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Red Dwarf Series 1 - 8 Boxset (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000225134
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 23/3/2024 18:47
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    Review for Red Dwarf Series 1 - 8 Boxset

    8 / 10


    How can I justify getting Red Dwarf Seasons 1-8 on Blu-ray? This isn’t a show for an HD format. It was barely a show for the DVD format, a BBC sitcom shot on video in the eighties and nineties, decidedly low of resolution, and prone to the kind of light flares that left after-images on the videotape. It did get better through the run, but the first two seasons in particular don’t have a lot of scope for HD enhancements. Maybe the collection itself can offer something more. But I have the original DVD releases of Red Dwarf, loaded with extra features, and it seems that this release has simply cloned the original DVDs in terms of content. The episodes and their associated commentaries get Blu-ray discs, but the bonus content is presented on those same old DVDs, given new label artwork. Other than the Blu-rays, there’s no difference in content.

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    Except there is the Bodysnatcher disc, a bonus Blu-ray that gets a cardboard sleeve all to itself, whereas the other discs, 10 Blu-rays and 8 DVDs get digipack presentation. Bodysnatcher was a famous ‘lost episode’ of Red Dwarf, that was presented with the ‘Lucased’ first three seasons, back when the BBC jumped on the Star Wars Special Editions bandwagon, and gave Seasons 1-3 of Red Dwarf CGI enhancements and special effects. They were released on the hard to find Bodysnatcher boxset. The new effects in the re-edited episodes weren’t welcomed by the fans, but the extra features in the Bodysnatcher DVDs were, including the Season 1 and 2 documentaries that weren’t on the regular DVD releases. The bonus Blu-ray thankfully doesn’t have the episodes, but it does have all of the Bodysnatcher extras.

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    I could say that I paid out 30 quid just for that bonus disc, but really it’s my Collector’s OCD. All the Red Dwarf that Dave has commissioned has been made in HD, and released on Blu-ray. I just want consistency on my shelf. If this Blu-ray collection does a better job of scaling up the episodes than my set-up does with the old DVDs, that’s just a bonus. Still, there is lossless sound as well.

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    3 million years in deep space, Dave Lister, the last human in the universe is trying to make his way back to Earth on the mining ship Red Dwarf, along with a hologram of his dead bunkmate Arnold Rimmer, a creature evolved from the ship’s cat, the service android Kryten, and Holly, the ship’s computer that’s crossed over the line into senility.

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    If you want to know about the content, the episodes, I’ll link to the individual reviews of the DVDs below, where you’ll also get a better description of the extras discs. Note that the extended episodes from Series 7 & 8 are also in this Blu-ray collection. This review is more about how the shows look on Blu-ray, and that Bodysnatcher bonus disc.

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    Red Dwarf Season 1
    Red Dwarf Season 2
    Red Dwarf Season 3
    Red Dwarf Season 4
    Red Dwarf Season 5
    Red Dwarf Season 6
    Red Dwarf Season 7
    Red Dwarf Season 8

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    Shot on videotape in the late eighties at 4:3 aspect ratio for 625 line PAL transmission. Don’t be expecting miracles from Red Dwarf on Blu-ray. What we have here for the first 8 series are 1.33:1 pillarboxed 1080i 50Hz scaled-up transfers, and the look of the final product is dependent on the source material. It’s a mixed bag. Seasons 7 and 8 for example were finished with a filmic process in post-production, and they scale up really quite well, almost convincing me that they’re kind of HD. But Seasons 1 and 2 were studio-bound, shot on the kind of video that left retina burn flare afterimages if something bright appeared on screen, and you can’t get away from that low resolution.

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    They look like what they are. But there has been some massaging applied for HD presentation when it comes to the colour timing. Seasons 1 and 2 in particular were euphemistically known as Grey Dwarf for their lack of colour in broadcast, VHS and DVD, but here they have been reworked to bring out the colours that were actually there on set and in the costumes. It’s a far more vivid look, and more in keeping with the rest of the series. But, in the massaging process, blacks have been crushed, and brightness boosted, and in comparison to the DVD, shadow detail has been crushed away, and finer detail, especially in the earlier seasons is actually better on the DVDs.

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    Lossless is practically always better than lossy, so it makes it easier to recommend this release for the DTS-HD MA 2.0 English audio upgrade. The dialogue is clear, the action comes across well, and the music is just as it should be. English subtitles are there if you should need them.

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    The Red Dwarf Seasons 1-8 Blu-ray is presented in 2 digipacks that slip inside a thin card slipcase. It’s pretty hefty and takes up a few inches of shelf-space. The eight discs comprising series 1-4 get one digipack, and the ten discs of seasons 5-8 get the other. Inside a flap in the first digipack is a 12 page booklet listing the episodes and a summary of the extras. As mentioned, the extra features for Seasons 1-8 are merely the extras discs cloned from the original DVD releases, except for the following extras which were originally on the series DVD discs, and here have to be put onto the series Blu-ray discs instead.

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    Season 7 Disc 1

    Identity Within (44:03)

    Season 7 Disc 2

    Fan Films (18:21)

    Season 8 Disc 1

    Comedy Connections (29:05)

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    And now we come to The Bodysnatcher Disc, which gets a little card envelope that slots in beside the digipacks. Bodysnatcher comprised the first three seasons given a digital effects makeover. You can still see one of these episodes, on the Series 1 extras disc... in Japanese. Digital effects aged quickly and badly, especially early on around the time Red Dwarf got the treatment, although in my opinion those shows didn’t look good back then. The Bodysnatcher Blu-ray Bonus disc collects all of the extra features from that release, but wisely ditches the actual episodes. There’s still a lot to be going on with however, beginning with the all important Bodysnatcher episode.

