“Now on Dave, it’s time to sit back and relax this Bank Holiday Monday, as we bring you an afternoon in the company of the finest smegheads out there – with the complete series of Red Dwarf XI.”
– Dave continuity announcement into Twentica, 2nd January 2017
Most people, when greeted with a continuity announcement like that, might think: “Oh, that’s good, I get to half-watch all of Red Dwarf XI this afternoon whilst pretending to get some work done.” Or perhaps: “I hate Red Dwarf, Red Dwarf is shit, I am going to turn over, I need to watch anything other than Red Dwarf because I don’t like Red Dwarf.”
Us? We clap our hands in delight, as we indulge in one of our favourite pastimes: pre-watershed Red Dwarf edit spotting. Although perhaps to our surprise, only two of the six episodes had any alterations whatsoever: Twentica, Officer Rimmer, Krysis and Can of Worms got away cut-free.
Let’s take a look at what was changed…
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Sometimes, things just work out to provide the perfect story.
Back in 2012 – in the lead-up to Red Dwarf X – I wrote a series of articles detailing the edits UKTV had made to Red Dwarf repeats. One of the worst was in Series III – the seemingly random broadcast of the Remastered version of Marooned, and the only episode of the series where the Remastered edit was broadcast instead of the original. (While it was the first time we had discussed the issue, but it had been going on for years before this. We were too busy complaining about Gold blurring out Fletch sticking two fingers up in Porridge.)
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When people talk about antecedents to Red Dwarf, it’s often science fiction which is endlessly referenced. Films like Dark Star, in terms of the situation and portraying working class people in space, or Alien, which amongst other things directly influenced many sets in the show, to Blade Runner, which… erm… I got nothing.
When it comes to sitcoms, there’s the classic “Steptoe and Son in space”, which is often thrown around as an early concept for the show. Porridge is also mentioned, in terms of the claustrophobic trapped situation between characters which the show was trying to evoke. All of this is certainly true, but typically there’s very little analysis beyond mentioning a TV show or film, along with a one line description.
Recently, I’ve had the utter delight of watching Hancock’s Half Hour for the first time. And the episode The Tycoon (TX: 13/11/59) has a number of remarkable similarities to the Dwarf episode Better Than Life, broadcast nearly thirty years later. Moreover, I don’t just mean in terms of character work – the main plot beats of the episode are broadly identical, despite Better Than Life seemingly hanging off a science fiction idea which Hancock would find impossible to replicate.
Rather than vague hand-waving or simplistic single line reductions, let’s take a look at the episode in detail, shall we?
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Hanging around on a deep, dark, unloved corner of the internet is an old version of Ganymede & Titan. The reasons for this are long and complex, but essentially amount to laziness: during one of our relaunches many years ago, we didn’t move all of our stuff over to the new version of the site. We thought until we did, the least we could do would be to leave all that stuff online.
We never did get round to moving it, of course, which means you can insert a certain Mickey Mouse operation quote here at your leisure. But clicking around on that old version of the site can be fun, especially for old-time G&T visitors. And one page in particular fascinates me: our links page, last updated in mid-2004. It’s an interesting snapshot of online Red Dwarf fandom at the time; a list of the sites we thought were important back then.
12 years later, how many of them are even still online, let alone important? I thought it’d be fun to go through the list and take a look at the fate of that slice of Dwarf fandom. And dare I say that it might shed a bit of light on the development of the web over the past decade? Tune in at the end to see whether I manage to tie that one up at all convincingly.
So, let’s start with…
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As we ramp up inevitably towards September, there’s probably some news we should be reporting. Like, for instance, this early screening at Edinburgh of the first episode of XI on the 24th August. (With a strict embargo on spoilers, and it ruining the first watch of the show as a shared experience, it’s not really worth it for us even if we could wheedle ourselves in.) Or as noticed in our forums, it seems the DVD for XI has a provisional release date of the 8th November in Region 1. (We deliberately haven’t reported on Craig Charles’s foot injury, because nobody needs a tedious stream of Thanks for the Memory quotes.)
Anyway, we don’t care about all that. What interests us is the repeats of Series III, which started on Gold last night. Which is perhaps a bit of an odd thing in itself. If UKTV are trying to cement Dwarf as a Dave show, how does it make sense to start a repeat run on Gold? If it confuses hardcore fans, however dumb we are, surely it’s also confusing to the more casual viewer? I can’t help but feel this repeat run would be far better suited to just being on Dave.
