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Have six months passed already? Six months since the last series was released? Time flies. And so it should as the dedicated fan base has been crying out for these DVDs for a long time. So without further ado, let us begin.

Red Dwarf - Series 4

The Series
This two disc set again contains a well created twelve page booklet detailing a series overview, a list of the extra features, things to watch out for in episodes, anecdotes for each episode and classic quotes. Again as always this booklet is written by the Red Dwarf obsessed Andrew Ellard (read out exclusive interview <a href="http://www.dvdanswers.com/index.php?r=0&;s=13&c=15">here</a>) and again is of the same high quality as the previous DVD releases. The episodes are as follows:

Camille
This episode starts with Lister (Craig Charles) trying to teach Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) to lie. This is a complicated task as it involves getting the mechaniod to break his programming, a theme that reoccurs several times throughout the following series. After Kryten discovers a mechanoid called Camille on a crashed spaceship on a planet with a decaying orbit, he takes her back to the Red Dwarf under duress in an effort to save her life. However all is not normal when she meets the other crew members on the Dwarf, as they see a different Camille to that of Kryten.

DNA
If a machine can change an organic object into a different organic object, then imagine what would happen if a ships crew with, and lets be generous, a lower than average intelligence got hold of it? Since Kryten has organic tissue in his brain, he is accidentally turned into a human. His greatest dream come true, but how will he cope with his new emotions, and how will spare head number 1 react to the news that he is no longer needed?

Justice
A pod is found in space and the Cat foolishly starts to thaw out the contents. It either contains a female member of security from a space ship on route to a penal colony, or a criminal about to spend the remainder of their days in the space prison. In order to contain the contents if necessary, the crew navigate towards the prison to use the detention facilities just in case. Upon entering the prison each is given a mind probe to detect any wrong doings in their past. Deeds are found, and a certain member of the crew is tried for second degree murder.

White Hole
So what is it? Well in this episode the infamous Talkie Toaster is revived by Kryten as part of an experiment to increase its intelligence so then the crew can increase the ships computer's IQ to what it once was. However there is a problem. Add to that, a White Hole appears spewing time into the universe causing even more random events.

Dimension Jump
A theory exists that for every decision taken, a dimension exists in which the opposite decision was taken. This is where we meet Ace Rimmer for the first time. In a different dimension a decision was taken which took Rimmer in a different direction and this is the result – the coolest, smartest, most likeable man in history. Using a new space craft, Ace travels to the dimension we have come to know and love where he meets Lister, the Cat and of course, the snivelling, self pitying, cowardly smeg head version of himself.

Meltdown
This is where the script writers decided an adventure outside of of the usual surroundings should take place when Kryten discovers a matter teleportation device in the ships hold. This they use to teleport to a planet millions of light years away which is a planet at war. Two opposing sides are vying for superiority and the losing side needs a leader. Enter Rimmer, and his Napoleonic complex which leaves him in charge of the remaining forces, ready for a final push to claim the planet.

Red Dwarf - Series 4

These episodes are great. A lot of great jokes make this probably one of my favourite RD series, if not my favourite. Starting off with Camille, we have a bit of a slow start to the series. Stories focusing on Kryten as the main protagonist are generally not as funny as ones focusing on the other characters so whilst this episode has its moments it is a poor representation of the series as a whole. The female mechanoid who is Kryten’s love interest in this episode is interestingly enough played by Judy Pascoe who is Robert Llewellyn’s real life partner.

DNA again is quite Kryten focused however it is mixed well with the rest of the cast and is the episode that spawned the famous curry monster and even included some of Danny John-Jules’ improvisation (he sneezes on the microscope containing Rimmer’s dandruff) which was left in the final scene. Justice had apparently only one main scene cut in which Lister throws an empty beer can at a bin, misses whilst in the justice field, which results in a huge litter bird emptying its bowels on his head. It is amusing too that now we have this episode on DVD we can see when the Cat faints that his shadow can be seen landing softly on a crash matt. It was also amusing to see the Cat mention that if there was a woman created that didn’t find him attractive, he’d have heard about it on Ripley;s Believe It or Not, a show which Craig Charles later went to work on.

White Hole was the last script written for this series and features the classic “So what is it?” scene. Apparently while Lister admits to being a great pool player, Craig Charles also fancies himself as a bit of a pool diva and has been known to take on challenges from members of the public who can’t believe he is any good, and then he proceeds to wipe the floor with them. Dimension Jump is where we see Ace for the first time. Allegedly this is because Chris Barrie went to Rob and Doug and explained that he was sick of playing “gits”. There is also an amusing parody of the theme from Top Gun with some James Bond references thrown in for good measure. This sort of film parodying is a running theme in this series with other nods to Full Metal Jacket, Jaws, Robocop, Die Hard II and Casablanca. Meltdown features a lot of extra actors to make up the wax world dummies and professional impersonators were hired for parts including Clayton Mark as Elvis and Pauline Bailey as Marilyn. For those of you that want to know, the giant dino-birds were borrowed from the 1967 Haruyasu Noguchi movie, Daikyoju Gappa.

Video
Very much the same as before, this series is presented in 4:3 and looks like a TV show. Nothing special and nothing too poor, there have been worse and there have been better TV shows on DVD, however it is adequate for this requirement with its low-ish quality colour and black level reproduction echoing the production costs. Fairly grainy but not as bad as any form of VHS, the image is also fairly soft. It is hard to say much more about such a mediocre transfer which is only limited in terms of its source material.

