Netpricks, etc

Anyone want an example of the kind of fan mail G&T receives?

This issue did actually come up on our forums a couple of years ago – but we assumed this was just some bizarre music rights issue for Netflix in the US. Sadly, the change is now present on the version which reappeared on UK Netflix in June.

Let’s take a butchers, shall we?

I think the best you can say about that change is that it’s hard to ruin the “inappropriate music at a funeral” joke entirely.

Music rights are a weird, complicated beast at the best of times, and I don’t pretend that I understand the issue fully – but this has to be up there as one of the weirdest I’ve seen. When all has been fine for the original UK broadcast, all UK repeat broadcasts, UK VHS releases, and then UK DVD releases, for a change to suddenly come into place at this point in the episode’s life is really, really odd. (It’s also worth pointing out that the subtitles still say “(SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR PLAYS)”. You would have thought that whoever mandated the change in music would have remembered that the subtitles also needed changing, but WHATEVER.)

It’s also a bit of a shame that this has happened with the Netflix copy, as some programmes are actually better served on streaming services like Netflix than DVD when it comes to music rights. Take Skins, Series 3 Episode 4: during the scene where Emily and Naomi kiss, the original TX version perfectly uses Lily Allen’s “The Fear”. The DVD version pathetically replaces this with Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”: turning the scene from touching and meaningful to the trite and obvious. Netflix thankfully has the original TX version.

Back to Red Dwarf: and I have a theory about this edit. And it’s a theory borne out of something that I’m not sure anybody else has noticed. Directly comparing this version to the original brings up something rather interesting.

Take a close listen to Lister’s lines: “There goes McIntyre. Bye George. That was George!” They are actually slightly differently spoken in the Netflix version than in the original episode. This isn’t something just pasted in from Remastered, either – Remastered has the same take as the original. It’s not something you would notice whilst just watching normally – but compare the lines directly to the original episode, and the differences in intonation are spottable.

Presumably, the new music has been pasted in, but they didn’t have access to either the rushes or a version with separate music and dialogue tracks. So the new music obscured Craig’s lines, and they needed to be re-recorded.

Now, where would this come from? Surely Netflix wouldn’t have a budget for re-recording Craig Charles for this purpose? At this point, we’re wildly into speculation – but I suspect that this change was originally done for PBS stations, and this is the copy Netflix have got hold of. PBS would a) Care about getting any edits right rather than just cutting the material entirely, and b) Have contact with the cast through their pledge drives, making it easy to get Craig to do a bit of dubbing.

Also, to put it bluntly… doesn’t the choice of a football chant feel a bit like PBS trying to prove they know British culture?

Seemingly – by common consensus, and the fact that this wasn’t whinged about in the UK before – this edit was not on the UK version of Netflix when it was last available. Now the show has returned to UK Netflix, it seems the US version has been mistakenly – or deliberately? – included.

Like I say: pure speculation. We did email Netflix PR to ask some of the above questions, but we were studiously ignored. Netflix, I’m putting you on my list of enemies.

There. You’re in for it now, Netflix.

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7 Responses to Netpricks, etc

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  1. I can verify that when I was watching Red Dwarf on PBS (probably around 1998 or 1999, since I was still in high school), the music was See You Later, Alligator. So while it’s possible that the change was still done by PBS, it either wasn’t done until later, or my affiliate never got the “new” version.

    Having said that, my PBS affiliate was showing non-remastered episodes as long as the show was in their rotation, and I keep hearing that remastered was the PBS standard…so maybe my affiliate was just an outlier.

    As a little bit of background, “PBS” is usually spoken of in the same way someone would speak of FOX or NBC or something…a station that exists in America that anyone could tune into and see the same thing. But that’s not exactly true…different affiliates might carry largely the same programming (Antiques Roadshow, Masterpiece Theater, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street) but there were, and I assume still are, many smaller differences in programming.

    For example, my affiliate in southern New Jersey (which actually came out of Philadelphia) filled its Saturday nights with Red Dwarf, The Brittas Empire, The Thin Blue Line, My Hero, and stuff of that ilk. When I moved to Florida, my new affiliate was playing Last of the Summer Wine, Waiting for God, As Time Goes By, and stuff like that…very different choices for a very different audience, even though they’re both “PBS.” Different affiliates catered to different populations, and must have gotten at least some freedom in what they chose to air.

    Either my affiliate they didn’t want the “fixed” versions, or they never knew they existed. It was WHYY, if anyone cares, or if that’s any kind of useful information to anyone.

  2. G&T Admin

    Of course, you’re quite right Phil. I knew that, but was trying to simply in order to keep a bit of a complicated article as brief as possible – but I’m glad you’ve pointed it out.

    Which means that, as you say, just because someone saw it on a PBS affiliate and it had the original music, it might have been on elsewhere in the edited form. Or I could be completely going down the wrong rabbit hole, and there’s another explanation entirely…

  3. Neither pieces of music are very Welsh are they.

  4. Of note: Netflix used these edits in the US until the show vanished again recently, but Hulu doesn’t. Also of note: On the rare occasions I have seen “The End” broadcast on PBS here in Los Angeles, I’ve never seen the music replaced.

    I will note, though, that when Netflix previously had Red Dwarf, before it came back and vanished again, Series I-III were Remastered, but in all series of the show the credits were squashed so an ad for RedDwarf.co.uk could be inserted at the bottom of the screen. I always assumed this was done by either BBC Worldwide (unlikely) or GNP (far more likely) which would suggest that this alternate edit of “The End” originates with them.

    This makes more sense, as BBC Worldwide handles distribution for Red Dwarf, and so may have opted to give Netflix the edited version so they didn’t have to pay royalties on the music (which is less of an issue for the ad-supported Hulu).

  5. G&T Admin

    See, the reason why I suspect it’s not BBC Worldwide or GNP – and I have no proof, of course – is that rather than re-recording Craig, you’d think they’d either go back to the rushes, or (more likely) drop audio in from Remastered. The reason for the latter? Remastered had separate dialogue and music/effects tracks to make dubbing for overseas sales easier – so patching together the audio for this edit should have been easy.

    Now, there may be technical reasons why either of those wouldn’t work, in which case maybe they *did* re-record Craig.

    What would be interesting is if *anyone* remembered a PBS station anywhere broadcasting this edit. Nobody has so far, admittedly…

  6. Call this sacrilege if you like, but i actually find that version funnier than the original….

    As for the actual edit,i seem to remember the original Alligator track actually carried on into Rimmer’s dialogue too. But to be honest I think i’m probably remembering the re-mastered. Though if you listen to the Netflix version, you can hear Alligator just for a second as Rimmer’s dialogue is rather weirdly faded in.

  7. Amazon Prime have the unaltered version, FTR.

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