Back in 2012, as the lead up to Red Dwarf X, those good folks at Dave showed an entire run of the first eight series. I took this as my cue to finally take a look at an issue which had been bugging me for years: the edited versions of the show Dave always insisted on showing. Here are the results of that investigation from 2012. It doesn’t make especially pleasant reading.
But no matter. Yesterday, Dave started a new run of repeats, starting from Series III. In the last three years, the channel has shown one brand new series of the programme, and commissioned two more. Surely by now, those shitty edited versions will have been replaced with the proper episodes?
I think you know what I’m going to say here. In fact, it’s so obvious, I don’t think I’m even going to say it.
Oh, go on then. Yesterday saw the broadcast of Backwards and Marooned. Unfortunately, both episodes were in exactly the same state as they were back in 2012. Backwards had the following dialogue deleted – the cut section is like this:
LISTER: OK, OK! But look at the flipside of the coin. It’s not all good. Take someone like, say… St. Francis of Assissi. In this universe, he’s the petty-minded little sadist who goes around maiming small animals! [Or Santa Claus – what a bastard!
LISTER: He’s just a big fat git who sneaks down chimneys and steals all the kid’s favorite toys!]
MANAGER: Uoy ot Skcollob!
One of the best jokes in the episode – gone. Meanwhile, Marooned is still showing as the Remastered version – the only episode shown in this form on Dave. At this point, please imagine me slowly shaking my head for five hours.
However, there is one crucial difference between the 2012 Red Dwarf Weekends repeats, and yesterday’s debacle: the Red Dwarf Weekends repeats were all pre-watershed. Now, there’s plenty of reason to bitch and moan about those edits – some were unnecessary, some were inconsistent, some were technically incompetent, and there’s a strong argument to be made that if you have to cut an episode of a sitcom in order to show it pre-watershed, then you shouldn’t be showing it pre-watershed at all. Still, at least I can see a reason for some kind of edited version of Dwarf to be shown pre-watershed, however uncomfortable it makes me, and however ineptly it was done at times.
The repeats yesterday? Post-watershed. Not just post-watershed, but well post-watershed – 10:40pm, in fact. Meaning there is no reason at all to show an edited version of Backwards whatsoever. It is standard practice in television to have pre-watershed and post-watershed edits of programmes. If this hasn’t been done for Red Dwarf, somebody, somewhere, has ballsed up.
As for Marooned being the Remastered version, it frankly beggars belief that in all the times this material has been broadcast, not one person anywhere has said: “Hang on… this episode has a different title sequence to all the others this series. And actually, the programme looks kinda different too. What’s going on there? Are we showing the right material?” It would be one thing for the channel to show the Remastered version of every episode of Series 1-III – annoying, but at least it would be consistent. For Marooned to be the only one… I mean, you really have to try to be that rubbish at sourcing your episodes.
It’s incredible, really. Dave, to their immense credit, have put a lot of money into commissioning new series of Red Dwarf – four of them, so far. But the way they treat repeats of the show is nothing short of contemptuous. If you’re repeatedly, consistently showing pre-watershed edits of programmes post-watershed – or find yourself in the situation that Marooned is in above – you either don’t care, or have entirely lost control of your material and don’t know what the hell you’re broadcasting. I don’t quite know which is worse.
Seriously, Dave. If you’re listening, here’s how to fix this.
- Source brand new copies of every episode of Red Dwarf from the BBC.
- If you must show them pre-watershed at any point, do brand new pre-watershed edits.
- Clearly label each version “pre-watershed” and “post-watershed”.
- Then schedule appropriately.
It’s not hard. Expensive? Perhaps. But if you’d done things properly in the first place, you wouldn’t have to do this. You’ve already spent money making two new series of the show already, and have commissioned two more. Red Dwarf is one of your most valuable properties. Treat it with some respect.
As I said back in 2012: if you want to be one of the big boys, start acting like it.