The Virgin Birth?

Yep, it’s another of those TEH FUTURE OF TELLIES articles – Red Dwarf Series 1 and 2 are available for free on-demand if you’re a Virgin Media customer. Now sure, it’s only free for the first three months (after that, it’ll cost £5 a month for on-demand telly), and they have stupidly managed to give Series 1 the descriptions and episode titles of Red Dwarf VIII. Indeed, it’s obviously not hugely exciting for us lot – or a lot of people, considering the DVDs are some of the biggest 2|entertain has ever released – although we can perhaps hope that a few more people will discover what a great show it is.

Perhaps more interesting is what else is there. Absolutely, The Adam and Joe Show, Chelmsford 123, Paul Merton The Series… stuff that hasn’t been released on DVD. Hey, it’s even my chance to catch up on Hyperdrive, so I can give an informed opinion about the series. For a full list, see here – why Virgin haven’t put a full list up on their site and made more of this I have no idea, as surely it’s a huge selling point for them in these difficult times. Even when it goes from being free to costing £5 a month, the price is extremely reasonable – as long as they keep adding to the archive sensibly.

All I can say is: I hope we’re inching towards each episode of Spitting Image being made available on-demand. Although I hope the rise of on-demand TV doesn’t mean that extras production is jepordised for archive shows…

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17 Responses to The Virgin Birth?

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  1. I haven’t left the chair since it started! Black Books, Peep Show, Spaced, Father Ted. It’s really good for comedy, and another feature I like is if you have missed an EP of Scrapheap lets say you can watch it that day and never have to wait for repeats!

    I’m a bit upset about Sky1/2 and Sky news. But I’m hoping Virgin will create their own channels in the future.

  2. Agreed, I guess people will find it difficult switching over to virgin media because of this issue. I was originally thinking of going with Sky – they have an excellent package going at the moment, broadband, phone and tv service for ?26 I believe. But because of this intriguing revelation with viewing-on-demand, I’m split both ways. Shame really.

  3. Sky have stated that “it’s coming”. Indeed, a considerable amount of hard drive space for their + and HD boxes are reserved for VOD content.

  4. Virgin Birth? Nice one.

  5. >Virgin Birth? Nice one.

    I read this yesterday but I only just got it………god I’m slow.

  6. G&T Admin

    Well, I’m having a great time with this. A Drop The Dead Donkey each night, followed by a Paul Merton – The Series. Fantastic. Piccy quality is a bit ropey (the titles to Adam and Joe are a pixellated mess), and that’s something they need to improve on – but it’s watchable, and extremely good value (and currently free).

    Incidentally, I’m watching Series 5 of DTDD. I *would* have bought it on DVD… but there are no extras. Same with the Series 6 release. Now, if they’d bunged on a few things (interviews and some commentaries, say) then I would have definitely bought the DVD. As it is, they’ve lost out on DVD sales – from me, at least. Whether DVD (or its next gen equivalent) will survive as a format when downloads become commonplace is debatable – but either way, extra content will be needed to make me shell out for things like that, when TV on-demand is available at such reasonable rates.

    (The thing that really upsets me about the lack of extras on the last few DTDD releases is that it was a perfect chance to give the full story about the proposed DTDD film – which apparently got pretty far into pre-production before it was scrapped. As the first three releases had some interviews on, I was expecting this to be tackled on the Series 4 or 5 releases – but no, no extras at all. Which is really annoying.)

  7. G&T Admin

    …and I’m now on my third Deal Or No Deal of the night.

    I need help.

    Although none of them were as good as Smeg Or No Smeg, which is the FUNNIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.

  8. You’re right you need help.

    You also need to check the admin account.

  9. It’s the remastered Series 2 I saw on Virgin On Demand today.

    So not the version on dvd yet.

    And a reminder of the forthcoming dvd set.

  10. Great watching Absolutely again though. And the 1 episode of This is David Lander that’s about missles that keep landing in peoples back gardens and they dont want to give them back to the military, cus they are such a nusiance.

    Cant seem to video from it, must be scrambled in some way. Keeps sending the screen blue if a video is attatched.

  11. G&T Admin

    Bloody hell! You’re right – it is the Remastered version!

    So, they’ve got the original version of Series 1, but with episode titles and descriptions from VIII – and then they’ve got the remastered Series 2. Anyone get the feeling that someone there doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing?

