Just The Shows – Volume 2

justtheshows2

I am such a twat. Firstly, I forget that Just The Shows – Volume 2 was released this Monday and only got round to buying it the following Thursday. Secondly, I slipped on a wet floor and fell over when I entered HMV. THIRDLY, I suddenly realised, whilst buying the DVD, that I was wearing my Red Dwarf ‘Skutters’ t-shirt. I’m afraid the word ‘dweeb’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.

John’s excellent review of Just The Shows Volume 1 is jolly comprehensive and it has to be said that he’s kind of said everything that can be said about these releases. Some may say that writing an interesting or relevant review of the second volume would be impossible… Never the less, I shall attempt it.

Packaging

I’m incredibly fond of the packaging for Volume 2. The simple reversing of the colour scheme from Volume 1, coupled with the use of my all time favourite publicity shot has won me over pretty comprehensively. If I was in a wanky mood (and, let’s face it, when am I not?) I’d say that the move to a more simplistic design for these releases, as opposed to the original DVDs’ specially created CGI backdrops, reflects that stripped down, extra-less nature of the set. Also: not using new CG backdrops is, more importantly, cheaper.

There’s a lot to be said against cardboard digipacks such as this, though, but when it comes to releasing a six disc set like this is simply makes sense to condense the packaging as much as humanly possible. In this case, the digipack route is the only way to go, and it has to be said that the chunkiness of the whole thing makes you really feel like you’re holding four series of Dwarf in your hands. Which, of course, you are; but it’s important to be able to *feel* that.

So, what differs from Volume 1? Well, the blurb on the back is largely in the same vein, and summarises four series of plot quite neatly. It’s not really worth mentioning but the opening paragraph has been altered from “written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor” in Volume 1 to “created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor” in Volume 2. It makes sense to change it to the only credit in which both writers share for series V to VIII, considering that Grant didn’t write for VII or VIII. Good attention to detail, though.

Eagle eyed, pedantic, twat-heads such as myself will also notice that this box is slightly thicker than Volume 1. “But, why?!”, I hear you bloodcurdlingly yell. Well, series VII and VIII are presented here on two discs to keep that all important bit-rate high, so their sections are ever so slightly thicker, to accommodate the double stacking of the discs. Do you see? It’s a very neat way of doing things, actually, and nicely avoids the volume being hugely thick.

Also included are chapter points secluded behind each disc housing and the usual collection of episode synopses, which fills up the various flaps in a very pleasing way and manages to side-step the issue (and extra cost) of an accompanying booklet.

And, the final test: yes, the volumes look utterly lovely stood next to one another on the shelf.

The Discs

Each disc is labeled with its series number in the standard roman numerals, and series VII and VIII carry the additional information of disc number. The picture discs reflect what we see on the main packaging, with the series V publicity shot adorning all six discs. If I was being a picky bastard (and I am) I’d say that it would’ve been nice to have seen separate pictures on each disc to reflect which series they belong to, with perhaps even a new shot for series V, just to add some variety. It’s not essential, and it would probably cost loads more money, but it would’ve been nice, you know, even if it did invalidate the whole point of the release, which is that it’s a simple, budget set.

Series V JTS2 Menu

Interactive Menus

These are hugely lovely and most probably the nicest feature of the whole set. You know the drill, the prettiest model (or CGI) shot is selected from each series and the episode titles are stuck on the top in an appropriate place and BINGO you’ve got yourself a clean, clutter free, easy to use and lovely looking menu. The ‘Play All’ and subtitles options are there, too, so navigation is piss easy.

All this, with the added bonus that endlessly repeating dialogue wont drive you crazy in your sleep if you leave it on over night.

The Episodes

Well, there’s nothing I can say here that you don’t already know. Series V and VI have six episodes each and VII and VIII both have eight episodes that THEY DON’T DESERVE.

Picture/Sound Quality

As far as I can tell, we’ve neither lost nor gained anything when compared with the original releases. Hardly surprising, but it’s worth mentioning that we could be easily looking at poorer bit-rates for VII and VIII if the decision wasn’t taken to cough up for two extra discs in order to spread them out. And all for the same RRP as Volume 1’s four disc set, too.

