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Red Dwarf News - Series V & VI New extras

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Red Dwarf News - Series V & VI New extras

Old 06-25-04, 08:23 PM
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Red Dwarf News - Series V & VI New extras

From the official site today...

The process of assembling Red Dwarf DVD material for the edit is a lengthy one - and we thought it was time to show you how it all works.

Back in the dim and distant past - which is to say, the Autumn of 2003 - the Grant Naylor team, headed by Doug, put together a wish list of items for the next two releases. During this time we were also in the middle of a conversation with the BBC, who were hoping we could accelerate the release schedule - maybe to get Series V out by June? We looked at the wish list, laughed, and stuck to the original plan.

Then we set about making the list real. Tapes were ordered out of storage - of course, it would be too much to hope that they would be labelled with handy names like 'Holoship - Full Cut'. Nope, we get lumbered with 'Tape 5637'. So hundreds of tapes come up from the store. We've got Betas, D3s, D2s, VHSs, U-matics... a format for every occasion.

For the next however-long some poor sod (me) lives in a Portakabin - affectionately known as 'The Shed' - and sifts through everything in search of the line cuts for each episode. The line cut is the edit of the show made on the night of the audience recording, and finding that enables us to provide deleted scenes as per the director's original plan, rather than re-cut scenes from the footage of each isolated camera.

While doing this - also flagging up moments from the rushes that might be 'interesting' for use elsewhere - another poor sod gets to run through every Dwarf episode for scenes relevant to the music featurettes.

Ah, yes, the music featurettes. This time around these two mini-extras will be based on 'Bad Guys' (Series V) and 'Sick' (Series VI). The music tracks selected - which is to say, the music we were actually able to clear for less than the Gross National Product of a small country - are 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet' by Bachman Turner Overdrive and 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' by Tom Jones and the Stereophonics respectively.

Anyway, back to the important stuff. With deleted scenes identified, clips selected and interviews and commentaries recorded, we wend our weary way to the shed once more to begin editing.

By this stage, every interview has been reviewed and separated into dozens of sections, each of which is given a quick-reference number. (RL27, for instance, is Robert Llewellyn's discussion of, according to the notes, 'Terrorform: lake shoot, the flames'.)

These disparate sections are grouped together and placed in a rough running order within each episode category. Then, piece by piece, the sections are whittled down into coherent sequences. During this time it is not unusual to hear requests such as, "Do we have any more of Craig complaining about kissing the dung beetle?"

Weeks pass, and infuriatingly become months, as we get ever closer to the documentary final cut. Scenes from the show are added throughout to make sure everyone watching knows what we're talking about. This time scenes from the rushes have also been added to the docs - if you ever wanted to see Craig lighting his cigarette on an eight-foot jet of flame, Robert's South African teasing of Andy de Emmony, or a simple dialogue scene from Quarantine crumble around the cast's ears, this is your chance.

Both documentaries run at about 75 minutes - and for the first time we've had to monitor every minute of the bonus material to make sure it will all fit on the DVD. As with the Red Dwarf TV show, you re-watch and reassess in the hopes of finding another minute or two that can be lost without, y'know, actually losing anything.

Meanwhile, there has been enormous disappointment in the hunt for deleted scenes from The Inquisitor and Demons & Angels. Source tapes for the first halves of these episodes seem to have vanished into the ether, leaving us to retrieve a few scenes from low-quality U-matic tapes instead - making for grottier images and a time-code in-vision... or, if you prefer, a glimpse of the footage as the editors of the time were seeing it.

Still, at least you get the chance to see some of the moments that never made it - whatever their form. We have alternative versions of existing scenes, moments lost due to ineffective FX or slow plotting, not to mention acres of trimmed gags. Indeed, the deleted scenes remain a highlight of the next two releases, with the running times for both hovering around the 45-minute mark.

Back with the documentaries, and a fresh-from-Oz Doug steps in to do the final edit, as well as add his own interview contributions - a final stage that gives him a chance to respond to things that may have come up unexpectedly in other people's interviews.

