Ganymede and Titan

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The Thing You Should Bring Is Silence

A reply to "If You're Going To Talk Garbage, Expect Pain", by Ian Symes, 21st January 2004.

Oh, man. Squidy makes some good points, but mixes them with pretty awful ones. For every good idea or interesting find, there's an unprovable assumption and glaring inaccuracy. Here we go, then.

But you all seem very tolerant of your favourite series' faults also, glossing over series seven and eight and smiling at potential movie investors.

Glossing over VII and VIII? We were worried that we dwelled on them too much. I've just had a quick look at our articles index, and uncovered criticism of these in our piece of the Series VI cliffhanger, the one about cliffhangers in general, our feature on lost episodes, an article about the setting of VIII, Re-Hamstered, obviously, and a big article that is entirely about criticism of the last three series. Furthermore, while I doubt that any movie investors visit the site, they'd find an article explaining exactly what we don't want from them. Plus, our news articles and comments are full of little swipes at the two latest series, Re-Mastered, modern merchandise, etc. We are fully independent, and we'll say whatever we like. Apologies for the self-indulgence of this point, but it has to be said.

But at least these subjects ARE covered objectively, with differing and uncensored opinions splattered all over the site. But not so your coverage of the Red Dwarf DVDs if "You Jammy Goits" is any indication.

Well, You Jammy Goits was written in response to Darrell Jones's D.V.Don't article, which is an example of an opinion piece that differs greatly from our editorial. We originally published this with a little "G&T Sez" bit, but we removed it soon afterwards, as it was totally unfair on Darrell. The same reason that we've published your post as an article in its own right, and replied with one of our own.

But no, you shouldn't just lie back and go "Ah, isn't life dandy?" as you do for several thousand words in "You Jammy Goits". You shouldn't do this because, with respect, sir, you've got your head up your big fat arse. You should be constantly striving to get things released, to make things better, because for all your "No, what we've got isn't perfect" remarks you seem decidedly unkeen to point out what these imperfections are. So I’ve had a go.

Read the reviews, man. There's plenty of criticism in there; it's just that the majority of them are full of praise, because, get this, we're happy with the releases. There's also John's previews, which clearly state things that are missing and improvements that could be made. I simply think that it's unfair to judge the discs on what isn't there, rather than the masses of stuff that is there.

1) Doug Naylor, a man who has cut all ties with the man who with him co-created Red Dwarf and has gone it alone to create some of the worst episodes of anything ever.

And what would you know? How on Earth do you know that Doug has cut all ties with Rob, and not the other way round? Or even that they're both to blame? Besides which, none of Series VII and VIII are as bad as Dark Ages, but that's far from the point.

2) Andrew Ellard, a fanboy elevated above his station with the idea of shoehorning his way into Red Dwarf history by writing new sketches for the DVDs instead of including genuine archive footage. Has also been known to lie about what exists or not, saying that certain out-takes are non-extant despite certain parties having them neatly labelled on a big VHS in their house.

Ah, now. Bad timing, there, as I'm in the middle of a big article on this theme, as I imagine you probably know about, thanks to your links with the chaps who supplied the material. Although, don't forget that certain rushes tapes have gone missing since the Smeg Ups tapes were made, hence the lack of out-takes from Marooned and pre-record footage for Bodyswap.

and 3) Ross McGinley, a man who, when releasing a DVD of The Young Ones, seemingly couldn't think of ONE SINGLE EXTRA to place on the discs. A cretin, essentially.

Ross McGinley is a very handy scapegoat, I agree. The releases of old shows are generally abysmal.

This last one proves that it is the attitude behind the programmes' makers which matter rather than that of the DVD compilers (exception: Doctor Who), meaning that The League Of Gentlemen or Look Around You only has good extras because its cast/writers went to BBC Worldwide with a box of rushes and asked if these were of any use and could they could do some commentaries, please.

...which is what's said in You Jammy Goits, as well as in several of my posts on the comments system. I hold the likes of Ellard, Naylor and Helen Norman responsible for the high quality of the Dwarf DVDs, not McGinley. Although, people that have actually spoken to Ross might think otherwise; ask Cpt-D.

There's evidence of this in Doug Naylor's work on the DVDs. His unkeenness to do a commentary, for instance.

I am told that this is due to a lack of confidence in his own ability to be entertaining and informative. It's something fairly well-documented; Doug doesn't think he can rabbit on for three hours and make it worth listening. Yet he takes part in the documentaries/interviews, and Rob Grant doesn't.