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    - Bodysnatcher

    Just as Identity Within is the lost Cat episode, brought to life in audio script read form on the Season 7 discs, Bodysnatcher is the Season 1 episode that never got made (It got replaced by Me²). Here Chris Barrie reads the script against storyboard images for the episode and this lasts 36:22.

    There is an optional commentary for this episode from Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

    You can also hear the Full Length Audio version of this story, albeit without the storyboard art. (44:07)

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    - Extras

    The End: The Original Assembly (32:29)
    The End: The Original Assembly Audio Commentary with Rob Grant and Doug Naylor

    The first episode of Red Dwarf didn’t quite work, and thanks to a seventh unused filming slot, they went back and reshot much of it with added jokes. That comparatively disappointing first version is presented here.

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    The Beginning (69:55)
    It’s Cold Outside (69:54)

    Here’s the real reason I bought this. The original DVD release of the series came with making of documentaries for Seasons 3-8. The Seasons 1 and 2 documentaries for some reason were only released on the Bodysnatcher collection, and that quickly became rare and overpriced.

    Re:Dwarf (21:19)

    This is the making of the re-mastered version featurette.

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    - Bonus Material

    Red Dwarf Mobisode (0:38)
    DVD Credits (0:37)
    Deleted Scenes x4 (5:53)
    Raw FX Footage (14:39)
    Original Model Shot (0:53)
    Tongue Tied – Son of Cliche Version (1:49)
    Tongue Tied – Howard Goodall Demo (3:37)

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    Most Embarrassing Interview – Pebble Mill (6:00)
    Most Embarrassing Interview – Pebble Mill – Audio Commentary with Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
    Script Extracts x4 with optional commentary with Rob Grant & Doug Naylor (12:24)
    Peter Tyler 8mm Reel (4:50)
    Remastered Promo #1 (6:54)
    Remastered Promo #2 (5:24)

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    - Audio Commentaries

    Series 1: The End (30:06)
    Series 1: Me² (29:22)
    Series 2: Kryten (28:10)
    Series 2: Better Than Life (28:46)
    Series 3: Polymorph (27:17)
    Series 3: Bodyswap (27:43)

    The re-mastered episodes have been left off this release, so these commentaries are presented against static images. It’s only an issue on the first commentary from Ed Bye and a gaggle of re-masterers. The rest of the commentaries are with Ed Bye and Doug Naylor and are less update specific.

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    - Easter Eggs

    Bodysnatcher – Bonus Audio Commentary with Rob Grant & Doug Naylor (9:58)
    Bodysnatcher – Lost Moments (0:49)
    S1 – Future Echoes Animation (5:31)
    S2 – Queeg Animation (2:28)
    S3 – Marooned Model Shot (0:18)
    S3 – Polymorph Attack – Original Footage (0:26)
    S4 – Red Nose Promo (1:02)
    S4 – Easter Egg Easter Egg (1:44)
    S5 – Back to Reality Animation (5:45)
    S5 – Commentary Booth Egg (1:08)
    S6 – Footage Archive 1 (1:00)
    S6 – Footage Archive 2 (0:21)
    S6 – Footage Archive 3 (0:40)
    S6 – Footage Archive 4 (1:08)
    S6 – Gunmen of the Apocalypse Animation (6:00)
    S6 – The Memory Man (1:27)
    S8 – ‘Clear’ Music Video (7:11)

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    The first two Bodysnatcher Eggs are unique to this and the Bodysnatcher DVD release. The other eggs are presented here for easy access, but if you want a challenge, you can go looking for them on the Red Dwarf series extras DVDs in this collection.

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    Red Dwarf will always be my comfort food television comedy. It might have been the first show to successfully combine science fiction and humour. At least back in 1988, I had seen nothing else like it. It might have started off like Porridge in space, but even as the first series unfolded, it began to offer some serious science fiction ideas, and subsequent series embraced the sci-fi whole-heartedly. All of my favourite entertainment food-groups were catered for. I still feel that the best of the show was when Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were collaborating, but even subsequent series hit a high level of quality. Although narratively an aberration, I’m probably in a minority in that I prefer Series 8 to Series 7. The more recent Dave revival series haven’t lost any charm either. Now I can finally have it all in Blu-ray format.

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    Having said all of that though, I do think that I won’t be losing the original DVDs anytime soon. The Blu-ray transfer is a bit of a mixed bag visually. Sure, when it comes to colour balance, and the up-scale, this Blu-ray release by and large does a better job than most players and TVs will do with those old DVDs. But the re-mastering isn’t ideal, especially early on when it comes to crushed blacks and blown whites. There are some scenes that actually lose detail compared to the DVDs. I think in subsequent re-watches, I’ll watch the Series 1 and 2 DVDs before switching to the Blu-rays for Series 3 onwards.

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    It’s a bit of a shame that the extras DVDs are just cloned for this release, and weren’t put onto Blu-ray the way the episodes were, but technically it’s not necessary. For me, the big selling point for this release is the Bodysnatcher disc. The re-mastered episodes will never be something I want to watch, but the Bodysnatcher DVD collection was a remarkably rare release that very quickly went out of print. The extras on that collection, particularly the Series 1 and 2 documentaries were must-own material, and until this Blu-ray were only watchable as poor quality rips on Youtube. Now all of classic BBC Dwarf is available in one handy box, and despite the odd niggling issue, this release is very much recommended.

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