Here at G&T, we’ve spent pretty much the last nine months gushing about every announcement from GNP over what eventually became The Bodysnatcher Collection. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – whinging about something just to appear independent would be utterly ridiculous. Unfortunately, that’s something that a lot of the media seems to do rather too often…
Still, the artwork for the Bodysnatcher release has now been announced. And I can say: I don’t like it. And no, it’s not about the slipcase.
Oh God, I love the idea. Tying the whole thing into the Series 1-VIII releases is definitely the right thing to do in my eyes; it’s the cumulation of TV Dwarf, and it belongs with the previous DVDs. (If a Series IX was ever made, I’d want the DVD release to tie in in the same way.) And I adore the actual background image itself – it’s a return to something truly iconic from Dwarf, that you could argue the Series V-VIII covers lacked somewhat. And it just looks beautiful. (I would have loved it to use the toilet as well, in a homage to one of the best jokes in Series 1 – but I can see why they didn’t, with the reviews thing. Also, it’s more usual to see the sink there in any case.)
But, in the translation to DVD cover, it loses something. For a start, I think both the front and back cover look too cluttered. The back is perhaps understandable, as there’s a lot of information to fit on there, to help sell the release – but the front desperately needs some elements removed. I think there are two problems here; partly, there’s too many additional graphical elements added onto the cover in the first place, and secondly, whilst beautiful, the background art is just too busy to work as a cover. And I’m not really keen on the logo for The Bodysnatcher Collection itself – I don’t think it looks right stretched, and the outline also adds to the clutter.
I remember at the time of the Series IV release, there were murmurings that the cover looked slightly too busy. I think that release looks fine – but here, I think there’s a problem. I think the background is more detailed, for a start – but I also don’t think the fact it’s grey helps either. You’d think that it being dark would help it blend into the background, and lessen the feeling of clutter – but somehow, it doesn’t work that way, although I can’t quite work out why. It just feels like one dark grey mass… that’s also too cluttered. As a whole, the cover just doesn’t leap out at me at all.
I can’t help but feel that in this instance, less would have been more. If that artwork was going to be used, then I think the graphics needed to be extremely minimalist. As it is, at the moment, it’s definitely my least favourite Dwarf DVD cover so far – ironic, considering that the content itself appeals to me the most.
On the plus side, the use of the original RE-MASTERED logo is a nice touch. And the discs themselves look lovely – including the Bodysnatcher disc, which works far better than the cover itself.. And the reuse of the Series 1-3 coverart for the discs is great – and also makes up for the lack of picture discs on the Series 1 and 2 releases. And it’s only when you read the back that it hits you that “the lost episode of Red Dwarf I” is the hook for this entire release. It’s a brave decision, to try and market the release like this, as it’s a slightly difficult message to get across to people who aren’t in fandom. But I really, really hope it pays off.
(I’m glad that the original artwork from the Remastered VHSes wasn’t used – as bloody wonderful as that was, just like the Series 1-VIII DVD releases, the packaging needs to convey that this is something new. Moreover, it wouldn’t suit how this release is being pushed – it’s the extras that are being marketed as the most important thing here, not the Remastered series itself. A recreation of the Series 1 bunkroom works marvellously to represent Bodysnatcher – the reuse of the Remastered artwork wouldn’t.)
Of course, I’ll reserve final judgement until I hold the packaging in my sweaty, cum-stained hands – and I really, really hope I change my mind – but, for now, I’m not keen. What should be iconic, beautiful packaging, considering its concept, just comes across as a bit of a mess. Ah well – there had to be one aspect of the release that I wasn’t going to like…