Still, Dave, Gold, whatever – a repeat of Series III on a UKTV channel means only one thing: the never-ending game of Marooned Remastered. We previously reported on this last year – with the inevitable disappointment – but we’ve been talking about it for years. (Bonus points to anyone who can be arsed going through G&T’s archives and finding out when we first talked about it.)
Well, Marooned has its latest repeat showing tonight at 11:30pm, and whilst it’s possible that the correct version of the episode may be shown, past experience shows that this is exceedingly unlikely. Which means more wailing from us, more gnashing of teeth, more abusing our genitals in dismay, and PRECISELY NOTHING CHANGING.
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The other day, I snapped.
In our forums, there is a spoiler, which came about from a careless photo posted by a crew member. It’s not a huge spoiler, maybe. I doubt many people will be upset reading it. But it’s the latest in a long line of spoilers about the show posted online since the recordings started late last year.
There’s an interesting thing about these spoilers, mind. Nearly every single one them have come from the cast, crew, and – in one notable case – an executive at UKTV. The large audiences full of excitable fans who came to watch the shows have remained generally shtum.
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With Dwarf understandably going quiet since the last audience recording, maybe it’s time to check in on the world of Brittas. When we last “reported” on things, a revival was “in development”. Let’s hear what Chris Barrie has to say:
“Regarding the possible return of The Brittas Empire, which caused a moment or two of excitement last year, things have gone very quiet indeed – in fact totally silent. I believe a script was being developed with a view to recording a special or pilot at some stage. So if you are a journalist, don’t bother emailing me about an interview as I would prefer to wait until there is something concrete to talk about and that doesn’t look likely at the moment.”
Oh. Cock it.
Something to ponder: the BBC’s sitcom season this summer contains a number of revivals, which Brittas would have slipped neatly into. The fact that the project hasn’t managed to capitalise on this really isn’t promising, unfortunately.
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Yo. Welcome to the first John’s Newsround for very nearly five years. Let’s see if I can remember how to do this shit, shall we? Some of the stuff that’s happened over the past week:
THE LAST RECORDING: Last Sunday, Robert Llewellyn posted a little update about the final episode of Red Dwarf XII, in which he reveals that at the time of writing, the cast hadn’t actually seen a final script yet. (The readthrough ended up happening on Tuesday.) Speculation below then, as to whether this is an unusual state of affairs for Red Dwarf or not, although seeing as both The Last Day and Out of Time were late scripts, it’s also debatable whether it even matters. I’m far too busy wondering about why the update was posted on Robert’s Fully Charged site rather than his main blog. And where did his main website go, anyway? Face it: you’ve missed me talking about anything other than the main fucking point, haven’t you?
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During the current break in production between Red Dwarf XI and XII, now seems the perfect time to talk about something very specific to the Dave era of Red Dwarf. Oddly enough, it’s something we haven’t really discussed in any great depth here on Ganymede & Titan, although we did touch on it briefly in our commentary on Gunmen.
Firstly, for some context, let’s go back to how the BBC-era shows are presented on Dave. And for all my whinging about Red Dwarf repeats, there is one particular joy I have in watching Red Dwarf on a commercial channel – one which you might think of as merely a pain in the ass. And that is: the commercials themselves. Or, more specifically, the placing of those commercial breaks.
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At 11:45pm on Christmas Day, BBC One showed the brilliantly-named programme Comedy Bloopers. I do hope you all enjoyed the BBC’s other offerings over Christmas: Sci-Fi Drama, Period Drama, and Some People Dancing.
As G&T is on reduced power over Christmas, I think I’ll just toss out the cliche that it was undemanding fun, perfect for the end of a drunken evening, without really being that original or brilliantly put together. (Compare it with early It’ll Be Alright On The Night episodes for how you really make this kind of show into something special, but I digress.) One thing that was pleasing about it however, is that it included a wide range of comedy, across different decades, rather than just concentrating on old or modern stuff. It’s fun to see a Two Ronnies clip right next to Citizen Khan – or indeed, an Inbetweeners clip right next to Red Dwarf VI.
Oh yeah, clips of Red Dwarf. And what would a G&T article be without a pointless list of them?
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