It's possible (although this is just a theory) that it may be his very deliberate decision that no Son Of Cliché sketches appear on the disc, possibly either being embarassed by his early work (it's known he's none too keen on series one - check his questionnare in the RD Quiz Book) or not happy about hearing old sketches he co-wrote with nemesis Rob Grant.

What a load of shite. If Doug couldn't bear to release anything written with Rob, then surely the Red Dwarf DVDs wouldn't be happening? We've criticised the lack of Dave Hollins stuff elsewhere (see John's Series IV DVD Preview), but remember that Rob Grant's permission would need to be secured too, as well as performers' fees for Nick Wilton and (for certain episodes) Nick Maloney. Plus, when Son Of Cliché was recently repeated on BBC7, a number of episodes were revealed to be missing from the archives.

It's also feasable that nobody thought to include them in the first place, but since they went to all the trouble of including the script of one in The Red Dwarf Omnibus (alongside the beermat that spawned the series, something else that’s missing from the DVD) somebody must have had the show on their mind. A stupid omission whichever way you look at it.

The beermat is not real. It was a joke.

Andrew Ellard, it appears to me, doesn't seem to know as much about Dwarf as they do about Who, getting most of his rare material from really obvious sources (and I mean REALLY obvious, like the Smeg Ups tapes or the audio books). I bet it never even occured to him to think "I wonder if Dwarf was ever mentioned on Points Of View" or "They did a ten-second message for Amnesty’s Big 3-0 at the end of one recording, I wonder if the studio tapes of them looking really depressed about it are still about" or "Hey, didn’t someone once say that Danny John-Jules and Norman Lovett did several in-character appearances on various shows around the time of series two?!" or "What was the name of that mid-nineties Radio Four panel game about science-fiction which featured most of the Red Dwarf cast as panellists at some point and had Norman Lovett answering incorrectly a really geeky fanboy question about the single release of Tongue Tied?" (answer: To Boldy Go, hosted by Kevin Day, produced as part of Radio Four's Sci-Fi Month and with me present at three of the four recordings).

There are 169 people on board the Restoration Team. Andrew Ellard is only one man. Rather than listing Dwarf-related rarities on fansites, months after the DVDs were released, people who know about these things (which, in fairness, I didn't) should perhaps have told GNP about them. You can't just assume that everyone should know about these things, when many of them are as obscure as fuck. Oh, and perhaps they're going to use the Amnesty message on the Series VI DVD, given that that was the series during which it was shot.

It's worth pointing out here that most fans know nothing. Admit it guys, you wouldn't know where to find Stuart Maconie's review of series one in the NME even if you wanted to [although I'd suggest looking in a big cream envelope at Tanya Jones' house, Ian, should you wish to chase that up].

Actually, it's at John Hoare's house. Ho hum. The same John Hoare who has spent many an afternoon in libraries in Nottingham and Birmingham, doing things such as photocopying old Radio Times capsules for Son of Cliché. So don't accuse us of not doing our research.

It's the same with most shows: a few genuinely passonate people and a bunch of chancers trying to emulate the style of their heroes (*cough* Andrew Ellard's 'I Love Ace Rimmer' featurette *cough*). A quick look at the PythOnline messageboard proves that abundantly. For every "Can someone tell me about edits on the R1 box-set?" there are a million "I know what's on the R1 box-set: a Penguin! SPLUNGE???? ;)"-type replies. From what I read it seems the Red Dwarf community is similar. No offense to the lovely lads behind G&T, who show genuine passion for the series and express it correctly, or the majority of the posters here, but it does appear that most RD fans, including Andrew Ellard, wouldn't recognise rare Red Dwarf material if it were underlined by a big red pencil (or even a spaceship which looked like a big red pencil).

Squidy, man, it would be far more constructive for you to simply divulge the information, rather than sneering at people for not already knowing about it.

Spurned on by two Pythony incidents in which the whereabouts of rare material was divulged on messageboards yet was never asked about or for by the boards' contributors, a while ago I tried an experiment on all you G&Ters.

How nice.

In amongst the list of potential extras was The 1987 Loose Ends Christmas Special. Anyone know why this is of tremendous interest to Red Dwarf fans?
Then for Cloister's sake why didn't you ask? Many of you may have thought it a joke but surely the date would have been a clue: Christmas 1987, about a month-and-a-half before The End was first transmitted. But no-one noticed, no-one enquired and now you'll never know what Dwarfy goodness the episode contains.

