In Red Dwarf VII, three episodes are represented by two separate yet equally important versions: the original broadcast episodes, and extended versions released on VHS in 1997. These are their stories.
This must be some kind of record for G&T. Eight years ago, I wrote an essay detailing the differences between the broadcast and Xtended versions of Tikka to Ride, with the promise the rest of the episodes would follow. I thought it was about time to follow through on that promise. I may not be fast, but I get there in the end. I THINK HOLLY SAID THAT IN AN EPISODE OF RED DWARF.
So, we turn to Ouroboros Xtended. As before, each relevant 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. If you’ve hung around on this site for longer than five seconds, you can probably guess what my opinions are likely to be, so please feel free to skip those bits if reading me rant on about VII makes you want to come round to my house and smash my head in with a golf club.
00:00 – 00:30
Notes: The title sequence – cut from the broadcast version of the episode due to time, but included in the Xtended cut. Weirdly, both versions have technical problems – the broadcast version has the remnants of the final note of the opening music over the opening of the first scene, indicating it was cut very late on and the opening was just literally chopped off without redoing the sound mix. Meanwhile, the Xtended version includes the title sequence in its untreated, video-look form, rather than the film-look used in the rest of the series!
Opinion: Of course, the inclusion of the title sequence is welcome – it’s always sat weirdly with me that Ouroboros was broadcast without one. (Parallel Universe did too, of course, but the inclusion of Tongue Tied instead gives it a special air which seems to justify it. Not so here.) However, the fact it’s actually the untreated version of the title sequence which is used is pretty much borderline incompetent. Fun for geeks, of course – and surprise, I actually much prefer the untreated, video-look – but it clashes terribly with the rest of the programme. If there was such problems recreating the film-look, and a treated version of the title sequence wasn’t available – why not just grab it from an existing episode and paste it on?
Intestines and This Suit
05:34 – 06:13
LISTER: It’s almost like a tear.
KRYTEN: Perhaps a temporal rip.
CAT: I’m gonna turn this tub around and try and outrun it.
LISTER: Get real, man. That thing out there’s going faster than a copy of Hello! in a nunnery.
KRYTEN: Suggest we treat it like a tidal wave sir, and head straight for the eye of the storm.
CAT: Are you sure about that? Because intestines and this suit won’t work without colon-coloured accessories. I need to know – should I change?
LISTER: Cat. Go for it, man. The eye of the storm.
Starbug flies into the rift. Explosions galore in the cockpit.
LISTER: We seem to be through the worst of it… but I’m picking up some kind of subspace energy disturbance down on the engineering deck.
KRYTEN: You’re right, sir. It’s off the scale.
CAT: Now, for a subspace energy disturbance, I’m dressed perfectly! Let’s check it out.
The crew leave the cockpit.
Notes: The first cut section has the film look added, the second doesn’t. WHO CAN UNDERSTAND THE MYSTERIES OF RED DWARF’S PRODUCTION.
Opinion: I don’t find either addition funny, but I will concede that the intestines line is nicely unpleasant.
07:07 – 07:16
CAT: What the hell is that?
KRYTEN: Non-space, sir. An abyss of infinite nothingness where time doesn’t seem to exist.
LISTER: Sounds like Rimmer’s organ recital night.
The OTHER CREW appear.
CAT: I recognise those guys. Wait – don’t tell me.
ALTERNATE LISTER: How’s it going?
The two LISTERS do their special handshake.
LISTER: So you’re a hologram.
ALTERNATE LISTER: Hard light.
Notes: For the record, all additional material now has the film-effect present. WELL DONE RED DWARF.
Opinion: Possibly a shame to lose the handshake, as it works as a brief shot – but concentrate on it for too long, and it becomes apparent that Alternate Lister is rather too, erm, stationary. The fact that these two short sections were cut shows the show really was trying to scrape even mere seconds off the running time for the broadcast version.
Vending Machine Deputy-Minion Maintenance Repairman
10:27 – 11:01
KOCHANSKI: I’m, er, back with Tim now.
LISTER: Tim?! That guy is such a poser! The way he always wears that white suit and that stupid big white floppy hat!
KOCHANSKI: He’s a chef!
LISTER: Yeah… but the way he always poses around in it in the officer’s club, smoking those black cigarettes. He’s such a phoney.
KOCHANSKI: At least he’s got a vocation.
LISTER: What, and you think that because I happen to be vice-assistant vending machine deputy-minion maintenance repairman, I’m nobody?
KOCHANSKI: Well… yes.
