Gaps In The Red:
The Last Day of Series VIII

UPDATE (20/05/18): New documents come to light!

The recent mumblings regarding a possible imminent announcement of brand new Red Dwarf naturally lead to a discussion about the merits of Series VIII, because this is Ganymede & Titan. In the course of what would go on to be a characteristically tedious debate, an interesting link was brought to light by commenter bloodteller: a contemporary set report on the final studio recording of the series, miraculously still online nearly twenty years after it was first published.

This was a great find, remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it turns out that the internet-enabled fans of the late 1990s had a dangerously casual attitude to spoilers compared to the self-regulating secrecy of today – every single scene described in detail and badly remembered jokes reproduced in full, online months before broadcast. It also throws up some neat little details about the production that would otherwise be lost to the mists of time, such as a message to the fans being signed “big hugs and kisses – the Inquisitor”, the audience being shown a picture of Ed Bye in a dress, and an incident where a make-up artist is caught unaware by a freshly-painted set.

Mainly though, you’re struck by how weird an experience it must have been for the audience that night. The production schedule of Series VIII was protracted and difficult. The very brief story is that Back In The Red was originally recorded as an hour-long special, with its audience recording taking place on 28th September 1998, before the decision was made to split it into not two, but three half-hour parts, to compensate for the planned series finale being dropped. Therefore the last recording date of the series, on Friday 4th December 1998, was dedicated to whatever material was required throughout the story to stretch sixty minutes into ninety.

The contemporary report does a great job of documenting what the audience saw that night, and what’s more, it reminded me that I bought a copy of the camera script at a Dimension Jump auction many years ago.

The front three pages of the camera script – click to embiggen

Between these two sources, we can now paint a definitive picture of exactly which bits of the entire Back In The Red saga were bolted on at a later date, rather than being part of the originally intended story. We can also note any differences between the scenes as scripted and the final edits – it’s pretty much all documented in the deleted scenes on the DVD and/or the Series VIII scriptbook, but we’ll note them anyway, for the record. Deleted sections are listed [like this], and all extracts quoted are as they appear on the page, spelling mistakes and all.

The front page of the script contains a definitive list of credits for the episode, including various runners and assistants who don’t get a credit on-screen. Page two consists of a cast list for the evening; along with the whopping seven regulars from that series, the only guest is Jeillo Edwards, listed simply as “Ground Controller” here, which became “Second Ground Controller” in the episode credits. Then comes the all-important running order, which reveals that a total of fourteen individual scenes were recorded in front of the audience that night.

Additionally, however, there were three scenes pre-recorded earlier that day. These are listed under the header “PRE-RECORDBEFOREWESTARTDRESSRUN“. Firstly, there’s two cutaways of Rimmer in the AR suite, watching the action unfold on the monitors. The third is Captain Hollister’s expository voice-over from towards the end of the episode, heard over what the script describes as a “MUG SHOT FLATAGE – A LA USUSAL SUSPECTS“. With those components in the can, the first action to take place after the audience arrived was:

INT. PRISON QUARTERS

BACK IN THE RED (3) – Sc. 1

Yes, the evening started somewhat conventionally with the opening scene of Part Three, even though scenes from earlier episodes are yet to be recorded. This nevertheless makes sense; the skit is fairly standalone, and will have served the same purpose for the audience on the night as the similar scene in Part One did for audiences at home, namely a flash-forward that creates intrigue as to how the characters ended up there. It’s a hefty eight pages long, and contains a few snippets that were cut from the final episode. Firstly, towards the start:

LISTER
I thought social workers were supposed to be nice?

[RIMMER
So did I. I also thought they were supposed to wear cordroy jackets and drive volvos.

But this guy didn’t, I don’t reckon he was fully qualified.] I was so shell shocked, in the end I went to see the Priest, explained what happened.

In the episode itself, the last part of Rimmer’s line is slightly reworded, to:

In the end I was so shell shocked, I went to see the priest and explained everything.

Following the reveal that the priest beat him up too, there’s an extra gag:

[LISTER
You should have seen the nuns.

RIMMER
What, and get garroted by Sister Les and her stupid smegging rosary beads.]

Then, inserted between the discussion about escaping and the bit about Rimmer defending himself:

[LISTER
Look, get some food inside you, supper’s any minute, you’ll feel better then..

RIMMER
Yes, I wonder what appetising morcel is on the menu tonight? Fricasseed elephant dung maybe or rats ears pan fried in garlic?

LISTER
Doubt it’s rats ears, we had that last night.]

And finally, the aforementioned bit about Rimmer defending himself is expanded upon.

LISTER
You defended yourself.

RIMMER
Yes, and I don’t need reminding thank you very much. [There’s certain things I excel at but defending myself at a board of enquiry is not one of them.

LISTER
I don’t think referring to the Captain as your holiness helped, it came over as a bit licky. Especially all the genuflecting.

RIMMER
I led a blameless life until I met you. The worst crime I ever committed was handing in my geography homework late. And now this,] two years in the tank. How did I get into this mess?

Before the next scene was recorded, the audience were shown the first of several video inserts, put together to add some semblance of context to what was happening before them. The first package is described in the script as:

VT INSERT ONE

RESUME PACKAGE TO INCLUDE RIMMER SEARCHING STARBUG

UP TO ‘WORLD LOVES A BASTARD’

The contemporary set report indicates that this consisted of pretty much all the plot-relevant bits of Part One, including the resolution of the Nanarchy cliffhanger, the rat-arsed sequence, the Chen and Selby cameo, the scene in the old bunkroom and – as the script dictates – Rimmer searching Starbug. And as per the recap that opens Part Two of the final edit, the next order of business is:

INT. HOLLISTER’S OFFICE

BACK IN THE RED (2) – Sc. 25a

This is not, per se, a new scene added for the multi-part version of the story, but rather a reshot and extended version of a scene originally recorded for the hour-long iteration. The most notable difference between the two takes is that the original didn’t include the extra long Rimmer salutes, confirming suspicions that they were indeed only there to pad out the running time after all.

There are very few differences between page and screen on this occasion. In the script, Rimmer drops his file on Hollister’s desk straight after mentioning drive plates, rather than handing it over after insulting German tourists, as per the final edit. As scripted, this gives Hollister a lot more time to flick through Rimmer’s work before commenting on it than he gets in the episode. A shot of the file being dropped on the desk makes it into the recap at the start of Part Three, which would appear to be from the original version of the scene.

Incidentally, the script doesn’t include the second incredibly long salute that closes the televised scene, although as this is a camera script – designed for use by the technical crew – it doesn’t necessarily include all of the stage directions.

Another VT sequence follows, the board of enquiry scene from slightly later in Part Two, leading into:

INT. VISITING AREA

BACK IN THE RED (2) – Sc. 28

Again, a scene that was remounted and extended to pad out Part Two, and the last of only two scenes recorded for that episode on this night. It seems that the basic structure of the original story didn’t change too much until Part Three, as the changes made to Part Two merely saw extra dialogue added to existing scenes. The scene in the final episode is virtually identical to the script.

After this scene, the audience were shown a huge collection of pre-recorded scenes, listed in the script as:

VT SEQUENCE THREE

BITR 2

SC.31A – 42 ‘TESTING SHOULD BE WELL UNDER WAY.’

BITR 3

SC.2 – SC.68 THEY ARE RELEASED FROM AR MACHINES

This indicates that the VT skips a big chunk of the episode and starts with Hollister’s plot-relevant line towards the end of the captain’s supper, but the set report describes the earlier scenes of Rimmer shagging half the table and the crew disguising themselves as the Dibbley family, so they must have opted for a longer cut than was originally planned. Either way, the audience got to see roughly the first fifteen minutes of Part Three, taking them up to this, the first full scene to be inserted wholesale into the original story:

INT. SERVICE LIFT

BACK IN THE RED (3) – Sc. 69

It’s the scene where the crew persuade Rimmer to join them, and there are quite a few sections of the script that don’t make it to the final episode. First, an extra bit between Rimmer’s sexual magnetism being cured, and Holly embarking on his moon impression.

KOCHANSKI
God, that’s so embarrassing, [I was like a wild animal ready to rip off his clothes and ravish every inch of his body.

RIMMER
(To Lister) That is absolutely the last time I ever take advice from you.]

LISTER BEAMS HOLLY ONTO MONITOR.

LISTER
What now Hol?

And an extra bit after Kryten’s gag about an interesting hairdresser called Kylie:

RIMMER
[You really expect me to leave Red Dwarf and come with you?

LISTER
What’s stopping you?

RIMMER
Every fibre of my being.] Why would I want to take off with you lot. What’ve you got to offer?

A substantial portion of the crew making their case is excised, with a few bits of dialogue differing from what was recorded, as seen in the deleted scenes on the Series VIII DVD:

CAT
And I’m so gorgeous, there’s a six month waiting list for birds to suddenly appear every time I am near.

