Wow. We’ve had the odd hint on the Webboard over the past few months, but now it’s official – Red Dwarf Remastered has been announced for DVD release as a four disc boxset, with a Region 2 release aiming for October 2007. And as we’re moving from VHS to DVD, I suppose we’d better start calling it by its official name and lose the dash, and the capitalisation when not referring to it as a title. The logo said Re-mastered though, honest…
Now, let’s get one thing straight from the off. I think the remastered series is fucking appalling. I think the replacement CGI is awful and pointless, I think the cuts to the dialogue are horrible, I think the additions made are rubbish (the complaints about the added skutter to the opening of The End have almost become a cliche, but it does seem to encapsulate everything that’s wrong with the remastered episodes), the film effect is revolting, and the additional sounds and different music at best don’t add anything, and at worst are just incongruous. There’s the odd improvement – you actually get to see Rimmer kneeing Hollister in the balls in Stasis Leak, for instance, as the edit was dodgy in the original version and missed the impact – but most of it is just diabolical. And I’m not convinced that the series will work better on DVD than it did on VHS, at least for me – I saw the episodes when they were broadcast on BBC TWO, and I still hated them.
But I don’t care. I’ll still be buying this, and I’m hugely looking forward to it. Partly because this is still Red Dwarf, and like it or not, part of Red Dwarf‘s history. As a fan, I want to own these episodes, if only to sit there complaining about how shit they are. But the main reason is obvious – EXTRAS. And specifically: PROPER, EPISODE-BY-EPISODE DOCUMENTARIES ON SERIES 1 AND 2. However much this release ends up costing, it’ll be worth it for those. And just as each set of documentaries – II and IV, V and VI, VII and VII – has been getting better, I fully expect these two documentaries to be the best of the lot. I suppose the guessing of the titles starts here, folks. And: “exciting and unexpected contributors”? Oooh…
Perhaps most intriguing of all, though, is the dedicated Red Dwarf Remastered documentary. And it’s here that GNP has been shown to make the right decision; at the time of the VII and VIII releases, there were complaints from some quarters that the doccos didn’t cover the remastered series. The reason was simple – if they’d covered the remastered series then, it would have taken away money from some of the other extras on those discs. Far better to spend the money on actual VII and VIII material, and hope for a remastered release at some point down the line. And it’s turned out to be exactly the right thing to do.
Moreover, we know from previous doccos that GNP don’t shy away from covering the more problematic areas of the show; the Juliet May stuff in Heavy Science being the most obvious proof of this. The fact that Andrew calls the remastered series controversial in the article means that this should be a balanced view of the end result. Doug Naylor himself has said that whilst he thinks the sound was an improvement, the CGI wasn’t; and he’s known for giving forthright opinions on the DVD doccos. Of course, it is important to note that whilst I, and everyone I know, hates them, some people do prefer them; no doubt the documentary will reflect both sides.
Oddly enough, I’m perhaps more intrigued about the production of the remastered episodes than I am of the series; partly because I’ve always been fascinated in different versions of programmes, and the decisions taken to change certain things, partly because I’m intrigued to hear the reasons given for some of the changes, as I hated so much of the end result, and partly because this is new territory for a documentary to cover – we’ve all heard endless stories about Red Dwarf over the years, but the remastered series just hasn’t been dealt with much at all. Personally, I’m intrigued as to why there are different versions of the remastered series hanging around – the versions released on video were not the versions broadcast on BBC TWO. For instance, the fake widescreen effect was present on some versions, but not others – and the odd sound effect was different too.
Not only that, but we’re promised further extras beyond the big three documentaries. Presumably, some of the stuff related to the remastered series as shown by the VFX guys at the last two Dimension Jumps will be included – especially the one physical model shot done of the remastered version of Red Dwarf, of the end credits flyby.
No doubt some people will see this as trying to milk every last drop out of the fans; I can hear the complaints now. The fact is – nobody is forcing anybody to buy this release. I think it’s worth it; not for the episodes themselves as entertainment value, but because they’re historically interesting – and more importantly, for the extras. It’s no secret that GNP desperately wanted to do Series 1 and 2 doccos at the time; whilst it’s probably stretching it a bit to see the entire release as an excuse to do those two documentaries, it’s extremely convenient that this release allows them to do so. Coupled with the remastered docco, the three main documentaries will be the main reason I’m buying this release.
If you don’t think it’s worth buying, then don’t buy it. Me? I’ll be desperately looking forward to this release for the next 10 months, thanks.