Red Dwarf - Series 4

Audio
The series is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack which accurately represents the soundtrack the original show was aired with. For the most, nice and clean with very few pops or whistles and easily audible dialogue make this an acceptable soundtrack for this DVD except for in two places (possibly more). At around the twenty six minute mark in Justice, and the fourteen minute mark in Dimension Jump there is a substantial amount of background hiss present. These are the two main occurrences of this effect however since it exists here it might exist elsewhere to a lesser degree. A real pity and one can only assume it is on the master audio recording.

Extras
The first features are the commentaries which are available for each episode and include the thoughts of the entire cast (Charles, Barrie, John-Jules, Llewellyn and Hayridge). One of the problems with these commentaries is that the cast have not seen nor been involved with these episodes for so long that they are almost seeing them for the first time and this means that they do not remember certain parts until they see them, which leaves them often just watching the episodes and either laughing, patting each other on the back or abusing each other for the lines in the script. This obviously does not fill the commentary time and they do talk about the experiences that they can remember from each episode and also other references to other episodes including wondering what sort of groin socket Camille might have in comparison to Kryten’s. Hattie again spends a lot of her time laughing and asking a few questions mainly wondering what is going on whilst the boys joke around at each others expense. I do think that as the DVD releases progress, the commentary tracks will get better as the cast start to remember what happened off camera during the creation of the series. Nearly fifteen years later is a long time to have to recall what happened during filming episodes so it is easy to understand why they cannot remember every detail from the recording (bearing in mind I can barely remember what I did last week so the cast are entirely forgiven).

Red Dwarf - Series 4

Onto the second disc where the first extra feature is a series of interviews entitled Built to Last which runs for seventy three minutes. This is broken down into seven parts, each titled after an episode from this series with the addition of an introduction. The interviews are with both cast and crew and include a few snippets from the episodes. Hattie comments that a music paper reviewed the series and actually said something along the lines that her hair was too long for a computer, as if they would know! Robert comments on how his son got very upset about after seeing Camille in which “mummy turned into a blob”. This is better than the commentaries as it provides proper questions and material for the cast to talk about which make it more interesting including Lister’s Space Mumps made of custard power and piccalilli.

Next up is the Smeg Ups which is an ten and a half minute feature as before featuring set problems and actors messing up their lines followed by a lot of bleeping. Hilarity ensues. This is a good selection. It is only a shame that the swearing is beeped out rather than left in. Some quality swearing in front of a young Arnold Rimmer which results in under aged giggles, swiftly followed by Chris Barrie, dressed as an army officer, doing an impression of Kenneth Williams. Priceless.

There are two trailers up next which unfortunately were lost from the original BBC archives, however they have been recovered from VHS so the quality is understandably poor. The first features clips from Camille in a Valentine’s themed trailer (for its original airing on Valentines night) and the second is a trailer for Series 4 revisited with scrolling text Star Warts style over clips from the series.

Lurve is an three minute feature following on from previous DVD releases, this time showing the crew from various series getting it on big time with other cast members to the tune Dizzy by Vik Reeves. The Gallery is a selection of stills from 5 sub galleries. The first three are production galleries with shots from the episodes, and on set after filming, one features effects sketches and shots and the sleeves of the original VHS releases and the final one is an amusing collection of Instant Snapshots taken during the creation of this series. Next we have twelve music cues which include the main theme, sung by Elvis and some tasteful Hammond Organ music.

The Deleted Scenes were cut from episodes for time or other production related reasons. They are presented without music or sound effects and run for a total of twenty one minutes and a few actually add to episodes however some were cut for reasons of poor jokes, which is totally understandable once you have seen them. Can’t Smeg Won’t Smeg is an episode of the once popular Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook – a series aired on the BBC, in this instance starring the irrefutably annoying camp machine, Ainsley Harriet. I am not sure whoever named this show actually knows what smeg actually is. The show aimed to get two people – one who can’t cook, and funnily enough, one who won’t cook, into a kitchen who then proceed to copy what Harriet does in the making of a dish of some kind, much to the amusement of the audience. Harriet was actually in Red Dwarf as a Gelf however we have not got to that episode on DVD as yet. The show stars all four crew members in their on screen personas. Very scripted however they do get to call Harriet an AH, which is always good. We even get a Kochanski and a Dwayne Dibley appearance. Its all a bit forced but if you take it for what it is, its entertaining enough and runs for twenty seven minutes.

Red Dwarf - Series 4

Ace Rimmer – A Life in Lamé is an odd feature showing highlights from the onscreen adventures of everyone’s favourite hero, Ace Rimmer including a scene with the fakest rubber alligator in screen history. Scenes are introduced by Holly as she pines after the dynamic legend and this runs in at eleven minutes. Of course it would not be a Red Dwarf DVD if there were not audio book clips read by Chris Barrie. Here we are treated to two clips featuring moments from series four, entitled Planet Pool and Talkie Toaster. These run for fifteen minutes and nine minutes respectively. Finally we have model shots taken from this series. These play for around seven minutes and focus more on story based shots now since the library had a lot of Starbug/Red Dwarf shots in it already by this time.

Overall
So the end of another six episodes for another six months. A really good series only hampered by a little too much focus on Kryten at times however the rest of the episodes really shine and the cast gel together excellently. Good, imaginative scripts allow for action on and off Red Dwarf/Starbug giving depth to the characters and situations and served with a disc full of entertaining and decent extras make this possibly my favourite series so far. Placed on my shelf next to the other three series, I wait in anticipation for the rest to be released, if only so I can complete the huge Red Dwarf logo on my shelf.


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