Ever wondered why we didn’t post any links to reviews of Beat The Geek back when it was released, and tear them to shreds? Well, it’s because we couldn’t actually find any. It’s a shame that the proliferation of quiz DVDs rather buried the release – it certainly has its faults, including some major ones that I think seriously affect playability – but it deserved to be reviewed, and discussed.

Well, finally I’ve come across a short online review for your delectation. The bit about “the world’s shittest effects” isn’t even worth discussing; however, one bit really interested me:

“The idea that a show based solely on intergalactic travel can completely neglect the more advanced cinematic techniques available at the time of its conception slightly baffles me, however I’m beginning to think this may be the appeal of the show.”

A variation on the tedious “IT’S TEH SHIT EFFECTS THAT’S TEH APPEALS OF TEH SHOW”, certainly. But: “advanced cinematic techniques”? Yeah, they were clearly available to, erm, A BBC NORTH WEST SITCOM PRODUCTION. Come on, this isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster!

Sneering aside, I find the confusion fascinating. Red Dwarf is often praised for perfectly fusing the sitcom and SF genres. But it’s interesting that this confuses people into thinking about Dwarf in completely the wrong terms.

After all, since when was Father Ted ever criticised for not looking like cinema?

22 comments on “Weird Reviews Part #386283

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  • Sounds like someone’s recently learnt some complicated words and was keen to use them, no matter what. Actually, I assume they watched the more cinematic US sci-fi shows and forgot that Red Dwarf is a BBC sitcom. Father Ted is more obviously a sitcom, and doesn’t use much in the way of special effects.

  • Length of review : 611 words
    Number of words spent discussing Red Dwarf’s “shitty” visual effects : 278
    Number of words spent actually discussing the item being reviewed : 176

  • Their words are not that inaccurate if they were only seeking to discuss Series 1. The fact that they didn’t mention any changes that occurred over the years is bizarre though. And yes, the language used was very pretentious.

  • > Although this DVD trivia is not going to allow the producers of Red Dwarf to buy that condo in the Canadian Rocky?s with a golf course, 5 swimming pools and 3 Spanish maids that they had been hoping for

    Yes, this is exactly what Doug had in mind.

  • It’s bullshit isn’t it, par for the course but bullshit all the same…….
    If I read one more cock eyed review by someone who revels in questioning Red Dwarfs popularity, I’m going to hunt them down and insert their laptop where the sun dont shine.
    I detest reviewers at the best of times (the professional ones, not the fans) but why do they seem hell bent on questioning popularity.
    Ok, it has 8,ooo,ooo viewers but I dont understand why anyone likes it therefore it must be crap!

    “The idea that a show based solely on intergalactic travel can completely neglect the more advanced cinematic techniques available at the time of its conception slightly baffles me, however I?m beginning to think this may be the appeal of the show.?

    What the fuck does that mean?

    It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Red Dwarf was made on a shoestring! this isn’t baffling, it’s bloody obvious. People who buy the DVD’s in their droves have seen the show, they are not expecting ‘Star Wars’ style effects filmed in settings the size of Belgium. No, the appeal is the humour, the characterisation, the cast and the writers etc.
    If you cant work out the appeal, you shouldn’t be writing reviews, you should be given a packet of crayons and told to start again…

  • To say nothing of the fact that the “technically better” effects Dwarf utilitized toward the end of its run were not well-received at all by fans. They prefer the sharper, stronger dialogue and character development of earlier series.

    So even if this reviewer was right in his cock-eyed assumption that for whatever reason Dwarf turned up its nose at better effects…well…that certainly seemed the right thing to do, as those early series are the ones that have aged best.

  • Are you actually Mike Tucker’s brother, Baz? I didn’t know that!

    And you certainly wont find anyone round here duisagreeing with you there, Baz. Red Dwarf‘s effects still genuinely beat the hell out of some modern effects. See Hyperdrive and a lot of New Who‘s space ships!

  • Areas in which Dwarf’s early-series effects can probably be criticised : the bluescreen/CSO stuff

    Areas in which Dwarf’s early-series effects can absolutely under no circumstances be criticised : the model shots.

  • I remember Mike, Pete, Alan and Rocky talking at last year’s DJ about the whole model/CG situation and how it’s a constant battle to persuade producers that CG isn’t the answer for absolutely everything. The case in point was a documentary on the Hindenburg, which was going to be done in CG with a set amount of angles, but which could’ve been built as a model, shot from any number of angles the director wanted and then blown up for pretty much the same price and look about a million times more realistic. I don’t blame Mike for moaning at some of the CG effects on TV, cos it must be hugely frustrating to see inferior work done for the same price as your superior work could be done for.

