It seems odd, given our ludicrous obession with the minuate of obscure production details, that we haven’t really covered the Xtended episodes. Maybe the ghost of Ian turning into a gibbering wreck after dissecting one episode of Remastered hung over the whole idea.
Let’s fix this, shall we? And let’s start at the very beginning – with Tikka To Ride Xtended.
A word about the format of this article – each excised section is transcribed, with Xtended material presented like this. There then follows any technical notes on the sequence, and finally my opinion as to how well the additional material works.
(00:00 – 00:30)
Stirring Music. We see three shots: Starbug flying across a landscape with a ringed planet in the background, flying between two planetoids, and finally crossing the rings of a planet. We hear a toilet flush, and sewage sprays out into the rings. Ooooh, pardon.
Notes: The music used over this sequence is library, rather than written by Goodall; it’s called Pride of Place, and you can hear the full thing here. Naughty G&T. There is a mix of FX techniques here – the first looks like a combination of BBC Video FX and a physical model shot of Starbug; the second is a rushed Chris Veale shot, and the third is a really nicely-rendered Chris Veale shot. The visuals for this sequence are completely replaced in the Xtended Remastered version, with some new CGI from Chris Veale.
Opinion: I must admit, I watched Voyager (hell, I probably enjoyed it more than most people here – sure, some of it was bad, but there’s a number of excellent episodes, such as Living Witness) – and I didn’t even get that this was a Voyager parody until I read that it was supposed to be. So I’m not sure how well it actually works as a parody. Nice music, but the first two FX shots let it down (the surface of the planet in the first shot being particularly offensive). The last shot of the sewage ejecting is quite good, though. The Remastered Xtended version replaces all three shots – the first two are a vast improvement, but I actually prefer the original sewage shot to the Remastered one. (The actual sewage is better rendered in the original, and I prefer the depiction of the rings as well.)
It’s a bit of an odd sequence, all told – it’s completely disconnected to the rest of the show. And neither the original or the Remastered version is perfect effects-wise. In the end it’s a nice little opening – an overture, if you like – but if anything they could have gone further down the parody route, to make it more effective. But then, going too far with the parody has its own dangers in Red Dwarf.
Yard of Vindaloo Sauce
(7:00 – 8:52)
INT. Starbug cockpit
CAT, KRYTEN, and RIMMER are present, at stations. CAT and RIMMER are wearing armbands. Enter LISTER.
LISTER: You know the news? All the curry supplies have been destroyed.
CAT/RIMMER: (pointing at armbands) We heard.
RIMMER: As a mark of respect, we thought on Sunday at 12 o’clock we could have a minute’s flatulence.
LISTER: It’s nothing to you guys, is it? Curries were my life. Some of the nights… I remember once, on planet leave on Orion, I drank a yard of Vindaloo sauce – you know, out of one of those long glass tubes – and then went out on the pull. It was a bet.
KRYTEN: It’s impossible for mechanoids to vomit sir – I believe it is safe for you to continue.
LISTER: I went to this club, the Crazy Astro, started dancing with this Space Corps nurse – couldn’t hear her name.
RIMMER: Fido, was it? Lassie, possibly?
LISTER: She was very attractive, actually, Rimmer. Very short skirt, little ankle braclet, took out her chewing gum before she ate a chicken in a basket, you know – class. Alright, so she had teeth that looked like six half-open garage doors, but it’s nothing that a cosmetic surgeon couldn’t fix in ten minutes.
CAT: So what happened?
LISTER: I went over to her, leant in close, asked her to dance. For a few seconds she didn’t answer.
CAT: She was probably concussed. A yard of vindaloo sauce? You must have had breath that could shear sheep.
LISTER: We started to snuggle up.
KRYTEN: I’m not sure I want to hear any more of this.
LISTER: Then all of a sudden… a rumbling in my stomach. All I can remember is running – across the dance floor, through the crowd… just made it.
CAT: So you didn’t get off with her?
LISTER: The only thing I got off was the loo six hours later. When I got back to the dance floor, everyone was gone. They had to wait for me to lock the club. Nearly put me off curries for life. In fact I didn’t have another one until the following night.