[LISTER
Look, there’s nothing for you here.

RIMMER
(To Lister) But what are you offering apart from the opportunity to watch you idle away your evenings tiddlywinking your veruccas into an old pair of boots?

KOCHANSKI
You used to do that?

LISTER
No, of course not. I always used to miss. Hardly ever got them actually in the boots.

RIMMER
I can’t leave. I’ve got too much going for me here. What about my friends.

LISTER
What friends? You mean the Polyester brothers – those saddos you play war-games with on Thursdays? When those guys get together they issue dandruff warnings on the news.

KOCHANSKI
Look, now you’ve been resurrected by the nanos you’ve got a second chance, an opportunity to live your life afresh.]

KRYTEN
And you know what they say, sir – if you’ve got three good friends you’re a rich man.

Weirdly, the scene on the VIII DVD includes an extra line from Kochanski immediately preceding this bit – “I’ve good some brilliant books on ponies” – but that’s not in the script. What is there, however, is a slightly extended version of Cat’s subsequent line:

CAT
Forget it.. He’s not going to change his mind. [We got more chance of persuading a dentist to hang around an X ray machine.]

Curiously, Holly’s line in the final episode, telling Rimmer they’re giving him an opportunity to screw up his life in a new and original way, is given to Lister in the script, continuing on from him saying that the original Rimmer never became an officer. Looking at the episode with this in mind, Norman’s version does suddenly look like an obvious pick-up, though it’s not clear whether Craig also recorded the line, as it’s not present on the DVD.

Finally, the scene continues long past the end of the televised version:

[LISTER
Just pone proviso – no more double dealing. If you’re with us it’s a weasel free zone.

RIMMER
I give you my word.

KRYTEN
Does it have to be your word , sir, we’d prefer someone elses?

LISTER TAKES TUBES OFF HIM

LISTER
And as insurance, I want the viruses.

RIMMER HAND THEM OVER.

CAT
So what now?

RIMMER
(Stands)
I think the new Head of Safety has a contribution to make here.

KRYTEN
Fire away, sir.

RIMMER
Kryten’s right. They’ll know we’re out of AR and a crack battalion is probably on its way to us down with orders to shoot on sight.

KRYTEN
What’s your advice, sir?

RIMMER
My advice is: we should run. Run like the wind.

PRESSES BUTTON. THE DOORS OPEN.

LISTER
Everyone follow the Head of Safety.

THEY EXIT AT SPEED]

Despite the need to add vital seconds to the running time of this improvised third episode, that’s a substantial number of cuts made to a scene that’s lengthy enough in the final edit, and that takes up a full eleven pages of script.

INT. BLUE MIDGET / INT. GROUND CONTROL

BACK IN THE RED (3) – Sc. 71-77

There’s no VT listed between this and the subsequent sequence, which is all the stuff involving the second ground controller. In the finished episode, there’s a few shots of the crew creeping through the landing bay, but there’s no indication in the script and the set report that anything was played in on the night.

This continuous sequence is listed as seven separate items in the running order towards the front of the script, as it counts each cut between the Blue Midget set and the Ground Control set as a new scene, but it was recorded in one go; the script tells us that three of the four cameras were trained on Blue Midget, and the other on the Second Ground Controller, who is described here as “A MATRONLY TYPE WITH GLASSES AND A STRANGE HAT”.

Just a couple of notable differences between what’s in the script, what’s in the episode, and what appears in the deleted scenes. There’s a tiny bit of dialogue from the Ground Controller that only appears in the script:

GROUND CONTROLLER 2
Your name’s Reality Sucks? (laughs) [Were your parents drunk?] One second, Mr.Sucks, just checking my clearance list.

Those four words seemingly weren’t shot, as there’s no cuts during the version of the line that we see on screen, and no alternate take on the DVD. However, a tiny bit of Lister dialogue that’s not in the script did get recorded:

LISTER
Look, just do another smegging dance and let’s get the hell out of here. [But this time, make it shorter.]

That renegade amendment made it as far as the cameras but was cut from the final episode, finally emerging as the last deleted scene from this session featured on the DVD.

INT. BLUE MIDGET

BACK IN THE RED (3) – Sc. 80

Effects sequences bridge that scene and this in the final edit, but again, there’s no indication that the audience were shown anything here on the night – recording will have continued on the same set after the tape break specified in the camera script. This is the scene that contains the notorious padding about the Theory of Relativity, but there is a major, major difference between what’s in the script and what was shot. At no point in the script is there the line about it being a theory you only tell you relatives. Instead:

LISTER
What does it mean?

[HOLLY
Well, it’s about relativity. Things being relative. The relativity of – things.

KOCHANSKI
E equals MC squared what does that mean though?

HOLLY
E is energy. Energy equals MC squared. That’s M times C timesed by another C.

KOCHANSKI
What is MC though?

HOLLY
What?

LISTER
What is it? MC?

HOLLY
MC -well, MC is obviously, uh, master of ceremonies.

LISTER
Energy equals Master of Ceremonies squared?

HOLLY
He was very over-rated Einstein. That’s why he left quantum physics and went into the look-a-like business.]

RIMMER
It’s sad. He’s supposed to have an IQ of 6,000 I doubt he can even spell IQ.

Everything from Kochanski’s line onwards appears in the Series VIII script book in addition to the “only tell your relatives” gag, but if any of this made it before the cameras, it wasn’t included in the otherwise comprehensive deleted scenes. Perhaps someone came up with the alternate line during rehearsals, and it was decided – rightly or wrongly – that it was so good as to render the rest of the dialogue superfluous.

The rest of the scene plays out in the script as it does in the final episode, but stops for a tape break after Holly says he was “out thought and out manoeuvred”.

INT. BLUE MIDGET

BACK IN THE RED (3) – Sc. 83

At the break point, the script specifies that another VT sequence is played in:

VT SEQUENCE FOUR

BITR 3

HOLLISTER AND SMART HOLLY WATCH SCREEN

This is essentially just a cutaway within a continuous scene, so it must have been a pretty short insert – it’s not noted in the set report. The scripted scene continues on from before the cutaway, starting with Lister asking Holly “who by?”, and plays out exactly as it does in the final episode. The script indicates that the scene was followed by “PICK UP SHOTS FOR HOLLY AND GROUND CONTROL MONITOR”.

And that appears to be the end of the extra plot elements that were added when the story was extended. The original narrative would have cut straight from the initial escape from AR to Hollister and the egg-headed Holly passing judgement, omitting everything to do with Rimmer deciding to join our crew, the second Ground Controller, and the idea that the entire situation was brought about by Holly as part of his ongoing attempt to keep Lister sane. A rough cut of the original denouement can be seen as part of the deleted scenes, depicting Hollister watching the crew’s original escape instead of their conversation in Blue Midget, complete with an extra shot of the gang strapped to medical trolleys.

And so that’s it – both the script and the set report state that that’s the last of the material to be shot in front of an audience, and all that remained was to play the VT of the final few scenes. Except, the running order at the start of the camera script contains one more item:

INT. AR SUITE

BACK IN THE RED (3) – Sc. 85

Hmm. I don’t have an extra scene in my script – after the Blue Midget scene, the last page of the document is a description of the fifth and final VT sequence:

VT SEQUENCE FIVE

BITR 3

SCENES 85 – 89

HOLLISTER FINDS THEM GUITY THRU TO GOING TO PRISON.

THEN POSSIBLE:

Ooh, a cliffhanger! Before we get to that, note that the running order lists this hypothetical AR Suite sequence as “Sc. 85”, but the description of the VT sequence indicates that Scene 85 is in fact Hollister finding them guilty. That would tally with how the finished episode plays out – if that’s #85 and there are 89 in total, then Hollister arresting them in the AR Suite would be #86, the mug shot bit would be #87, the lift sequence #88 and Lister subjecting Rimmer to prison rape would be #89.

So there’s clearly a discrepancy here. It could be that an further bit of business in the AR Suite was originally planned as an additional/extended scene, got dropped during the course of the week, but remained listed as an item in the running order. Or it could be that this set’s inclusion in the running order is to do with the pick-ups that took place in that area earlier in the day, although it would be an odd place to list such activity.

Sadly, we don’t know for sure what was meant to follow “THEN POSSIBLE:” in the VT description. We can’t tell whether my copy of this script is missing a final page or two, or if they were all issued like this and the intriguing possibility was listed in error. However, we do know that on the night of the recording, the final scenes of Back In The Red were indeed followed by something else. Back to the set report:

The host comes back on and tells us that he wants to show us a scene that they recorded earlier today – the problem is they haven’t got a laughter track for it so it is screened. We join the posse on deck 13 where they’re being picked on by the prisoners. The Cat is shoved in a vending machine and has hot Bovril poured on him. Kryten somehow acquires a “Time Wand” and plays a variety of tricks on the other prisoners. I guess this is from the next episode so it doesn’t actually make much sense.

