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Red Dwarf V
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Red Dwarf: V (DVD)
It's brown alert time all over again for Red Dwarf fans with the fifth season of the much-loved U.K. sci-fi/comedy series. Episode-wise, it's business as usual for the crew of the Red Dwarf--that is, if one considers encountering an alien squid that squirts a despair-inducing hallucinogen ("Back to Reality," later voted the best episode of the series by British viewers--and Stephen Hawking!), evil (and not particularly bright) versions of the crew ("Demons and Angels"), a virus that causes insanity ("Quarantine"), and a trip to a moon created entirely from the mind of the insufferable hologram Rimmer ("Terrorform") business as usual. In short, it's six hilarious episodes, highlighted by the typically terrific writing of creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (who also direct two episodes). As with the previous deluxe DVD releases, Series V features a wealth of supplemental features, the most intriguing of which is a look at the failed attempt to recreate the show in America (with U.K. cast member Robert Llewellyn and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Terry Farrell as Cat). Also included are cast and fan commentaries, featurettes on the show's "science" and villains, special effects tests, blooper reels, and a sampling of Grant and Naylor's BBC 4 radio sketch "Dave Hollins, Space Cadet," which served as the inspiration for Red Dwarf. Dedicated DVD owners will also be rewarded by Easter eggs lurking throughout the menus. --Paul Gaita
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1. Holoship - Rimmer leaves Red Dwarf to go to the Holoship Enlightenment where he must compete with the best of the Space Corps to remain aboard. Everything he wants is on this ship. Will he make the cut and find true love as well?
2. The Inquisitor - The Inquisitor travels time and erases the unworthy from existence and the Red Dwarf crew, having not led the most productive lives, are on his list.
3. Terrorform - Rimmer becomes a prisoner of his own nightmares and must be rescued by the rest of the crew.
4. Quarantine - Contagion from a viral research centre causes Rimmer to force the rest of the crew to spend twelve weeks in quarantine. But who is really infected?
5. Demons & Angels- When the crew meet their evil doubles, things get unpleasant and the actors get to play interesting twisted versions of their usual characters.
6. Back to Reality - In a great plot twist that I won't give away here, the crew of Red Dwarf find that all things are not as they seem. Will life ever be the same?
Extras features include: Cast Commentary, Fan Commentary on Back To Reality, Fan Profiles, "Bad Guys" Music Featurette, Photo Gallery, Raw Effects Footage, "Heavy Science" Series V Doco, Weblink, "Dwarfing USA" featurette, The SFX of Red Dwarf, Deleted Scenes, Smeg Ups, TrailersBBC2/Skutter Channel idents, Lister Intro To "Best Episode Ever", Isolated Music Cues, Dave Hollins Radio Sketch and 3 Easter Eggs Including an Animated version of Back To Reality.
Disc 1 -
- Back To Reality, Animated Commentary -
Go to the episode selection menu. Go down to 3 "Terrorform" and then press right. You should have highlighted `drive room'. Then press down. That parts pretty simple to work out. Press down and highlight that glove. Press enter/ok. It will now display a pad to enter a secret GD code. Highlight each number, followed by enter... 1, 4, 5.It will access the hidden Easter egg of the creators talking about the episode "back to reality" in a cartoon format. Looks like it was created with macromedia Flash.
- What the smeg did they eat? -
Go to the episode selection menu, just like above. And go into the "Quarantine" selection. Then once in there, go to the "next" option and press enter to view the second menu page for the episode. You should notice a penguin kind of drawing in the bottom/middle of the menu now. Highlight the "menu" option and press up to highlight the penguin, or whatever the smeg it is and press enter on him. I won't tell you what it access, you'll have to see it for yourself.
Disc 2 -
- The Accent Question -
Go to the subtitles menu. Click up on "on/off". Then press up again and you will have selected a hidden icon in the shape of Holly's head. Press enter and you will see a little interview with what's his name about Jan Leeve's and where her Manchester accent on Frasier may well have come from.
The DVD quality is in top form (with, as usual, a surfeit of bonus material that alone justifies the <$30 pricetag), as alone does the restoration effort (Red Dwarfs 5 and 6 NEVER looked so good) so I will concentrate on the episodes themselves:
1. Holoship. Rimmer, a hologram, sees potential for having a life at last on board. The problem is, he has to beat his opponent. Who happens to be, unbeknownst to him, the hologram he falls in love with. Great series opener in terms of irony but the best is yet to come...
2. The Inquisitor. A rogue simulant (half man, half machine), wanders Time. Upon the individuals it meets, it assesses them. If they fail the assessment, they are removed from history and replaced with someone else. The story explains it with much more panache. It seems weird as to who passes and who fails the test, but not only does it appeal with its intellectual supremacy, but it remains true to its roots as being a comedy and makes this one a real winner for everybody. GREAT stuff.
3. Terrorform. Kryten and Rimmer crashed Starbug onto a "Psi-Moon". Kryten escaped with a helping hand, but Rimmer becomes a prisoner of a world that had been created out of his subconscious state! This one, like The Inquisitor, is riotously funny and appeals to all levels. Best of all, one can feel sorry for Rimmer.
4. Quarantine. Another winner, the Dwarf crew (sans Rimmer) happen upon the results of unique experiments. Unfortunately, one of them was a hologramatic virus that infects Rimmer when he radios the crew. Upon the crew's return, Rimmer seems a changed - and eminently insane - hologram. There are some unusual but wonderful concepts here, and Rimmer gone nuts is hilarious. Another episode in top form.
5. Demons and Angels. Food supplies are running low, so Kryten perfects a triplicator. Well, not quite. The device takes one object and extracts it into its pure good and pure rotten components. Lister tries putting the machine in reverse and subsequently destroys Red Dwarf. Well, not quite. Two new Dwarf ships are created: One good and one evil. The problem is, to rebuild the triplicator to merge the separated ship, they have to go to both ships... Now while the "goodie" side is a bit goodie, the REAL fun begins on the evils' ship. Indeed, I'll never look at Rimmer in quite the same way again! Devilishly funny, this one also works well.
6. Back to Reality. Fleeing from a 'Despair Squid', the Squid apparently destroys the Starbug probing the planet. The foursome wake up from what seems to be a game they've played for 4 years, called "Red Dwarf". This is a GREAT season finale (though the best one ever is a tie between "The Last Day" and "Out of Time".) I won't spoil the outcome, but I will say that Dwayne Dibbley is introduced. A character who gets reused later on, for no reason other than to fill out a horrible episode's time allotment. (A great parody character meant for one episode really isn't meant to be re-used...)
as usual, the extras and disc quality are all top-notch.
Apart from season 2 and the show's opener episode "The End", season 5 is definitely one to hook potential fans in. It's got EVERYTHING and more.
Later, I decided to come back to Red Dwarf, and watch Series 5, reasoning that by this time, they would most likely have gotten a handle on how to do it right. Although I still stand by what I thought of Series 1, oh man, I thought Series 5 is everything Series 1 was not. It's funny, clever, intelligent, engaging and not annoying at all. In fact, I LOVE it.
And after immersing myself in episodes from Series 4, 5, 6 and now 7, I have to say it's one of my most favorite series ever. I'm a life long Star Trek fan, and what I say would be blasphemy I'm sure, but there are many instances in this show where they leave Star Trek in the dust in terms of concepts, storytelling, and simple bravery in the kinds of stories they have the audacity to tell.
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