The $64,000 Question

CGVapR6WcAEODEO “When I kiss a girl she knows she’s been kissed, you know. I leave a note.”

Currently running on Gold, Wednesdays at 9pm is Bob Monkhouse: Million Joke Man – a series looking at Bob Monkhouse’s life and career. It’s a lovely programme, though for a show which celebrates Bob’s incredible archive, zooming and cropping that archive to 16:9 so the picture quality goes to absolute shit is a bizarre way of showing respect for it. And whilst the second half of the first episode settled down somewhat, the first half was full of entirely pointless talking heads. Just what is Ricky Grover actually doing there? And get your greasy mitts off Bob’s joke books.

As part of promotion for the series, Mail Online ran this article, which I’m linking to out of a sense of obligation, but please feel free not to give them any more hits. And here’s where we get to the relevance of G&T to all this – Tom Worsley pointed us towards a very interesting image from that article from one of those famed joke books. Here’s a transcript:

There are many things men are hard put to explain: “How were the pyramids built?”…”What is that panty girdle doing on the back seat of your car?” “The Bermuda Triangle… why is it that so many writers have mysteriously made so much money from this small stretch of ocean? Was God an astronaut – and if so, did he have a crewcut? (SON OF CLICHÉ)

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Crimewatch Update

Crimewatch U.K. logo because I am doing a big funny Back in 2012, as the lead up to Red Dwarf X, those good folks at Dave showed an entire run of the first eight series. I took this as my cue to finally take a look at an issue which had been bugging me for years: the edited versions of the show Dave always insisted on showing. Here are the results of that investigation from 2012. It doesn’t make especially pleasant reading.

But no matter. Yesterday, Dave started a new run of repeats, starting from Series III. In the last three years, the channel has shown one brand new series of the programme, and commissioned two more. Surely by now, those shitty edited versions will have been replaced with the proper episodes?

I think you know what I’m going to say here. In fact, it’s so obvious, I don’t think I’m even going to say it.

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@RedDwarfHQ (Updated: 22/05/15)

Two weeks ago, Doug Naylor stood on stage at Dimension Jump and announced two new series of Red Dwarf.

This caused a certain amount of excitement.

Two weeks on, the official Red Dwarf Twitter account – verified and everything – has yet to update with the news. In fact its last update was back in November 2012, shortly after Red Dwarf X finished.

This does not warrant a huge article. I merely want to point out something which is rapidly becoming one of the stupidest things I have ever seen on social media. I mean, maybe not quite as bad as this yet, but they’re getting there.

Go ahead, @RedDwarfHQ. Continue making the franchise look absolutely fucking ridiculous. You fucking dick.

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Xtended Revisited: Back in the Red

Welcome to the thrilling climax of Xtended Revisited – for which we turn our eyes away from material first released on a scruffy VHS in 1997 as per our first three parts, and instead turn to a nice shiny DVD release from 2006. And what we have here is a rather different proposition.

The story behind-the-scenes of Back in the Red is oft-told: planned originally as a one hour special to open the series, due to timing and budgetary reasons it ended up being split into a three-part episode. Doug was never happy with the result, and when the VIII DVD came along, as well as the broadcast episodes being included, the opportunity was taken to create a brand new edit – combining all the episodes into a single part, and adding some dialogue scenes which were cut from the broadcast version for reasons of time. And thus Back in the Red Xtended was born.

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RIP Keith Harris (1947-2015)

I was sad today to read about the death of Keith Harris; someone whose shows I genuinely enjoyed as a child. (I definitely saw him live once, and distinctly remember an animatronic Orville who sat on the stage by himself and sang.) For proof that Harris could be really fucking funny, look no further than this article, and read what Harris thinks of his upcoming Christmas special:

“It’s nice to think you’re in people’s homes at Christmas. And it’s a time when Cuddles gets a little friendlier towards Orville, I’m glad to say. Last year he gave Orville ten pounds. Of sage and onion.”

OK, OK, I can hear you say. What possible connection can there be with Red Dwarf and Keith Harris? Well, take a look at the following video, and the credits of Keith and Orville’s Quack Chat Show – the programme I remember Keith from best, with a theme tune I’d entirely forgotten until today. The show’s Scenic Designer is none other than… Paul Montague, production designer for Red Dwarf Series 1 and 2.

