John’s Newsround – 6/03/16

Ellie Crisell on the Newsround setYo. Welcome to the first John’s Newsround for very nearly five years. Let’s see if I can remember how to do this shit, shall we? Some of the stuff that’s happened over the past week:

THE LAST RECORDING: Last Sunday, Robert Llewellyn posted a little update about the final episode of Red Dwarf XII, in which he reveals that at the time of writing, the cast hadn’t actually seen a final script yet. (The readthrough ended up happening on Tuesday.) Speculation below then, as to whether this is an unusual state of affairs for Red Dwarf or not, although seeing as both The Last Day and Out of Time were late scripts, it’s also debatable whether it even matters. I’m far too busy wondering about why the update was posted on Robert’s Fully Charged site rather than his main blog. And where did his main website go, anyway? Face it: you’ve missed me talking about anything other than the main fucking point, haven’t you?

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End of Part One

During the current break in production between Red Dwarf XI and XII, now seems the perfect time to talk about something very specific to the Dave era of Red Dwarf. Oddly enough, it’s something we haven’t really discussed in any great depth here on Ganymede & Titan, although we did touch on it briefly in our commentary on Gunmen.

Firstly, for some context, let’s go back to how the BBC-era shows are presented on Dave. And for all my whinging about Red Dwarf repeats, there is one particular joy I have in watching Red Dwarf on a commercial channel – one which you might think of as merely a pain in the ass. And that is: the commercials themselves. Or, more specifically, the placing of those commercial breaks.

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That’s gotta be Comedy Bloopers!

At 11:45pm on Christmas Day, BBC One showed the brilliantly-named programme Comedy Bloopers. I do hope you all enjoyed the BBC’s other offerings over Christmas: Sci-Fi Drama, Period Drama, and Some People Dancing.

As G&T is on reduced power over Christmas, I think I’ll just toss out the cliche that it was undemanding fun, perfect for the end of a drunken evening, without really being that original or brilliantly put together. (Compare it with early It’ll Be Alright On The Night episodes for how you really make this kind of show into something special, but I digress.) One thing that was pleasing about it however, is that it included a wide range of comedy, across different decades, rather than just concentrating on old or modern stuff. It’s fun to see a Two Ronnies clip right next to Citizen Khan – or indeed, an Inbetweeners clip right next to Red Dwarf VI.

Oh yeah, clips of Red Dwarf. And what would a G&T article be without a pointless list of them?

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This isn’t happening. It’s a nightmare.

UK Gold pre-launch caption Last time, we left you with a cliffhanger. Would Gold show the original version of Marooned in its current repeat run, or would it show the crappy old Remastered version instead? (In case you need reminding: this is the “Remastered” version which is so terrible it shoves in a new CGI shot of the ship at the beginning of the episode, and then cuts to the existing model shot of the cargo bay doors opening… covered in film dirt. Encapsulating the warped priorities of the Remastered project in a nutshell.)

Sadly, despite Gold continuing to show both pre-watershed and post-watershed edits of the show for the most part – which is far better than Dave managed on their last repeat run – both showings of Marooned this time round resolutely remained the Remastered version instead of the original.

It’s truly bizarre, really. If the whole of the first three series was shown like this, that’d be one thing – not a great thing to do, but at least somewhat consistent. But for it simply to be one episode has to be the result of some dodgy paperwork somewhere down the line. It’s difficult to have respect for a channel when they clearly don’t know what the hell they’re broadcasting. For nobody at UKTV to even query why Marooned looks completely different to every other episode in the series for years on end is complete madness. I mean, you can tell it’s the wrong version from the opening titles, let alone anything else.

Still, as a continuation of a years-long issue, I must admit there’s a certain amount of glee in seeing exactly how long this can go on for. I won’t bore you with regular updates on this issue any more – but let’s see whether this version is still being shown in five years, shall we?

I’ll leave you with one final thought. Marooned was the episode which pushed the video of release of Red Dwarf III – Byte One up to a 15. Even with the DVD release, the episode was rated 12. All because of Lister admitting he had sex at the age of 12 on a golf course. Gold cuts out many PG-related “bastards”, V-signs, and general rudery – but the version of Marooned they play pre-watershed is exactly the same as the post-watershed version. (Two adult men wanking off over Lolita and all.)