With the edit locked, the whole shebang is then whisked off to the online suite - sound is mixed, bluescreens are turned into composited space-scapes, music, titles and captions are applied... and everyone sits around nervously looking at the clock in the hopes of hitting the deadline.

Which, as I type this, is almost upon us. Right now the final playouts of 'Heavy Science' and 'The Starbuggers' - the names of the V and VI documentaries - are being laid down, along with the largest quantity of new bonus material produced for a Dwarf DVD to date.

There's still a long way to go, and more to tell you about, but for now this should give some idea as to why it takes so long to create Red Dwarf DVDs... and why the production team have no hair left. Scariest of all, and with masses still to complete away from the edit, in just a few months we'll be starting all over again!

More DVD details will follow soon...
Old 08-08-04, 09:40 AM
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Just to add a detailed list of the Series V DVD extras:
From the Official Red Dwarf website

Cast Commentary: Featuring Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn.

Fan Commentary - Back to Reality: Fans Ruth Latchford, Jason Mercer, Claire Thompson and Simon Wigg join DVD Associate Producer Andrew Ellard for a special bonus commentary.

"Heavy Science" Original Documentary: A 75-minute look at the making of Series V, featuring interviews with cast and crew plus never-before-seen footage from the set.

Deleted Scenes: Over 40 minutes of deleted and extended moments.

Smeg Ups: A compilation of outtakes and fluffs.

"Dwarfing USA" Original Documentary: The inside story of the making of the American Red Dwarf pilot.

"Bad Guys" Featurette: And you thought Lister was bad...

The SFX of Red Dwarf V: BBC Vis-FX's Mike Tucker (who also provides commentary) presents his video footage of the team's work on this demanding series.

Trailers, Idents and Episode Intro: Original series trailers have been recovered from home VHS collections. Also featuring Lister's 'Best Ever Episode' introduction shown in 1996 and the BBC2 'Skutter' channel idents from 1998's Red Dwarf Night.

Raw FX Footage: A compilation of model effects footage from the original 35mm film.

Isolated Music Cues: Instant access to the various elements of Series V's music score.

"Dave Hollins" Radio Sketch: A chance to hear one of the original Son of Cliché radio sketches that led to the creation of Red Dwarf.

Photo Gallery: A massive collection of production images and artwork.

Weblink: Link to the official website - which includes a production diary for this very DVD.

Subtitles: English subtitles for episodes and extras.

Easter Eggs: Several bonus extras will be hidden within the DVD menus - can you find them all?

The major news is the inclusion of Dwarfing USA in which the Series V cast, along with co-creator Doug Naylor, discuss the failed American pilot. Between Doug's remarkable candour and Robert Llewellyn's unique perspective as the one UK cast member to make the transfer, this has become one of the most fascinating pieces of the Series V DVD puzzle.

For anyone wondering about a comment reddwarf.co.uk made a while back suggesting that we'd be getting Craig Charles in for some special recording... well, things have changed. Despite Craig's keenness to return to the studio and make up for his absence from the commentary track (due to illness on the recording day), we've elected to spend the studio money elsewhere... aiming to secure the rights to clips from Red Dwarf USA to include in the documentary - BBC Worldwide are on the case and we should have more details soon.
Probably the only chance for seeing any of the US Red Dwarf pilot on DVD and this method is probably for the best. To sit through the full pilot is an uncomfortable experience and makes you embarrassed to be an American. But a documentary where they can rip into it sounds great.
Old 08-08-04, 12:00 PM
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Great news and thanks, as always, Rammsteinfan for the report.

A bit of a dissapointment that Craig's not on the commentary track for this series but, alas, I'd rather the discs out on time and the listed extras...espcially Dwarfing USA!
Old 08-08-04, 12:39 PM
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Can't wait!
Old 08-08-04, 06:07 PM
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THanks for adding that Series V info... was just going to post it today but glad to see you already did it. Thanks!
Old 08-08-04, 08:49 PM
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Originally posted by ViewAskewbian
A bit of a dissapointment that Craig's not on the commentary track for this series
I wouldn't be surprised if Chris Barrie brings out his dead-on Lister impersonation to fill in the gap.