RIMMER: What an enchanting little tale. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just off to glug a couple of yards of vindi sauce, then if we do happen to chance across Planet of the Snooty Sex Sirens, I can’t miss.
KRYTEN: Sirs – suggest we carry out a through inspection of the ship. The altercation with our future selves caused dimensional anomalies which have expanded the cargo deck by 212%. We should ascertain that the new [structure is / (structures are)] stable.
Notes: A variation of this scene, set in the mid-section and without Cat, appears in the deleted scenes of the VII DVD. Interestingly, a different take of Kryten’s last line is used in the Xtended to the broadcast version, with “structures are” instead of “structure is” – why this is the case, I don’t know, as the editing means that the same take could have been used for both versions. (In the broadcast version, the “sirs” is said off-camera – meaning you could easily cut the middle section.)
Opinion: Blah. A tedious story about curry, that frankly I could do without. The story goes absolutely nowhere – I mean, come on, Lister eats loads of curry and then ends up on the bog? It’s hardly a fascinating story. The odd line from Kryten or Rimmer raises a smile (Kryten’s “I’m not sure I want to hear any more of this” is particuarly well-delivered by Robert) – but I don’t think this little sequence adds anything at all. In fact, all it does for me is bring back memories of Rimmer’s date story at the start of Parallel Universe… which unfortunately was far, far more amusing. When you hear “Alright, so she had teeth that looked like six half-open garage doors”, all that comes to mind is “Of course, she had an artifical nose.” Which is a far better line. I think this scene was better cut.
Cargo Deck Inspection
Slightly different this – because this is stuff that’s in the broadcast version but not the Xtended! It’s directly after the last scene, and is the start of the cargo deck inspection – stuff like this is in the broadcast but not the Xtended:
INT. Cargo Deck.
Crew enter immense room.
CAT: So, let me get this straight. Time has returned to the point before we discovered the time machine, right? So what’s to stop us going back on board the Gemini 12 and picking it up all over again?
Notes: In total, it’s about eight seconds of footage, including the crew entering the room. Why this isn’t in the Xtended version, I have no idea. It could even just be a mistake that it wasn’t included.
Opinion: Not a huge amount of difference either way, but I prefer the broadcast version. It sets the scene rather more.
(12:52 – 13:01)
INT. Starbug Mid-section
RIMMER enters. CAT and LISTER come down the stairs.
CAT: Oooooooow! I feel great! Got all the beauty sleep I needed. Stayed awake all night.
LISTER: Hey, that smells good. What’s for brekkie?
KRYTEN: Waffles, sir. Dripping in honey and jam, with three fried eggs on the side, coated in cheese!
Notes: This sequence is mainly notable for the fact that it is completely untreated video – it has no film effect or grading applied. This makes it look really odd in contrast to the rest of the show, and it’s very strange that the edit was approved with the footage like this. Still, it does afford us a chance to see the episode without the film effect applied – and it looks pretty good to my eyes, with none of the “distancing” to the audience that the film effect gives. I sometimes wonder, as good as the film effect looks in this series, whether it’s partly that distancing which makes me find the series less funny. (You can’t tell much from a short sequence such as this.) But that’s a discussion for another time.
Opinion: A very short addition, and it’s just a filler joke – and not one that I find funny. The fact it was included without the film effect applied is really sloppy, and makes the addition rather conspicuous – at least to me. (No doubt more sensible people wouldn’t even notice.) Overall, I don’t think it adds anything.
Having said that, I’ve got a horrible feeling that if the very same Cat gag had been featured in VI, then it’d probably get a smile out of me at least. The fact that it doesn’t here is because for me, the tea-stirring scene is the first scene in the episode that I find really funny – and that hasn’t happened yet. When you’re finding scenes funny, you’re more in the mood to smile at filler gags – but when you aren’t, filler gags often just annoy.
John, Paul, George and Ringway
(17:02 – 17:29)
LISTER: Dallas. Wasn’t that that place where that American King got assasinated?
LISTER: No, it was John something. Not Jeff Kay.
RIMMER: J-F-K, not Jeff Kay, you gimboid. Like the airport. I did a paper on him at school.
