Which is the best Red Dwarf: Books or DVDs?
September 12, 2004 6:29 PM   Subscribe

The "Red Dwarf" sci-fi comedy series. If I had to choose between just the books, or just the DVDs, which one should I go with?
posted by brownpau to Grab Bag (21 answers total)
 
DVD's. They rock. The one book I read was somewhat incomprehensible.
posted by Lynsey at 6:52 PM on September 12, 2004


Go with the DVDs. Red Dwarf is one of the few things that was better as a movie. There's only a couple of in-jokes and things in the books that aren't in the TV show. Holly pretty much acts as narrator throughout the show and covers most everything the books do.

To contrast: The Hitchhiker's Guide books vs. the TV show. The TV show was hideous. (The radio shows are the best, though.)
posted by loquacious at 7:00 PM on September 12, 2004


Red Dwarf, I believe, began as a TV show (I hope to God you're talking about the real, British DVDs); the books were a spin off, although the were (for the most part) written by the show's creators. In my mind, without the characterisation by Craig Charles and Chris Barrie, the humour is significantly lessened.

And, as for HHGTTG, the radio show and book(s) were written simulataneously (I'm told), but the TV series was another spin off. So there.

Thus ends my most parenthesised MeFi post. Ever.
posted by armoured-ant at 7:36 PM on September 12, 2004


Another vote for the DVDs, although the books are good too. Mind you, stop after the first three-four seasons.
posted by biscotti at 7:47 PM on September 12, 2004


The books never moved me particularly, but I love the DVDs.

(I hope to God you're talking about the real, British DVDs)

Actually I think he means the new American version with David Schwimmer as Rimmer, and Vin Diesel as Lister ... ok, you know I'm kidding, mostly because I can't think of who would play a bad-American-version Cat.
posted by milovoo at 8:04 PM on September 12, 2004


Definitely the DVDs.

Read the book, loved it, but the show is so much better.


can't think of who would play a bad-American-version Cat.


Chapelle?
posted by kamylyon at 8:18 PM on September 12, 2004


Your answers startle me. Very well, I will troll for the 1-4 season DVDs.

> can't think of who would play a bad-American-version Cat.
Why, Ron Perlman, of course. Just with lots of lip gloss, fake eyelashes, and a pink spacesuit with cuff links.
posted by brownpau at 8:34 PM on September 12, 2004


Er, trawl.
posted by brownpau at 8:35 PM on September 12, 2004


DVDs. The books suck.

That said, I think I have 'em in a box awaiting disposal. If you want them, email me. First to the post wins.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:05 PM on September 12, 2004


I had never heard of the show, and found the books in a discount store in Amsterdam. I enjoyed them a lot. The show is good, but humor that works for _me_ in the books doesn't play the same on TV.
posted by Goofyy at 11:02 PM on September 12, 2004


The series came before the books, definitely go with the DVDs. The first two books were pretty awful, but I believe that I somewhat enjoyed the third book (for what that's worth).
posted by filmgoerjuan at 11:26 PM on September 12, 2004


milovoo, you do know there was in fact a US-made pilot, yes?

(It's supposed to be weak.)

Never read the books, suppose I will eventually, but I certainly consider RD one of the best TV SF things ever, not just as a comedy show, but in terms of the way the medium is used to tell SF stories. Really. It can be fantastic. DVDs, by all means.
posted by mwhybark at 11:31 PM on September 12, 2004


Can I put a vote in for the books, or rather one book, Backwards by Rob Grant. Whereas the rest of them seem to content themselves with basically novelising the tv series to an inconsistent degree, Backwards took one idea and span it off in a new and different direction which has nothing to do with the tv series and so therefore v. interesting.
posted by feelinglistless at 11:59 PM on September 12, 2004


wow! I had no idea!

the part of the Cat went to Hinton Battle.

Terry Farrell - who would shortly afterwards hit the Star Trek universe as 'Jadzia Dax' in Deep Space 9 - was cast as the new, female Cat.