So in addition to the pre-records for Back In The Red, they also shot an extra scene for Pete (Part One)! And then played it to the audience without explaining what the hell it was. There had been an audience shoot for Pete (Part Two) a week before the Back In The Red mop-up session, but the first part was originally recorded as self-contained episode some weeks earlier (the original versions of these sequences can be found in the deleted scenes), so perhaps this was the only opportunity to shoot extra bits for the newly restructured Part One. There’s a whole extra story to tell here, as soon as I can get hold of the Pete (Part Two) camera script…

But for now, we’ll have to content ourselves with having successfully figured out exactly which bits of Back In The Red were shot when… except there’s one thing that neither the camera script or the set report mentions: Hollister’s long recaps at the start of the second two parts. Now, clearly they would have been shot in this final week of Series VIII’s production, but they weren’t done in front of the audience, and nor do they appear to have been played in for laugh track purposes at any point.

It’s entirely possible that not one person outside of the production knew a single thing about the “Dennis the Doughnut Boy” twist until the moment the episode aired. Considering the entire rest of the plot of Back In The Red was posted online immediately after the audience recording, you could see why they’d want to hold that bombshell back.


ADDITIONAL (20/05/18): Since this article was first published, bountyhunter, the writer of that 20-year-old set report, has been in touch with some extra information. Firstly, we’d like to clarify that said set report was in fact first published after the episode had been broadcast, so I apologise for besmirching our spoiler-respecting fandom forebears. Some additional titbits about the sets can be found in the comments below.

But even more excitingly, bountyhunter has kindly provided us with one more document from that fateful night in December 1998 – a scan of the call sheet issued to cast and crew, detailing the specifics of how the studio session played out.


Clicky biggy.

This is such a lovely thing to see; nothing brings the past to life quite so vividly as mundane details such as knowing what time everyone had their supper, or that the guy who played the guard made his own way to the studio rather than being picked up by a production car. We also learn that Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons, who 1st AD Julie Sykes refers to as “two sci fi writers (authors of the Virgin programme Guide)”, were visiting the set that day.

There’s a definite end-of-term feeling indicated in this document; as well as the announcement that the bar will be open until midnight, note that this is apparently the 10,041,000th call sheet to be issued on the series. There’s also a jokey tone to the section at the end from line producer Jo Bennett (later Howard), with a reassurance that “most” of the crew would be invited back, an unknown on-set smoker being told to construct a dinosaur from cigarette butts as punishment, and what looks like an in-jokey reference to someone called Johnny Stewart, which I’m afraid is lost on me.

Sadly, it doesn’t shed a great deal of light on the mystery of the phantom extra scene. It’s listed as item 14 in the running order here, as indeed it was in the camera script equivalent, but note that the details of this scene are in bold, unlike any of the others. When I first saw this, I was leaning towards the theory that it had been taped as part of the “before we start dress run” filming, but going by the call times for the two guards in that scene – one played by Mark Flitton, the other an unnamed extra – that can’t be case; while the supporting artist was instructed to be on set for the dress rehearsal at 1600, Flitton wasn’t even in make-up until 1900, by which point the audience were already making their way in.

So unless any more new evidence comes to light, it would seem that poor old Mark Flitton and his friend Other Guard came all the way to Shepperton to record their scene in front of the audience, only for the scene to be dropped. And yet it’s definitely a scene that exists in the final episode. I’ve now settled on a theory that they shot a version of the scene for the original hour-long cut of Back In The Red, decided to replace it for the new three part edition, but then the reworked scene got dropped on the day of the shoot, and the original was used in Part Three after all. This is, of course, but an educated guess; without conclusive proof, the mystery continues…

Thanks again to bountyhunter, both for providing the call sheet, and for the original report all those years ago.

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138 Responses to Gaps In The Red:
The Last Day of Series VIII

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  1. Ah, this brings back the memories! I was able to attend the first and last recordings of Red Dwarf VIII, so I was very surprised at the time to find out that the last recording was stuff I’d already seen! Mac Macdonald was also in the audience for the first recording I seem to recall.

  2. hooray, this is now the second time i’ve found something interesting online and G&T have turned it into an article

    thought: which episode of VIII had to be fabricated when “Earth” was dropped, Back In The Red Part 3 or Pete Part 2? the scriptbook and documentary suggest that it was Pete that had to be padded out when they ran out of money, but the fact that Back In The Red 3 was shot last would seem to suggest otherwise.

  3. Hey gang, I’m the author of the 20 yr old set report. Just to clarify; I’m pretty certain that I didn’t publish it until after VIII had aired. I’ve also got a set report from X somewhere I’ll try and dig out.

    For some added deep dive geekry the INT Service Lift scene was a redress of the corridor section just outside Hollister’s office, It was the quick repaint of this that caught the crewmember unawares with the wet paint.

    Also the INT. GROUND CONTROL set was built directly opposite the INT BLUE MIDGET set on the studio floor. As such if you look carefully at some of the Blue Midget cockpit’s set dressing you can see the orange flashing light visible in the Ground Control set being reflected back.

  4. Some truly horrendous “jokes” got cut from VIII, and considering what made it in, you know they’re bad.

    Got more chance of getting a dentist to stand by an x-ray machine. Jesus wept.

  5. I do enjoy scratching at this VIII itch. Hope you manage to find your X set report bountyhunter.

  6. Always nice to be reminded of how unfunny and unnatural-sounding the dialogue was in Series VIII.

    Though of all the stuff that was absolutely justified in being cut, the “Master of Ceremonies” line is clearly better than the relativity gag we ended up with (even if that isn’t a particularly high bar to clear… ).

    But let’s not get into discussing Series VIII again. I think this might be the perfect thread to talk about the possible Series XIII. Will Holly become a regular again? Will there be any mention of Kochanski? Will there finally be a proper Cat episode? Will Rimmer mellow out a bit? Will the stories be mostly Starbug/exploration based or Red Dwarf based? Will they use less blue and/or turn the set lights up a bit? Will they just stop premiering the episodes on UKTV Play already? Will Timewave get a sequel? Will Snacky make his long awaited second appearance?

  7. Right, who’s going to make the BITR Original Assembly then?

    Also, what do people think the biggest flaws with VIII were? I think it’d be interesting to discuss perceived problems with the series while we wait for XIII.

  8. More “oh why did they cut x, but keep y, are they thick?” moments, and a very interesting read. I don’t envy Doug or the cast having to re-write and re-do such large sections of episodes, it must have been very stressful. Unless he/they didn;t give a shit and were phoning it in, which I wouldn’t rule out.

    I fucking love “there is a six month waiting list for birds to appear every time I am near”, what a classic Cat line. But then from the pen of the same man we get that shite about dentists and x-ray machines. Christ.

  9. With apologies to bountyhunter, quoted from the set report:

    “Over all I’m now looking forward to Red Dwarf VIII. The decision to drop the sci-fi atmosphere of series 7 in favour of the comedy of series 4 is very wise…”

    I see the convention of making very broad comparisons to previous series in set reports that really do not pan out is a very old tradition then.

  10. what does “we got more chance of getting a dentist to stand by an x-ray machine” even mean?

  11. pretty sure i’ve had x-rays done at the dentists before. though maybe that was the orthodontist’s.

  12. It’s not that there’s no X-ray machine. It’s that there is an X-ray machine, but the dentist doesn’t stand by it (while it’s on).

  13. The dentist always leaves the room and stands behind a protective screen when doing x rays so that they aren’t exposed to radiation 20 times a day and die of cancer

  14. With apologies to bountyhunter, quoted from the set report:

    “Over all I’m now looking forward to Red Dwarf VIII. The decision to drop the sci-fi atmosphere of series 7 in favour of the comedy of series 4 is very wise…”
    I see the convention of making very broad comparisons to previous series in set reports that really do not pan out is a very old tradition then.

    Yeah. I was a giddy 17-yr-old. I lacked the critical judgement I have now… or indeed a few months later when VIII aired!

  15. Yeah. I was a giddy 17-yr-old. I lacked the critical judgement I have now… or indeed a few months later when VIII aired!

    In fairness, it is something that I have noticed in most set reports. It makes sense to try to look back to previous series in order to find a frame of reference to process your thoughts, but it rarely comes across as anything more than a shallow comparison in the long run.

  16. “It feels like IV/V/VI” feels to me like shorthand for “it isn’t shit”

  17. I imagine all comedy shows filmed with a live audience seem funnier when you’re actually in the audience, and this is especially true of Red Dwarf.

  18. Think that really depends on the audience member, although Series VIII audience members had the unknown variable of being in a studio record for post-Rob Red Dwarf, and the series addressing some of the criticisms of Series VII.

  19. The dentist always leaves the room and stands behind a protective screen when doing x rays so that they aren’t exposed to radiation 20 times a day and die of cancer

    wimps

  20. Think that really depends on the audience member, although Series VIII audience members had the unknown variable of being in a studio record for post-Rob Red Dwarf, and the series addressing some of the criticisms of Series VII.

