Six years after the original batch of re-edited episodes were released, G&T can exclusively reveal that Grant Naylor Productions are currently hard at work on the finishing the job – Series IV-VI Re-Mastered. We obtained a copy of White Hole Re-Mastered, through a source who would rather not be named.
The first obvious change is in video quality. Naturally, in the 21st century sit-com environment, a programme can’t be seen to be funny unless it has a film effect. This effect is often cited as the main reason for the success of The Office, as well as the poor critical reception of I’m Alan Partridge Series Two.
Another subtle change is the addition of two thin strips at the top and bottom of the screen, which change the aspect ratio from 4:3 (your standard nearly-square TV screen) to 14:9 (slightly more rectangular). Everyone knows that the screen aspect ratio is vital to any good series, which is why so much pre-2000 comedy seems so dated. Unfortunately, too much detail would be lost if Red Dwarf was cropped to 16:9 (your genuine widescreen ratio), so GNP have doen the next best thing. Cropping to 14:9 means that it looks as if the show is widescreen, but has been cropped to fit a 4:3 screen. After all, you didn’t really need 15% of the picture, did you?
For Series I and II, Norman Lovett was brought in to re-record some of his lines. After the success of Ace Rimmer – A Life In Lamé, this concept has been introduced for Series IV and V, with Hattie Hayridge shooting new readings of her lines from thirteen years ago. Of course, it would be far too difficult to impose the 2004 version of Hattie onto the scenes in which she is in the background. Consequently, whenever we cut to a close-up of Holly, she has much shorter hair than in the previous shot. Her hair was too long for a computer in the original series anyway. Holly’s look is now consistant between the two series, which is obviously more important than continuity between two shots.
It’s a commonly-held belief that the model shots in Red Dwarf were of poor quality. Some compare them to Airfix models, some say they’re cheap and plastic-look and others believe they are detrimental to the overall quality of the series. This view is shared by GNP, who have once again switched to CGI, using re-designed versions of the two main ships. These have been further modified since the 1998 Re-Mastered series – Red Dwarf is nearly twice as long, and Starbug has been made more two-dimensional, to bring it in line with Series VII.
These are what we assume are the series-wide changes; here are some specific alterations to White Hole. In the scene where Rimmer and Kryten initially discover the white hole, a large amount of extra effects have been added. As well as being squashed, Kryten is now all wibbly-wobbley. This has been done to further emphasise the split-screen and the effect of the white hole.
Other than this, the most dramatic changes come in the planet pool sequence. There are a number of new CGI effects, most noticably small fireballs added to the collisions of planets. Intriguingly, some of the original physical model shots that weren’t used in 1990/1 have been inserted, such as the shot of Starbug firing its weapon. Also, the original incidental music, as featured on the DVD, is used here, along with an extra sound effect for when the planets collide. This sound effect can only be described as the sound of someone crashing into some pots and pans. The full audio is presented (in not-very-good quality) here. Finally, the last shot of the episode, after Starbug has faded away, has a rare nebula in the background, as the original “black with twinkly bits” shots of space were deemed too dull.
To compensate for this additional material, as well as four new lengthy beauty passes of Red Dwarf, several moments are excised from the episode. At the beginning, Lister’s long list of bread products was deemed unnecessary, so his speech is cut short after “we don’t like muffins around here”. Later on, it was decided that the first scene with the intelligent Holly would be more dramatic without Talkie’s “important question” punchline, so the scene ends after Holly switches herself off. The “what is it?” scene also suffered; it was deemed to be too lengthy, so both instances of Cat’s “only joking” gag were removed.
And so, the credits roll. The typeface of the credits is to be standardised over all eight series, so these are in a serif font, which looks like your bog-standard Times New Roman. There are one or two errors in the credits: Rimmer is played by “Chris Barry”, “Rob Llewellyn” plays “Kryton” and Holly is played by “Hatty Hayridge”. There are some noticable new roles too: Visual Effects by Chris Veale, editor Mark Wybourne and Helen Norman gets a much-deserved “General Manager GNP” credit.
As with the previous batch of Re-Mastered, these new versions are primarily for the foreign market. They’ll be released in the USA and Japan towards the end of the year, before being released on video and DVD in the UK. This will be after the current DVD releases have finished, so expect to see them on shelves in March 2006. After this, GNP are expected to announce Red Dwarf Re-Mastered: Re-Mastered – additional effects added to the 1998 versions, to bring them in line with the 2004 standard.
UPDATE: Joke. Deadpan mode.