DwarfCast 104 – Ouroboros Xtended Commentary

Fire up your podcast feed, abandon a baby in a pub and shoot an alternate version of your ex-girlfriend with a harpoon gun, because the latest victim of the DwarfCast commentary treatment is Ouroboros, the Xtended version no less. And as it tradition for the less good episodes of Red Dwarf, it falls to the double act of Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes to do the honours, because nobody else could face it. So join them as they continuously fail to remember which bits are Xtended and which aren’t, and complain about the awkward pauses added by the process, while also leaving their own awkward pauses.

Nevertheless, there’s plenty to discuss, including JMC’s fickle uniform policy, comparisons between what’s on screen and what was in an early draft of the script, how to make a disintegrator, the incestuous implications of the episode’s big twist and exactly what “hospital corners” means. Oh, and the “you’re lying” thing comes up every now and then.

DwarfCast 104 – Ouroboros Xtended Commentary (71.4MB)

This is the last of the DwarfCasts we banked earlier this year, so probably best make the most of it.

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60 Responses to DwarfCast 104 – Ouroboros Xtended Commentary

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  1. I was so happy until I read the last sentence. Hopefully you’ll get some more in the bank soon.

  2. I really hate the Lister being his own dad thing, not only because of the fact it’s complete nonsense, but also because it makes him a lot less of the ordinary guy that he was always portrayed as. I much prefer the idea that he really was just someone who had a shit start in life rather than having a complex sci-fi background.

    As for Lister fucking his mum, it’s a lot worse that, after the revelation, he continues pursuing her and even ends up in another relationship with her, according to BtE. It’s really quite unpleasant thinking about.

    Something I wondered watching this just now: what are the health and safety considerations around having disintegrators in ship corridors? Seems like a very daft thing to have.

    More Dwarfcasts soon please.

  3. Lister’s his own dad, which also makes him his own half-brother (as he shares a mother with baby Lister) and therefore his own uncle (i.e. his own dad’s half-brother.)

    His uncle’s brain was in a jar, and he wasn’t dead yet.

  4. God I hate this episode. I hate this episode so much.

  5. “I really hate the Lister being his own dad thing, not only because of the fact it’s complete nonsense, but also because it makes him a lot less of the ordinary guy that he was always portrayed as.”

    Indeed.

    It’s interesting as well that people occasionally quote back Doug’s comment of, “Lister was never going to have a normal father.” My memory may be wrong, but I thought that one of the cut script sections that was included on the Bodysnatcher collection showed that Lister’s father was originally conceived as being absolutely normal.

    That original idea fitted in with his being an ordinary guy and seemed much truer to how the show was.

  6. God I hate this episode. I hate this episode so much.

    Change the voice.

    And I hate you, Peters.

  7. Did nobody involved in the making of this episode, at any point, notice that Lister’s first name is neither Rob nor Ross?

  8. Just because those names were suggested by the box doesn’t mean his adoptive parents couldn’t have chosen another one

  9. Or maybe Lister’s adoptive father had a good hard think and realised he was being incredibly silly to reach the conclusion that the scrawling of ‘Ouroboros’ was a badly spelt reference to the suggested name of the baby. Then he pulled himself together and spat on Mrs Lister’s wrist.

  10. G&T Admin

    Just realised we should have published this today instead, so it matched the date in the screengrab. Ah well.

  11. Good job, guys. Danny’s misinterpretation of “hospital corners” is at least as funny as anything in the episode.

    Interesting that Gary ‘The Best Harry Enfield Scouser’ Bleasdale’s character was called Eric in that earlier draft of the script, and yet he ended up being yet another Frank. What is it about that name? And what’s with that whole oddly dystopian Aigburth Arms scene. Everything about it from the naff set to the dialogue feels really off. ‘Grav-Pool’? And I agree the ‘Our Rob or Ross’ thing is rubbish.

    What do I like? Oh, I’ve always liked the way Lister embarrassedly strokes his chin, and then his floss, as if it’s a very thin beard.

  12. Not gonna make the scene of a baby being abandoned under a pool table a super cheery, lighthearted affair, are you?

  13. It’s the set really. Fair enough make it a dive bar – it’s Lister’s local when he grows up after all – but the bleakness of the place just seems incongruous with the established world of the show. I mean the bar young Lister’s band are playing in Timeslides isn’t like that, it’s just an ordinary boozer. Also design-wise, it’s a bit route one and kinda hokey-looking to me.