LISTER: Do you think a guy who brings home ten free Crunchie bar samples every week hasn’t got connections?
KOCHANSKI: I just think that perhaps if you would…
Frankenstein miaows. Kochanski opens Lister’s jacket.
KOCHANSKI: Do you know what you’d get for smuggling a cat on board?
LISTER: What? Cat-martialled?
KOCHANSKI: I could have you before a disciplinary board.
LISTER: How long before? Do I get a chance to shower and change?
KOCHANSKI: I’m serious. As serving N.O., I’m supposed to report [this/it].
LISTER: So report it. Get me put into stasis for six months.
KOCHANSKI: Don’t you know how dangerous it is to smuggle in an un-quarantined animal?
Notes: Oddly enough, the take used for Kochanski’s line “I’m serious…” is different in the Xtended version (as evidenced by the slightly different dialogue). Answers on a postcard as to why this might be. I have absolutely no idea.
Opinion: Frustratingly, I feel the “have you before a disciplinary board” joke should be really funny, but a smile resolutely refused to cross my face. Damn. Next!
13:07 – 13:29
KOCHANSKI: There is something you could do for us.
KOCHANSKI: At some point, I want to have children. It’s a slightly pervy thing to ask, especially seeing as we’ve only just met, but perhaps you could…
KOCHANSKI: After all, we’ve been… you know, lovers… perhaps you could…
She holds up a tube.
KOCHANSKI: Fill this up?
LISTER: I’d rather be standing a bit closer.
KOCHANSKI: It’s a self-gamete mixing in-vitro tube. I’m already in there. It just needs your… contribution.
LISTER: All worked out for you guys, then. Couldn’t be more happy. Well, outside a major dental surgery with a rusty knife. Congratulations.
The GELFs attack.
Opinion: OK, I admit it, I giggled at “I’d rather be standing a bit closer”. True, it’s just that old Porridge “Can you fill that up for me?” / “What, from here?” gag – even reused by Clement/La Frenais themselves – but making it a SPUNK gag tickles me.
Officer Bud Babe
14:46 – 15:08
Kochanski is lying in the medibay.
CAT: She’s really something, isn’t she?
KRYTEN: Who is?
CAT: Officer Bud Babe. In fact, I’m barely hanging on to my title as most gorgeous creature on this ship.
Cat holds up a kidney bowl and looks at his reflection.
CAT: What am I talking about? Am I crazy?
LISTER: Cat, man, we’re under attack. It might be an idea to get us the smeg out of here.
KOCHANSKI: What happened? I thought I’d lost you!
She kisses him.
Notes: The very first time Cat calls Kochanski “Officer Bud Babe”, cut in the broadcast version. I have to take issue with a complaint I’ve seen elsewhere, though. Quoting from the Tongue Tied Wiki:
“…many of the lost character exchanges, were reinstated for the “Xtended edition” available for viewing on the Series VII DVD. The edition fixes at least one glitchy piece of continuity. In the Cat’s first moments with Kochanski, he coins the term ‘Officer Bud Babe’, but when those early lines hit the cutting room floor, viewers were left baffled when he referred to Krissie as ‘Officer BB’ for the duration of the series.”
Now, whilst it’s true that in the very next scene, Cat calls Kochanski “Officer BB” – perhaps leading to some slight confusion – Cat does in fact call Kochanski “Officer Bud Babe” in this episode, in the scene where he takes great delight in pressing a button for her. So the above is a large pile of smelly poo and wee.
Opinion: …however, I still don’t find it very funny. Unfortunately, the extra material plays into a common problem with Cat at this point: bog standard “Aren’t I gorgeous” jokes have been done to death by now.
2000 Bulbs of Garlic
24:03 – 24:22
ALTERNATE CAT: Here’s the 2000 bulbs of garlic your Lister dude wanted.
CAT: Phew-wee. I may just have my nose hermetically sealed.
ALTERNATE LISTER: Is this right? 18 crates of curry and no pasta at all?
KRYTEN: Champagne, everyone! If this doesn’t deserve a celebration, I don’t know what does.
Notes: The only chance we get to hear the alternate version of Cat! DEEP VOICE.
Opinion:…and a callback to the unfunny curry/pasta stuff from Tikka to Ride. Nothing worth saving here.
I Didn’t Need to Know That
24:47 – 26:36
LISTER: This is for you. It wasn’t easy, I can tell you. I’m not exactly awash with helpful material here. I had to use one of Rimmer’s old James Last album covers – a girl in a yellow crocheted miniskirt doing the twist. It was like peeling an orange with a chopstick.
