The first series of this show wasn’t bad, but wasn’t as strong as those to come.

Cast and Crew Information

Craig Charles as Dave Lister
Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
Danny John-Jules as Cat
Norman Lovett as Holly

Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor
Directed by Ed Bye

Availability Information

The same two disc DVD set is available in three ways: just this series, series one and two, or all eight of them. I bought mine in the latter form, which is the lowest cost per series, but the only differences between the three are in packaging.

Premise

Dave Lister doesn’t particularly care for his job. He’s on the massive mining ship Red Dwarf, and he realizes the best way to survive the long, boring flight home is to spend it in stasis. Unfortunately, his eternally incompetant bunkmate accidentally kills everyone on the ship except Lister (protected by the stasis field) and his cat (the reason for his stint in stasis, who was in a radiation shielded cargo hold.) Three billions years letter, the ship’s computer Holly lets Lister out of stasis. His only companions are the senile computer, a holographic projection of bunkmate Arnold J. Rimmer, and a creature descended from his pregnant cat.

High Point

The seemingly nonsensical conversation in “Future Echoes.”

Low Point

Cat’s lack of integration. They knew the list of interesting characters they wanted on the show, but they didn’t seem to know how to combine them yet. The crew simply didn’t gel completely by the end of these first six episodes.

The Review

The originality in the concept is great. There are very few series that start with the end of almost every known human, and those that do don’t seem well suited to comedy. If not for “Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,” this would be unique. The tone and direction are far removed from the Guide, though. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects have some very obvious blue screens, which could be why they shifted to (equally obvious) double exposure instead. Matte lines were replaced by transparent non-holograms. Let’s face it, before Eccelston became the Doctor, the BBC wasn’t spending enough on effects to properly produce the scripts they had on hand. I give it 3 out of 6.

The stories were written well enough, particularly with “Future Echoes.” There were small enough changes in the status quo to put the episodes in a definite order, as well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was there in terms of attitude and tone, but some of the longer speeches really seemed to be teleprompted at this stage. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production was also somewhat limited by budget, as we see problems such as the punch line being off screen in “Me^2.” All of the music was the same melody with a different tone. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response is easily the most important category in any comedy. As the series was still finding its feet, I rarely laugh out loud in this early series, but I often smile and occassionally chuckle. (Thankfully, this improves significantly in the years to come.) I may not have stuck with the series had this been my first exposure. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, this first series was not nearly as strong as the later ones are. If you watch “The End” and “Future Echoes,” and then jump directly to “Kryten” in series 2, you won’t really miss anything. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, Red Dwarf I receives 26 out of 42.