End of Part One, Red Dwarf XII Edition

With the two year anniversary of Red Dwarf XII rapidly approaching, it’s time to tidy up a few remaining bits of business here on G&T. Our retrospective DwarfCasts are already in the can and will be published before too long. But before those, there’s one thing which I’m sure you’d all hoped I’d forgotten about. Yes, it’s time for that sodding ad breaks article again.

A quick reminder of why I do these. When I first wrote this piece on Red Dwarf X‘s ad break placement, I did it because I was annoyed. It felt like Dwarf hasn’t even tried to adapt to being on commercial television, and its ad breaks were placed and presented in a most begrudging manner. However, this was almost entirely rectified with Red Dwarf XI, which did a pretty damn good job.

Seeing as Red Dwarf XII was made in tandem with XI, surely the same is true this time round? Let’s take a look.


Cured A selfie with Hitler

WHERE: (11:30 / 29:16) RIGHT AFTER THE SELFIE WITH HITLER.

DOES IT WORK?: I think I find this moment an awful lot less funny than most people, although I admit I’ve warmed to it a little more recently. Either way, I can’t deny that it’s a hugely popular moment, and in terms of that, the show probably judged this pretty well. End on a big laugh, and people will come back after the break.


Siliconia The crew turned into mechanoids

WHERE: (12:29 / 27:14) After Areto’s line “Defiance is, well impossible”, once the crew have been turned into mechs.

DOES IT WORK?: Very much so. It sets up the second half of the episode perfectly.

There is one odd thing about the broadcast/UKTV Play version of this episode. On the DVD, the ominous music comes in over the end of the scene with the crew turned into mechs, and continues over the shot of the SS Vespasian – which makes sense when the action is continuous. But the version with the break has the music come in at exactly the same point, cuts off as the break appears, and then continues when we rejoin. This seems weirdly messy; surely the music should only be present for the second half? It’s irrelevant to the first half if you’re immediately going to a break.


Timewave Johnny Vegas pointing a gun

WHERE: (14:54 / 26:59) Right after the Crit Cop tasers the Cat.

DOES IT WORK?: Good a place as any, I guess. Can this episode go away now, please?

One interesting thing to note: we get slightly more of the music cue coming into Part Two on the broadcast version compared to the DVD, as it starts over the Red Dwarf XII logo. This is the single best thing about Timewave.


Mechocracy The Cat next to a vending machine

WHERE: (13:24 / 27:45) Just after the vending machines go on strike, and Cat kicks one of them. “You’ll pay for that!”

DOES IT WORK?: It works – the strike is a turning point in the episode. Although I wonder whether a better placing would have been one scene later, where Kryten and Rimmer decide to run for Machine President.

Here’s the really peculiar thing about this episode, though. The model shot we get after the ad break is completely different in the two versions!

Broadcast/UKTV Version

Ship seen from afar against blue planet

DVD/Blu-ray Version


I think the DVD version is far better; the broadcast version looks almost like a temporary shot which was left in by mistake.


M-CorpThe Cat looking annoyed

WHERE: (14:47 / 26:49) On Cat, as he finds out Rimmer will only lose a month’s memory: “They build you up, then knock you down.”

DOES IT WORK?: The first outright failure of the series for me; ironically in what I consider by far the best episode of the series. The Cat/Rimmer dynamic in M-Corp is by far the weakest material in the show, and this is just a crap joke, recalling past glories while most certainly not living up to them.

As for where the ad break should have been: I don’t think there’s an immediately obvious placing, which perhaps explains the above. I’m tempted to suggest just after the crew disappear, and the promotional video states “M-Corp: We love looking after you”. It certainly makes you wonder what’s going to happen next. And Kryten disappearing with a ping is a far funnier joke than the Cat/Rimmer stuff.


Skipper HOLLY, IT'S HOLLY

WHERE: (14:51 / 27:56) Just after Holly first appears, with the accompanying cheer.

DOES IT WORK?: Definitely. The cheer is perhaps a slightly odd sound to go into the ad break with, but if anything was going to get viewers to stick around until after the ad break, it’s the return of a long-lost character.

…and here we come to the MOST EXCITING PART of this article. The broadcast and the DVD versions are significantly different here. In the broadcast version, Rimmer walks past the screen, we get the reveal of Holly and a huge cheer, the ad break, and then “Morning Arnold”, followed by a second cheer. In the DVD version, Holly says “Morning Arnold” as soon as he appears in shot, and there’s only one cheer; the episode seamlessly edits out the pause going into the break.