Extras

FUCK ALL, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU EXPECTING? Oh, sorry, that’s fuck all apart from Interactive Menus and Subtitles, as we all know they’re proper extras, yes.

In Conclusion

The cliché that these releases are good because they’re somehow easier to stick in your bag and take round to a mate’s house is clearly bollocks, but there’s still something strangely comforting about owning these releases. The quick access to the episodes, the lovely static menus, and owning of four series in one tightly packed box are all good things, but I’m convinced that any mentally stable individual who already owns the individual releases would get nothing out of owning this set.

However, sales of Volume 1 were apparently excellent and there’s no arguing that there’s a market for these sets out there. I mean, imagine for a second you weren’t a Red Dwarf obsessed spod… if you walked (or, in my case, slipped) into HMV and saw four whole series of a sit-com you have fond memories of on sale for £29.99 (or even the RRP of £34.99) you’d happily snap it up, and it’s not a stretch to imagine a great many people preferring to do this instead of searching out the individual releases. Just The Shows most certainly has a rightful place in the word of Dwarf merchandise, but I’m afraid the best conclusion I can come up with after this torturous waffling, is that if you already own the extras packed releases, then you needn’t bother.

Sorry.

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35 Responses to Just The Shows – Volume 2

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  1. I disagree with the release date of these boxsets though, they should have been launched perhaps a year or two earlier with a clear indication that the 2 and 3 disc sets full of extras were coming out later on.

  2. Great review, I personally love these vanilla releases, I use them to watch the shows, the others just for the extras mainly.

  3. G&T Admin

    > Why?

    In an effort to sound less like a cunt, I’ll expand on this.

    I think releasing the vanilla editions after the extras-filled ones makes less sense from a business point of view, but it’s much much better for the consumer. Like it or not, if they came first then people would buy them and still be unaware that they only have to wait a few months before they can get a better package.

  4. Well, here’s what Andrew Ellard, the DVD producer said about that (emphasis mine):

    http://www.ganymede.tv/atspeed/2006/03/future-extras-redux#comment-56061
    (Mind you, we did our double-dip backwards! Vanilla second – which is an insane example of playing fair with buyers compared to the standard industry model. What’s more, it worked – demand was, and remains, high for JTS v1.)

  5. Yeah, I have to admit, if JTS came out first, I’d have been sorely tempted to buy that. And I would have enjoyed it. Because hey, it’s Dwarf on DVD. But then when the extras-packed releases came out…well…I’d have bought them, too, but a lot less cheerfully than I’ve been doing in reality.

    GNP could easily have “tricked” us into doing this, even if they DID announce that the better releases would follow, but they didn’t. And for that, I’m one happy cracker.

  6. It remains a fact that many people couldn’t give two effs about extras (I’m talking about DVD extras, not the Gervais/Merchant series, hence the lack of a capital ‘E’), my sister, for example, likes Dwarf and watches the (my) DVDs but she wouldn’t watch the extras. I myself am not a total DVD extras junkie. The picture and audio quality are usually my primary concern. Of course, if it’s a show I like such as Dwarf or Seinfeld, then I want as many extras as possible, but with most films I couldn’t care less unless it’s something special like the Lord of the Rings sets.

    I was secretly hoping that they would cram VII and VIII onto one disc each so everyone would whine(he he!) but then I realised that 2enterfuckingtain are even splitting series of Steptoe and Son into 2 discs when it’s seven episodes. By the way, I’m still getting over the horror of Steptoe series 5 and 6 being deleted by the BBC and the only copy they have, which they’re still putting on DVD, is the crappy black and white video made by either Galton or Simpson themselves.

  7. >I myself am not a total DVD extras junkie.

    I’m not either…even for films and such that I really like. But I have to admit there are some dull afternoons where you’ve got nothing to do, and suddenly the “Making of Dr. Strangelove” featurette just sounds darling.

    I’m weird. With the Dwarf releases I made a big deal out of watching the extras. All of them. I even decided what I would watch first, next, last, etc. Other times I get a DVD that I really, really want, and years later still haven’t bothered with the extras at all (Glengary Glen Ross, One Flew Over the Fuckoo’s Nest). I can’t predict myself, really. I just know it’s nice to have them THERE.