  14. It’s too much of an assumption to give the world of pre-accident Red Dwarf a concrete identity with how little we’ve seen of it.

  15. Just realised we should have published this today instead, so it matched the date in the screengrab. Ah well.

    Silly fucker.

  16. It’s too much of an assumption to give the world of pre-accident Red Dwarf a concrete identity with how little we’ve seen of it.

    Fair point, but we’ve got Timeslides with a few pre accident visions of Lister’s generation’s lives, and none of them say “Blade Runner esque functional dystopia” to me.

    Admittedly they’re just snapshots, and Doug goes with whatever serves him at any moment rather than consistent lore so fair enough.

    It would be interesting to see or read a bit more about Lister’s Earth life at some point.

  17. It ties in with the move to make Lister’s ancestry more sci-fi-ish I suppose.

  18. Series 7 is the series where it hits you that Doug likes his complexity. The earlier shows had complex stories, but Doug’s solo work likes to put complex before logic or reason. it reminds me of that south park episode where they are parodying inception, and over-complicating everything saying it makes it “complex and cool!”, when its just kinda messy.

    I have got used to the premise of Lister being his own dad, but it did take a while, as long as you do not think about it too much.

  19. Future Echoes, Stasis Leak, Backwards, The Inquisitor etc fall apart if you think about them too hard as well. Anything with a bootstrap paradox in it becomes an endless recursive loop of trying to find the beginning point, that’s why it’s a paradox

  20. Its more idea over execution. you can see flaws in the previous 1-6 complex shows, but like most things since Rob left, there is definitely a balance shift in what is felt to the be the more important aspect for good story telling. Doug is very ambitious with his ideas. perhaps more ambitious than the execution allows sometimes.

  21. I’d read All You Zombies (https://daviramos.com/en/an-analysis-of-robert-heinleins-all-you-zombies-with-visuals/) in the mid-nineties so Lister being his own dead just felt like a retread of that. All You Zombies takes it to the nth degree, so Ouroboros doing a half-baked take wasn’t even particularly interesting. It’s just a twist that goes nowhere and invites questions (who are the parents of the Lister from Kochanski’s dimension?). Boot-strap paradoxes and parallel universes in the confines of the same episode don’t really mix tbh.

    It also doesn’t even lend itself to humour. Yes, it’s a strange idea…but there’s no laughs from it gleaned in Ouroboros. Timeslides makes sod all sense on any conceivable level, but it makes me laugh

    I’m not particularly fond of Fathers and Suns, but at least it does something comical with the idea that Ouroboros set up and did nothing with, albeit 15 years late.

  22. Could have gone back to Back to Reality with the Doyles, find out that Lister’s biological Dad is actually Rimmer’s father, but Rimmer’s biological Dad isn’t, as revealed in The Beginning.

    Convoluted, and the subsequent ruining of the other Rimmer brothers would ruin the joke of Lister actually being intelligent because he has the genes Rimmer thought he had.

  23. I’m all for convoluted sci-fi nonsense if it leads to good jokes or an engaging plot for an episode, but if it’s just thrown in as a Star Wars-esque epic space opera thing I’m really not bothered. If anything sums up what I love about Red Dwarf, it’s the title of Infinity Part 2: Alone in a Godless Universe and Out of Shake ‘n’ Vac. The mundane is as important to the show as the strange.

    Lister as his own dad in Fathers and Suns leading to a well written and performed comedy scene based around him judging his own failures: great! Lister as his own dad because he puts two and two together and makes seventy-six, with no bearing on plot, no jokes and the uncomfortable scenario of the show’s moral centre being incestuous: no thanks.

  24. It ties in with the move to make Lister’s ancestry more sci-fi-ish I suppose.

    I think you mean “incestry”

  25. Somebody once pointed out how annoying I was when I kept bringing up “something else already did this concept before but better” as a criticism of some new thing, and I didn’t understand why that annoyed them until now.

