Next week I'll actually be reviewing a new release. Shock!
For the previous series review see here:
Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
Craig Charles as Dave Lister
Danny John-Jules as "The Cat"
and Norman Lovett as Holly
The second series of Red Dwarf is very similar to the first one in style, feel and quality. Both of the first two series are slow paced and character driven in their style. But the second series concentrates less on the interactions between Lister and Rimmer and instead expands a little to include more sci-fi experiences.
Kryten is the first episode and it introduces a character who will return in the third series and stay with the show for all the remaining episodes. But the Kryten who appears in this episode is played by a different actor and is very different from the one who appears next series. The episode is one of the best of these six, probably the second best one and it's a very strong start. It's followed up by the sentimental episodes Better Than Life and Thanks For The Memory; both of which look more deeply into Rimmer's personality and hang ups. BTL shows how deeply twisted he is, while TftM demonstrates what a difference love could make to Rimmer (indeed to all of us) when Lister gives Rimmer the (misguided) gift of 'The memory of one of Lister's ex-girlfriends' (effectively making Rimmer believe he dated the girl). These episodes are both slow ones that have some laughs, but not as many as the first one.
Stasis Leak is a little more complex, playing around with time lines as the "dwarfers" find a way to travel back to before the accident that wiped out the rest of the crew and ending in a truly superb scene with no less than three Rimmers and three Listers on screen at the same time.
Queeg is the fifth episode; after an accident places Lister's life in danger the emergency back up computer 'Queeg' replaces Holly and begins running the ship efficiently. This one is by far the funniest of the entire season and really showcases the awesome comic timing of Norman Lovette. Finally comes Parallel Universe, which is a solid episode to end the series and manages to tie up some events that occured in the first series episode Future Echoes it's also notable because it's the last appearance for Norman (for a while) and marks the appearance of Hattie Hayridge as Hilly. Hattie ended up take over the duties of Holly for the third, fourth and fifth series when Norman left.
The second series is enjoyable but it's a very different show from the one that appears in the later series. It's not until the third series that Red Dwarf really finds it's stride. It's worth watching for sure, but if I'm honest it might be better for people to get into Red Dwarf by watching the third series first then watching the first and second in retrospect.
The second series comes in standard DVD box that matches with the rest of the series. It's almost identical to all the rest except for a change in colour, stills and spine (the full set makes the Red Dwarf logo when you put them together). It also has a small booklet filled with stuff about the episodes.
Much like the first series boxed set the second series is crammed to the gills with extras and this is where it shines. You get a DVD with the series and the commentary on it and a second one filled with extras.
Here's the list:
Smeg Ups (Out takes)
"Red Dwarf A-Z" Documentary
Doug Naylor Interview
"Alternate Personalities" Featurette
The full uncut video for the song 'Tongue Tied'
Raw footage for special effects
Isolated Music Cues (yeah, wth?)
Talking Book Chapters
Hidden Easter Egg
It's a mighty haul of extras and there's stuff there to keep the most avid Dwarf-aphile glued to his TV screen for hours (and away from the normal populace which is good, because they're weird and scary).
Both Play.com and Zavvi have the series currently priced at £7.99, which is pretty good in my opinion. It works out at a respectable but not amazing 4.6p per minute, but that's not including the extras or re-watching with the commentary on (the commentary is rather good - despite the slightly annoying food references when someone is hamming it up and the use of woofers to represent funny lines).
I adore Red Dwarf, it's British Sitcom at it's best and has managed to hold up well against the test of time. As I said before this series (and the first one) are not the finest examples of the show, while there are some fantastic comedy moments in them it's the next series onwards (3 through to 6) that have the true comedy gold episodes in them. But it is still fun and at a meager 174 minutes it's worth watching them so you get the back story a little more solidly.
The Final Score:
3.5 for Series 2.