Your attitude stinks. I know I should be concentrating on what you say rather than the way you say it, but I'd have much more respect for you if you didn't have such a massive superiority complex.

Oh, okay then, here it is: Craig Charles is on Loose Ends as usual doing his mediocre poetry, and one of the guests on this festive edition is Chris Barrie, doing his impressions. At one point they have a bit of an old on-air chat about things. So what you have is the first transmitted material of Craig Charles and Chris Barrie in a room together giggling, a month or so before the first airing of Red Dwarf episode one.

Yes, that is interesting. Why didn't you just say that in the first place?

Admit it, even the most fanatic of you didn't know that. Neither did I; I only heard it by chance at the house of a friend who collects Loose Ends shows, and he didn't acknowledge it as anything much of interest. I doubt even C. Charles or C. Barrie remember it. But it's around, it exists and it's not hard to research. A quick look in that year's Xmas Radio Times will supply an exact transmission date. Of course, in an ideal world Andrew Ellard would have found it himself and put it on an RD DVD at some point.

Well, if none of us knew about it, and you doubt that the people involve remember it, it's a bit unreasonable to expect Andrew Ellard, who was about 13 when the show aired, to know about it. Once again, I reiterate that it is much more constructive to post these suggestions in the appropriate place at the appropriate time.

But he didn't, because he is a monkey, employed primarily to digitise tape and catalogue rushes and has about as much right to create new Dwarf material as the skutters. Even the one that went absolutely mad.

A man employed by Grant Naylor Productions, who writes for the official Red Dwarf site, selected for his work as editor of Better Than Life, isn't qualified to write Red Dwarf? After the string of guest-writers on VII and VIII, I'd say someone like Ellard is an ideal choice.

From G&T's Andrew Ellard interview, here's Andrew discussing rubbish extras on his DVDs: "Some criticise something as being filler - the music cues, say...". Now, I've read a lot of G&T and as far as I can recall, NOBODY has ever critised the Music Cues as being filler. On the contrary - they often say "Ooh, Music Cues! The Observation Deck theme in full! Unheard Howard Goodall tracks! More please!!".

Flattering though your suggestion is, G&T isn't the only place where people discuss the DVDs. While virtually everyone here loves the music cues and suchlike, a number of people on places such as the WebBoard and BTLi, both of which are read by Ellard (he bloody moderates one of them), don't.

We've all heard it three million times before: some people like the 'Drunk/Alternate Reality/Food/Love Featurettes', others hate 'em. But the thing is they ARE a bad thing for the Red Dwarf DVDs. No, they are. Think about it: Model shots and out-takes are being shunted to make space for this and the time spent by researchers watching Dwarf for usuable shots, clearing music, and editing this complex little sequence could be better spent, well, doing anything really. Clearing rights to Son Of Cliché sketches, finding original script pages to scan in, making sure you don't leave off any out-takes, etc etc.

The DVD has to cater for all fans. I'd much rather have unedited model shot footage, script pages and suchlike, but some people would rather have a featurette. I agree with you that these people are wrong to do so, but you can't blame GNP for that.

The same thing goes for the lavish menus: they're nice and all (I do like the piece on series one where we see a skutter delivering popcorn in an event which occurs off-screen in Me²) but better time could have been spent on dissecting the undissected above. Packaging ultimately doesn't matter either: the discs could be delivered in a styroform box with a menu made out of newsprint as long as the correct material is on there (I note also that certain menus have buggered people's players meaning they have to get a replacement disc featuring static text menus with all the footage clearly labelled as "Deleted Scenes" and "Trailers" rather than having to randomly highlight a traffic cone or a robot goldfish icon. It's wicked to mock, so I won't).

The menus are sub-contracted out to Deluxe Digital - a minimal amount of GNP's time is spent on them.

In short: how much of the time, money and effort that is currently going into producing an unlistenable "Fan Commentary" (presumably created for Andrew to show he hasn't forgotten all his old pals now he's a big name at Grant Naylor Productions) could go towards researching and uncovering something truly jaw-dropping to include on the DVD instead? I would argue all of it.

Who the fuck are you to criticise Andrew Ellard's intentions? I know I've stuck up for him a lot on this response, which I'll undoubtedly be accused of being sycophantic for, but it's hard to see the massive leap of logic required to link a fan commentary (which was advertised on the official site with a huge competition) with mutual back-scratching. And another thing, the only reason that it is unlistenable is that it hasn't been recorded yet. You don't know whether or not it will be any good. Don't forget that there is a selection process involved; it won't be just eight people off the street.

