'Red Dwarf: Back to Earth'
(Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / BBC Home Video)
Overview: The boys are back, and while they may be older, they're still none the wiser. The crew discover a dimension-hopping leviathan, but Rimmer is threatened with replacement by the new, improved holograph Katrina. She is determined to guide Lister to his home planet, but no one is prepared for Earth 2009, where the hapless crew face death unless they can track down their creators.
DVD Verdict: Welcome back! And thankfully, the new plot still takes all the wild, clever twists that always made the series so enjoyable. Yes the boys do get back to earth but, as it always happens, not quite the way they expect. I got the biggest kick out of seeing their reaction to "modern day" culture. Even in the regular series, their sidelong cracks on society were always the best, but seeing them make them while actually experiencing our culture was a twist on a twist! The references to Coronation Street, Blade Runner, and (best of all!) Red Dwarf, are priceless and left me breathless!
But by far the best part was just seeing Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and Cat all back together again. And, they all look just as good as they did twenty years ago. You'd think Craig Charles hadn't aged a day, Danny John-Jules has still got ALL the moves! (Ladies, keep an eye out, in the "making of" special feature, for a shot of Cat from behind, wearing that pink spandex suit!!) Even Starbug is still kicking around, well... sort of. The fraction-of-a-second segment in the menu that shows the four striding toward us with "starbug" in the background literally chokes me up.
I was really disappointed, however, not to see either Holly or Holly appear in the miniseries. *sigh* His/her absence was accounted for adequately in the storyline, but it's just not the same without Holly. Instead we get a Katerina Bartikovsky who I must admit did a really good job with her role, but somehow bringing in an "expansion character" at this juncture just didn't work for me.
One thing that seemed a little weird at first was the strange, airless quality of the sound of the miniseries. The original series had many studio shots filmed in front of a live audience, and the location shots had a laugh track added into the background for continuity's sake. But the miniseries had neither of these, so for the first half of the first segment I kept wondering why everything sounded so flat. It just didn't have the same energy as the series. Then I realized what was missing: the laughter!
I am always blown away at how this "comedy" which seems on the surface to be a cheap, slapstick space-opera, actually has so many profound things to say about the meaning of life etc. This miniseries found subtle ways to make me go "Hmmmmm...." even more often than some of the later episodes in the series did. The final shot of Lister walking away from the car actually made me cry. He may be disgusting, but sometimes he can be quite brave! [KEB] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
All-new exclusive documentary The Making of Back to Earth