The best way to see this is with a video of both versions:

So, which is canon? And the answer is: if you care, go and stick your head in a ditch. The more interesting question is: which moment works best? I’m going to be an old stick-in-the-mud and say the DVD version – one cheer works OK, but two feels like it’s over-egging it somewhat.


Time for the usual number-crunching. With Series X, I thought only two out of the six episodes had ad break placings which really worked; with XI, I thought five of them worked well. With XII, again, five of them work pretty well. Though it is heftily ironic that the one I don’t think works is in my favourite episode of the entire Dave era.

Still, we’re on an upward trend, and my point is proved; as the series got used to being on a commercial channel, it got better at learning where to place the breaks. Which, as I’ve said before, is an important factor when the series lives on with commercials on UKTV Play.

So, Red Dwarf XIII, if you ever happen: I’m cutting you loose. If the ad break placings for Series X was the equivalent of a bad performance in your GCSEs, and XI/XII were college, where you figured things out but still had a teacher peering over your shoulder… you’re off to university now. You won’t have me to guide you, and this is the last of these articles. You need to get this right by yourself.

It’s taken 16 years of writing for this damn site, and I’ve finally come up with the ultimate patronising analogy. Maybe I have achieved something with these pieces after all.

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12 Responses to End of Part One, Red Dwarf XII Edition

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  1. I for one, shall miss these articles. It’s the only reason I come to the site.

    In all seriousness, this is the sort of interesting fan wank I like to read occassionally (they’re fun little write ups, well done), but you’re right in that it might be unneccessary for you to keep doing them for each successive series.

  2. I always enjoy these articles, as a well-placed ad break can really enhance a sitcom. Father Ted used to be particularly great at it.

  3. I remember watching Skipper on DVD and thinking ‘I bet John would have something to say about that’, but then I got distracted waiting for the XII semi retrospective. I never noticed the M-Corps replacement model shot but of course I noticed the replacement model shot in the Skipper opening titles. Then I got distracted trying to like Timewave for two years.

  4. Are you seriously telling me you tried to like Timewave?

    For two years?

    Wooooaaaah, that’s a classic that is, that’s a classic.

  5. I still can’t believe how great I thought Timewave was in the immediate aftermath. A few G&T comments convinced me otherwise. A proper rewatch made me wonder what the fuck I was on about that evening.

    Anyway, the article. Yes, very good, as per.That M-Corp model shot fact is just the kind of interesting thing I like to see in G&T articles.

  6. A lot of XII is quite short, isn’t it? Why is Cured such an outlier in that regard?

  7. G&T Admin

    I really need to get round to writing my article about episode lengths.

  8. Also, this reminds me that on The 28 Years Later Affair, when we see the audience being shown the reveal of Holly, the take of Rimmer’s line is a different one used to the episode as broadcast – in the broadcast version, he leaves a pause between “this is just Red Dwarf” and “I thought…” which he doesn’t on the take used on the docco. (I also think, but may be misremembering, that in the docco’s version he starts walking across the corridor before he finishes the line, whereas on the broadcast ep he stays put until he’s done speaking.) So I presume the broadcast version is some kind of composite of two or more takes.

  9. I’m sure every scene is a composite between two or more takes nowadays. Non-linear editing makes that sort of thing a breeze. The most important part is to utilize the audience reactions from take one where they’re legitimately experiencing the joke for the first time.

    Oooooooor, we could use the audience reactions from take two or three and have a more subdued audience like in the early series. That might actually be better. But for Holly’s reveal, absolutely take one. You just cut out most of the 30 seconds of reaction it probably got,

  10. Thanks John. Can G&T add a like button so when I have nothing useful to say (most of the time) I can just click like to show my appreciation?

  11. I happened to rewatch Mechocracy just now, and it seems worth noting that the model shot that opens part 2 on the broadcast version is the exact same shot as used at the start of the second scene (with Rimmer mopping B Deck).

    So, just a theory, but maybe somebody noticed the repetition late in the day, but not soon enough to change the broadcast/UKTV version?

  12. Honestly the sheer repetition of model shots (particularly that _one_ shot of Red Dwarf) in those two series seem like either an early temp edit that somehow never got changed (especially considering the constant recycling of Series I music cues even in spots that had original music made specially for them), or an indication that they had so few usable/good model shots that they were forced to rely on the same ones over and over. Or both.

    That one constantly reused shot of Red Dwarf is as far as I can tell the only interesting one they took of the bigature. It’s almost as if building only a third of the ship doesn’t give you much freedom to shoot it from different angles. It’s also almost as if scaling up the model to three times its size without adding additional detail does little to make it appear larger on screen than the original classic model.

    God I have such a bone to pick with the XI / XII model shoot.

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