Yesterday morning my Red Dwarf VII DVD arrived 48 hours early. After following the creation of this DVD at reddwarf.co.uk I had quite a high anticipation. A lost episode, Robert Llewellyn’s much publicised video diary, the commentaries and, of course, the deleted scenes.
So far the Red Dwarf DVD’s have been some of the most finely produced shiny disks I have ever bought – really crammed full of meaty goodness that any fan could get wet over. Red Dwarf VII as a series though, is a different kettle of fish.
After four years absence from the screens Red Dwarf VII aired in 1997 with very mixed reviews. While the press were finally realising what a golden nugget of television the series was the fans we unsure of the shows new direction. VII was shot more like a drama, Chris Barrie was departing as was Rob Grant. There was a new character and it featured new CG effects and a filmic look with dramatic lighting.
At the time I didn’t know what to think. It was Red Dwarf and for that I loved it but something just wasn’t right. Like most fans I agreed it was the weakest series ever. Some ripped it to shreds though I still believed there were very strong moments. The opening to Stoke Me A Clipper is one of my favourite Red Dwarf scenes.
Last night I curled up in front of the goggle box and pressed play. Without the 4 years of anticipation and sudden shock of a completely new look – do you know what? My verdict has changed. The filmic look seems much much better when viewed on DVD as apposed to VHS. The lighting is sumptuous – the scene in Starbug’s engine core in Tikka To Ride looks simply gorgeous. Sadly the CG effects look worse than ever but the new CG inserted into Tikka for the DVD shows, that with the budget, it could have been glorious. I only intended to watch one episode last night but ended up watching three. I loved every moment and wished that they’d done more Dwarf in this way. Perhaps in hindsight we fans didn’t know how lucky we were to get a series that looked that good on a BBC Sit-Com budget. Sure some of the gags were weaker but the SF premises were stronger than ever. I mean, JFK assassinating himself? A virus you can talk to that feels sorry it has to kill you but is ‘just doing his job.’ Being your own father to ensure the human race is never wiped out and debating if cottage cheese (with pineapple chunks) should be kept in the fridge or cupboard… these are issues that even Star Trek hasn’t touched!
Perhaps RDVII needs a second chance?
More from the Crimson Short one here.