    “Boot-strap paradoxes and parallel universes in the confines of the same episode don’t really mix tbh” is a fairly bizarre thing to say, as if one precludes the other. Maybe you could say you’d rather the show stuck to one idea rather than going for multiple at once, but then Ouroboros requires Kochanski, which necessitates either time travel or parallel universes. However, you don’t like Ouroboros at all, so it’s a bit of a moot point. However however, we were going to get Kochanski (or somebody) anyway because of the whole goodbye Rimmer thing, so we were going to get some bullshit out of that whole situation, and I consider the bullshit we got acceptable. We at least got some comedy out of the parallel universe/rift stuff. Also, the predestination thing gave a reason for Kochanski to stay that was a lot more interesting and more runtime-filling than “she just got stuck lol”. That situation directly leads to the urgency required to shoot her in the fucking leg with a harpoon gun, which leads to the iconic “obscene phonecall” scene, so overall I’m not mad that any of it happened, really.

    >but if it’s just thrown in as a Star Wars-esque epic space opera thing…
    Is “Star Wars” your go-to reference for “space opera”, because there is nothing Star Wars about Ouroboros. Like, at all. It has a “this is the past” caption and some incest, I guess? But there are no parallel universes or predestination paradoxes in Star Wars, Star Wars is mainly politics, prophecy and the hero’s journey. It’s completely different. Are you calling it self-important/overly-grandiose? You could then compare it to Moffat Who (and I’d still be annoyed, but at least I’d understand where you were coming with that one).

  26. Oh no. Ben’s annoyed.

    Bootstrap paradoxes rely on an immutable single time-line which repeats endlessly. Parallel Universes (as in the one shown in Ourborous) rely on divergent timelines generated by different choices. I don’t mind the show drifting between the two ideas from episode to episode but let’s not pretend that it’s a clever way of ending one episode, when it essentially contradicts its own story.

    >Also, the predestination thing gave a reason for Kochanski to stay that was a lot more interesting and more runtime-filling than “she just got stuck lol”.

    Yeah, that’s not even true. Kochanski is never told about the predestination thing within the episode. She “decides to stay” because our Lister can save her, and then spends the next couple of episodes trying to get home. Kochanski being Lister’s Mum is never mentioned ever again.

    >Ouroboros requires Kochanski
    Only because of what Doug decided to write for the episode and the show. Isn’t that what we’re discussing here? Writing choices?

    >iconic “obscene phonecall” scene
    Iconic? OK.

  27. And isn’t it iconic – don’t you think?

  28. Bootstrap paradoxes rely on an immutable single time-line which repeats endlessly. Parallel Universes (as in the one shown in Ourborous) rely on divergent timelines generated by different choices. I don’t mind the show drifting between the two ideas from episode to episode but let’s not pretend that it’s a clever way of ending one episode, when it essentially contradicts its own story.

    Yep. It’s a bit like how Terminator tries to have its cake and eat it with a single time-loop vs multiple possible outcomes. Easy to overlook for the sake of a good story, but without that…

    Yeah, that’s not even true. Kochanski is never told about the predestination thing within the episode. She “decides to stay” because our Lister can save her, and then spends the next couple of episodes trying to get home. Kochanski being Lister’s Mum is never mentioned ever again.

    Yep. There’s no indication in the next episodes that she feels obliged to stay in that way.

  29. That really is shash, parallel universes being generated out of the decisions you make in this universe do not affect what actually happens in this universe, they generally don’t interact with each other at all outside of four out of 60-something episodes of this series. Timeslides still works even though we had Parallel Universe a series prior, you will still disappear or cease to exist or whatever in THIS universe, even if in another one you’re fine – that’s not you, is it? The two universes’ timelines are separate. Give &Take and Skipper can exist within the same recording block and do not contradict one another.

    The predestination thing gives Lister the impetus to stop her travelling back to her own universe via shooting her with a harpoon gun etc, it’s that realisation that makes him jump into action. Without it, she would have gone on her merry way.

    I do think the obscene phonecall is relatively iconic, along with the Rimmer Experience etc. it’s one of the most memorable things in the show.

    Idk about Terminator, I’ve only seen the third one.

    “There’s no indication in the next episodes that she feels obliged to stay in that way” doesn’t matter, she only ended up in such a situation because of the aforementioned harpooning-following-revelation business.

    Treat the parallel universe like Italy – it’s just somewhere nice to go, it’s not like if you go back in time and make a different decision you warp to another universe (not in Dwarf’s depiction of time travel mechanics, anyway)

  30. Is “Star Wars” your go-to reference for “space opera”, because there is nothing Star Wars about Ouroboros. Like, at all.