The Japanese episode is like this but worse. All that time and effort spent on putting it on the disc except that instead of three minutes of disc-space it takes up thirty minutes of disc-space which could be filled with, well, with something watchable, frankly.

I concur.

I can't help feeling that in the rush to create a compilation of explosions to the tune of Shaggy's 'Mr Boombastic' (just you wait, it’ll happen) no-one has even had the time to think "Hang on - I wonder if any Mugs Murphy survives as isolated rushes.

Well, yes, that and Rupert Bates's chef monologue were missing from the Series I DVD. But then, maybe they don't still exist as isolated rushes. We simply don't know.

Then why does no-one take Andrew Ellard and co. aside and say "Those Featurettes, yeah? They're not funny, they're patronising, they're insulting to the viewer, go and find us some of Craig Charles' Time Out columns from 1989, there's a good chap".

There are plenty of people who criticise the featurettes; just look through the old comments on here. People have registered their likes and dislikes, and GNP are listening.

However, you ARE all idiots for allowing one thing to happen: Ace Rimmer - A Life In Lamé.

Yes, in a way it's our fault, isn't it? What with the thing being in the can before anyone outside of GNP knew anything about it.

Dwarf material not written by Grant Naylor is inevitably awful (Proof: series seven, series eight, Last Human, the 1997 Log Diary thing, that horrible Survival Manual)

As 'proof' that a feature written by Andrew Ellard will be rubbish, you're offering examples of things written by Paul Alexander. Right-o. And I strongly disagree with you about Last Human; for me it's just below Infinity in terms of my favourite RD novel.

and if something which started out as a parody of the I Love... series before being ordered re-edited by Doug Naylor because he thought it was too crap bucks this trend then the Corgi Starbug playsets are on me.

Surely the fact that Doug Naylor intervened and made improvements should raise your hopes for the feature, as opposed to lowering them?

Firstly, if these have to be on the disc then why have Andrew "Have I written any comedy before? Not really, but I wrote an episode of Doctors once" Ellard get to write them when not only is actual real-life genuine Red Dwarf writer Doug Naylor overseeing the discs but lovely funny comedienne Hattie Hayridge has agreed to be in them.

Maybe Doug is a bit preoccupied with this movie that he's writing and directing.

And secondly, why even do make such a sketch at all? Ace Rimmer, like Duane Dibbley, has its fans and was well-done when first seen, but has since been done to death, appearing in pretty much every series since in mostly terrible ways which aren't so much for amusement but just help to move the plot along in a way that patronises old viewers and alienates non-fans (Blue springs to mind here). I used to joke that the series five disc would have a Duane Dibbley: Me And My Thermos featurette but if Life In Lamé is any indictation of Ellard's thinking I wouldn't be surprised if something like this actually happens. The characters of Dibbley and Ace were good ideas once, and the thinking behind them should be discussed, and to be fair probably will in the commentaries and interviews, but no more than that.

Neither Ace or Duane were in Blue. You'd be right to criticise Back In The Red (Part Two) for this, though. Anyway, the reason that there's a sketch about Ace is probably that a large number of fans want a sketch about Ace. It's all very well for us to sneer at them for liking a different aspect of the show to us, but let them enjoy it in whatever way they want. Can you blame GNP for making something that a lot of people want, and that they believe can work?

Why not just stick a big picture of Papa Lazarou on the cover if they’re that desperate?

There is, of course, the school of thought that believes "packaging ultimately doesn't matter long as the correct material is on there". Oh.

By my estimation, each DVD set is fairly equally balanced between good stuff (deleted scenes, out-takes, music cues, FX footage, trailers, thirty minutes of interviews) and totally wasted space (the Japanese episode, Backwards Forwards, Life in Lamé, Drunk etc. Featurettes, NINETY-minutes of interviews. Really, is Danny John-Jules THAT interesting?). The wasted space amounts to between thirty-five and fifty minutes per disc

One man's raw effects footage is another man's Japanese episode. Personally, I think that, yes, Danny John-Jules is that interesting. I know that some people who aren't massive Dwarf fans have criticised All Change for being too long, the people who it's designed to appeal to (RD fanatics, desperate for little tit-bits of behind-the-scenes info that they've not already heard) love it. One person cannot really decree what is and isn't wasteful.

