Red Dwarf – Just the Shows V-VIII

Created by: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor

Cast: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewelyn, Danny John-Jules, Chloe Annett

Synopsis: The continuing adventures of the remaining crew of the mining ship Red Dwarf.   However, the ship is stolen, leaving the guys in hot pursuit in the shuttle-like craft Starbug.   This set sees the recurring alter egos of some of the crew, Ace Rimmer and Dwayne Dibley, and the crew gets an addition, with Lister’s love interest Kristine Kochanski joining the crew from an alternate timeline dimension.

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For me, this is a golden age of Red Dwarf.   There were some great individual episodes earlier, but it is with these seasons that it became consistently highly amusing.   Perhaps it is due to the fact that the characters of the central four are more established, and a tendency to ham it up is reduced.   Perhaps it is just the quality of the story telling.   Regardless, I am delighted to have this DVD set in my collection.

Of course, the best part of the show is the relationship between Rimmer and Lister.   The one prominent dip in the series was the episodes in season VII when Rimmer is not presence.   It is amazing that Barrie succeeded in making such an odious character into a much-needed part of the show.   He was replaced by Annett’s Kochanski, who is a great character, especially when given something more interesting to do than just looking pretty, but the show still needed Barrie’s return.   Barrie is easily the most versatile of the group too… at home running away from danger just as much as he is at home facing it as “Ace” Rimmer.   It is indeed this set in which we get the classic moment of him jumping out of a plane using a crocodile as a surfing board!!   Yet credit should not be taken away from Charles, as the opposite half of this odd couple.   Together the comedy between them is sharp as a tack, and the interplay they have established defines the entire show.

The Cat and Kryten also are much more settled in their roles, and the outlandishness of their characters provide many of the gut-busting laugh out loud moments.   When I say they have settled, early on, their respective feline and android natures perhaps were over dominant in their time on-screen.   With so much time elapsed however, the humour comes now from their own unique personalities.   Kryten I found a particular delight, particularly his jealousy of Kochanski when she becomes a prominent member of the team.

Kochanski was introduced when Rimmer was (briefly) leaving the series.   She introduced a different dynamic… a character not happy being stuck with Rimmer, yet his friend nonetheless.   She introduces a sexual tension, though the relationship does not always delight.   In season VIII she gets more interesting things to do, but being the sole female in the gang this humour is often sexually oriented.   This did lead to some corker moments, especially when Rimmer believed he was predetermined by fate to have one last moment with Kochanski, but there were other times it got a little old.

Regardless though, this box set features some of the most consistently high quality television in the ten years it has run to date.   By all reports, it is downhill from here, but I will find out for myself when I embark on Season IX.

4 stars out of 5

 

Red Dwarf on IMDB

Season VIII Trailer [youtuibe=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OkdOscmjCo]

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