Holly - Jane Leeves - now an award-winning actress on Frasier - brought more than just a British accent to the part.

Had the series gone to term, writers Jay Kogen (Frasier and The Simpsons) and Wallace Wolodarsky (also of The Simpsons) would also have been brought on board.

The weird thing is, it sounds like it might not have sucked, but I'll try to get that bitzi thing working and find out.
posted by milovoo at 12:01 AM on September 13, 2004


And, as for HHGTTG, the radio show and book(s) were written simulataneously (I'm told), but the TV series was another spin off.

Not exactly simultaneously: The first radio series came first, then the first book, then the second radio series. And a hell of a lot changes between them. FWIW, I think the books are a bit more coherent. Adams' well documented habit of working just beyond deadlines means some of the radio bits don't hang together quite as well as they should. Still fantastic writing though.

Red Dwarf? Definitely the TV version.
posted by monkey closet at 12:14 AM on September 13, 2004


the books are great, but there are few. so if it's a large collection, buy the dvds. if space is an issue - books.
posted by triv at 1:16 AM on September 13, 2004


Get the DVDs, but stop at season 6: it tanks after series 5 and one of the writers leaves (can never remember which one). Whereas season 6 has some quality episodes, season 7 blows donkeys for crack.

And HHGTTG - Books all the way. I just listened to the radio series again, and it's much poorer than I remembered. The books are more comprehensive, evocative and intelligent than the series, IMHO.
posted by Blue Stone at 2:01 AM on September 13, 2004


I remember the first book being heavier on the existential dread and the resulting black humour than the series, and it did some things that were a little too harsh for tv, but ultimately I liked the series much more. It's just so perfectly cast. You can't beat the original Holly.
posted by picea at 7:03 AM on September 13, 2004


Also, there are two third books, as each half of Grant Naylor wrote a different one from the point at which book 2 ends. One's better than the other, but I forget which...
posted by monkey closet at 7:34 AM on September 13, 2004


Red Dwarf: If you're going to a desert island and have to pick one, go with the DVD's. As suggested earlier, you only have to watch the first 6 seasons. Rob Grant left after the 5th season and it would appear that he was in charge of the funny and Doug Naylor was in charge of the scifi plot part because as soon as he left it became painfully unfunny and wildly derivative. There was a major shift between the first two seasons and the rest of the show in that the budget went way up, they became taking themselves a little bit more seriously and they added Kryten, many viewers' favorite character.

However. since you're saving room in your desert island knapsack by eliminating the last two seasons, I would personally encourage you to pack the books as well. As pointed out above, a lot of the books are novelizations of events on the show and those parts naturally drag on a bit. However, a lot of the books were used to develop the characters' interior monologues and histories and I often find myself relating bits from the book that go into greater detail about Rimmer's or Kryten's personal histories. The books also spin off from the tv shows in very important ways and I'd say that easily two thirds of the first two books are fresh. The next two books "Backwards" by Grant and "The Last Man" by Naylor both pick up at the same spot and I think that they continue to uphold the Naylor-does-plot and Grant-does-funny theorem with Backwards being mildly funny but light on plot and The Last Man being the exact opposite.

Personally, I think Red Dwarf is one of the funniest television shows ever and that the first two books are fundamentally very very informed by the Hitchhiker's books.

As for the hitchhiker's debate, i personally agree with Blue Stone that the show is cute for novelty's sake since I personally grew up well past the age of radio shows as an entertainment medium, but I think the books are much more well-thought-out and holistic. With the movie coming out next year, it will be interesting to see which they borrowed more from.

Sorry to run on like this, but this thread happens to address both my favorite tv show and favorite book of my adolescence.
posted by pokeydonut at 2:27 PM on September 13, 2004


Gotta admit that Kochanski was pretty damn hot, though, and added a great element of humour. Also, Kryten's run-away penis struck me as remarkably funny.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:25 PM on September 13, 2004


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