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Red Dwarf: Back to Earth Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD High Resolution 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 2
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • Blu-ray Disc Release Date: October 6, 2009
  • List Price: $29.99
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BestBuy.com:
Red Dwarf: Back To Earth: Series 9 (2 Disc) - Widescreen

Purchase Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
on Blu-ray from CD Universe

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Overall

The Series

Video Quality

Audio Quality

Supplemental Materials

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

More Screen Captures (14 Total)

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG and thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series


Running from 1988 to 1999, Red Dwarf was a BBC sci-fi sitcom that built up a rather large cult following over the years on both sides of the pond. I have to admit upfront that I personally have never seen the show until now, which is quite unusual given my love of British television, films, and music.

The series follows the crew of a mining ship, the eponymous Red Dwarf, consisting of Dave Lister (Craig Charles), who is the last known human alive, The Cat (Danny John-Jules), who evolved from Dave’s pet cat, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), a hologram of Dave’s dead friend, Holly (Norman Lovett) the Red Dwarf computer, and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) a service droid.

After going off the air on 1999 after what was one of the series highest rated seasons to date, attempts had been made to bring the series back with a movie several times, but funding could never be found. The BBC had even rejected proposals for a Red Dwarf movie in 1997. Finally, the digital channel Dave signed on to bring the show back for a three-part story arc.

Back to Earth reunites the crew of the Red Dwarf for an unusual adventure that breaks “the fourth wall” and sees the crew sucked through a portal and sent back to Earth to the present day where they discover that they are nothing more than characters on a television series. Complicating matters further, they realize they only have one episode left and they must track down their creator to ensure their existence.  In an even more amusing twist that sci-fi geeks are sure to love, the characters’ entire journey mirrors the film Blade Runner, in a spoof of the Ridley Scott classic.

Red Dwarf: Back to Earth may at first be a little disorienting to viewers, like me, who have never seen the show, but it is still a pleasant enough sci-fi comedy and the allusions to Blade Runner only make it that much easier to watch.

Video Quality


The video for Red Dwarf: Back to Earth on this release is provided in 1080i/60 in a VC-1 encoding. Detail is sharp, colors are a vivid and realistic and shadow delineation is very good. There are issues with motion artifacts in the form of judder, probably caused by a 50Hz to 60Hz conversion, but they are thankfully mild, at least to my eyes; some people are more sensitive to this issue than others.

Audio Quality

Coming with the much less used High Resolution lossless variety of DTS-HD, Red Dwarf: Back to Earth’s English 5.1 soundtrack is only average for a Blu-ray release. As far as television series are concerned, the 5.1 is about what one might expect; nothing too aggressive with only some mild ambience in the surrounds and the occasional discrete sound effect poking through. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, but high frequencies are on the harsh side and become fatiguing at louder volume levels.

Supplemental Materials

There’s an abundance of supplements proffered on Back to Earth and fans of this classic BBC series should enjoy getting to spend even more time with their favorite actors and characters.

The supplements available on this release are:

Disc 1:

  • Commentary on Director’s Cut by writer/director Doug Naylor
  • Cast Commentary on Episodes featuring Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, and Robert Llewellyn

Disc 2:

  • The Making of Back to Earth (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:24.00)
  • The Making of Back to Earth Part Two (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:47.58)
  • Bonus:
    • Smeg Ups (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:10.45)
    • Deleted Scenes Commentary by Doug Naylor
  • Featurettes:
    • The SFX of Back to Earth (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:19.24)
    • Back to Earth Premiere (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:05.40)
    • Cast Signing Session (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:07.43)
    • Press Kit Video (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:06.24)
  • Behind the Scenes Web Videos (1.78:1; 1080i/60):
    • Carbug
    • Lister on the Street
    • Cat Always Lands on his Feet
    • Robot on a Wire
  • Trailers and Promotions:
    • Craig Charles Introduction (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:00.35)
    • Broadcast Trailers (1.78:1; 480i/60):
      • Teaser 1
      • Teaser 2
      • Pre-watershed Short
      • Pre-watershed Long
      • Post-watershed Long
      • Final Trailer
  • Dave Blipverts (1.78:1; 480i/60)
  • Life on Mars April Fools Video (1.78:1; 480i/60)
  • Channel Continuity (1.78:1; 480i/60)
  • USA PBS Announcements (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
  • Photo Galleries:
    • Production Stills
    • Behind the Scenes

The Definitive Word

Overall:

Red Dwarf: Back to Earth is classic British absurdist comedy with a sci-fi twist. I’m sure fans who have been waiting 11-years to see a new episode of the series will enjoy this three-part mini-series. The picture quality is solid and there are more than enough extras to make a purchase of this release a good value.

BestBuy.com:
Red Dwarf: Back To Earth: Series 9 (2 Disc) - Widescreen
Purchase Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
on Blu-ray from CD Universe

Shop With Us for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

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