[REVIEW – Spoiler Free] Red Dwarf (Overall)

1920x1200CockpitSeries: Red Dwarf (series 1 through 10)
Original Run: 1988 to 1999; special in 2009; 10th series in 2012
Genre: Comedy/Sci-Fi
Where to Watch: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes
Where to Buy (Physical Copies): Amazon.com, where other DVDs are sold
Where to Buy (Digital Copies): Amazon, iTunes
Other: Check out RedDwarf.co.uk for more info

I mentioned Red Dwarf earlier on my blog and I felt the need to do a bigger review of it. To kick off my much larger review of the series, I present to you an overall review of this TV series, sans spoilers. If you’re just simply looking to get a bit of somewhat basic information on the series and what I think of it, don’t look any further! It’s all right here.

Summary

Red Dwarf is, at its core, a show about four (sometimes five) character stuck on a spaceship, trying to deal with their seemingly pointless existence in a godless, alienless universe.

For a more precise summary, Dave Lister is a third technician aboard the Jupiter Corporation mining (space)ship, Red Dwarf. When he gets caught with a cat named Frankenstein and gets thrown into stasis (pausing him in time and space) for 18 months. When he emerges, quite a few things have changed…

Discovery

I was talking with one of my good friends about…well, something. I think it was that we’re part of a huge group of Pokémon fans and wished that our other friends would talk about something more than Pokémon, since we have expanded interest in other things. One of the things she brought up was Red Dwarf, which she apparently watched in her childhood. I did a bit of search on it and told her when it showed up on Netflix, I’d watch it, since I wasn’t going to buy the DVDs for a show I’ve never seen before.

One day I was browsing Netflix on my PS3 and I saw that, finally, Red Dwarf had shown up on there. I was pretty surprised to find that there was 9 seasons of Red Dwarf (I didn’t know there was a 10th series at the time), which indicated that the show was popular with some group of people. I started watching it, not expecting much.

Little did I know I was watching a show that would become my favourite live action show of all time.

Show Format

Red Dwarf, being a sci-fi sitcom, is mostly shot in front of a live studio audience. There are obvious exceptions to some episodes where there were heavy special effects and outside locations. The show runs for about 25 to 30 minutes and most seasons contain 6 episodes.

The studio audience laugh track…I have to be honest, I kind of don’t like it, but at the same time do. It lends well to the sitcom atmosphere of the show and helps the viewer know what is suppose to be (or what a lot of people find) funny. I find myself hearing the audience laugh in my head and laughing out loud to fill in the gaps when there’s an episode that lacks a laugh track. At the same time, I wish I could watch the entire show without the audience laughing – the bickering between the characters would be hilarious enough without the laugh track, but at the same time, the show would be a heck of a lot more depressing. The laugh track almost distracts from the show’s rather depressing premise.

Characters & Casting

I don’t think I have ever watched a show with more pathetic characters than this one. The main characters are sad, pathetic, lonely, and I sometimes feel really bad for them when I take a step back and really look at their situation. Then I suddenly realize that everybody in the show is pathetic on a human level and I can’t help but love them and cheer for each small victory they achieve, regardless if it’s being able to take a bath, play a message from a father that has constantly nagged them in their mind, or remembering who they were. It actually makes it harder for me to watch fantastical, extraordinary characters right now because the Red Dwarf pathetic, sad characters have made such an impression on me.

The casting is perfect. Even the actors who replaced other actors that originally only showed up occasionally in the show are perfect. Sure, I didn’t originally take to them and it took my second watch through to actually fully love them. Everybody plays their characters so believably, it’s easy to get sucked in, unlike other shows where sometimes you can tell the actor is just acting – they aren’t the characters. Red Dwarf, on the other hand, everybody feels like who they are meant to portray and do so flawlessly in a flawful show.

Storylines

Sometimes I genuinely wonder how I can watch a show that is essentially about four guys stuck on a spaceship and actually want more, but I do. Somehow the show keeps itself fresh, never quite reusing storylines and always offering up something new to keep the viewers entertained. Every episode has at least some entertaining aspect and it’s hard for me to not like an episode. Each storyline is interesting, even if it’s simply the characters trying to find a genetically engineered life form that had escaped on the ship (which allows for some pretty hilarious situations to happen).

Recommendation

I highly recommend everybody to watch Red Dwarf if you haven’t already. At least watch up to season 5 (halfway through the series) – the full main cast isn’t even entirely introduced until series 3 and the show gets much better at the series go on. I’m particularly a fan of series 3, 5, and 8. It’s very much a humanly pathetic show and it’s easy to connect with the characters, no matter how strange their situation is.

Especially watch Red Dwarf if you’re a fan of Sci-Fi and British Humour.

If you do watch it, don’t really factor in the fang teeth, okay? (This won’t make sense unless you watch the first episode.)