    Still, as you say, it’s more interesting for us lot who own the DVDs…

  12. G&T Admin

    I’ve just rewatched Parallel Universe Remastered – and I can’t believe how many of my favourite little bits are gone! The Tongue Tied reprise in the disco, the baby skutters – even Cat’s silly squeals when he’s doing his fast dancing…

    Individually perhaps, they’re nothing – but when put together… the show just loses some of the atmosphere about the original that I love.

  13. G&T Admin

    This I don’t believe.

    I just sat down to watch Better Than Life Remastered. This is what Virgin offers me:

    a) Straightaway, we get the tail end of the opening CGI shot of the episode, followed by Lister’s: “For mild stomach upset take one teaspoonful. For acute indigestion, take two.” Over this, is the episode title – but with RE-MASTERED underneath it. The reason this is significant is that the picture is 4:3, not 14:9 – and that caption only appears on the 14:9 versions!

    b) We then get Rimmer’s “Well, a highly enjoyable meal all-round”, followed by a split-second view of a VT clock, and tone. Then black for a few seconds.

    c) Then we get the full VT clock counting down from 30. It’s marked: RED DWARF RE-MASTERED VERSION, SERIES 2 SHOW 2, “BETTER THAN LIFE”, UN LETTERBOXED.

    d) Then the show starts – and it’s the 4:3 version, this time with no “RE-MASTERED” caption.

    I’ve seen this kind of thing before on master tapes – sometimes weird little bits are left on there (more commonly at the end rather than the beginning, mind). But how the *hell* has it got onto the Virgin on-demand service? Clearly someone isn’t checking what’s being made available properly – and if that’s the case, they’re just *asking* to get into Ofcom trouble for broadcasting something they’re not supposed to at some point.

    With all these mistakes, it looks like the on-demand service has been *badly* rushed through in order to compete with Sky…

    Interesting point (at least to me) – when the countdown clock reaches 3, instead of going to black like a lot of programmes, Red Dwarf Remastered goes to the first shot of the title sequence, no sound – and then the theme starts after a few seconds. This is *really* good – it means that if continuity cut slightly too early to the programme, there’s a picture. Nicely put-together.

  14. I’m not too fond of the fast dancing. I’m sure they could have showed him dancing well at normal speed.

  15. >I?m sure they could have showed him dancing well at normal speed.

    Come to think of it, that would have been cool to see on the II DVD.

    Of course, those bastards at GNP probably held it back for the remastered release. Wouldn’t be the first time…!

  16. G&T Admin

    Still watching Series 2 Remastered. I’ve not seen it properly for ages… and I’ve not changed my opinion. Most of the changes just add new problems – even the smallest of alterations. For instance, in Stasis Leak, they cut out the small section of Cat and Lister making stupid noises together at they approach the stasis leak for the second time. (I have no idea why – there’s nothing wrong with it.) But the problem is that it buggers up the pacing – one minute they’re in the bunkroom, next, they’re stepping into the stasis leak. That short five seconds of Lister and Cat that was cut established the scene – without it, it’s just disorientating.

    This is my problem with a lot of the changes in remastered – that I think that the creators have all these bad memories of what they see as the problems with Series 1 and 2 – and in the process of trying to fix them, didn’t notice all the *new* problems that they were causing.

    I’ll admit there is the odd bit that works, though – I don’t mind the added stasis leak effects in the location shower stuff, for instance. I don’t think there was a problem without them, but I can see exactly why they added them – and in general, they look pretty good. The shot of Cat coming through for the second time is especially well-done.

  17. G&T Admin

    OH. MY. GOD.

    THEY CHANGED THE MUSIC AT THE END OF QUEEG!

    One of my favourite pieces of music ever in Dwarf – gone! Replaced with utterly generic library music. (Not all library music is generic, of course – see the Kennedy assasination sequence in Tikka – but this is.) And – in my opinion – it really dramatically diminishes the effectiveness of the scene. The original still chokes me up – the remastered does nothing for me at all.

    The more I watch of remastered, the more the changed music grates. I obviously dislike the new CGI model shots, and I dislike the film effect – I’ve banged on about that enough. But the music… Howard Goodall’s stuff is a) wonderful, and b) ties the series together with its clever use of the Dwarf theme in its many different forms. The replacement music does neither. See the chess game between Holly and Queeg – the original music is interesting, the replacement is bland.

    Gah!

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