    They were also the first time the show had been done in front of an audience in some 5 or 6 years, and people might have reasonably expected that after VII the show would *never* be done in front of an audience. It’s a similar situation today, with 13 years between VIII and X’s studio recordings, and a less extreme but still considerable better part of 4 years between X and XI, and we don’t know when or if we’re going to get more. Add to the fact that it’s been running on and off for so long and there’s a hype (for want of a better word) for RD audience recordings that I don’t think there are for other sitcoms that are done before a live audience.

  21. > It’s a similar situation today, with 13 years between VIII and X’s studio recordings

    Well, speaking from my own experience, I expressed concern after seeing Dear Dave recorded so I don’t think everyone necessarily goes into these, swept up with the hype and pre-conditioned to laugh more than they would do at home. Certainly the experience of disliking pretty much every episode of Red Dwarf that had come since the early nineties, meant that the show had to win me over. I can’t say the small bits of the episode itself we saw recorded really did that (I remember talking the episode over with my mate on the drive home, and wondering whether Lister’s search for the letter would take the crew off-ship and be the crux of the episode…but I think we got the impression that what we did was….padded scenes of not much happening). Were it not for the fact they showed us a rough-cut of Trojan on the same nigh (which I liked, still do), I’d have been pretty down on the whole night.

    A lot of the set reports on here for XI and XII similarly try to divorce the experience from their opinion on the episode. Spambot’s opinions on Timewave, incidentally, were interesting because he/she didn’t seem to enjoy the experience of it either.

    I’m not sure I’d have been so hard to win over in 1999. I didn’t much like Series VII in 1997, and was pretty cautious about Series VIII, but I still tried desperately to get tickets at the time. If I’d have gone and seen this nonsense being recorded, I’d have probably just felt incredibly privileged and, as you say, pleased that the show was back in front of an audience (and Chris was back). I might have also assumed that the disparate bunch of scenes would be edited into something resembling an actual coherent story when it aired, and give it the benefit of the doubt.

  22. > Got more chance of getting a dentist to stand by an x-ray machine.

    That’s a funny line though!

    I was at secondary school when VIII broadcast and almost all the lads were hyped up for it, talking about it every week. Both quiz books were being passed around at lunch, and those select few who had seen anything before VII were telling stories and quoting past series’, doing Kryten impressions, being looked on as kind of heroes, and that’s not even an exaggeration. Anything geeky was suddenly very in (everyone was going crazy looking forward to Phantom Menace at that point as well…). If anyone ever wonders why those 8 million viewers happened for BITR, well Dwarf hype was HUGE right at that moment.

    One thing that definitely WASN’T happening was people slating VIII. Whether no-one was daring to say a word against it, for fear of being laughed at or left behind, who knows. People were definitely carried away with this series, even Pete pt. 1 & 2. Granted, all anyone was doing was saying how cool it was to have a dino in the episode, but the hype was still there. Krytie TV got a massive reaction, I remember, and I liked it too at the time.

    I’d say it was only once I’d seen much more of the pre-VII show, through borrowing videos from people etc., and then went back to VIII that I realised how ‘dumb’ it was in comparison. VIII is Dwarf gone too far; in giddy, self-referential, overload mode. Also, it was fucking THIS place that turned me in that direction some more, I’m pretty sure….. or at least it was a relief to think ‘somebody else thinks it’s shit too!!’ That’s going back a bit, the early days of G&T…..

    Still…. the single most annoying thing about VIII, for me, remains…the shadows of the bars, in the cell set, being clearly visible on the set backdrop, revealing it’s only a few feet away when it’s meant to be the huge open space of the Tank.

  23. I enjoyed VIII at the time (year 8), watching the taped episodes several times in the week before the next one, and thought it had “fixed” the mediocre VII too, but I could tell it was still inferior to the older series (which I’d only seen about half of, filling in the rest with the programme guide). I & II remastered had just finished broadcasting, and seeing those uniforms, Norman and Mac back made it feel a bit desperately retro, but the multi-parters and new Tank scenario tricked me into thinking there was more to it. That faded when Pete Part 2 was so obviously padded and undeserving of two-parter status and the weak finale just left me disappointed.

  24. Only The Good was great when I was 9 and honestly I still like parts of it, mostly the Hollister scene and the mirror version with Rimmer, the period gag and the fake 50s sci-fi movie, but nostalgia could be playing a part in that, and I realise that as an epiosde overall it’s lacking.

    Who doesn’t love “I’m giving you a big wet snog with oodles of Tommy Tongue”, though?

  25. I’m still mortified with how repeatedly I went back to Series VIII’s multi-parters in middle school. The most recent time I rewatched VIII just for the hell of it – I hadn’t gone back to it in a long time – I had to force my way through. I remembered that I didn’t care for it but I didn’t remember finding it nearly devoid of anything funny or interesting, downright unwatchably tedious at times, or Krytie TV making me so deeply uncomfortable in the same way other people seem to feel about Timewave. Not that I like Timewave, but I’d stillconsider it watchable in a way VIII simply isn’t.

    That said, based on my fan edit I have to admit the hour long Back in the Red would probably have been a below-average episode as opposed to starting out there and gradually tanking lower and lower, completely going into irredeemably horrendous around the point those skuttes showed up in Dibley wigs and teeth.

    That momemt really is a candidate for the stupidest thing in Red Dwarf. While most of VIII just leaves me in icy silence, the Dibley skutters well crosses the line from not funny into pissing me off with how bad and nonsensical it is.

    High and Low Series VIIII Moments, anyone? It could be interesting to sort out the rare shafts of heavely light that occasionally breach the black smoke of hellfire.

  26. Are Ian Symes’ teenage VIII reviews still online? I think one was quoted in the Krytie TV Dwarfcast. Somewhat more positive than the Dwarfcast appraisal.

  27. >One thing that definitely WASN’T happening was people slating VIII.

    Should have come round mine. That was a long, painful 8 weeks.

  28. i liked all of VIII when i was younger. i still like most of it now-i still think Cassandra, Krytie TV and Back In The Red Part 1 are brilliant episodes- but there really are some crap parts in the rest of it.

    i probably would’ve liked Only The Good a lot too had they gone with the original ending- there’s a fanedit online called “Every Dog…” which restores it as well as various other scenes which turned it into an episode i quite liked.

    even the crap episodes of VIII have their good points though, I think- the bunkroom scene in Pete Part 1 where they discuss flushing planes was quite funny, and the line “Because he really likes instant custard, why d’you think?!”

  29. Only The Good was great when I was 9 and honestly I still like parts of it, mostlly … the fake 50s sci-fi movie …

    I think you will find that your nine your old self was watching Krytie TV there.

    Who doesn’t love “I’m giving you a big wet snog with oodles of Tommy Tongue”, though?

    Well I would, if it did not make my skin crawl.

  30. I thought VIII was shite at the time. Apart from the Starbug crash scene in Back in the Red which impressed my young self greatly with it’s better than VII CGI and cool hangar. As weeks passed enthusiasm faded because I was so so so excited when the dramatic drum soundtracked adverts came on BBC 2 but yeah.

    I watched it for my pearl poll rewatch and to be honest I may as well burn those DVDs. Even the commentaries are shite because of Norman whinging and being a bit of a tit from what I remember and people talking over each other, commentaries are normally the saviour of bad episodes but VIII cannot be saved haha

  31. It took me two or three years to realise how much I didn’t like VIII. I enjoyed it a lot at first, and watched it a lot because I only really had a handful of videos. Even then, I do recall noticing quite a few gags that missed the mark, which was a first for me. Even as a super-excited 14 year old with relatively little critical perspective who was blown away by the dramatic trailer, it wasn’t far into the episode before I felt things were off – ‘Alright, dude?’ felt crowbarred in (Holly only ever said ‘dudes’), Rimmer’s ‘alright I’ll do it’ felt so over-acted and completely unrealistic, ‘sickbags on standby’ was just weird. It was very strange, watching something that I knew should be really good, but kept falling short. I can’t actually remember the process of growing to really dislike the series, but by the time the DVDs started rolling out it had happened, because I was already doubting whether I’d even buy the VIII DVD when it came along (I did, of course).

    This definitely hasn’t happened with the Dave era. BtE actually grew on me on second viewing (having watched all the previous series directly before it, I finally realised just how refreshing it seems compared to VIII), and X, XI and XII have remained fairly static. They don’t seem to have the same rewatch quality that the first six series did, but I think that’s largely down to being in my 30s rather than my teens. Absolutely nothing has the same replay value these days, sadly.

  32. I think you will find that your nine your old self was watching Krytie TV there.

    No way man there’s definitely some zombie movie shit in Only The Good

    …right?

  33. yes, Hollister is watching a black and white monster movie in Only The Good- the mirror equivalent of the film is later shown when Rimmer crosses over into the mirror world.