    One massive, huge example of this has to be the latest series of Doctor Who where absolutely everything is now done in CG, when models would’ve been more appropriate and nicer looking (the episode ?42? leaps instantly to mind). I mean, either The Mill are working for absolutely fuck all, or they’ve made a massive mistake in not using The Model Unit any more. Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs of the whole affair, but as a view I definitely feel like I’m missing out on the visual side of things simply because there aren’t enough good physical effects in there.

  • It’s a shame the Movie never got off the ground because I feel we would have seen some fantastic model work there. Model shots should always be used to give the reality CG just can’t pull off alone.

  • Areas in which Dwarf?s early-series effects can probably be criticised : the bluescreen/CSO stuff

    Areas in which Dwarf?s early-series effects can absolutely under no circumstances be criticised : the model shots.

    This is the correct opinion.

    Series 1’s model shots look fucking gorgeous *today*.

  • I don’t understand the BBc’s sudden love for CGI, CGI often looks terrible even with a huge budget, just look at all the money Hollywood companies are using to make movies with CGI that looks like it could’ve been produced by two 6 year olds with a pack of crayons.

    Of course if you know what you’re doing CGI can be fantastic even on a relatively small budget, but all the people who really know CGI are working in the video games industry, not for television companies.

  • I think what fascinates me most about the review is less the effects stuff (mainly because that’s been talked about before) – but the idea that for an audience sitcom, “advanced cinematic techniques” would be IN ANY WAY either achievable, or more importantly appropriate.

    It’s almost as though the reviewer’s brain has immediately switched to SF mode… and kinda ignored the fact that it’s a sitcom. Which is just odd.

  • Yes, I am actually Mike’s brother, Andy Tucker (Baz will do nicely). And thank you for the opinions about the model work, Mike has an ongoing crusade to persuade tv and film producers that a reasonably inexpensive model shot can look a hell of a lot better than a much more expensive CG shot. He’s not against CG as such, it’s incredibly useful for some shots in its own right and as an adjunct to model work, he just sees an awful lot of the knee-jerk “We can do that all in CG” reaction.

  • Goit. My bro (Mike Tucker) and the rest of the effects crew did bloody miracles with that show. For the budget they had the final product was nothing less than stunning. Yes, it’s not Industrial Light and Magic, but (sorry to roll out an old opinion) the style of the effects have become part of the whole Red Dwarf “look”. They did not “turn their nose up at better effects” they got better than they could afford as it was. Anyway, as I recall they managed to win the RTS award for Best Visual Effects three years running.

  • Yeah, well, Mike’s story to tell as he chooses, not mine. Mike’s very proud of the work he’s done on Dr Who, Russell was certainly very complimentary in that “Making of” book and when clips are shown for whatever reason it’s Mike’s Big Ben shot or the exploding warehouse that appears again and again. He’d love to do more on the show, he’s been a Dr Who fan for most of his career (and school days) and he’s delighted with the new lease of live it’s been granted, but he has a business to run and it’s just him running it. He gets offered a higher paid job elsewhere and he’s got to take it. Also if he feels he can’t deliver a shot of the standard he’d expect for the money offered he’ll turn it down, he won’t do a crappy job, not on Who, not on anything in fact, his reputation is one of the strongest assets his company has.

  • Oh, God, yes, sorry. If you edit your posts, it changes the date of the comment, so it buggers up the order of the comments…

    I’ll get it fixed.

  • Another review of BTG. Not sure I agree with a lot of it. And it doesn’t help when the the review starts off with the following:

    “In 1989 BBC2 screened a sitcom that was unlike anything else on television. Never before had there been a science fiction sitcom broadcast until Rob Grant and Doug Naylor came along with Red Dwarf.”

    Forgetting about the year for the moment – erm, no SF sitcoms before Dwarf? Even if you exclude Hitchhikers (which is debatable) – Come Back Mrs Noah, Mork and Mindy, ALF, Metal Mickey

  • After skipping over the falsehoods at the start, it seems a fairly honest appraisal.
    It does seem to echo the comments of those I’ve played the quiz with.

  • Reading it back, I think it’s more the style of writing that I don’t like. I mean, SHOCK HORROR – Norm and Hattie have aged a bit! And I think there is a sense of achievement when you get a question right.

    But the complaints about longevity are definitely correct, I think.

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