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Its been a long time coming for us fans of the show but finally series two of Red Dwarf has been released. If you want a quick look at the cover art, booklet and the spine (next to the first series DVD set) then <a href=http://www.dvdanswers.com/?r=0&;s=1&c=1457 target=moo>click here</a> (it will open in a new window). Region four viewers note that this is dual coded to work in your machine also so if you don’t want to wait for your countries release then you can be safe in the knowledge that if you import it, it will be compatible.

Blue Midget was later scrapped for the roomier StarBug

The Series
Series two was where the mining ship Red Dwarf started to pick up momentum. Funnier stories, better one liners and the introduction of other characters helped this to really get the show off the ground. The menu system is near identical to the first series DVD with the addition of the Holly Hop Drive and some scutters playing Cowboys and Indians. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as there really isn’t much in the way of changes in keeping with the theme that the designers can do. Perhaps in the future we’ll be presented with a menu system based around Starbug, or the prison they end up in. The spine of the case as you might have seen continues the theme of the Red Dwarf logo. I am unsure how this is going to look when completed as the base colours for the cases are different. The first series was red and series two is blue. I wonder what colour series three will be? Time will tell, anyway as before here is an overview of the included episodes:

Kryten
The first episode of series two sees the intrepid crew answering a distress call. When they realise the people in trouble are three ladies and their android they go all out to tart themselves up. Rimmer wears his classic white captains uniform while Lister digs out his least smeggy clothes. The Cat dons a gold space suit and the party set off to rescue the damsels. This is the first introduction we get to Kryten. He is not in the rest of series two as the writers wanted to make a point of not introducing such a generic cliché as a robot into their main cast so early on. Kryten is played by David Ross here, and while he wanted to return for series three, he had other commitments and so Robert Llewellyn stepped into his shoes. Or rather his novelty condom head gear. Ross later managed to return to the show as the bread obsessed Talkie Toaster.

This is in Wales - you know its got to be freezing!

Better Than Life
Now Red Dwarf had turned around headed for Earth, the postal shuttle managed to catch up with it and deliver the mail. In the mail was a Total Immersion Video game called Better Than Life in which the players connect themselves to the computer and then their every wish, their every fantasy is carried out as though it is real. This episode introduced Tony Hawks (the comedian not the skater) who plays the virtual host in Better Than Life after being the vending machine voices in series one. The crew enter the game and begin their fantasies. Already the second episode in the series and the crew have left the ship twice (effectively) – are any of the episodes going to be shot on Red Dwarf? Apparently the beach paradise scenes were actually shot in Rhyl in north Wales. Not the warmest of places at the best of times!

Thanks for the Memory
After finding a planet with a breathable atmosphere, the crew decide to celebrate Rimmer’s Death Day by throwing a party. Much alcohol ensues and the crew awake to heavy hangovers and memory lapses. They then realise that they are missing several days of their lives, and that Lister and the Cat both have broken legs. Holly’s memory has been erased for these days and the ships black box is missing. Of course Rimmer is again convinced that aliens are responsible for it all and concocts a ridiculous made up translation of their language (“Breaking you leg hurts like HELL, and they did it beLOW the knee – Hell-low…”).

Stasis Leak
One of the Cat’s famous “What is it?” scenes makes this a great episode. The crew are told that there is a stasis leak on the ship. Holly being Holly doesn’t really know what it is and so they investigate. It turns out to be a distortion in time or as the Cat puts it “A magic door! Why didn’t you say so!”  which allows them to travel to Red Dwarf three weeks before the accident originally happened which killed the ships crew. I won’t go into the time travelling story as this all has connotations on earlier and later episodes.

"I'm gonna eat you little fishy!"

Queeg
Holly always comes across as a little slow, especially for a computer with an alleged IQ of 6000. After the crew become worried with Holly’s apparent senility the Dwarf’s backup computer Queeg appears on the scene. Relieving Holly of duty and allowing him to stay onboard working as a night watchman, Queeg runs a tight ship and forces the crew to do chores to earn credits for food. Of course you can imagine how well this sits with the lazy bums that make up the crew.

Parallel Universe
Holly invents the Holly Hop drive. This in theory will allow the Dwarf and its crew to return to Earth in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t look like a very complicated device but Holly is sure it will work. The device is activated and the ship arrives at Earth, however Earth isn’t there! In fact neither is the solar system. That’s when Holly spots the other Red Dwarf; an exact replica of the ship but from a parallel universe where the crew are all opposites of the current crew. Female slobby Lister, female sexist and square Rimmer and, well, I’ll let you see for yourself the cat’s opposite invite the men over for a meet and greet while Holly attempts to fix the Holly Hop Drive. Parallel Universe opens with a song and dance routine instead of the normal opening sequence. The Cat sings Tongue Tied with Rimmer and Lister as backing singers. The full length video of this is included as an extra.

Video
The video on the first series was OK however a few people complained about MPEG artefacts present. I hope the transfer here will please them. I didn’t see any artefacts during watching and while the picture is at times overly bright, it is just how cheap British sitcoms are supposed to look when they are this old. The reds bleed ever so slightly when the episode titles are shown however the extra use of colour during the actual features does help liven up the drab interior of the ship. Nothing to write home about but certainly adequate.