  34. G&T Admin

    Are Ian Symes’ teenage VIII reviews still online? I think one was quoted in the Krytie TV Dwarfcast. Somewhat more positive than the Dwarfcast appraisal.

    Ha! They were never online, they were printed in Better Than Life a few months after broadcast. I’ll dig them out and type them up at some point, if I’m feeling masochistic.

    Such was my denial at the time that Red Dwarf could be anything other than brilliant, there was also that letter I read out on one DwarfCast, from me basically telling the man who would later be known as Pete Part Three to shut the fuck up and stop complaining. Little did we know that we’d one day both be frequent complainers on the same bit of internet for what’s probably over a decade now.

  35. G&T Admin

    By the way, your man bountyhunter, of original set report fame, has been in touch with some additional juicy info about that fateful night – look out for an update to this piece at the weekend.

  36. G&T Admin

    My feelings about VII/VIII around the time are much the same – that because I didn’t think it was possible that I wouldn’t like them, I convinced myself that I did.

    And then I found myself rewatching them less than other series. And eventually, it clicked.

    (These days it’s odd, because while I’d put X/XI/XIII above all of VII and VIII, I’ve watched X/XI/XII significantly less than VII/VIII. By an order of magnitude or more. And I’ve barely got round to watching any of the extras – in fact I’ve not seen a single extra from XII. But that’a a whole different discussion…)

  37. It doesn’t seem too weird to me. Series VII and Series VIII were the most recent Dwarf for a decade-long hiatus. Plus, those series were heavy on the big setup-altering story arcs going on, so there was a lot more to disect.

    Also, the internet was a lot less busy back then, so it was much easier to be one of the first people to look into certain media in detail or to write up certain opinions about it. Nowadays I don’t need to rewatch a new Red Dwarf to notice all the little details, because I immediately hear about all of them on here! Being a huge RD nerd probably made a person feel more unique in the early oughts.

    And of course, you’ve obviously matured since then and your priorities have likely changed. Maybe you’ve just got less free time nowadays, or maybe you’ve just broadened your interests, but either way there are plenty of good reasons to rewatch Series VII-VIII more than the Dave era that aren’t due to their inherent rewatchability.

  38. > One thing that definitely WASN’T happening was people slating VIII. Whether no-one was daring to say a word against it, for fear of being laughed at or left behind, who knows.

    Your secondary school has an air of Lord of the Flies about it.
    I was 17 when VII aired and I thought it was a bit shit. I wasn’t expecting it to be the same, because I’d already read Last Human. But I was disappointed by how naff it was. I don’t think I bothered watching them all.
    At 19 I remember Red Dwarf being on when I was at a friend’s house, and watching it for a minute or two. It was the dinosaur one. My friend (who had also loved the first six series) and I dismissed it entirely.
    My opinions have softened a bit, but I haven’t actually got round to watching them properly yet…

  39. >looked on as kind of heroes

    I had similar awe for my friend in primary school who’d seen pre-VI Red Dwarf, back when the fabled Red Dwarf ship was actually in it (I’d only seen VI and a couple of scenes from IV, but remembered Holly being there to differentiate it). He explained how they’d lost Red Dwarf during an episode with the “Suicide Squid.” This was before Nanarchy confirmed the direct link. What a guy.

  40. >These days it’s odd, because while I’d put X/XI/XIII above all of VII and VIII, I’ve watched X/XI/XII significantly less than VII/VIII.

    Ditto. I’m troubled that I’ve seen Ouroborus (which I hated on first watch, yet recall watching it again as soon as it had finished) more times than I’ve seen new episodes that I actually like. Eg. Give & Take or M-Corp. I can’t see that being corrected anytime soon either. In my case, it’s invaraibly because a) a lack of time/inclination to rewatch stuff endlessly, and b) a much larger variety of things available to watch these days.

  41. We can always strap you to a chair and tape open your eyelids while playing the episodes on an endless loop.

    Of course, that would probably take the shine off them just a bit…

  42. G&T Admin

    As a thirty-something, I’m never going to be able to watch a new episode of Red Dwarf as much as I’ve watched any of the first 52, because I watched them when I was a child, and children endlessly rewatch things. It’s not a slight on the newer stuff at all – any youngster who’s in to Red Dwarf now like I was when I was their age will rewatch all 73 episodes equally.

  43. Forgot to say thanks (to both Ian and bountyhunter) for this prime G&T steak of an article. Into Garbage Pod II (‘Better Than Garbage Pod’?) with it!

  44. I have this weird feeling that I remember Series VIII abnormally well for how few times I’ve watched it in the past few years, and then I remember it’s because nothing noteworthy or important is happening for about 70% of the series.

    As for Dave rewatchability, I have still found myself going back to XI quite often. X has waned on me a fair bit. The Beginning has unfortunately massively fallen in my estimation thanks to how incredibly slow paced it is, and I’m really starting to see that the script is quite a few drafts short in how heavy it leans on the repetition humor. It really stood out to me on my last viewing how strained things get in X right around the halfway point of Entangled. I was always aware but it never stood out the way it does now until I was showing them to somebody who’d never seen them. I still think Trojan, Fathers and Suns, and Lemons stand up very well if not quite reaching the heights of subsequent series.

    XII I really haven’t watched a lot besides M-Corp. Timewave has this overriding effect of making me feel like the entire series was weaker than it is. I adore the second half of Skipper, but unfortunately the first half that was so uproarious on,first viewing really doesn’t hold up great on repeat viewings when there’s no surprise. Cured is pretty good, Siliconia is a fine romp if a bit lacking in character. Mechocracy again has a fantastic second half but the slower first half makes me less inclined to just throw it on.

    Timewave is not worse than Pete, and if Pete first aired as part of Series XII nobody would ever suggest it was. I refuse to believe anyone peddling Timewave as the new worst episode isn’t just desensitized to VIII’s badness from having first seen it as an impressionable youngster instead of being stung as a discerning adult, because Pete is the worst thing that has ever existed*.

    * – obviously any given episode of Big Bang Theory is much worse, but that show was always terrible. Red Dwarf is usually brilliant.

    Oh, and the idea that Only the Good would be a great episode with the alternate ending? Er, well, ignoring that Rimmer is murdering a thousand plus innocent people for no real reason (I don’t see how that’s a good ending just because it resets to the status quo), how does a better ending fix the rest of that mess of an episode?

  45. because the alternate ending is funnier and concludes VIII nicely. it also does not involve the sudden appearance of mythological beings or the bad The End? The Smeg It Is! caption. plus rimmer doesn’t kill the revived crew, he just doesn’t let them back on the ship. which is fair considering just minutes ago they were leaving him and 400+ prisoners behind to painfully get devoured by a virus

    i liked the rest of the episode, it made me laugh-cell inspection in 10 minutes is great., as is the “duel” story. but then that may be down to my own personal sense of humour, since most people seem to find VIII very unfunny. and i can see how the episode would become pretty awful if you weren’t laughing at any if it, that would be a pretty unpleasant watch.

  46. In the original plan for VIII, would there have been the hour-long BITR then seven half-hour episodes, or the hour-long BITR then six half-hour episodes, with BITR being counted as two episodes for the purpose of the fabled syndication package?

  47. i think someone mentioned on a Dwarfcast that VIII was originally announced as having seven episodes, the first of which would be the hour-long BITR. so presumably it would have been BITR and then six half-hour episodes

  48. So presumably in the parallel universe where things went to plan, VIII was:

    Back in the Red (hour-long special)
    Cassandra
    Krytie TV
    Captain’s Office
    Earth

    Plus two episodes that were abandoned, but we never knew about?

  49. Still a mystery as to what the other *other* lost VIII episode was, if indeed we’re assuming it was always planned as eight half hours. If there was another that was lost, we would know about it presumably. I wonder if it originally was a x6 commission (or 7x30m shows for Worldwide) and Plan A was (order based on TX):

    1. Back In The Red (60m)
    2. Cassandra
    3. Krytie TV
    4. Captain’s Office
    5. Mirror/rorriM
    6. Earth (series finale)

    …with the ‘Smeg Ups’ TV special added to complete the syndication package (cause there’s surely a story behind that existing at all). Maybe it grew to 8×30 not because of VII’s pattern but because the BBC needed an extra episode to justify that pickups shoot and extra studio night.

    It works better as a series concept like that because in broadcast window terms they’re in prison in week 1 and escape in week 5 only a month later.

  50. No, VII and VIII were commissioned together as a group of 16 because that’s how many they needed for syndication. (I presume that in the original plan, a version of BITR in two parts would have been offered to syndicators – much like the 25-minute version of the 1985 season of Doctor Who.)

    Was a version of “Mirror/rorriM” always on the schedule, and the script got retooled into becoming the finale? I thought it only came about as a replacement for “Earth”?