An extremely rare chance to see Paul Montague’s day-to-day design work – a person very important to Dwarf‘s early years.

And that’s how I managed to link together Red Dwarf and Keith Harris. Join me next week, when I attempt to link together Blackadder and Lolly Badcock.

Xtended Revisited: Duct Soup

Welcome to our continuing series Xtended Revisited – taking a look at the differences between the broadcast and Xtended versions of the popular science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf. This time, we take a look at Duct Soup – an episode which not only contains problematic gender stereotyping, but also portrays Lister as a homophobic little shit.

You know the drill by now. Each section is transcribed, with Xtended material presented like this, followed by any technical notes, and then my opinion as to whether the extra material works or not. (Predictions on a fucking postcard, please.) Let’s get to it.

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Xtended Revisited: Ouroboros

In Red Dwarf VII, three episodes are represented by two separate yet equally important versions: the original broadcast episodes, and extended versions released on VHS in 1997. These are their stories.

This must be some kind of record for G&T. Eight years ago, I wrote an essay detailing the differences between the broadcast and Xtended versions of Tikka to Ride, with the promise the rest of the episodes would follow. I thought it was about time to follow through on that promise. I may not be fast, but I get there in the end. I THINK HOLLY SAID THAT IN AN EPISODE OF RED DWARF.

So, we turn to Ouroboros Xtended. As before, each relevant section is transcribed, with Xtended material presented like this. There then follows any technical notes on the sequence, and finally my opinion as to how well the additional material works. If you’ve hung around on this site for longer than five seconds, you can probably guess what my opinions are likely to be, so please feel free to skip those bits if reading me rant on about VII makes you want to come round to my house and smash my head in with a golf club.

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High & Low: Deleted Scenes

Let’s be perfectly clear. Generally, when talking about deleted scenes – whatever the given TV show or film – the quality of the scenes themselves doesn’t actually matter. When I pop in a DVD, I don’t care how good they are. It’s how interesting they are which makes them entertaining. A scene can be absolutely appalling, deservedly cut… and still be one of the best extras of the lot.

This perhaps doubly-holds for Red Dwarf. It’s easy to forget how lucky we are with deleted scenes being included on the DVD releases; you only have to check your shelves to see which other sitcoms from 1988 include such things for the proof of that. (Mind you, sadly these days, budget cuts across DVD ranges mean we’re lucky to get them for a sitcom made today.)

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Low & High: Red Dwarf Remastered

It’s over fifteen years ago now that Red Dwarf Remastered was unveiled to a waiting public. Ever since then, Dwarf fandom has debated: is there something good about it, something laudable? OK, OK, we’ve never fucking liked it. But is it time, perhaps, for some quiet re-evaluation? Are the new CGI effects maybe not as bad as we thought? Does the film effect make the show look better? Maybe that cut dialogue was actually a pretty good idea in retrospect?

Well, no. Much as I’d love to be a contrary little shit, I’ve just re-watched all nineteen episodes and nearly died of a brain haemorrhage. Sure, maybe there’s some good changes that people have forgotten – and we’ll get to those later. But most of them still leave me blinking with bemusement, or shouting at the telly, or blinking with bemusement and then shouting at the telly.

Yet… there’s a part of me that feels an article like this is somewhat graceless. After all, from a UK perspective… we “won”. The original versions were those first released on DVD. Repeats on TV are always the original versions as well (aside from when Dave screws up and shows the Remastered version of Marooned). Doug Naylor himself has admitted that the project didn’t go as well as he’d have liked. At this point, sneering at Remastered doesn’t seem quite as useful as it did fifteen years ago, when it genuinely – if unintentionally – felt like these versions were indeed replacing the originals.

But then, G&T has never really worried about being graceless. So don your pixel-proof gloves, as we present: The Top 10 Worst Things About Red Dwarf Remastered.

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High & Low: Special Effects

Of all the difficult tasks I have faced whilst writing Ganymede & Titan, this has to be one of the most difficultistestist. Even more difficult than writing an article which doesn’t manage to be spectacularly rude about somebody for very little reason. How the bloody hell do you manage to boil down the quite staggering amount of amazing special effects work for Red Dwarf into one easy-to-digest Top 10 list?

Answer: with a lot of kicking, screaming, self-doubt as to the worth of my entire life, and general dissatisfaction. Hopefully that’s sold this article as something well worth reading. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

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