  8. I know I’m fully capable of correcting my “Cuckoo’s Nest” typo on this new G+T comment system, but I think I’ll leave it as is if it’s alright with you.

  9. G&T Admin

    > The picture and audio quality are usually my primary concern … 2enterfuckingtain are even splitting series of Steptoe and Son into 2 discs when it’s seven episodes.

    You seem to be at odds with yourself here, monkey.

  10. i love dvd extras,ive got back to the future 4 disc edition on at the mo,and just seen some hilarious outakes never seen before(well,not by me anyway)

  11. Hi, my name’s Steve and I’m an extraholic.

    More often than not, I aim for the extras first before viewing the main feature. Having said that, I dont always feel it’s the end of the world if a DVD is extra free though I will ask Why?.
    With Dwarf, there is a huge diversity of types of extra so perhaps there’s something for everyone. Given a choice, I would
    almost certainly go for a version with goodies rather than without. In reality though, I will only buy one version of any particular show, if I know a box set is coming up, I will wait. Just for example, if Blackadder announced a ‘new’ set laden with extras, they could go and play with themselves as far as I’m concerned, as I’ve bought the shows already and just cant understand the lack of quality in value terms…

  12. Splitting Steptoe over 2 discs only pees me off because I’ve been renting the series from amazon. And the picture quality is already crap so losing a little more by keeping it to one disc is hardly the end of the world.

  13. G&T Admin

    Actually, this will probably be the first Red Dwarf release I don’t buy. The only reason I bought the last one was because I needed to review it. I’m not a collector, and I’m not rich.

    But it meets a need some consumers have, and the fact it was released after the extras-filled versions is unprecedented. The fact I can’t understand the mindset of those consumers is irrelevant…

  14. Nice post, Jonathan. :)

    I may buy the Just The Shows boxsets, although I may feel how you did when you bought Vol 2 with a Skutter t-shirt on mate!! :p

    I get made fun of because I love Red Dwarf so much, but who cares? Yeah, I’m ‘a buy the Just For Shows ones when I have the cash. :p

  15. FWIW, I almost wish I had never watched the extras or even listened to the cast commentaries! I taped all the episodes off the TV originally, and was very happy for many years. But I bought the individual DVDs one at a time, and now I find it much harder if not impossible to fully lose myself in the plot. Don’t get me wrong though. I really enjoyed watching and listening to all the extras, and still love Red Dwarf woe to go. Did anyone else feel this?
    ~Adrian (downunder)

  16. >I find it much harder if not impossible to fully lose myself in the plot.

    I agree it’s harder, once something has been pointed out to you, not to notice it the next time you watch (or listen, as this happens a lot to me with music as well).

    I can’t speak for you, but for me at least, I don’t mind all too much…because instead of being robbed of your original appreciation it just sort of evolves…or grows…into a different kind of appreciation. It’s fun if you’re able to believe that the crew really are flying Starbug around in space…but it’s also fun to know they aren’t, and to step back and appreciate all the little bits that go into creating a believable illusion.

    Again, that’s me…and I admit I have a sort of behind-the-scenes fetish that I’m sure accounts fully for the way I feel.

  17. > I agree it’s harder, once something has been pointed out to you, not to notice it the next time you watch (or listen, as this happens a lot to me with music as well).

    Yes like that scene in “Holoship”, where Commander Crane is tying up her robe after having sex with Rimmer.

    “CRANE: You make love like a Japanese meal: small portions, but so many courses.”

    I never noticed before, that in spite of tying up her robe for some time it ends up undone! Which is quite funny in it’s self really.

    And yes, I guess my appreciation has evolved somewhat over the years, even though my illusion that Dave Lister is the last human in the universe has been shattered. It’s different than reading a much loved book though. You know, like in subsequent readings you get more out of it by noticing things you didn’t the first time. I got/get that as well from subsequent viewings of Red Dwarf. But this is different. It’s a deeper understanding really.