It’s hardly the first time there’s a disparity between what the BBFC and what broadcasters will worry over – but that doesn’t stop it being hugely interesting. I must admit, I’m on the BBFC’s side – whilst I wouldn’t have ever rated it 15, I think Lister fucking someone when he was 12 is dodgier than all the cut bastards too. But that requires more of a judgement call, whereas mild bad language is easy to put on a checklist of disallowed things.

And Red Dwarf edited by checklist isn’t really a very appealing thought.

Netpricks, etc

Anyone want an example of the kind of fan mail G&T receives?

This issue did actually come up on our forums a couple of years ago – but we assumed this was just some bizarre music rights issue for Netflix in the US. Sadly, the change is now present on the version which reappeared on UK Netflix in June.

Let’s take a butchers, shall we?

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UKTV Edits Part #2742921

Yes, yes. I know. You’re really fucking bored of this topic now. But when UKTV do something right, it’s only fair that it gets the same coverage as when they screw it up. And they’ve very much managed to do something right.

When I covered Dave’s Red Dwarf Weekends repeat run back in 2012, my main objection was that the episodes were only being shown pre-watershed, and hence edited to buggery. When I covered Dave’s repeat run earlier in the year, they were showing the edited pre-watershed versions post-watershed, which is even worse.

Gold’s current repeat run? So far: edited versions pre-watershed, and unedited versions post-watershed. Meaning that last night, viewers were treated to this:

Cat and Lister sticking their fingers up. STILL VERY NAUGHTY.

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Exxxxxxxxxxxxxxcellent, etc

As reported seemingly everywhere: Brittas to return?

Well… maybe. In fact, the only thing the story actually confirms is that something is in development. Which is all very well, and matches stuff we’ve heard elsewhere – Chris Barrie’s site, for instance – but this is hardly a guarantee of anything actually making it to air. As ever, it’s slightly bizarre when it’s G&T which has to add a note of caution. BLAME MODERN JOURNALISM.

(What I’m finding odd is this idea there are 53 episodes of Brittas – something both the British Comedy Guide and The Mirror are reporting. There are 52 episodes. As ever, watch incorrect information spread across the media just because nobody could be bothered to look at an episode guide and count the number of episodes.)

On the plus side, the mention Richard Fegen being involved is highly promising. And there’s an interesting parallel here with Red Dwarf X, beyond the obvious. Whatever issues I had with that series, one thing it did was prove you can still have production ambition with audience sitcom.

The return of Brittas could well prove you can still do a pre-watershed sitcom which has a bit of fucking edge to it.

UPDATE (10/07/15): FFS.

Gold! Always Believe In the Integrity of Your Master Tapes (Updated: 15/07/15)

UK Gold ident from 1992 So, Red Dwarf is starting a repeat run on Gold from 10:20pm tonight.

Do I even need to write this article – an article which you could no doubt predict to the letter, given our recent publication of this? Not really. So let’s make this quick:

a) Referring to my comprehensive list of current UKTV edits, Series 1 suffers the least from any editing: a single “bastard” cut from Waiting for God. This means we’ll only find out whether they have sourced brand new copies or are showing the same ropy nonsense as always when that episode is shown, on Friday 10th. (Pre-watershed showing at 1pm, post-watershed showing at 10:20pm.)

b) As this consists mostly of pre-watershed and post-watershed repeats, then it’s an ideal way to see whether they have finally scheduled pre-watershed and post-watershed versions of the programme, or if they’re just sticking on manky pre-watershed edits for all showings willy-nilly.

c) I would also make the point that this is the first time the series has been shown on Gold for quite a while – and it is also a run from the very beginning. If I worked on Gold, I would take the time to check that what they were going to show are the correct versions. It is not an unreasonable thing to expect.

For anyone who thinks I’m banging on about this too much… of course I am. Welcome to Ganymede & Titan. But there is a reason why I’m doing it now, as opposed to the years when Red Dwarf was endlessly repeated by UKTV but not in active production. As soon as they decided to commission new episodes of the series, then the standards expected of them when it comes to repeats increase vastly.

