Series III DVD Preview

We take a look at what is promised for the Series III DVD…

We’re very lucky, you know, to be Dwarf fans. Not only are we getting series-by-series extras-laden releases, when most comedy shows are lucky to get a DVD release that isn’t a sodding best-of, but we even get articles about the production of them on the official site. The DVD Details articles for Series I and II and III and IV are superb; we even get photographs of behind the scenes. Consequently, we know plenty about what is to come for the Series III DVD – and this article is a blatant rip-off of those DVD Details articles, but with a few sarcastic asides. Hooray! Note however that any opinions we have are obviously purely speculative; it’s really just our guesses and thoughts leading up to the release. If only we’d had a preview copy…

Firstly, the animated menus. These look absolutely superb, and very much in the same vein as those for the Series I and II releases. Some people have complained that they found them irritating after watching them a few times, when all they wanted to do was get to the content. We have a certain amount of sympathy with this, but you can skip most of them anyway. We never do; we still find them mind-bogglingly beautiful even after the 1000th time watching them. We can’t wait to see these ones properly. As for re-using them (with the odd change here and there) for the Series IV releases, Andrew seems almost apologetic about this in that article. There really is no need – we understand the financial constraints they are under, and seeing as Series III and IV use pretty much the same main sets anyway (lighting and a few changes here and there aside), it makes a lot of sense. Is this the right point to go on about how much we love the lighting and look of the show in Series III compared to the rest of the eight series? No? Bah.

As for chapter points, each episode will have nine rather than seven as on the first two DVDs. This is good news. And the the cover design is beautiful. The collectors booklet was a lovely addition for the first two releases, and we can expect the one for this release to be equally as nice – and hopefully free from errors, unlike the Series II one.

As for the episodes themselves – well, you don’t need us to tell you that Series III was superb, and you have to own them on shiny disc. (People who say the first two series were the only two decent ones ever made – or, indeed, that they are the pinnacle of the show, are just WRONG.) We’re incredibly interested in what the extra 16 seconds in Marooned is, though. But what we’re really waiting for is the extras – and boy, what a line-up is is:

Cast Commentary – A commentary from the entire cast: Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, and Hattie Hayridge. Fantastic; we’re greatly looking forward to Robert’s contributions. Especially when he sees how shit he is in Marooned. “Blue Midget is loaded!” indeed. Mind you, he is superb by the end of the series. (Have a look the Red Dwarf page of Robert’s site for a lovely big picture taken at the recording of the commentaries.) Of course, we could put in our usual rant that there won’t be a crew commentary – perhaps with Doug Naylor, Ed Bye, and Peter Wragg, for instance; but we’ll spare you that, as this is more or less made up for by…

All Change – …this. A 80 minute 36 seconds documentary, which starts with an intro to the series, and then looks at each episode in turn. Thirteen interviews have been shot for the doc, with Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Robert Llewellyn, Danny John-Jules, Hattie Hayridge, Peter Wragg, Ed Bye (FUCKING ED BYE!), Mike Agnew, Howard Burden, Andrea Finch, Gordon Kennedy, Tony Hawks… and yes, Doug Naylor. This is sure to be one of the highlights of the release; probably the only thing we’ll find fault with is that we’d wished they’d had the budget to do this for the first two series. Unfortunately, unlike Built To Last (the Series IV documentary), when All Change showed up on the BBFC, it didn’t list each individual section individually; but each episode will have an average of over 10 minutes dedicated to it. Excellent. As for the style of the doc, it’ll be similar to Launching Red Dwarf, with interviews with frozen model shots as the background, and clips from the show – and there will be some snazzy Chris Veale CGI captions to jazz things up a bit as well.

Deleted Scenes – Over 20 minutes of cut footage. Indeed, with captions, it lasts for 26 minutes and 41 seconds – practically an entire episode’s worth. This will be superb, obviously; and give a hand to Ellard for pushing for it when Doug thought there wouldn’t be enough to bother with. We have a few hints about what scenes we will see – “a wonderful rant by the Cat on just how many time-wasting games he and Lister could be playing”, “a continuity fix to a moment in Backwards (explaining the real goings-on in the same way the ‘erased Rimmer’ error from Me² was explained with a Series I scene)”, and “huge swathes of material lost from… Bodyswap“. Fantastic. We also know of another one, that was originally seen in Smeg Outs; cut from the start of Marooned, Lister, Cat and Kryten play strip poker (and which has some uncharacteristically poor effects):

LISTER: OK, five card draw, produces a wild, and I’m in. One shoe.
CAT: Me too. One necktie.