LISTER: I wonder why anyone would want to name their kid after an airport? Heathrow Lister. John, Paul, George and Ringway. Well, actually that could work.
RIMMER: The airport was named after the president.
LISTER: Alright. We didn’t do 20th Century history at my school. It didn’t seem interesting to me. I mean, apart from nuclear fusion and some really snazzy car adverts, they did nothing.
RIMMER: The last human being alive, and he’s got less brains than a Macaque Rhesus monkey after the first course of a Vietnamese wedding banquet.
Opinion: I much prefer the broadcast version – this material is just extraneous, and not very funny. I actually quite like the airport gag – and this extra material just dilutes the impact of that. The brains line feels like it should be a lot funnier than it is – a problem I have with a lot of VII jokes.
(20:38 – 20:58)
LISTER: I don’t understand it. All we did is save Kennedy’s life.
CAT: Is that bad? What kind of a dude was he?
RIMMER: He was a fine man.
They’ve come across a body.
LISTER: Can you get anything for us from his scent?
CAT: (Sniffs) Male. (Sniffs) Mid-thirties. Last meal (sniffs) a salt beef sandwich with extra mayo and a gherkin. (Sniffs) Smoker. Starched shirt. Probably married.
LISTER: Eric White. SIngle, vegetarian, and chairman of the Anti-Smoking League.
CAT: I bet I’m right about the gherkin, though.
Opinion: No, no, no! Again, I like the “Male. Mid-thirties.” joke in the original – but this just pushes it too far, and it’s a really weak tagline as well. This was better off cut. Still, this was setting something up for later on – see the following two scenes.
Good guy, not a good guy
(24:02 – 24:41)
LISTER: How can the same guy be an icon in one reality, and a criminal in the next, for doing exactly the same things?
RIMMER: In one reality, he wasn’t caught.
LISTER: Yeah, but was he a good guy, or not a good guy?
KRYTEN: But somewhere along the way, just like me, he disabled his guilt chip and discarded his behaviour protocols. Power corrupts.
LISTER: Is that true? Can you be two things simultaneously?
KRYTEN: Take you, sir. In some ways you’re bright, sensitive and caring. In other ways you’re an irresponsible, curry-obsessed moron.
LISTER: Thanks, Kryten. That’s… wow, yeah.
RIMMER: It’s hopeless. I can’t fix it. We’re trapped.
CAT: Chicken’s good.
LISTER: Yeah, it’s really good.
KRYTEN: That’s not chicken, sirs.
CAT: Oh, what is it?
KRYTEN: It’s that man we found. It’s Eric.
KRYTEN: Well, it seemed like such a waste to just leave him lying there when he’d barbecue so beautifully.
Notes: The broadcast version starts with Lister swigging bottle in wide shot – the Xtended starts with close-up, and then cuts to the wide shot halfway through. I have no idea why you would need to know this. The Eric deletion is obviously because the lines identifying the man as Eric were cut from the previous scene. It’s done seamlessly in the broadcast version, and is a nice little insight into the editing process.
Opinion: I quite like some of the extra dialogue here – the Kennedy bit really is interesting stuff. Unfortunately, it gets a lot less interesting when it’s applied to Lister, which is a shame. Still, the broadcast version is basically just a “show up, do a cannibalism joke, then fuck off” scene – this gives the scene a bit more depth. I’m not quite sure Lister’s questions make much sense from a character point of view though – Lister’s always been pretty together when it comes to things like this. He seems to dish out moral advice on a weekly basis in Red Dwarf IV.
To be honest, I’ve always thought the campfire scene sat awkwardly in both versions of the episode. The Time Drive freezing is purely a plot device so they can do this one scene – and then it magically unfreezes again. It’s very dodgy plotting, which is (until VIII) extremely rare in Dwarf.
(26:21 – 26:38)
Oswald walks in on the Dwarfers.
CAT: Decorators. Try up on the sixth floor.
Oswald walks into the sixth-floor room, and puts down the package. Cut back to:
LISTER: Isn’t this sick? I mean, just standing by and allow the president to be killed?
CAT: Not if you’re Eric White, it ain’t.
RIMMER: To think – Eric’s out there right now without any idea that one day, he’ll become a between-meals snack that does ruin your appitite.