And just to prime us Red Dwarf fans (like we need more rabid anticipation), here's some commentary about the US Red Dwarf pilot from the official site:

Down Time by Andrew Ellard
The full story behind 1992's ill-fated American Red Dwarf pilot.

So there's this great show on BBC2 that's winning huge audiences and its fair share of good reviews. It's 1992 and you're an American producer on the hunt for a hit. Here's an idea - why don't we do our own version of Red Dwarf?

So it was that Brad Johnson, then senior vice president of Comedy Development at MCA Universal Television, became attracted to the prospect of developing the show for a Stateside series. While previous experiments with this kind of transfer have ranged from the massively successful (Sanford and Son from Britain's Steptoe and Son) to the unfortunate (Men Behaving Badly's transfer which was cleansed of its smoking, drinking and swearing and went through three different Deborahs during its brief run), there was no question that Red Dwarf had a good chance of making the transfer.

The good news was that Rob Grant and Doug Naylor would definitely be on board as creators, executive producers and (to some extent) writers. The pilot was produced and written by Linwood Boomer - a former actor on Little House on the Prairie who would go on to Third Rock from the Sun and ultimately create hit show Malcolm in the Middle. Had the series gone to term, writers Jay Kogen (Frasier and The Simpsons) and Wallace Wolodarsky (also of The Simpsons) would also have been brought on board.

Casting roles already so successfully played by the established UK team proved difficult. Robert Llewellyn - who by now was a master with the rubber mask - was approached to reprise the role of Kryten. It proved to be a difficult decision. Chris Barrie had passed up the American opportunity because of the constraints of TV deals over there. An actor signs on for a pilot, but is locked in for five series over five years if the show lasts that long. After some debating, Robert agreed.

The pivotal Lister part was something of a surprise to the writers. Imagining a suitably slobby Hispanic actor in the role, the producers presented them with Craig Beirko, a handsome, designer-stubbled actor who didn't look like he'd know a triple-fried-egg-chilli-chutney sandwich if got up and bit him. (Which they are liable to do.) Still, the studio felt that Craig was an actor on the way up - and they may have been right. He is now a familiar face on TV, film and stage, and action fans will no doubt remember him as the villain in 1996's The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Rimmer was played by Chris Eigeman - no prizes for guessing that having 'Craig' and 'Chris' as Rimmer and Lister weirded everyone out! - and the part of the Cat went to Hinton Battle. Battle had a remarkably similar background to Danny John-Jules in musical theatre and would later appear in genre shows Quantum Leap (as an evil hologram) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (making the most of his talents as a demon who causes people to burst into song!).

Perhaps the most successful piece of casting for the US pilot was for Holly. Jane Leeves - now an award-winning actress on Frasier - brought more than just a British accent to the part. While the lines remained true to the UK Holly, Leeves played the character, very successfully, as 'happy to be bonkers'. Having worked with Manchurian writers Grant and Naylor, is it coincidence that her very next role, Frasier's Daphne Moon, also hailed from that area? The lady herself, after all, is from Surrey...

With Elizabeth Moorhead as a Kochanski still dating Lister (on and off), the cast was complete for a script that based itself on the original pilot, The End. And then the trouble started...

Linwood Boomer's script wasn't hitting the expectations Rob and Doug had, and rather than following their original plan - occasionally coming in to give an opinion on Rimmer's H, for example (although the H in question was actually replaced by a red circle) - they were forced to make some big changes. The final script - an amalgamation of The End, Boomer's own script and the new Grant Naylor draft, was copied and delivered... and then put to a cast vote!

Needless to say, the Grant and Naylor script won - although there were no names included on the drafts, so the cast had no idea until afterwards who they had voted for.

