Fans of the very popular Red Dwarf will most likely tell you that it was in its third series that the show finally found its feet. The first two series' had been successful, meaning there was more money when it came time to create a third series, and so the writers Doug Naylor and Rob Grant could expand not only the cast, but also the ideas and storylines, plus they could use more adventurous sets and locations.
For the uninitiated, Red Dwarf is a mining ship lost some three million light years from Earth. After a disaster that wiped out the entire crew bar one (and his cat), there are now just four inhabitants. There is the only humanoid, Dave Lister, the curry-eating, be-dreadlocked slob, who was “locked up in suspended animation” when the radiation leak occurred, thus he survived. There is also his cat, which has evolved into almost human-like form, with unbridled vanity, sharp fashion sense and a preoccupation with eating and sleeping. Rimmer, like Lister, is about the lowest ranking servile on board, but now only exists holographically thanks to the ship's computer system being able to sustain just one holographic lifeform. It doesn’t prevent him from being a classic under-achiever and snivelling little creep though. And there is Holly, the ship’s computer (now in female form) who is rather dim-witted for an instrument with an IQ of about 6000.
Series Two saw the introduction of Kryten in its first episode, a mechanoid that makes his permanent re-appearance in Series Three, and is now a regular cast member. He is ever willing to serve, is developing a sense of humour, and is a fairly loose piss-take on the robots of Star Trek and Star Wars. Watch out for the appearance of Prince Andrew's one-time squeeze, Koo Stark, as well. So what did the Fearless Four get up to in Series Three?
Backwards: While Lister and the Cat discuss the relative sexiness of Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble, Rimmer is assessing Kryten’s driving ability. Rimmer and Kryten enter a parallel universe where everything appears to run backwards and while they can understand nothing, they seize the chance to become a popular vaudeville-like act called The Reverse Brothers. When Lister and Cat finally track them down, they are reluctant to return to Red Dwarf and throw their newfound fame away.
Marooned: When Holly announces that Red Dwarf is about to enter a minefield of black holes, the order is given to abandon ship. Lister and Rimmer escape, but their pod is hit by a flaming meteorite and they crash on a deserted ice planet. Awaiting rescue, the two open up to each other about more elements of their fractured past, but not before many personal sacrifices are made, both real and fake.
Polymorph: Basically a spoof of the movie Alien, the crew of Red Dwarf are up against an alien life form that has managed to get on board. It can disguise itself as anything, or anyone, and it feeds on negative emotions. Each crew member loses their least desirable emotion. This then makes for an interesting challenge of ridding the ship of the polymorph. A major leaflet campaign, perhaps?
Body Swap: A rogue scutter has rewired Red Dwarf so that no appliance works as it should. When Lister inadvertently set off the ship’s destruct sequence by using the food dispenser, it looks like the end. However, the boys have a plan. A body swap. Once the disaster is averted, Rimmer convinces Lister that a body swap could be just the thing for getting him into shape, by swapping for two weeks. Rimmer will ‘live’ in Lister’s body and eat well, exercise regularly and go to bed at a reasonable time. After the swap, he fails miserably and is reluctant to swap back when he realises that, in Lister’s body, he can feel, smell and taste!
Timeslides: Lister is bored, but when Kryten stumbles onto a mutant developing fluid that brings photos to life, endless opportunities for fun are presented. At least Lister will no longer be bored, but surely there are consequences for the future when interfering with the past...
The Last Day: Lister has received a space memo from Diva Droid International telling him that Kryten has reached his use by date and that he is to be replaced by the latest model. The crew decide to give him a going away party, even if Kryten seems quite accepting of going to Silicon Heaven. The new model arrives and he’s a mean mother, and the crew decide that there is only room for one mechanoid on Red Dwarf, and that would be Kryten.
Another full frame presentation awaits and like the first two series is hardly much to write home about as far as DVD standards are concerned. Sure some extra money was found for the set design, so there is more detail and colour, but technically speaking this is no better or worse than any Red Dwarf that has gone before.
Sharpness is decidedly average throughout, and there is some mild grain that runs as a constant. Colours are generally good enough for television standard transmissions, but are not going to cause anyone to gasp in amazement. There are no examples of edge enhancement and shimmer and aliasing appears infrequently.
The image is generally quite clean, however, and few if any marks are present. The layer change is neatly tucked away between episodes.