    It was the first thing that came to mind when I was thinking of a space opera with a lot of characters having some sort of ‘importance’. There are many others, I’ll make sure to choose one you aren’t passionate about next time. Or one that I actually like, so I can argue in detail about it (although I’d rather not).
    That said, they both have a ‘father reveal’ scene, so it works well enough. In Star Wars that works, because it’s basically a fantasy story with a superhero-like character at the centre. The reveal about Luke’s father is the sort of thing that drives the plot and expands the mythology of the characters. In Red Dwarf, it does the opposite: it destroys the set-up that Lister is an ordinary bloke.

    I’d actually put New Who on the same side as Red Dwarf, shows with far too much emphasis on unnecessarily grandiose character arcs when it previously relied on down-to-earth ‘relatable’ characters. If you’d prefer a different comparison, Babylon 5, Lost, Andromeda, Agents of SHIELD and Dune are all examples of franchises that have main characters with a larger-than-life backstory or prophecy as part of their core concepts, rather than just throwing one in totally at odds with the themes of the show itself as Red Dwarf does.

    edit: Ouroboros isn’t the only example in VII: although it’s handled far, far better, by providing some genuinely good character stuff and a reason for Rimmer to exit, I don’t actually like Rimmer’s destiny being one of an infinite number of superhero-Ace Rimmers.

  31. Stoke is a bit like that one TNG episode in season six where (spoilers) they reveal that every humanoid race in the galaxy has a common ancestor, and they… go off to meet them, or something. It’s a bit “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”
    That said, I think theres enough emotional and dramatic goodness mined from the rimmer thing that it’s more than excusable. I just wish the CGI wasnt so shite and a couple of the gags were stronger. You could go on to say how its nicely ironic that Rimmer of all people ends up being a superhero… but then he (presumably) fucks it up or cant hack it, and comes back to the dwarf and nobody mentions it ever again
    Maybe it’s a sore topic for him

  32. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of nice character stuff in Stoke. Overall though, I think VII changes the ‘unremarkable people in remarkable situations’ status quo so that three of the main characters have dimensional / time travelling slants put on them. It’s not like they’re inherently bad plots or ideas necessarily, it’s just not a direction I enjoy in Red Dwarf. I like how they were all unremarkable nobodies before VII.

  33. I remember this question of having bootstrap paradoxes and parallel universes in the same story came up before on here, and the suggested head-canon was that the 2 universes in ‘Ouroboros’ (and by extension most universes we see throughout the series) start out as only one universe until the divergence occurs, which would be after Lister was found as a baby.

    So essentially Lister himself is a time remnant in every universe other than the prime universe, similar to how The Inquisitor or the Out of Time future crew existed despite being wiped out from the timeline.

    It’s not entirely satisfying, and like a lot of time travel stories it still has many logical holes if you try and think about it, but it makes just enough surface level sense that I can go “eh, OK then, fine” and not worry about it.

    The Lister self-parenting was still a bad idea, don’t get me wrong, but more because it was pretentious, unengaging drama that also wasn’t funny, not because it didn’t make sense.

  34. Way too much of VI though is four people in a poorly lit cockpit set anxiously describing what is happening outside of it, or waiting for Starbug be boarded by other characters who are also describing what is happening outside of it, or standing on guest sets or in sparse locations explaining events via dialogue in lieu of anything much happening on screen. At least VII realises it actually has to illustrate this stuff happening as much as possible.

  35. I don’t think every Red Dwarf story needs to be funny. i think you can tell straight sci-fi stories but wrap it in comedy and it works just fine. ouroboros could be just that. i never found that an issue personally. infact i kinda admire the ending that attempts more heart then a joke pay off.

  36. The Lister self-parenting was still a bad idea, don’t get me wrong, but more because it was pretentious, unengaging drama that also wasn’t funny, not because it didn’t make sense.

    The fact that it doesn’t make sense is far more obvious because of the fact that it’s pretentious, unengaging drama that also isn’t funny, of course. You can usually excuse nonsense if it helps tell a larger story and/or is funny (ie Backwards), but the problem is that it fails on all fronts.

    Also, “the human race can never become extinct”. Except, y’know, after you die, then it’ll be extinct.

