Red Dwarf
Series 5

Starring: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn and Hattie Hayridge
BBC Worldwide
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 08 November 2004

Mr Flibble is very cross. The Red Dwarf crew run in terror through six more adventures, encountering love, death, existential erasure and a killer glove puppet...

The fifth series of Red Dwarf is arguably the finest in the show's entire run. Episodes in this series include Holoship (with guest stars Jane Horrocks and Don Warrington), The Inquisitor (with Jack Docherty), Terrorform, Quarantine, Demons and Angels and, my personal favourite episode, Back to Reality (with Lenny Von Dohlen and Timothy Spall).

This series was originally recorded in 1991, being screened between February and March 1992 and the show had a much larger budget than in previous years.

Extras on this collection are by far the best so far. They include commentaries for all six episodes by the main cast; a fan commentary for Back to Reality; deleted scenes; Smeg Ups, Dwarfing USA - documentary on the making of the US pilot; Bad Guys featurette; a look at the SFX of Red Dwarf V; trailers, idents and episode intro; raw FX footage; isolated music cues and Dave Hollins radio sketch from Son of Cliché.

The extras listed above are so incredible this time around, that I think it's well worth breaking them down and commenting on each of them.

The audio commentaries are as we've come to expect - lots of "classic! great line that." And there's even one, yet again, where they go through the credits reading them all in a Whose Line is it Anyway stylee - unintentionally funny! There's no Craig Charles this time around - which is not necessarily a bad thing. And on a couple of occassions the cast start to talk about someone, or something, and then their commentary is quicky turned down - no doubt for legal reasons.

These commentaries do provide interesting little nuggets about this series - Danny John-Jules spills the info on how camera supervisor Rocket got his nickname. Danny also gets excited when he spots a continuity error in the episode Quarantine. So in fairness Danny, Robert and Chris do provide some interesting comments... however Hattie... what was she doing there? No, seriously. Bearing in mind this was her last series, why didn't she have anything to add. Okay, there is an amusing story about her car and being stopped by a police officer who was a Red Dwarf fan, but other than that I can't remember one memorable anacdote from her.

The fan commentary on Better Than Life is interesting. And to be honest I think, on balance that perhaps one of the fans should be in on the cast commentaries in the future - they'd certainly be able to drum up a few more interesting stories.

I really enjoyed the extras this time around. The only slight downer was the Bad Guys featurette - a collection of clips set to music. However it's not very long and, unlike previous simlar extras on previous collections, it actually works.

The Heavy Science documentary is probably the best extra. This 1hr 17min documentary tackles some interesting areas: including why Juliette May's didn't last long in the director's chair and how the news that Holly was being dropped from the show was broken to Hattie.

The Smeg Ups featurette gives us another seven minutes of amusing outtakes; Dwarfing USA (28 mins) breaks down the events that led to Red Dwarf USA not making it past the pilot stage. In the past I'd heard the story first hand from Doug Naylor, Robert Llewllyn and Danny John-Jules (who also talked about it in a recent interview he conducted with us) back in the days when I worked for Dreamwatch, but it was great to hear everybody's views on this failed series - especially Craig's.

The BBC has recently re-released series' 1-4 of Red Dwarf without any extras - a good move as the majority of the special features on those discs are pretty dull. This time around everything works really well and Red Dwarf fans will be pleased with the finished result.

If you only buy one Red Dwarf DVD make sure it's this one.

Darren Rea

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