Rumours of a Bluray release for the BBC years of Red Dwarf have been swirling for a while. I think we’ve discussed it as an aside on a DwarfCast or two, but we’ve held off from front-paging the news until there was something a little more concrete to report, mainly because the forum was doing a sterling job of logging various developments. Today, however, Doug tweeted:
In the Blu-Ray suite working on Red Dwarf III. It’s looking nice. The Up-Rez is nice, the noise reduction is nice, the grade is nice. It just looks nice period. #RedDwarf30#October.
— Doug Naylor (@DougRDNaylor) March 1, 2018
I guess that counts as something more concrete. Last month, Doug was Francis Urquharting the question, but his Twitter feed has been the best source of information about the project for a while now. Back in June 2016, he first mentioned the prospect of the earlier series being upscaled, but in September last year he said that he’d “killed” a rumoured Bluray release due to the picture quality not being good enough. However, as per today’s tweet, it seems that they’re having a second go, as detailed by Doug in November:
They’re increased the budget and are trying to convince me the uprezing will look much better this time. They’re also throwing in a colour grade something they wouldn’t agree to first time around.
— Doug Naylor (@DougRDNaylor) November 12, 2017
The mention of a colour grade is worrying for anyone who’s ever seen Re-Mastered, which has given us an automatic distrust of any attempt to alter the original versions of the show. There’s also the photo that Doug shared in the early hours of the anniversary, showing Rimmer in greyscale within a scene from The End:
— Doug Naylor (@DougRDNaylor) February 15, 2018
What’s interesting about this is that it’s a photo of a screen, rather than a clean upload – possibly taken in an edit suite? There are several potential conclusions here. They could be undertaking the painstaking and irrevocably canon-altering task of making Rimmer monochrome throughout the first eight series, which would make this Re-Mastered Part Two. It could be something they experimented with to see how easily it could be done with modern technology, or it could even be that Doug asked someone to mock it up just for the purposes of that anniversary tweet.
My money would be on the final grade being far less drastic and controversial though – I imagine it’d be a case of cleaning things up and making the colours pop a bit more, the success or otherwise of which remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Doug’s happy with how it’s looking, and we know from the first attempt that he’s not prepared to put something out that doesn’t meet his standards.
However, I do remain sceptical about the idea. The first series was shot on thirty-year-old one inch analogue tapes, in a soon-to-be-decommissioned studio using ancient tube cameras. Even Doug was bemoaning their quality just three months ago. I just can’t imagine how these could possibly be brought up to a standard that’s even acceptable for Bluray, let alone impressive enough to fork out for when the DVDs are perfectly adequate.
I guess we’ll find out in October, according to the hashtag in Doug’s tweet, which is consistent with the date on the recently added Amazon listing. Said listing also states that there’ll be sixteen discs, which if accurate implies that we’ll be getting extras too. New ones, do we reckon? Not likely with today’s home video budgets. So perhaps they’ll be bundling in all the stuff from the individual releases, although it should be noted that there were 18 discs in total across the original range, as VII and VIII were three-disc sets. It could be that they’re squeezing the eps from those series on to one disc each, or it could be that the number listed on Amazon is as temporary as the artwork.
One request, though, if there are to be old extras included – bung the Bodysnatcher ones in there as well, given the scarcity of that beautiful work. And if we’re going to be cheeky, we’d add that sitting Doug down in front of a microphone to record commentaries would be relatively cheap but absolutely wonderful…