KRYTEN: Unless we put things back the way they were.
Montagey stuff with Oswald and crowd.
KRYTEN: Stand back, sir. Our original selves are about to beam in. When they realise their mistake they’ll beam out again. I propose we go down to the fourth.
Notes: As with the last scene, with the previous dialogue identifying the body as Eric White having been deleted from the broadcast version, this had to go too.
Opinion: The cumulation of the excised stuff to do with Eric – which was clearly trying to personalise the consequences of the Dwarfer’s actions. It’s a nice idea – but in the end, I don’t think too much is lost with these cuts. They help with the shows pacing, and we already know the consequences of the Dwarfer’s actions from Kryten’s alternate history lesson on his chest monitor. We know how serious it is – in the end, personalising it to one person doesn’t add much. And we already know what they’re trying to do – Kryten’s last line is superfluous.
(31:23 – 36:16)
This entire sequence is not in the transmitted version:
INT. Starbug Rear Corridor.
Caption: THREE WEEKS LATER
RIMMER: Right, Krytie. Same drill. You measure the output voltage, I’ll note the reading. Just give me a second to get in position.
Kryten fiddles with the panel. Rimmer crosses the room.
RIMMER: Right. In your own time. (Holds up baseball glove.)
Kryten sticks his hand in the panel, and is electrocuted. After much jerking (!), his eyes shoot out. Rimmer catches them, and then hands them back to Kryten.
KRYTEN: 350 volts, sir. Same as the others.
RIMMER: Not that one, then. Still, we’re narrowing it down. Just 17 more to go.
KRYTEN: Sir, might I suggest that we use an actual voltmeter, as opposed to… well, using me?
RIMMER: Oh, too good to be voltmeter now, are we? I dunno, one morning poncing around without your guilt chip, and suddenly you think you’re some hoity-toity robo-god, instead of the lashed-together Meccano gimboid that you are.
KRYTEN: Oh, if you want me to be a voltmeter, I’m only too happy to be of service. Why, if you ask me to remove my head and turn it into a chemical toilet complete with working flush, I’d be equally honoured. It’s just that firing my eyes out of my head at the speed of sound does invalidate my Divadroid service guarantee.
LISTER enters the room.
KRYTEN: I would hate to malfunction and you not get a full refund. I mean, wouldn’t that be just so annoying?
LISTER: I am a total twonk. How could I have been such a saliva-dribbling, moronic, brain-frozen, putzy little smegger?
RIMMER: It’s good that book on self-enlightenment, isn’t it?
LISTER: The curry supplies. There was no debris. Don’t you get it? No little bits of floating crate? They weren’t destroyed in the flood.
KRYTEN: What happened to them, then?
LISTER: I took ’em. At some point in the future, I must go back to the past, and bring all the curry supplies to the present. Kapish?
KRYTEN: Oh course! Oh, it’s so simple, even a half-concussed gym teacher could understand it.
LISTER: This is the last jaunt. I promise.
RIMMER: No. Absolutely not. As senior technician on this ship I forbid it, do you hear me, I absolutely forbid it.
RIMMER: What is the point of me being his superior officer if he never obeys a single command? You know, he hasn’t even got the good manners to let me court-martial him. Not even when I ask him nicely. We might as well have a melon in command.
KRYTEN: I thought we had, sir. Oh… I see. (Rimmer looks indignant.) Sorry, sir. The voltage must have corrupted my comprehension unit.
There is a loud sound.
RIMMER: Stand back! It sounds like something’s coming in.
The time thingy chases Rimmer round the room, and then a barrel materialises. Followed by a large amount of curry… and Lister.
LISTER: Yes! This thing is amazing. If only we could use it to get us back to Earth our time.
KRYTEN: Sir, you saw the havoc we caused in Dallas in the first two seconds of our arrival. Heaven knows what we would reduce civalisation to if we lived in the past permanently.
RIMMER: He’s right. We don’t want any more idiotic gaffes until… think we could make it to half-four?
LISTER acknowledges this. KRYTEN leaves. RIMMER pauses by a big lever next to the door.