If they want the audience figures, profit, and glory which come attached with Red Dwarf, then they can expect to be called out if they treat repeats of it like shite. Even if it makes every single person on the planet want to punch me full in the face for doing so.

UPDATE (15/07/15): Well, this is a turn up for the books. The pre-watershed showing of Waiting For God did indeed have the “bastard” cut – but the post-watershed showing had it intact! This was something I did not expect. (As evidenced by the fact it’s taken me five days to get round to checking it.)

Let’s hope this is the way things are for the rest of the run, then. The next check: the post-watershed showing of Kryten on Thursday 16th at 10:20pm. If edited, the cut dialogue will be the following in italics:

LISTER: “Mister Arnold” isn’t his name. His name’s “Rimmer.” Or “Smeghead.” Or “Dinosaur Breath” or “Molecule Mind.” [And on the very rare occasion when you want to be really mega-polite to him, Kryten, we’re talking MEGA-polite, in those exceptional circumstances, you can call him “Arsehole”.]

Oh, and: “Swivel on it, punk!” and the associated hand gesture. Here’s hoping this is the dawn of a new age in UKTV repeats of Dwarf, and not merely them lucking out on the scheduling of a single episode…

The Man Who Was Nearly a Beatle (Updated: 23/06/15)

Consider, please, the following famous quote:

“Ringo isn’t the best drummer in the world. He isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.”

Let’s cut to the chase here. I think there’s a good chance the above was written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. I have no proof. There is no great statement at the end of this article revealing all. This is all just musings… and possibly a first step in finding out for sure.

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History of a Joke

Cliché, Episode 2
(TX: 23rd March 1981, Radio 4)

Out of tune bleeps and bloops, like Wendy Carlos on an off-day.

PRESENTER: The final cadences of the last symphony of the Spanish composer Don Dimitri, who died early this morning at the age of 86. Cliché now pays its own special tribute to Don Dimitri – one of the true musical innovators of this century. Don Dimitri’s life was characterised by his refusal to accept the conventions and mores of the society in which he lived. In 1926, he went to the Sorbonne to study music. Rapidly, it became apparent he could not reconcile his own ideas with those of the establishment, and after three hours at the university, he left to set up his own school of musical thought. Professor Blakehust takes up the story.

BLAKEHURST: Don Dimitri’s biggest contribution to musical theory was the decative. Instead of the conventional eight note scale the octave, he initiated the ten note scale – the decative. He invented two new notes: H and J. Instead of ‘doh, ray, me, fah, soh, lah, ti, doh’, the decative would run ‘doh, ray, me, fah, soh, woh, boh, lah, ti, doh’. And in reverse: ‘doh, ti, lah, boh, woh, soh, fah, me, ray, doh’.

PRESENTER: And he wrote all his symphonies using this scale?

BLAKEHURST: Indeed. And the instruments in his orchestra had to be adapted accordingly. Pianos were fitted with extra black keys; flutes now came in four sections instead of three; and accordions were scrapped, as the decative made them far too long for human beings to play. Trombones ceased to be a musical instrument, and now became a lethal weapon. And the lengthening of bassoons and saxophones extended the mouthpiece into the region of the lower intestine. Incidentally, in Don Dimitri’s orchestra, women were banned from playing the cello.

PRESENTER: What other significant changes were inspired by the decative?

BLAKEHURST: Time signatures were changed. Instead of 3/4 time it was now 0.75 time. 7/8 time became 0.875 time, and common time – or 4/4 time – was now simply… 1. Don Dimitri’s quartets comprised of five players, and his triangles had two sides – neither of them connected.

PRESENTER: And now, the last note of the last chord of the last cadence is written. At the grand old age of 86, Don Dimitri passed away this morning. Never one to do things in a conventional way, he died in a manner he would probably have appreciated – trying to suck a kazoo instead of blowing it. He inhaled the kazoo, it became lodged in his throat, and he died to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy. We leave you now with the strains of what is universally acknowledged as his masterwork: quintet for seven instruments in H minor. The only work he ever wrote in 0.333 recurring time, a time signature which never actually allows you to reach the end of the first bar. Hence it’s popular title: Dom Dimiti’s Unfinished Symph. Goodnight.

A warped version of I Do Like To be Beside the Seaside plays, with accompanying bleeps and bloops.

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