Studio tapes! Lovely lovely studio tapes. Now, every time I've suggested this on this website the replies have always been off the "Oh, let's be realistic, people won't shell out for an extra disc" type. But I AM being realistic. Studio tapes won’t harm sales and won’t require an extra disc. They will, however, be fascinating viewing and will delight the discs' purchasers. How long is a studio tape exactly? Let's estimate: say half of an episode of Red Dwarf is recorded in a studio in front of an audience (the rest being pre-recorded VT, model shots, titles, credits and that).That's fourteen minutes. Two takes of this makes twenty-eight minutes. Add a generous ten minutes for retakes, pick-ups and between take activity, so we get a total of around forty minutes.

You're massively under-estimating here. Dwarf shoots were notorious for being long and complicated. I didn't get to go to one myself, but I asked my pal Karl, who was at the filming of Only The Good..., how long it took. And he said "from about seven, 'til half ten, maybe even eleven". Even allowing for his memory being distorted in the last five years, and the possibility that the episode was atypically long, that's still a full dual-layer DVD.

The interviews alone on the series three DVD are ninety minutes, and a lot of that is clips from other shows. If that were edited down a bit tighter and the clips used were more selective, then a million fans could have the complete studio sessions for, say, Polymorph in their own homes to watch at their leisure. And, hey, if you like the interviews I won't stop you: just remove Backwards Forwards and the Food Featurette instead.

The problem in a nutshell, there. Different people want different things from their DVDs, and whatever they excise, people would be pissed off.

Is there really a case for keeping studio tapes off Dwarf DVDs?

Well, yes. I agree with you in principle - they would be a bloody good extra. But a complete studio tape would require an extra disc, and it might not be cost-effective. Plus, there's the possibility of actors involved not wanting footage of them going through their lines on-set. OK, a huge number of guest stars were on Smeg Ups and Outs, but for every David Ross and Noel Coleman, there could equally be a Robert Bathurst. There are a myriad of reasons why an actor wouldn't want footage of them to be used; if they get into a strop during a recording, it just reflects badly on them. Also, there could be bad language on there, which would bump the certificate up. GNP certainly don't want this; hence Marooned Extended for the BBFC. (They could, of course, beep out or otherwise obscure offensive bits, but then they wouldn't be unedited, which seems to be your desire.)

So what's next in the "Comedy Show Which Releases Studio Tapes" race? Red Dwarf? Unlikely with such unresponsive robots as Naylor, Ellard and McGinley in charge.

Unresponsive? People wanted bigger photo galleries, and they got them. They wanted better hidden easter eggs, and they got them. We asked for longer and more in-depth documentaries, and, by jove, we got them. Why would GNP, through the official site, constantly ask fans to make their opinions known if they have no intention of responding to them?

What I propose (and have proposed previously on this site) is that GNP and BBC Worldwide release the supplemental two-disc DVD suggested earlier. Disc one can contain whatever hasn't been included on previous series DVDs (which, you'll realise if you've read this far, is a lot more than anyone's admitting. 'Souper' is just the tip of an unresearching iceberg) while the whole of disc two can contain EVERY FRAME OF FOOTAGE SHOT for an episode. That would be, completely unedited, the 'live' studio tape, pre-recorded studio work, location footage, model shots and FX footage. This would be an amazing and revolutionary way to watch a familiar episode of a much-respected sitcom and would also be totally unique as, short of bootlegging editors, no-one has ever released footage like this in such an unrestricted way. GNP could even have a vote online or something, asking fans which episode it should be (although they may as well just decide on Back To Reality to save time). I think this is a marvellous idea (even if I do say so myself!) and if someone can rationally explain to me why this would idea would prove unfeasible or ridiculous I would be most interested to hear their reasoning.

Diskspace, cost, rights, classification. I would absolutely love it to happen, but I just doubt it will.

Don't try and tell me it won't sell; a million Dwarfies (Dwarfers?) would buy it for the packaging alone.

Dwarfers, if you please. The sad thing is, there aren't that many dedicated fans about. There are internet people who I thought were fanatics that still haven't got round to buying the DVDs, because they're a bit bored of the show. And a lot of the real-life fans I know are only buying the series they like most, and aren't too bothered about the extras. I'm not suggesting the fanbase isn't there, but it's certainly not as big as it used to be. Just look at the figures for the fan club and Dimension Jump. And don't forget The Prisoner. A stand-alone bonus disc for that was released, and it hardly sold at all.

Right, that's that sorted. Maybe now we can finally take a good long look at The Young Ones discs...

Oooh, please do! I'd say that we have every right to demand the original broadcast versions of episodes. But can we claim to have this right to access rushes footage? Perhaps your anger would be better directed towards the former.