On 17th July 2019, just over six months since the Red Dwarf Series I-VIII Bluray set was first released, replacement discs for Series III and V finally fell through the letterboxes of complaining customers. On the original release, the entirety of the third series and the second half of the fifth were rendered in the wrong frame rate, resulting in blurry movement and grainy pictures, basically the equivalent of accidentally applying a film effect. This subject rather dominated our original review, which lead to a minor lobbying campaign for a fix. The BBC acknowledged the mistake in February, and assured us that new discs would be ready in “approximately six weeks”. Twenty weeks later, were the new editions of these nine episodes worth the wait?
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…two months and nine days. That’s roughly the time elapsed between the frame-rate problem on the Blurays first being noticed and today’s TOS update, which represents the first time that the controversy has been acknowledged by an official Red Dwarf source. Snark aside, there are a million reasons why things like this take a while to get addressed – they have to wait for the manufacturers to investigate and put solutions in place before they go steaming in – but even so, it’s been a long wait.
There’s not a great deal of new information since the BBC finally got their arses into gear about this just under a month ago, but it’s nice to see confirmation that such a dramatic change to the source material was never the intention of the boxset. An apology might have been an idea, mind. The word “sorry” does at least feature in the BBC’s response quoted in the article, which is a slightly more official-sounding version of the email that was previously sent to complaining customers. The crux of the message is this bit:
Details of how to obtain your replacement can be obtained by e-mailing BBC Studios customer support line at DVDSupport@bbc.com
If you have already purchased the set and wish to replace the two faulty discs, you can do so at the address above; while we understand that replacement pressings of copies still in shops will be issued as soon as possible.
Good and interesting news that rogue copies in the wild will indeed be replaced. Spare a thought for the poor bugger who has to organise that.
It’s fair to say that the long-awaited release of Series 1-VIII on Bluray was a controversial one. Reaction to the bulk of the content has varied, but the one thing that everyone agreed on is that Series III and half of Series V were utterly ruined due to some sort of de-interlacing error that rendered the episodes in the wrong frame rate. Since we published our not-entirely-positive review, a small but noisy campaign for replacements and/or refunds started, thanks to the likes of Andrew Orton and his tireless emailing, and George Martin of Which?, who teamed up with perhaps the most intelligent and sexy Red Dwarf fan in the world in his reporting of the issue.
And today, that campaign has paid off. Those who have emailed the BBC to complain have finally received a satisfactory response, the pertinent bit of which is:
After a comprehensive review with all our suppliers involved in the manufacturing of this product we have now identified the source of the problem. De-interlacing did occur at tape to digital capture stage with one of the suppliers. This was not part of the Blu-ray authoring process as we originally had reason to believe.
The mastering of this release was a multistage process involving three separate suppliers. We hope you will understand that it would be inappropriate for us to say specifically where this fault occurred as we are remedying this with the company concerned.
We have started the process of recreating the masters and re-authoring these discs which will take approximately six weeks.
This is great news, obviously, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results, whilst not holding our breath bearing in mind that we weren’t keen on the rest of the Bluray versions in the first place. But after a frustrating few weeks in which official Red Dwarf sources have been silent and the BBC initially refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong, this is a big win. Well done and thank you to all those who fought for this.
The release that is both long-awaited yet not particularly hotly anticipated is finally happening this coming Monday, the 14th January. However, it’s become clear from both social media and our forum that some lucky individuals have started to receive their pre-orders already, mostly ones from Zoom if you want to try and get in on that action. Our review will be along in due course (not promising any dates, as none of us have received our copies yet), but in the meantime, please use this thread to jot down your thoughts and share your insightful opinions.
For example, there’s an extremely intriguing nugget hidden away in today’s TOS update:
(Incidentally, contrary to our previous reporting, we can now confirm that the bonus DVDs for each series do actually contain everything that was on their equivalent original release discs – including the original menus!)
So it looks like we are getting the music cues and talking book chapters after all, so it would seem the controversy and debate on that score was in vain. Ho hum.
With the Bluray release just over a month away, we now have confirmation of exactly what’s packed in to those 19 shiny discs. Firstly, with regards to the episodes themselves, the TOS update is keen to emphasise that the extent of the re-mastering this time around is to upscale the video, clean up any damage and polish up the colour grade, rather than making any significant changes to the overall show. They note that there’s no change “to the feeling of each unique season”, so VII will keep its film look but none of the others will have it added. Bless, they know we’ve been burnt before with re-mastering, so they’re just trying to reassure us.
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It’s rare that a TOS update is trailed in advance, but when it is, it’s usually something special. There is certainly much to discuss here – the artwork for the forthcoming Bluray release:
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Well, here’s hoping we’ve never used that headline before.
Before today the only source of information we’ve had on the Blu-ray releases of Red Dwarf 1 to VIII is from a very premature Amazon listing and Doug’s Tweets on the subject. It is, however, now all official and that, and GNP are going ahead with what seems to be an entire set released on the 1st October as part of their ongoing and extensive 30th anniversary celebrations.
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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:
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