The recording of the pilot, as recounted in Robert Llewellyn's book The Man in the Rubber Mask, was significantly different to the UK version. The actor's slapstick antics between takes - humping the set, for example - was embarrassingly distracting for the more intense American actors. Indeed, the set was a bizarre point of fascination. Recreating the series III sleeping quarters with eerie accuracy, there was only one significant change - the size. Robert no longer had to duck under the doorway to enter the room!

With an audience that whooped and hollered through the story, it felt as if the pilot had gone well. The story was begun with a lengthy introduction to the Red Dwarf ship and its crew by Holly, then introduced the main characters. Following Lister's revival from stasis and the revelation of his companions, the episode ended with a cliffhanger. A future version of this motley crew, along with an apparently revived Kochanski, appeared briefly to tell Lister: "You gotta - "

It's clear almost immediately what works and what doesn't in the Red Dwarf USA pilot. Craig Bierko isn't 'our' Lister, but he's a likeable actor and suited the character that had been written around him. Rimmer, unfortunately, is barely given enough screen time to register, so fails to be the antagonist the story needs. Holly is great, and Hinton Battle does well enough with a part that still has the catty nature Danny's version would slowly lose as he hung around with the monkeys.

Robert, of course, is the same old Kryten, and seems to be loving every minute. While the mask and costume don't live up to their remarkably effective British counterparts, they get bonus points for leaving the actor feeling less like he's been trapped in a coffin/sauna for eight hours.

Three weeks after the pilot was filmed, decisions were made from on-high. The pilot had not gone down well, and an attempt to salvage the project was made. Linwood Boomer called those who would not be returning - including Chris Eigeman and Hinton Battle - to break the bad news... and was then fired himself.

The writers now had a chance to do what the original pilot had not achieved - genuinely bring their vision of the show to the screen. Gone would be the over-lit sets and crew members baffled by split screens. (Gone too would be Todd Rundgren's music, which seemed to have its influences in Rimmer's Hammond organ practice.)

The new plan was to shoot a 'promo reel' for the show in a studio the writers charitably describe as 'a garage'. Terry Farrell - who would shortly afterwards hit the Star Trek universe as 'Jadzia Dax' in Deep Space 9 - was cast as the new, female Cat. She's a danger-loving animal with a high sex drive and nine lives. Anthony Fuscle became the new Rimmer, now with 'H' and irritating attitude in tact.

With next to no money and an encroaching deadline, Rob and Doug based much of what was filmed on the UK Red Dwarf. The full promo included entire sequences from the last couple of series (particularly an abbreviated version of Terrorform, an episode which had proved very popular Stateside), and reintroduced the main characters through a combination of old and new elements.

Some of the better sections of the original pilot - especially those featuring Holly and Lister - are included, as are brand new scenes filmed in the 'garage'. Sections of British shows, such as Marooned's virginity scene and the 'Wilma Flintstone' exchange, were filmed with the American cast. Plus the new Cat was given a scene to show what she could do.

This new promo was bookended by sequences of Lister and Rimmer recording a black box message - from the perspective of the box. These segments, perhaps better than any other, showed how well this new cast would have gelled together given the chance.

But the chance was never going to come. The option on the pilot was never picked up, the writers came home, and Robert Llewellyn clambered back into the British mechanoid outfit for series VI.

Included in the pitch for the American series - along with the promo - were several scripts for potential future episodes. These included a version of Camille and Shutdown, a remake of The Last Day. Both were adjusted for the new cast, with the female Cat genuinely showing a lot of promise (her version of Camille is nine identical Conan-esque men). Also included was a stage direction: "EXCITING ROCK MUSIC (NOT WRITTEN BY TODD RUNDGREN)."

In retrospect, this fate of Red Dwarf USA has been great for the series. The show is now massively popular on PBS stations across the States, and Red Dwarf: The Movie is being made with Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and the rest in the roles that truly belong to them.

Red Dwarf: The Movie starring Craig Bierko? Seriously, which would you prefer?

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