[Cut to Kryten. He is topless.]

KRYTEN: Oh, this isn’t really fair. I’m a mechanoid. I don’t have as many clothes as you.
CAT: Hey, if you can’t stand the heat, vacate the cooking area. In or out?
KRYTEN: OK! I’m in! One head!

[He removes his head, in a dreadful piece of effects work that meant the scene got cut. Erm, probably.]

LISTER: OK! I’ll raise yer.
CAT: You’re going to bet your boxer shorts?
LISTER: One gold cap. It counts, I’m wearing it so it counts!
CAT: One handkerchief. Silk. Hand-stiched.
LISTER: What about you, Kryten. In or out?
KRYTEN: I’ve forgotten what my cards are. OK, I’ll throw my hand in.

[He does so. Literally.]

HOLLY: Alright groovers? What’s shaking?
CAT: Just hanging bud, just hanging.
HOLLY: I had a message to give you. Oh, you’ve made me forget it now. What was it. It’s gone clean right out of my head. It came in, right, stayed there for a little while, then went straight out again.
LISTER: Was it important?
HOLLY: It was quite, yeah. Never mind, change of subject, it’ll come back to me.
LISTER: OK, so whose bet is it?
CAT: Still yours.
HOLLY: Got it! I remember what it was now! Abandon ship! That’s what it was You’re all in mortal danger; abandon ship! I knew it’d come back to me!

[Shocked faces all round.]

Hopefully there will be a full list of deleted scenes on the official site in a few weeks, like last time. We’re not sure we can wait a month to find out what they are. Incidentally, Andrew mentions that Doug Naylor couldn’t believe that one moment each from Bodyswap and Polymorph had actually been edited out, so amusing were they. And we’re promised the odd crap bit as well…

Smeg Ups – lasting 5 minutes and 34 seconds. We know there aren’t any new ones, so all these will be taken from Smeg Outs. Disappointing, but if there aren’t any more amusing ones that can be cleared, so be it. (Actually, can we just take this opportunity to say Robert Bathurst’s agent is a cunt for not clearing the smeg-up where Rober explains stasis in The End?) At least it’ll be nice to have them in DVD quality.

Hattie’s DJ Diary – A 9 minute 4 seconds featurette, shot at DJ 2003. We’re promised “a bizarre glimpse at Hattie Hayridge’s interaction with the cast and fans… and her inability to work a camera!” Excellent. Hopefully it will include Ian saying that he disapproves of the word “smeg”.

Building a Better Universe – A tribute to Mel Bibby, Red Dwarf‘s Production Designer, lasting exactly eight minutes. (Well, actually 8 minutes and 3 frames, but fuck off.) We’re promised “some wonderfully personal memories of working with a brilliant creative mind” from the same interviewees as the documentary. We can’t get over how wonderful this extra will be – it’s such a wonderful idea, and it’s so great that GNP actually care enough to do this.

“Food” Featurette – To the tune of James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good), lasting 3 minutes and 35 seconds. John hates the featurettes, but can see why some people like them; Ian thinks they’re OK, but can’t get too enthusiastic. Whatever – some people like them, and there’s enough room for everyone on the disc. I suppose it’s possible we’ll have a change of heart when we see this one – we hate to judge against something before actually seeing it.

Backwards – Forwards – The episode Backwards, played in reverse. This extra has had rather a lot of name changes; it was first announced as Backwards Reversed, and then as Backwards Backwards. It’ll have sixteen chapter points. This could either be fantastic, or be what we’ve heard described as the “Japanese The End episode” of this release; a good idea in theory, but as boring as hell in practice. The more we think about it, the more we think it’ll be the former. “Oi, you robbing bastards, that’s our tandem…”

Trailers – Two of them this time, and not taken from the archives – these are from fan VHS copies. Complaints that the picture quality won’t be as good are irrelevant; it’s not GNP’s fault that the trailers weren’t kept – and it’s amazing that they made the effort to track them down elsewhere.