  51. >So presumably in the parallel universe where things went to plan, VIII was:
    Back in the Red (hour-long special)
    Cassandra
    Krytie TV
    Captain’s Office
    Earth

    you forgot about “Only The Good” ,also known as “Every Dog…” also known as “Mirror, Mirror” also known as “Mirror/rorriM” which was meant to come before “Earth”. (the mirror universe was meant to make a comeback in “Earth” where they’d discover antimatter from it that allowed them to travel at lightspeed and get back to Earth) i’m guessing Darrell’s idea of the original running order is accurate but i really have no idea.

    i remember reading/hearing somewhere that the original running order was listed in Better Than Life magazine, but i don’t know what it was

    >Was a version of “Mirror/rorriM” always on the schedule, and the script got retooled into becoming the finale? I thought it was a replacement for “Earth”?

    doug mentions in the scriptbook that Mirror/rorriM was “originally intended to be a two-parter, the second part being the unrecorded “Earth” but the budget kiboshed that” so it was on the schedule from the beginning

  52. G&T Admin

    Now look what you lot have done – you’ve made me dig my old BTLs out of a Sunday morning.

    From issue 26, dated Autumn 1998:

    Series VIII is now seven episodes long with the opener being an hour long special to herald the return of one Arnold Rimmer.

    […]

    Episode 1 is called Back In The Red and will be a one hour special to open the new series. It will see the re-introduction of Rimmer in an amazing and unbelievable plot.

    Episode 2 is called Cassandra with Episode 3, Captain’s Office, following. Episode 4 is untitled as yet but we can reveal it will be the one where Kryten goes for a shower with Kochanski.

    Episode 5 and 6 are untitled at present but the final episode is intriguingly titled Earth – make of that what you will.

    We should all refer to Krytie TV as TOWKGFASWK from now on.

    And then in the next issue, dated Christmas 1998:

    Episode 1 (the hour long special) is still called Back In The Red, episode 2 is Cassandra, episode 3’s title has changed from Captain’s Office to Pete, episode 4 is Pete II, episode 5 is Krytie TV, episode 6 is still untitled and episode 7 is still entitled Earth.

    (By the time the next issue came out, the series had already started airing, and all details in the mag are as per the final running order.)

    So between those two updates, that’s all the episodes accounted for – the one that was still untitled as of the latter must be Only The Good. It must have already been decided to add a second part to Pete before Earth was dropped. I figure that Doug will have originally been intending to write seven different stories for VIII, but that he didn’t necessarily have them all in place by the time production started. Let’s face it, that would hardly be uncommon for any era of Red Dwarf. So I wouldn’t be sure that the mythical extra episode would have been as developed as much as Earth was, or indeed Bodysnatcher or Identity Within, say. It could just be that Doug had a spare slot that he needed to fill, and at some point it was decided it would be easier/cheaper/quicker/better to extend an existing story to two parts, rather than come up with something brand new.

  53. Was there a full script for Earth, or even just a fragment? If there was it seems surprising that was never realised in the same way as Bodysnatcher or Identity Within or any of the other script extracts, unless Doug still had/has an eye on using it in the future…

  54. it says in the programme guide during an interview with Doug that there was a completed script for “Earth” so i guess there was a script? but then in the DVD commentary the cast mention Doug was always talking about Earth but they never actually saw the script for it themselves

  55. >Episode 1 (the hour long special) is still called Back In The Red, episode 2 is Cassandra, episode 3’s title has changed from Captain’s Office to Pete, episode 4 is Pete II, episode 5 is Krytie TV, episode 6 is still untitled and episode 7 is still entitled Earth.

    thanks a lot for posting this- i often wondered whether “Back In The Red” or “Pete” was the story that had to be expanded when Earth was dropped, so it’s good to have that cleared up.

  56. >It will see the re-introduction of Rimmer in an amazing and unbelievable plot.

    Well, Back in the Red is certainly “unbelievable”.

  57. https://imgur.com/a/Re845Tk

    could this maybe be the “scene 85” mentioned? there’s just the main five characters and two guards there, like mentioned on the call sheet, so it fits that.

  58. Cheers for the update.

    Only one thing – in that snippet from issue 26 it does imply that the series will occupy six broadcast slots rather than seven, as per my fantastical murmurings. Might be a typo.

    I will assume though now that Doug was fully intending to pull a further prison episode magically out of his arse at the end. It just baffles me that with one gap and one fall-through they wouldn’t just concoct some cheap replacements from scratch with a lot of studio stuff and room for tape offcuts like the Archie scene and script offcuts from the others, rather than choosing to spoil a big portion of the already completed stuff through loose editing, pickups, padding and timewasting. They had two whole audience nights and standing sets at Shepperton to make something out of, and they dropped the ball. For example, instead of just the opening scene of BITR3, wouldn’t an entire two-hander episode inside Rimmer & Lister’s cell have been worth doing? There’d have been money left to keep Captain’s Office/Pete tight and do a frugal yet ‘normal’ other one which could still have accommodated orphaned scenes from the shoot, and the new shows would have allowed them to Chekhov’s-gun a less sudden ending for Only The Good into proceedings. There we go, series fixed.

    I still think that Smeg Ups was an ‘episode 52’ fallback they were fully aware of, though.

  59. I can *sort of* see the logic in turning Pete and BITR into multi-parters – Pete is based around the repeated visits to Hollister’s office, so that is an easy thing to latch onto and pad out. (I also presume the expense of the dinosaur had something to do with it.) Similarly, BITR is already an unusually long story, so what’s a little more, especially when the virtual reality stuff is an easy thing to expand? This is stuff that needed to be written in a hurry, and bottle episodes can be the most difficult thing to write imaginable.

    Watching the recent DVD release of The Demon Headmaster, the second series is quite obviously padded given it’s a three-hour adaptation of a 150-page novel, and it results in the Headmaster reiterating the specifics of his plan and how he hates children every episode. Especially since the Headmaster doesn’t appear until two-thirds of the way through the book but is in every episode of the series.

    That has nothing to do with anything, but I typed it in a stream of consciousness and here we are.

  60. G&T Admin

    Only one thing – in that snippet from issue 26 it does imply that the series will occupy six broadcast slots rather than seven, as per my fantastical murmurings. Might be a typo.

    I think it’s just clumsily written, because that’s not how I read it – I took it to mean that the fifth and sixth episodes are still untitled *and the seventh episode* is Earth.

  61. interesting that Krytie TV was originally going to come after Pete- presumably that explains Kryten going “oh, they’ve been frozen in time again!” when the Canaries get an erection, and why Kryten mentions that Kochanski is on probation later on in the episode- Only The Good would’ve come straight after this, in which they’re *all* on probation.

  62. Although why the hell would Hollister have *ever* put them on probation after the events of Pete?

  63. So basically, in desperate need of a new, quick, cheap story, Doug decided to write one that required the creation of a T-Rex?

  64. I assume writing a two-hander Lister/Rimmer episode set entirely within their cell would have been fucking hard, and given that it would have mostly consisted of both-cheeks-man-tier material, a lot of you would have hated that even more. I probably would have liked it, though.

    At least Marooned had all the stuff before the crash, the crash itself, model shots and the rescue to pad it out, and wasn’t really 27 minutes of non-stop two-handed dialogue, and Duct Soup also had a plot and more characters to work with, so again not on the difficulty level of what you’re suggesting.

  65. So basically, in desperate need of a new, quick, cheap story, Doug decided to write one that required the creation of a T-Rex?

    Well, the T-Rex story was already there, wasn’t it – the original ending to Captain’s Office when it was a standalone episode was “See ya in ten minutes?”, IIRC. Doug just bolted on another twenty minutes of new, quick, cheap story.

  66. >Although why the hell would Hollister have *ever* put them on probation after the events of Pete?

    maybe they’re legally required to go on probation late into their sentence? hollister seems to be doing things by the book, so i don’t think he could lengthen their sentence for them causing a dinosaur to do a shit on him- there’s no directive about that.

  67. Oh, the “probation” thing is probably a last-minute bodge given that the episode requires them to be outside the prison, and had VIII gone to plan they’d already have the run of the ship again by this point, isn’t it?

  68. Shame that “Earth” was scrapped. I was really looking forward to seeing Lister meet up with Craig Charles on the set of Robot Wars.

  69. I figured that there was a long enough gap between ‘Pete (Part Two)’ and ‘Only the Good…’ to facilitate good behaviour and their probation parole. Hollister was last seen bald, traumatised and off to spend twelve months in solitary confinement, but seems right as rain (aside from his illness) in ‘Only the Good’…’ and actually takes the time briefly to tell Rimmer it gives him no pleasure to say that he’ll never be an officer and that he should refocus his efforts elsewhere.

  70. oh yeah, i guess a while must have passed considering hollister’s hair all grew back.

  71. Why is there a fucking prison on a mining ship, anyway?

  72. G&T Admin

    For example, instead of just the opening scene of BITR3, wouldn’t an entire two-hander episode inside Rimmer & Lister’s cell have been worth doing?