  37. All fair. I definitely don’t think every story beat needs to be funny, as a lot of the recent episodes have demonstrated. Well done drama is just as worthwhile, Ouroboros just isn’t a great example.

    It’s not a total write off, though. It’s still kind of touching to see Lister figure out the mystery of his birth, it just rings a little hollow because Lister never seemed to have much angst about his adoption before this episode.

  38. It’s also very difficult to see how he saw a box with ouroboros written on it and realised “ah yes my ex-girlfriend from another dimension must be my mum and I must go back in time and place our baby under that pool table” as opposed to “wow, what a strange coincidence”.

  39. Also, “the human race can never become extinct”. Except, y’know, after you die, then it’ll be extinct.

    I dunno, the universe seems pretty crowded with hot-pink clad policemen, screeching mincing gay stereotypes, women who’ve accidentally turned themselves into chimps, wheelchair fakers, and Hitler clones by now

  40. Wow, what a totally brave and unheard of opinion, please continue criticisms of Dave Dwarf we’ve never, ever, ever heard of before.

  41. This came up elsewhere as a spinoff from this conversation – Why does the other Kryten look different in The Inquisitor? He isn’t a person who was born from sperm and eggs, he’s a robot who was manufactured to a specific design (later revealed to be his creator’s bf or whatever). What does the Inquisitor DO to Kryten, does he change the creator’s bf into a different person, convince her to change the design, change the design himself, or just affect the programming in some way? If you replace Kryten with “another Kryten” he’ll just look like Kryten, won’t he.

  42. Well the whole Krytens appearance and the whole 3000 series being based on the creators BF is abit muddled in itself. why doesn’t Butler look exactly like Kryten? why don’t any of the siliconia androids look exactly like Kryten? because its one of those explanatory reveals that got forgotten about. which is why i ain’t fond of when Doug makes these reveals, because he is setting himself up to limit himself, but clearly doesn’t wanna limit himself.

    Although that might have been Robert Llewellyn doing.

    If you accept the inquisitor at face value for the time it was made, prior to finding out he was based on the creators bf… you could just say he was an android that got instead of Kryten. in the same design though

  43. Wasn’t the point that the 3000 series was a rough caricature of John Warburton, rather than an exact copy of him? They do not need to all look the same.

  44. Well Able looked exactly like Kryten. but you could probably just say they are caricatures.

  45. Maybe replacement-Kryten was different-looking because replacement-Lister would have rebuilt him slightly differently between Series II and Series III.

  46. It does seem like a bizarre idea that every mechanoid is built to a slightly different design, ie those seen in XI and XII, especially as we’ve seen Able who’s identical to Kryten.

  47. Already established with Camile sort of. Although you could have claimed it was just because of the two genders.

  48. If I was being pedantic I could also say that Kryten only looks the way he does due to Lister’s rebuild and they should all look like David Ross.

  49. You could say that but I already said it earlier.

  50. Butler was a Series 3000, not a Series 4000 like Kryten.

    You could make the theory some of the different one’s in Siliconia were also former people Krytenified.

  51. Of course the female mechs in Siliconia don’t have boobs like mechanoid Camille does, which could mean they’re an extra feature only the GTIs have along with realistic toes and sunroof head. Or maybe no mechs really have them but, as Lister explains to Cat, “you see what you wanna see” when you look at a Pleasure GELF.

  52. 3D printing and a configurator on the Divadroid site. Internal chassis the same, the bit we see in Tikka To Ride, but the face you can pick and choose and each one is rapid manufactured with matching anchor points for gubbins.

    Could do that today.

    Just pick a personality then.

    Kryten could be the base model, go up the range a bit and you get slimmer, lighter, more realistic features. Like the upgrade pack he wears.

  53. You could make the theory some of the different one’s in Siliconia were also former people Krytenified.

    Thats horrific.

  54. I’ve said before, Siliconia is a really good Cyberman episode, lol

  55. > You could say that but I already said it earlier.

    Not sure how I missed that. Shame overload. I-I-I-sorry

  56. I was only messing about. It is funny how Lister managed to reconstruct Kryten in a way that made him look exactly the same as Able. What a coincidence!

  57. I always thought Dave Ross Kryten looked like that because he had deterioated over the years from lack of parts and maintenence and when he crashed the space bike, Lister was able to look up the templates for the droid model and rebuild a factory default version as in Bobby Llew

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