Special Effects Footage – Cue those models! 7 minutes and 11 seconds of them. This will be superb, obviously, with all the wonderful new stock footage of Starbug. And with Starbug comes the crashes – this was the series where the special effects team got really ambitious. The thought of the raw footage of Starbug crashing into the snow from Marooned makes us extremely sticky. The only thing we can forsee a problem with here is that the footage may be cut again. In an interview with DVD Answers, talking about the Series I DVD, Andrew Ellard (the Associate Producer of the DVDs) says:

“…we originally had a very long ‘raw effects footage’ reel. It’s all great stuff, but after 10 minutes of silent models, you really do lose the will to live. So we had that tightened up – nothing was lost, but seeing the same shot done three times takes the edge off it a bit.”

Wheras we, as consummate geeks, want to see the entire thing. It’s not quite true that it’s just the same shot three times, anyway; unless some of the footage is lost (which admittedly is a possibility), we didn’t get to see all the stock shots made of Red Dwarf on the Series I DVD (the classic shot going over the ship as used in the closing titles is missing, for a start; along with a similar shot under the ship used in the opening titles.) Anyway, enough whining – whether it’s cut or not, this will be a superb extra.

Isolated Music Cues – Along with the deleted scenes, this was our favourite extra from the last two releases. It’ll be good (hopefully) to hear full versions of Bad News and Cash as used in Timeslides (and written by Craig Charles himself). Possibly Om, too… We hope that the start and end themes are clean versions taken from the original recordings, rather than nabbed from the episodes themselves, though. And hopefully we’ll have the alternate version of the end theme, as used throughout Series III.

Talking Book Chapters – Presumably some of the sections from Better Than Life, based on bits from Backwards, Marooned, and Polymorph. Nothing to get excited about, to be honest; they’re really just extended adverts for the complete talking books. Not that they aren’t entertaining; but without the rest of the story, they’re extremely unsatisfying.

Photo Gallery – For the first two DVDs, this was a slight disappointment – some good production photos (our favourite being the one featuring Lister, Rimmer, and Kochanski), but not a lot else (barring the odd gem such as the original order form for the Red Dwarf model itself, or Mike Tucker’s concept art for the skutters.) For this release, we are promised rather more: “A mighty collection of production, effects and behind-the-scenes images”. Fabulous. Although we do hope the piccies will be a bit bigger…

Weblink – Pointless, pointless, pointless. It’s harder to find the file on the DVD to launch the official site than just type the address into a web browser; and the address for it is plastered everywhere anyway. What a senseless waste of menu space.

Subtitles – In English. It would have been nice to have some foreign language subtitles, but presumably GNP felt the money and time should go elsewhere. Wáh.

Easter Eggs – Three of the things, this time, rather than the one or two we got on the previous DVDs. Excellent. One of them will obviously be an animated snipped from the Six Of The Best CD, with Rob, Doug and Ed talking about Polymorph – but the other two remain a mystery. We still think it’s bloody stupid that the eggs are openly talked about; we were even told what was hidden in the collectors booklets for the first two DVDs. It completely wrecks the point of the damn things. Still, the main thing is that there is yet more content for the DVDs – perhaps content that isn’t that interesting to the average person, but fascinating to the hardcore geeky fan.

So, any disappointments, there? A few – it would have been lovely to have some original continuity for the show, and some rushes – exactly like the Hitchhikers DVD. Perhaps they will turn up as eggs, though. (In fact, we got our hands on some original continuity for Series III and V the other day – and very lovely it is too. Well worth having on there as an extra. Interestingly, the programme is actually referred to by the announcer as ‘Red Dwarf III’ – something that doesn’t happen with the show these days. But we digress…) It would have been lovely to have had the original scripts for the show, perhaps as a DVD-ROM extra – but there are any number of possible reasons why this isn’t on there (copyright, possible future release in book form, etc), so we shouldn’t grumble. The same goes for what exists of the script for the unproduced season opener, Dad. After all, we’re getting over three hours of extras, for fucks sake. Longer than the series itself.

Series III will be released on November 3rd. But who cares, really? We’re off to watch my Re-mastered videos. Far better anyway.

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