Audio
It’s only stereo but what were you expecting? The sound is for the most crisp and clear. No surround sound here and it is not needed. A primarily dialogue driven show like this is presented in a way that suits it down to the ground. The laughter from the audience is kept at a level so that it does not interfere with the main dialogue except at one time which was in one of the deleted scenes so it didn’t really matter anyway. The cast even comment on a clap Danny John Jules received for one of his jokes in the first episode.

"You got me Tongue Tied!"

Extras
As with the first series, there are loads of extras. The commentaries are great, again ripping the “Michael” out of Norman Lovett’s/Holly’s hair. Norman does take a lot of abuse especially from Danny John Jules (Cat) however he laughs it off as a true professional. The commentaries it would seem were recorded just after that of series one as the cast follow on from their talk of Norman’s hair and the amount of pixilation Holly is presented with on his monitor. They bounce off each other like bingo balls throughout the six episodes. Its great since this series in my opinion really is better as the program starts to find its feet and I think this is reflected in the actor’s enthusiasm for their work. Including commenting on Danny John Jules farting during the commentary on Better Than Life.

The only other extra on the first disc appears to be an Easter Egg which is an animated short of Rob Grant, Doug Naylor and Ed Bye discussing the making of the episode Queeg. Its quite short and not particularly fascinating. Still, it’s a follow on from the animated short that was on the first disc. You can find out how to access it by checking out the link on the right or by searching our <a href=http://www.dvdanswers.com/index.php?r=0&;s=7 target=moo>Easter Egg database</a>.

The next disc features the rest of the extra features. First up are the Outtakes, or Smeg Ups as they have become known. Poor old Craig Charles stalling the motor bike on the beach and constantly failing to hit the golf ball are amusing. Comedy outtakes are always funny especially those from this cast and these six and a half minutes are no exception. The short Trailer included from BBC2 is funny if only to see the “crazy” eighties BBC2 logo.

The Deleted Scenes are either extended versions of scenes used or simply scenes removed altogether. The first is the full Androids soap opera credits complete with music from the episode Kryten. The next is also from the episode Kryten when the Cat has a duet with Talkie Toaster however the toasters lines were never recorded and are subtitled here. As it mentions, note that you can see the crews reflection in the shiny toaster. There are 18 scenes (over 18 minutes) in total from the various episodes from this series and I won’t ruin them all for you by letting you know what they are – I’ll leave it as a surprise for all you hard core Red Dwarf fans!

The Music Cues section features 32 isolated music scores including the main theme, opening theme and the Cat singing Tongue Tied. It is an ardent fan indeed that will sit through all the music included here.

Tongue Tied is the full length version of the alternate opening sequence sung by the Cat featuring Lister and Rimmer as backing singers which apparently got into the top twenty UK chart back in 1993. I wish I had managed to get this on CD when it was released. Next we have some Model Shots. These are presented with no extra effects and so is essentially raw footage. The biggest change to the Red Dwarf models was the addition of Blue Midget, a small ship to surface craft used on missions which involve the crew leaving the Dwarf. There are also several shots of Red Dwarf in orbit around a planet and the Nova 5 on which Kryten is discovered. These silent shots run in at 4 minutes.

Doug tries out for a singing part in Tongue Tied

Alternate Personalities is a short section featuring the crew in their many guises throughout all the series to the tune Little Green Bag which you might recognise from the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs. These three minutes of silliness made me want the rest of the Red Dwarf series even more.

The section entitled Audio Book Clips again as was with the first series, is Chris Barrie reading from the Red Dwarf Book – Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. The audio is ok but I found it popping a few times. The first clip lasts for seven minutes and the second runs for eight. They feature around the episode Kryten and Better Than Life.

Next up is an Interview with Doug Naylor. Set against a background of Red Dwarf and featuring short clips the interview lasts seventeen minutes. He talks about the incredibly colourful turn Red Dwarf took for series two, the excursions when the crew get off Red Dwarf and character development. He also talks about comedian Tony Hawks who is a pretty funny guy and I was glad to see him mentioned by Doug. Overall interesting stuff, and great to get the co-creators thoughts on this series.

A Photo Gallery is also included which not only features a few shots from the series, but the Australian video covers for series 2 which were different to the UK versions.

The Red Dwarf A to Z comes up with a Red Dwarf themed word with video explaining what each word is (including Professor Steven Hawking’s thoughts on the series and an interview with the Daleks):

A is for Arnold Judas Rimmer
B is for Beginnings
C is for Cult
D is for Dave Lister
E is for Exterminate
F is for Fans
G is for Grant and Naylor
H is for Holly
I is for “I’ve tried to fit in…”
J is for Jozxyqk
K is for Kryten
L is for Lawyer
M is for My Favourite Show
N is for Novels
O is for 0 07
P is for Professionalism
Q is for Question – The Ultimate One
R is for Remastered
S is for Smeghead
T is for The Cat
U is for U SA – Dallas
V is for Vee are not amused
W is for What is a Red Dwarf?
X is for X-Rated
Y is for Y -Fronts – Unidentified Crawling Object
Z is for Zat’s All Folks!

Running in at thirty minutes this provides some classic Red Dwarf moments and some great little interviews. A must see!

Overall
So what can I say? Justice has really been done again making this two disc set a definite purchase for everyone. This series is better than the first not just script wise, but from the point of the actors starting to really gel onscreen. The extras are a mix with some being fantastic and some mediocre however I wouldn’t want any of them removed. A testament to the show, and I am very happy. I can't believe I have to wait so long for the next series.


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