RIMMER: You know, I must have passed this thing a million times. What the hell’s it for?
LISTER pulls it. Nothing. He shrugs, then tries to leave… but the door shuts in front of him. RIMMER walks away on the other side, smugly.
KRYTEN: Oh… nice going on the idiotic gaffes front, sir. We almost lasted a full five seconds there.
RIMMER: Kryten, surely you’re not implying that was accidental? I’ve had that little ace up my sleeve for months.
Lots of moving machinery… and then the front section of the ship seperates. We see LISTER shouting, and RIMMER salutes at him through the window… and then the front section blasts off.
LISTER: They’re not coming back. I’m lost in deep space, over three million years from home… no life, no bird, no nothin’. Just me, and three and a half tons of curry. Fan-smeggin’tastic.
…and he starts eating.
Notes: In the previous scene, there’s a few extra seconds of footage of Lister being beaten in the broadcast version that’s missing from the Xtended. This entire scene was shot long after the rest of the series, especially for the Xtended video – on the same day, and on the same set, that the links for the Xtended video and Red Dwarf Night Smeg Ups were recorded. This means that this scene (excluding the Smeg Ups links) is the last time Chris Barrie performs the original Rimmer. The scene was in early drafts of Tikka, but was missing from the final shooting script. A splitting Starbug model was made however, which ended up being unused – the Starbug split here is achieved through CGI.
Opinion: I really like this sequence. It almost seems to have a fun about it that a lot of the rest of the series lacks – if the whole series had been like this, I would have liked it a lot more. “Oh, too good to be voltmeter now, are we?” And I really like the melon line – yes, it’s hardly original, but it feels like the kind of joke Dwarf used to do really well – and then forgot how to. And the CGI is the best Dwarf has ever had – even better than the Tikka Remastered shots, in my view, and it’s notable that these shots weren’t changed in Remastered Xtended.
Sadly, the very end of the scene nearly undoes all the good work – the tagline is really, really weak. And to add insult to injury, we also stay on Lister for far too long, meaning the ending isn’t even punchy. A terrible way to end an excellent sequence, then – but I’m very glad we’ve got it. Along with the Rimmer Experience in Blue, it represents some of the best comedy VII has to offer. Nowhere near perfect, but fun enough.
Before we make the final judgement, one thing does have to be addressed in this episode – the lack of laugh track. (The show doesn’t have one because the extra bits never had an audience reaction recorded – and rather than add fake canned laughter, or have the expense of another audience recording, it was decided to put it out without a laugh track at all.) Does it hurt the show? I have to say, I think it does. Parts of the episode just feel empty – there are real one-liners here, and they always feel weird in a sitcom without an audience. Scenes such as the groinal attachment tea-stirring, or indeed the Xtended ending, just feel odd. On the other hand, out of all the three Red Dwarf VII Xtended episodes, I think Tikka suffers least from the removal of the track. Parts of it really do work as pure drama.
The famed awkward pauses that result through the removal of the laugh track are here – they’re most notable for me after the lines “That’s the third camera this week – the machines just can’t take it sir” and “So, you mean now we’ve got no poppadoms at all?” It has to be said that if you’re laughing at the lines yourself, then they aren’t noticable – but if you aren’t, it does sound awkward. What they should have done is gone through and snipped these pauses out for the Xtended version – they were only added to leave room for the laugh track, and if you’re not going to have one, they should have removed the pauses as well.
The question is, of course – was the Xtended worth doing? For me, yes – but only really for the newly-shot ending, which for me is one of the very few Starbug-based scenes that works for me in the series. I find it hard to escape the conclusion that most of the rest of the Xtended material adds little to the episode. At best, it’s just superfluous, and at worst it negatively impacts on the scenes – whether it’s slowing the pacing, or just adding jokes that don’t work for me. My ideal version of Tikka would be the Remastered version, not Xtended, but adding selected Xtended material – the opening Voyager parody (keeping the first two Remastered shots, but replacing the sewage shot with the original Xtended), the additional Kennedy discussion around the campfire (but not the stuff about Lister), and obviously the final scene.
So, what do you think? Give your thoughts below. And join me next time, for that old favourite – Ouroboros Xtended…