    This has always felt like the big missed opportunity of VIII to me.

    You do a series set in a prison, and you DON’T do the real time two-hander episode? That’s just weird.

  73. Yes, it’s a common enough observation, but the appeal subplot in Krytie TV is one of the best plot ideas of the series. Wish there’d been more of that.

    Well, the T-Rex story was already there, wasn’t it – the original ending to Captain’s Office when it was a standalone episode was “See ya in ten minutes?”, IIRC. Doug just bolted on another twenty minutes of new, quick, cheap story.

    Oh yeah. Fuck knows what I was thinking upthread.

  74. Checking the VIII scriptbook, I notice Doug says BITR “had” to become a 3-parter, and Pete “had” to become a 2-parter, citing only “money and scheduling”. Is he implying it wasn’t his choice?

  75. Why is there a fucking prison on a mining ship, anyway?

    the prisoners were being transported to “adelphi 12” before the radiation accident, and presumably it’s easier and cheaper to build a prison inside an already existing ship that has plenty of room for all kinds of stuff than to put more money into building a whole new vessel solely for transporting some prisoners from one place to another.

    plus the ship is multi-purpose anyway, isn’t it? given they have science labs where the matter-paddle was developed, which is more or less a fully functional teleporter. i always assumed the ship was more like a city than a ship. like a space version of New York, just all kinds of stuff around every corner.

  76. Of all the many things that make no fucking sense about Series VIII, the idea that the ship is transporting prisoners on the side probably ranks somewhere towards the bottom.

  77. Yeah, I get the feeling Red Dwarf is supposed to be this huge, bustling city of a ship, but somehow all we see is several different sleeping quarters, a few corridors and a dingy little drive room.

  78. the ship more or less turns into a military ship in VIII, doesn’t it? suddenly there’s guards everywhere, platoons are mentioned, and everyone is suddenly wielding fairly standard machine guns (they only look ever so slightly sci-fi) rather than bazookoids.

  79. Yeah, I get the feeling Red Dwarf is supposed to be this huge, bustling city of a ship, but somehow all we see is several different sleeping quarters, a few corridors and a dingy little drive room.

    to be fair, if you were on a mining ship that’s 5 miles long and 3 miles wide, you’d want to keep to one area, wouldn’t you? it takes them several hours to take a lift down to Floor 16, so imagine wandering off too far and not knowing where you were. it could take days to get back , and it’s established if you walk too far away you wouldn’t even be able to ask Holly how to get back- Lister stops hearing his voice completely once he goes too deep into the ship in Waiting For God.

    this just really makes me want to see a The Parking Garage-style episode of Red Dwarf where they just get lost in the corridors and spend the whole episode trying to find the sleeping quarters tbh

  80. the prisoners were being transported to “adelphi 12”

    Adelphi 12 is one I’ve always been a tad uncomfortable with. I suppose it could be the name of a prison ship or something (but then why don’t they have their own transport), but there’s the sneaking idea that it’s actually some planet colony somewhere, which really doesn’t fit in with the pre-accident universe at all, nor Red Dwarf’s 18 month mining trips up and down the solar system.

  81. The ’12’ does sound weirdly like a planet, but I always figured a Justice-type space station around one of Jupiter’s/Saturn’s moons on their route.

  82. I think it’s fair to say that the reveal of Red Dwarf as a prison ship was very silly.

    If an employee breaking company rules can be thrown in the Tank with robbers and murderers and such, what criteria do they use to decide who has to do that and who has to go into stasis? Prison is clearly a much worse punishment than stasis, but “accessing confidential files without permission” is hardly a more serious offence than “smuggling an unquarantined animal aboard”. In fact, I’d say it’s LESS serious because the cat could potentially endanger the crew, but the document stealing does not. (Although Rimmer did rape a bunch of women too, accessing confidential files is so much worse than even that, you guys!)

    I personally prefer to think that Kill Crazy was one of the prisoners who was an employee first, because it makes just as much sense as anything else.

    And why didn’t Hollister give Lister the mind scan in Series 1 to find out where he’d hidden Frankenstein, eh? Eh?

    EH?

  83. if you took your pet cat into work i’m fairly sure you’d be less punished than if you snuck into the boss’s office and started sifting through everyone’s private reports. youd probably get fired for that. or sent to the secret prison, if your workplace has one of those.

  84. If it was an ordinary office building and not an interstellar spaceship with incredibly strict rules and regulations specifically about pets, then sure.

  85. > why didn’t Hollister give Lister the mind scan in Series 1 to find out where he’d hidden Frankenstein, eh?

    The JMC cutbacks? I suppose there could be all kinds of technology on the ship after the nanobots rebuilt it that wasn’t there before.

  86. Shame the prison itself can’t be theorised as a cutback, since Holly talks about it like it’s always been there and the prisoners had to be resurrected from something. Plus, it’s useful for fixing the 169 crew / 1,168 deaths discrepancy if you assume there are 1,000 prisoners, the only gift VIII gave (unless there’s something else that contradicts that).

  87. I thought it was clear from Cassandra that they’re how a corrupt, dystopian mega-corporation would assemble its version of the Royal Marines for special ops on the cheap. Weyland-esque. Probably took a big bung from the prison services too. The Starbug crew are only in there because (a) it’s extreme measures too severe for PD, (b) the stasis punishment would be a contractual thing and they’re not on payroll, (c) Rimmer’s collusion is gross treason, and (d) Hollister hates Rimmer anyway.

  88. Also, they don’t have enough stasis booths.

    Unless that changed with the ship redesign too?

  89. Series VIII just raises more questions with every potential answer.

    – Cutbacks or no cutbacks, we know Red Dwarf definitely has at least 2 stasis booths (thanks to Future Echoes and Stasis Leak/Timeslides) and we know that none of them are occupied already, so why aren’t they using them for this?

    – The “stasis for employee reprimands, prison for proper criminals” distinction is never stated and seems pretty arbitrary, but Lister and Rimmer ARE employees! Plus the confidential files thing is so clearly in the realm of “sackable offence” rather than “criminal offence”.

    – Given that Cat, Kryten and Kochanski aren’t employees (because no matter how much Series VIII refuses to acknowledge it, KK is from a parallel universe), what gives Hollister the jurisdiction to imprison them? Transporting prisoners is one thing; pressing charges and handing down sentences is another. And yeah, I know, deep space, they can do whatever they like etc. etc. but it still feels off.

  90. I find it hard to believe that the Red Dwarf we see in I and II would ever go on special ops missions, but to be fair it’s much easier to reconcile that idea with the soft reboot of III onwards

  91. Even in series 1 it’s a shit-miserable ‘McDonalds in space’ though. It’s in character.

  92. if you took your pet cat into work i’m fairly sure you’d be less punished than if you snuck into the boss’s office and started sifting through everyone’s private reports.

    Don’t you remember what happened on the Oregon with the rabbits?

    – The “stasis for employee reprimands, prison for proper criminals” distinction is never stated and seems pretty arbitrary, but Lister and Rimmer ARE employees! Plus the confidential files thing is so clearly in the realm of “sackable offence” rather than “criminal offence”.

    – Given that Cat, Kryten and Kochanski aren’t employees (because no matter how much Series VIII refuses to acknowledge it, KK is from a parallel universe), what gives Hollister the jurisdiction to imprison them? Transporting prisoners is one thing; pressing charges and handing down sentences is another. And yeah, I know, deep space, they can do whatever they like etc. etc. but it still feels off.

    This has basically been my issue with the prison plot ever since I saw it. “You were with somebody who looked at some confidential files therefore you will go to prison for two years” is pretty feeble.

  93. Even in series 1 it’s a shit-miserable ‘McDonalds in space’ though. It’s in character.

    i worked at mcdonalds once and i don’t think there was a secret prison in there. there was a microwave though

  94. The line “people so unbalanced and debauched they could even get elected as President of the United States” works rather better now than it did at the time, doesn’t it?

  95. tbh 2 years in prison is a pretty light punishment considering in The End it’s stated you get the death penalty for mutiny

    hollister must be a very patient captain since he didn’t get rimmer or lister executed at any point in VIII

  96. mind you the “if you step outta line one more time, ONE MORE TIME, you’re DEAD!” from Pete could imply he’s going to get the two of them killed if they keep fucking up. or maybe it’s merely a figure of speech

  97. Given that Rimmer and Lister definitely continue to step out of line after that, but both remain alive, I strongly suspect it was a figure of speech.

  98. International Debris, they also stole, crashed and destroyed a Starbug, probably doing a lot of damage to the hangar bay in the process

  99. G&T Admin

    Those were the original charges, which Hollister says are “all dropped”.

  100. Although *technically* they’re all still guilty of them.

  101. Technically they aren’t guilty of *stealing* Starbug, because – as all higher ranking crew members were dead when they took it – they absolutely had the legal right to use it.

