Red Dwarf: Back to Earth [Blu-ray] (2009)

Actors: Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn
Format: Color, Director's Cut, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (DTS-HD High Res Audio)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: BBC Warner
DVD Release Date: October 6, 2009
Run Time: 90 minutes

Bonus features:

  • Cast Commentary
  • Director Commentary
  • All-New Exclusive Documentary
  • The Making of Back to Earth
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Smeg Ups
  • Featurettes
  • Trailers
  • Web Videos
  • Photo Gallery
  • Easter Egg



Red Dwarf is of course the cult British science fiction sitcom – replete with laugh track! – that ran between 1988 and 1999 on BBC (obviously).

It is a largely character-driven comedy set on an enormous mining spaceship and features a cast of offbeat characters such as the last known human alive, a feline life form named Cat, a hologram and a service mechanoid. The setup is that the characters can’t stand one other, but still have to share their living space – a tried and tested sitcom staple throughout the years.

There have been several attempts since the show’s cancellation after its eighth series to bring it back as either yet another season or even a feature film. All of these efforts came to nothing and it wasn’t until April 2009 that a three-part story titled Red Dwarf: Back to Earth aired on the digital channel named, um, Dave.

The problem with cults however are that their appeal are often – if not always – elusive to outsiders. The same can be said of Back to Earth. It makes no attempt whatsoever to appeal to newbies and at times has its head so far stuck up its own arse (that’s British for ass) that one can only assume that the writers decided long beforehand that this is one for the fans only.

The story involves the Red Dwarf crew being transported to Earth and discovering that they are in fact fictional characters in a television series played by characters. The jacket blurb calls it “their metaphysical odyssey” to which one of the characters quip, “Ooh, I always wanted one of those.”

The problem is however no matter how self-deprecating the humor is, that this sort of post-modernism feels rather self-indulgent. Add to this some really lazy writing and lame one-liners, and one gets the vibe that even though one can do something – such as bring back a long-defunct television series from the dead – it doesn’t mean that one should. Even Back to Earth’s attempts at poking fun at Blade Runner elicits only the occasional chuckle. The truth is that Back to Earth simply isn’t that funny or clever.

THE DISCS: Red Dwarf: Back to Earth clocks in at a mere 70 minutes, which makes it feel more like a bloated television episode than a full-length movie. Bloated television episodes aren’t usually the sort of thing that one builds two-disc Blu-Ray sets around. Once again, it feels all very self-important to have a second Making Of disc thrown into the bargain on the second disc.

WORTH IT? Only if you’re a really dedicated fan.

RECOMMENDATION: This is a TV series that did much better in its heyday. Rather check out the old episodes or the novelizations if you’re new to the cult, er sorry, series.

NOTE: Luckily Red Dwarf: Back to Earth spares us the laugh track this time round. Yeah, I hate them as much as Woody Allen does . . .



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