As well as the usual exceptional mix, this also comes with a handful of really special things. First there’s “Identity Within”, a “lost” Cat-centric episode that was scripted but never shot, and eventually replaced by “Duct Soup”; over storyboards, Chris Barrie shows off his impressionist skills by providing all the voices.
There are also two winning fan films from the competition run on the official Red Dwarf website: the first chronicles Grant Naylor’s endless struggle to secure funding for a Red Dwarf film (and it’s got Mr. Flibble in it too!), while the second uses some brilliant little puppets and a body part (we’re not saying what body part, it’ll ruin the surprise!). Then there’s the “Back from the Dead” documentary (90 mins!). This explores each episode of this season individually, as well as giving an overview of the series as a whole, through interviews with the cast and crew. There are cast commentaries on all the episodes, some of which have extended and remastered options, and lastly, there are two “Dave Hollins: Space Cadet” radio sketches. Phew! Leah Holmes
(i) Kryten’s tank in “Beyond a Joke” is the same tank that was used in GoldenEye. It prompted complaints from residents because the explosion it created was loud enough to set off nearby car alarms!
I mean, you know, I could pick at it (I think you’ll find it wasn’t the tank that caused the exposion, but rather, erm, LOTS OF EXPLOSIVES), but all in all I think that’s a fair summing up of the series and extras. I’m sure you’ll let me know if you think otherwise. I do find it amusing that most of the extras aren’t mentioned (to be fair, they point out that they aren’t listing them all), and what is listed still deserves a “Phew!”…
This seems a good as place to any to report on something on TOS we missed last week – released on Wednesday was an SFX Monster Special, with the Polymorph featuring at Number 13. Excellent stuff. And, of course, it’s easy to forget how ground breaking the episode was for a BBC sitcom back in 1989 when we’ve all watched it TEN THOUSAND TIMES.
Sadly, the example SFX sets was not taken into consideration over at DVD Next. Oh. Try sorting your website out before launching a mag, next time chaps. That’s the least of this magazine’s worries, though:
Red Dwarf VII
Smoke me a kipper…
After a ridiculously long wait following the cliff-hanger of series VI the crew returned to the screens alive but without any curry supplies thanks to a time paradox. As they bumble their way through the universe Rimmer departs to take over from Ace, but is soon replaced by Lister’s ex-girlfriend, Kristine Kochanski.
Let’s be honest, after the BBC started to plough a decent amount of money into the budget of Red Dwarf, the series started to go downhill. Its charm always came from the wobbly sets and dodgy effects. Once the effects department got some money to play with everything went a bit stale.
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Right, let’s have this AGAIN, then. The evidence, as presented on the DVD itself:
- “Let’s be honest, after the BBC started to plough a decent amount of money into the budget of Red Dwarf, the series started to go downhill.” – Presumably, this “decent amount” of money was the reason why the model shots went from being 35mm motion control shots, to, erm, 16mm fly-by-wire jobbies? And why a lot of the effects are dodgy, hastily-created CGI? Neither of which look nearly as good as the effects in previous series?
- “Its charm always came from the wobbly sets” – Name me one wobbly set in Red Dwarf. Go on. This is bollocks of the highest order. Oh, and I think you’ll find its charm came from the brilliant writing, performing, and production.
- “and dodgy effects” – Whilst you can pick at the odd effect here and there, most of the effects in Red Dwarf are this: bloody great.
- “Once the effects department got some money to play with everything went a bit stale.” – So, you’re really telling me you didn’t like the series because you thought the blurry 2-D Starbugs were too hi-tech? Is that really what you’re saying?
It’s just lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, LAZY journalism – ignoring both what your EYES tell you is happening on the episodes, and also what the documentary tells you about the effects work. There is a reason by GNP spent their own money, not out of the DVD budget, to create new effects for Tikka To Ride, rather than replacing the effects work in, say, Psirens. How can anyone think the effects in VII are anything other than poor compared to previous series? What a load of crypto-fascist bourgeois crap.
Matters weren’t helped by the departure of Rimmer, arguably the best character, in the second episode. The addition of Chloe Annett as Kochanski makes a refreshing change to the show, but most fans would rather have seen the slightly spunkier Clare Grogan reprise her role as she did briefly in the previous series.
I suspect what is happening here is that “most fans” translates to “I”. For what it’s worth, I’m not convinced Clare Grogan returning would have been right for the show. Not that I think Kochanski works very well in VII, but then Doug Naylor more or less agrees in Back from the Dead – he makes some rather interesting comments about how Chloë’s performance was affected by her uncomfortable costume..
While there are still some classic moments contained within these episodes they never reach the heights of the first few series.
Despite the disappointing episodes, the BBC has pulled out all the stops once again for the extras.
Or, more correctly, GNP has pulled out all the stops. Sure, obviously the BBC gave them the budget – but it was the BBC who wanted to rush-release the series on DVD a few years ago, with GNP refusing until they were given the budget to do decent extras for the series. Hey, I may well cocksuck GNP to climax, but they tend to deserve it.
Three episodes are given the optional extended treatment with additional scenes and effects. The so-called ‘lost’ episode is also unveiled for the first time along with a huge amount of deleted footage. All the usual interviews and featurettes are present and enjoyable as ever. Red Dwarf remains one of the few English programmes to get a decent DVD treatment. Even if this series doesn’t impress you’ll still buy it just so the spines match on your shelf – clever marketing at its finest.
Disappointing series on yet another fantastic set from the Red Dwarf crew. Frustrating, but still worth a punt.
Show 3/5 stars Extras 4/5 stars
Amen to all that. Which reminds me – why the hell did Regions 1 and 4 get rid of the logo across the spine? Region 4 being particularly strange, seeing as it’s practically the same cover as the R2 release.
I’ve got a couple more mag reviews to do, but I’ll let you recover first. Aren’t I nice?