    > Again, that’s me…and I admit I have a sort of behind-the-scenes fetish that I’m sure accounts fully for the way I feel.

    I have that with live music. I love to sit side stage rather than front of house. You get to hear the fold back that the musicians are actually listening to, and also get a behind the scenes view of what’s really going on between the musicians them selves.

    Well thanks for pointing that out, I won’t feel so bad about not being able to lose myself in the illusion of Red Dwarf’s reality in future. (What a guy!) :-)
    ~Adrian (downunder)

  18. The only problem I have with this release is that it seems rather cramped. Six discs! In my opinion, there should have been three releases; Vol. 1 having Series 1-3, Vol. 2 having Series 4-6, and Vol. 3 having Series 7-8.

  19. …which would have been exactly the same total number of discs – three, three and four. Only you’d have been charged a higher total price overall. (Vol 2. is the same price as 1 despite having more episode/discs.)

    ‘Cramped’, surely, would be shoving eight episodes onto one disc and to hell with the picture quality!

  20. No, I don’t mean cramped in terms of disc space, I mean cramped in terms of box space. I mean, having six discs in one box is just a bit complicated.

    But whatever. As long as it saves money.

  21. i don’t know about that… I really love my x files box sets you can open up with the seven discs… great stuff!

  22. G&T Admin

    The new slim X-Files box-sets are completely genius. For some reason I found it hilarious when I found they’d stuffed one of the discs in a slot on the booklet. True space economy, there.

    As a result, though, they look dead sexy all lines up on the shelf.

  23. The X-files boxsets do look cool. Hell, they even make you want to watch season 9! There’s an achievement. I think the first three seasons have a disc in the booklet – bad idea! The glue from the booklet got onto the back of the series 2 disc, meaning that I cannot watch the special features to that series! Fortunately, Anasazi is not affected!

  24. hmm, I got the original boxes and I quite like ’em. I really don’t care about space issue, TBH.

  25. G&T Admin

    I hate that fucking website. Not only do their reviews almost always annoy me, but I once made a spectacularly bad attempt to complain about one of them a few years ago, which was riddled with poorly thought out points and very bad typing. Whiskey + Internet = me looking like a twat.

  26. G&T Admin

    I think the problem arose from the fact that my points are completely lost under my badly written, drunken rambling. My points are in there somewhere, and they *do* make sense. I think.

    Unfortunately, no coherency sprung to mind when I’d spent the whole night surfing on the net and drinking too much whiskey. In a way, I hate the Internet for preserving so much embarrassing shit.

  27. G&T Admin

    Gah, why do they keep calling it “the Red Dwarf”? I makes me ANGRY.

  28. “This was just one of the many responses we had regarding Mr Capps letter. Most were in favour of the original review, with many stating they felt that some of the extras were a bit poor.”

    …’compared to Series I to III’?

    I’m sorry but – bullshit.

    Ignoring the choice not to post these responses for people to see, ‘many’ stated that the extras were ‘poor’ on Series IV? (Actually, the wording is cunning here ‘some of the extras were poor’ is another way of saying ‘they didn’t care for the featurettes’, which isn’t the same as a strong feeling against the bonus content.)

    I mean, sure, hate this or that inclusion – but the documentary, outtakes, commentary and deleted scenes…when that DVD was released, almost no TV show got that treatment. And they’re also the key features of, ooh, the Series III DVD, as Mr capps pointed out. What really get me –

    Sorry. That one started to get away from me. I’m kinda preaching to the converted here, aren’t I.

    JC, whiskey or no, the points were valid and well-enough made, typos excepted. But certain publications and sites find it impossible to comfortably take criticism.

  29. >In a way, I hate the Internet for preserving so much embarrassing shit.

    AMEN, Sista.

  30. “But certain publications and sites find it impossible to comfortably take criticism.”

    I think the fact that they actually even printed Capps’s letter in the first place proves they can take criticism.

  31. > I think the fact that they actually even printed Capps?s letter in the first place proves they can take criticism.

    Fair point. Even if they refuted the whole thing and disregarded its points, they did let other people refute it, too. This – balance.

    Of course all this really proves is that *I* can’t take criticism… :o)

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