The DVD contains…
* Features both a Director’s Cut version of Back to Earth and the original televised version: In other words, a play all as it’s meant to be seen, or in the 3 parts it was shown on TV.
* Cast Commentary by Chris Barry (Rimmer), Danny John Jules (Cat), Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) & of coarse Craig Charles(Dave Lister)
* Director Commentary with Doug Naylor.
* All-New Exclusive Documentary:
* The Making of Back to Earth part 1 & 2
* Deleted Scenes
* Smeg Ups
* Trailers & TV Spots
* Web Videos
* Photo Gallery
* Easter Egg of Danny getting a free drink.
SPOILER (Dont read on if you don’t want to know how to access the egg)
when disc 2 starts, you will see a skutter roll by on the screen and flip you off, hit the enter button on your remote while it does this.
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I’ll freely admit that the original series got a bit stagnant from series 5 through 7, however I really felt that 8 shaped up to be a return to form. Now, ten years later, we finally get more. To be honest, it is best watched in one sitting as the first episode really introduces (or re-introduces) the characters we know and love and watching them individually does break up the flow a bit. The story (and the funny) really picks up in the second ep and continues through the third. In all, Back to Earth brings back much of what made the original series great and sets the stage for a new series nicely. It left me wanting more without leaving me hanging.
After waiting ten years for a Red Dwarf reunion, hearing rumours of another series or even a big-screen movie, fans’ anticipation level for “Back to Earth” was VERY high. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who, after viewing this 3-part episode, was left wondering if the wait was worth it.
While it is nice to have most of the cast back (including a too-late and too-brief turn by Chloe Annett), the magic that made Red Dwarf such fun is laregly missing. It starts off promisingly enough, with Lister making Rimmer the butt of another in a series of practical jokes. But when the main plot kicks in, a sinking feeling of deja vu sets in. “Back to Earth” appropriates the plot from an earlier, better episode, “Back to Reality.” I won’t give it all away, but if you’ve seen the earlier episode, the “twist” ending of this one won’t come as a shock at all.
The other, only slightly lesser problem is that very little attempt is made to maintain the series’ continuity. It’s been ten years (nine, according to an on-screen message) since the crew was left hanging at the end of “Only the Good. . .”. When “Back to Earth” begins, Rimmer is inexplicably a hologram again, Kochanski has been written out of the show, and the ship is back in deep space with the 4 lead players in place like nothing has changed.
So, you’re thinking, this guy’s given it 3 stars…is there ANYTHING good about it? Well, yes. For starters, everyone looks like they’ve barely aged, which is just short of miraculous considering the first episode of Red Dwarf aired 21 years ago. And even though the script gives them little of note to work with, the actors slip back into their roles with ease. Production values are generally high, although a CGI skutter in place of the old animatronic one will make long-time fans cringe.
As a long-time fan, I’d certainly be thrilled if this led to a revival of the series. I just hope the writers can come up with some fresh and FUNNY ideas, or they should let Red Dwarf rest in peace.