    I’m thinking Rimmer was exaggerating when he threatened Lister with the death penalty for mutiny, or he was just thinking of a particularly murderous form of mutiny that would never actually apply.

    Shame in Hollister’s case though. Lister and Rimmer being hooked up to electric chairs was the ending to ‘Pete – Part II’ we were all yearning for.

  102. Yes, I’m sure the kind of mutiny Rimmer was referring to was more on the ‘not letting hundreds of crew back on the ship and instead flying off and letting them all die’ variety.

  103. Yes, I’m sure the kind of mutiny Rimmer was referring to was more on the ‘not letting hundreds of crew back on the ship and instead flying off and letting them all die’ variety.

    they’re not really left to die though, are they? the posse survived for years on a broken-down junk-heap of a starbug with extremely limited supplies and oxygen. the revived crew could stock up from a five-mile long ship before they left, and also had the advantage of being slightly more competent than the posse as well as their ships not having suffered from over three million years of decay. i’m sure they’re fine

  104. There’s potential for a Battlestar Galactica style survival story there. Made slightly less gritty by the fleet being entirely populated by series 8 characters like Dr. Lucas McLaren.

  105. Lister seems to think he’s the only human being still alive in the Dave era, though. (The answer to this is probably “Doug doesn’t care and why should he”, isn’t it)

  106. I still stand by my view that the Simulant Generals from The Beginning killed all of the revived crew. It is honestly what I was expecting back when they were teasing that the ending to Series VIII was going to be resolved.

  107. they’re not really left to die though, are they?

    You make a good point. It’s still effectively stealing a ship from its crew which is the kind of mutiny I can believe would have a severe penalty attached to it, which is actually the main point I was getting at.

    I can live without a resolution to the microbe plot of VIII – the changed shape of the Dave era ship makes it very easy to head-canon nanobots or something into it – but the remaining crew is a very awkward plot strand to leave open. Obviously Doug realised there’s no way around it that wouldn’t involve either a lot of exposition or actually bringing them back, neither of which would be a good idea, so he’s just happily ignoring it like various other bits of discontinuity from the past, but the very overt references to Lister being the last human again do make it a bit jarring.

  108. If you assume that Lister, Cat, Kryten and Kochanski never left the mirror universe then all of these problems go away.

    In the regular universe the rest of the Red Dwarf crew are all still alive, so in the mirror universe they must be dead.

    In the regular universe Rimmer is not a hologram, so in the mirror universe he must be.

    In the regular universe the nanobots changed the shape of Red Dwarf to match the original plans before the JMC cutbacks, so in the mirror universe they didn’t.

    In the regular universe hologram-Rimmer went off to become Ace Rimmer, so in the mirror universe he didn’t.

    Everything makes sense if you assume that all Red Dwarf from Series IX onwards has taken place in the mirror universe.

  109. If you assume that Lister, Cat, Kryten and Kochanski never left the mirror universe then all of these problems go away.

    Does everybody now have either the wrong genitalia or that of opposite size (not starting this debate again), are all their favourite films and musical compositions wrong, etc? That would be quite the experience. Imagine getting to see mirror universe Star Wars, which would be cool, but never being able to see the old Star Wars ever again.

  110. It depends whether you miscount your ‘ain’t’s and your ‘not’s.

  111. Everything makes sense if you assume that all Red Dwarf from Series IX onwards has taken place in the mirror universe.

    It really doesn’t, because we saw the mirror universe and it was nothing like that.

    I prefer the “Series VIII just straight up did not happen” fan theory. Any “it happened in a different universe” idea is just a cowardly version of that anyway.

  112. Why did Rimmer grow a huge cock/gaping fanny but Kochanski didn’t become a dumb blonde and Cat didn’t become a professor, etc? This same logical inconsistency applies to Skipper with its “where do all the other Rimmers go”

    Skipper is Only The Good 2

  113. Any “it happened in a different universe” idea is just a cowardly version of that anyway.

    Well we seem to largely accept/forgive Series IV on as taking place in a different universe to I and II, so if they can get away with skipping universes once can’t they do it again?

    I realise the exact references to Only The Good in The Beginning kind of fuck this up, but I’m sure there are references in the other series to I and II

  114. >Why did Rimmer grow a huge cock

    Headcanon: Rimmer’s flaccid cock didn’t actually get bigger in size, he just had an erection for the first time since hitting it with a hammer in a earlier shitty episode, and was so amazed, he chalked it up to the effects of being in a mirror universe.

    Headcannon: Something else about Rimmer’s penis, but related to Talia the nun.

    Talia the nun: Related to Rimmer, somehow.

  115. It really doesn’t, because we saw the mirror universe and it was nothing like that.

    Yes, I may not have been being entirely serious there.

  116. >hy did Rimmer grow a huge cock/gaping fanny

    the implication is that it’s a huge penis- in the deleted scenes he remarks “i’ll need some kind of anti-gravity harness carting about this lot!” and i don’t know of any vaginas you need a harness to carry

  117. Yes, I may not have been being entirely serious there.

    In the mirror universe, you were being entirely serious but I assumed you were joking.

  118. Well we seem to largely accept/forgive Series IV on as taking place in a different universe to I and II, so if they can get away with skipping universes once can’t they do it again?

    I don’t know whether anyone really considers IV a different universe.

    Yes there is a change in the lister/kochanski relationship which is more in line with the first novel but really thats about it.

    I think to say its in a different universe just over complicates things more then just accepting there was a small change in continuity. but then if you look at series 8 it wants to be series 1 again but also wants to keep the series 4 logic since Series 7 cemented Kochanski’s bigger part in the show as listers ex.

  119. The best head-canon I’ve come across is that every time they mess about with time in one way or another they end up making little changes which are then seen on screen as continuity errors. It works for me. That could be seen as separate realities if we follow that theory.

  120. What’s VIII? We all know Back to Earth follows on the cliffhanger at the end of Series VII.

  121. VIII, also known as Red Dwarf VIII or Series 8 or “Total Shit” to some, is the eighth series of science-fiction comedy Red Dwarf. it consisted of eight episodes, and was written by Doug Naylor and Paul Alexander. It was broadcast from February to April 1999, and its first episode recieved 8 million viewers. Some speculate that at least 7 million of these were Doug himself.

    (only joking, i like VIII. the snarky jokes in the above statement do not represent mine or my employer’s views on a series of a TV show.)

  122. >What’s VIII? We all know Back to Earth follows on the cliffhanger at the end of Series VII.

    What’s Back to Earth? It’s just Nanarchy, and then Trojan. And there’s an opening crawl to explain what happened at the beginning of Red Dwarf X (Unknown), which details changes that aren’t any more drastic than between II and III:

    RED DWARF X

    THE SAGA CONTINUUMS
    THE STORY YOU MISSED

    Red Dwarf shrunk back to its proper size and Kochanski has fucked off. Rimmer arrived back from his original dimension after realising that he was an incompetent bonehard and not worth of the “Ace” title.

    Nothing further to see here. Move along.

    And now the saga continuums.

    RED DWARF X
    THE SAME SERIES
    – HONEST –

  123. What’s VII? It’s just Out of Time, and then Trojan. And there’s an opening crawl to explain what happened at the beginning of Red Dwarf X (Unknown), which details changes that aren’t any more drastic than between II and III:

    RED DWARF X

    THE SAGA CONTINUUMS
    THE STORY YOU MISSED

    The future crew caused a paradox by blowing up their past selves and time reverted to before the original crew ever lost Starbug.

    Nothing further to see here. Move along.

    And now the saga continuums.

    RED DWARF X
    THE SAME SERIES
    – HONEST –

  124. What’s Out Of Time? It’s just The End, and then The Beginning.

    There’s a crawl in the middle to explain that they picked up some robot who painted the sleeping quarters red.

  125. What’s Red Dwarf? It’s just Dave Hollins: Space Cadet and then Peter Ridsdale-Scott saying “nahhh”.

  126. What’s Dave Hollins: Space Cadet? It’s just Rob Grant and Doug Naylor not getting commissioned for “Cliché”.

  127. Who are Rob Grant and Doug Naylor? It’s just their respective parents not having sex that night after all.

  128. Who are these human parents you speak of? It is just us Australopithecus out here.

  129. oh i’m going to bed, this is gonna go on all night…

  130. What is this “bed” you’re referring to? You’re sleeping on the cave floor like the rest of us.

  131. What’s the Universe? It’s just the Big Bang never happening.

  132. oh, and i nominate this collapsure of space-time for Hall Of Fame status.

  133. This has basically been my issue with the prison plot ever since I saw it. “You were with somebody who looked at some confidential files therefore you will go to prison for two years” is pretty feeble.

    They all worked to cover it up.

  134. Rimmer’s access to classified information was explicitly mentioned to include door security codes they used to get to the hangar bay, off-screen. You know the old rule: tell, don’t show.

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