KOCHANSKI: I didn’t need to know that.
LISTER: Anyway, it’s all worked. Just pop that in the uterine simulator in your medi-lab and… bingo.
LISTER: Our child.
KOCHANSKI: I’ll… you know.
LISTER: I know.
KOCHANSKI: Any advice? For the baby, I mean.
LISTER: What, advice about life and stuff? Well, tell it you can always park nearer than you think. Don’t go to Sweden. Avoid sprouts. Oh, and if you’re a guy, never chop up hot chillies then go for a leak without washing your hands first. It feels like a bomb’s just gone off in your pants.
LISTER: That’s it. A lifetime’s worth of wisdom crammed into under a minute.
KOCHANSKI: As soon as it’s old enough, I’ll tell it all about you. Apart from how you eat spaghetti.
LISTER: Just make it understand why I’m not there. I don’t want it ending up like me.
KOCHANSKI: What happened to you was really rough. The pool table, no note, no explanation…
LISTER: I think that’s why I spent most of my early life drifting, you know? I didn’t have anything to live up to ’cause I didn’t know who I was, where I came from. Just those two names they couldn’t decide on calling me – Rob or Ross.
KOCHANSKI: Hey… I’ll look after it. You know I will.
LISTER: Yeah, I know.
They almost kiss, but…
KRYTEN: Excuse me, sir. Just doing a spot of dusting here.
Kryten dusts between them. He then does a ridiculous amount of extra dusting.
Notes: By far the lengthiest section of dialogue added to the Xtended version of the episode; what’s possibly more intriguing though, is the different way in which it’s edited. A whole section uses a different take: the “uterine simulator” section and the following two exchanges – and the removal of dialogue means that the broadcast version cuts to the wide shot far more often to disguise the edits. That, combined with the extra dialogue, gives the Xtended version a rather more intimate feel.
Opinion: A very frustrating addition: the James Last album covers joke feels like it should be really funny… but delivered in this way, with this kind of atmosphere, and with the humour-draining character that is Kristine Z. Kochanski, it doesn’t work for me at all. The rebuttal to this, of course, is that the scene isn’t trying to be funny… but after an episode of jokes failing to land for me, a serious scene with Lister and Kristine really isn’t something I’m up for.
27:32 – 28:00
Notes: Oh ho ho ho, what’s all this? Throughout a section of the scene where Lister finally figures out the plot – starting with “I know who my parents are”, and ending on “You should write a letter to Playboy, bud!” – the music used in the Baby Lister scenes which open and close the episode is added. (Which, library music fans, is ‘Lost in Space’ by Nigel Bates – Chappell AV80, Track 22, according to TOS.)
Opinion: Actually a very nice addition. Though seeing as there’s absolutely no dialogue changes during this section, I wonder – did they mean to include this in the broadcast version of the episode, and for some reason it was missed off? Or was this just a bright idea they had during the edit for the Xtended version?
What’s the most annoying conclusion someone who doesn’t like Ouroboros can make? I believe that could be summed up by the following: “Cuh, it’s a shit episode anyway – why do we need any more of it?”
Look, I’m not saying that I don’t also think the above. But even trying to look at it objectively… I find it difficult to say that much of the above material really improves the episode significantly. Nothing stands out like some of the deleted scenes I list here. In fact, I can think of more than one additional cut which could have been made which wouldn’t have hurt the episode at all… and would have allowed them to actually include the opening titles in the broadcast version. Notably, the best change – the addition of music during Lister’s realisation that he’s his own father – doesn’t actually rely on any extra dialogue whatsoever.
The interesting thing to consider about the Xtended version is that all this additional material was deemed up to scratch and worth including: the flip side of this being that the material which wasn’t included, presented in the deleted scenes on the Red Dwarf VII DVD, was obviously considered sub-par. Which is strange, as there’s a section in the deleted scenes which I think is better than anything added in the Xtended version:
KOCHANSKI: Why are you on Starbug, anyway? Where’s your Red Dwarf?
The crew look uncomfortable.
KRYTEN: Long story.
Kryten gets up.
KRYTEN: Long, long, long story.
He walks out the cockpit.
KRYTEN: Long, long, long, long story. Long long story…
And he’s gone.
And that’s your lot for this recreation of Ganymede & Titan c. 2007. Join me next time, when I revisit Duct Soup Xtended. I’ll try not to make you wait eight years for it this time. But as ever on G&T, literally any kind of incompetence is possible.