Stellar Rescue Review

Well, we certainly weren’t expecting this to happen today. We only caught wind of the possibility of Red Dwarf collaborating with The AA last Thursday, when a giant Starbug was pictured with an AA van near the Angel of the North, with resultant undeclared promotional pieces reported in the local press. When Danny John-Jules reassured us that “all will be revealed” on the 1st July, we were expecting a tweet or a press release. Not for a minute-long chunk of full unadulterated brand new Red Dwarf to turn up unannounced at ten o’clock in the morning. This is what all those hints about the cast getting back together have been leading to. It’s not Series XIII – though that’s not to say that work isn’t also taking place on that – it’s Rimmer, Lister, Cat, Kryten and Starbug appearing in a television advert for The AA.

The idea of my favourite show doing an advert might have filled me with dread and disgust at one time, with that Bill Hicks quote about “being off the artistic roll call” ringing in my ears. But the world has changed since then, and there are lot of things working in favour of this particular ad. It’s all original material, not just exploiting old clips and tainting them by association. It looks and feels like the current show, not some nostalgia trip trying to recapture past glories. And of all the brands they could have associated themselves with – betting companies, loan sharks, shady foreign exchange business – there’s not much fault to find with The AA. As it happens, there’s no need to worry. This advert is so well-made and so charming that it’s impossible not to be wooed.

It looks wonderful. Given the relative amounts of money available in advertising compared to non-“terrestrial” TV, this is undoubtedly the biggest budget-per-minute that Red Dwarf has ever had, and it shows. It opens with a lovely effects shot, rich in texture and detail, the sandstorm and flashes of lightning doing so much to sell the scene. We move elegantly through Starbug’s filthy windscreen (a great touch) into the cockpit, which looks better than it ever has this century. It’s ostensibly the same look as Series XI and XII, but with the levels of blue slightly toned down, and moments such as the dynamic lightning flashes adding an extra layer of flair to the cinematography. The production values are faultless.

I’m just grateful that they bothered to get the proper set out of storage, rather than knocking something together on the cheap or going for the easy option of green-screen. With the costumes, hair and make-up all on point, there’s no doubt that this is proper full-blown Dwarf, not some hokey half-arsed cash-in. It’s a full-arsed cash-in. In fact, it has some advantages over the series proper; when the cockpit door slides open (which in itself is an improvement on the rarely-used vault like thing from XI & XII), we can see the mid-section behind, something there simply isn’t space to do when the set is squeezed uncomfortably into the corner of the studio. The single-camera set-up allows for a greater shot choice and tighter editing, giving this the best atmosphere and pace of any audience-less Red Dwarf to date.

But is it actually any good? All of this is nothing without good performances and good writing, and luckily this ad has both. The dialogue feels very much like it’s from the pen of Doug; if it’s not, then it’s someone doing a very good impression. A lot of gags are packed into a very short running time, and it’s to its credit. Each character essentially takes it in turn to offer a solution to the breakdown problem. Cat gets given a bicycle joke – urging everyone not to panic and then panicking – which isn’t the most original of gags, but it’s elevated both by Danny’s amusing performance and the pace of the edit. It doesn’t linger on the punchline, just moves straight on, and it’s better for it.

Rimmer’s bit undoubtedly treads similar ground to Trojan, and it wasn’t a terrifically furtive ground for observation humour even then, but it gives Chris the chance to do some funny angry acting. A drawback of the format is that he doesn’t get anywhere near enough time to ramp up his annoyance convincingly, but his constant interjections to say “one” in a variety of languages throughout the rest of the ad compensate for shortcuts taken at the start. Whereas Kryten’s gag is my favourite of the lot. His idea is straight from the Series VI playbook for cockpit scenes, and it’s the enthusiasm with which he discusses the prospect of his head exploding that makes it. It’s a simple moment, but it nails my absolute favourite iteration of the character.

Naturally, it’s Lister who solves the problem by delivering the actual advert-y stuff, and it makes sense that he’s the one to do this, as the crew member it’s hardest to caricature for comedic effect within a limited time-frame. Although I’d question whether he’s sensible and organised enough to actually get round to joining the AA. Nevertheless, the arrival of a big yellow van with Back To The Future style hover-wheels is a rare example of a gag delivered via an effects sequence, and a successful one. It also brings with it another rare treat – a female guest character who doesn’t end up dead and/or secretly evil.

Instead, she fixes Starbug, setting up a comedic denouement in which Cat makes good on his various recent threats to exact a violent revenge upon Rimmer. It is of course broad and unsubtle, and a little derivative of Backwards, where it was funnier for the fact that it was done by accident, but the sketch needed a punchline, and you kind of have to hit people over the head with something if you want them to pay attention to your slogan. And so Starbug flies off, its little legs bending back as it takes off, another lovely little touch that’s unique to this production.

But it’s accompanied by what is literally the worst thing about this whole endeavour: the music. It’s either a complete mistake or an unavoidable substitution, because there’s no way you’d choose this over the actual theme tune for artistic reasons. It sounds very much like they’ve used the rendition of the theme tune from the audio books, with its irritating yet catchy synthesised guitar. Perhaps there are unknown rights or availability issues surrounding the proper Goodall recordings, but then again the original incidental cues are used throughout. Either way it leaves an unfortunately sour taste to end on, as it’s the only element of the entire ad that doesn’t feel like a legitimate part of the Red Dwarf oeuvre.

It’s also sadly present on the supplementary radio ad, which is another thing we didn’t expect to have existed. It’s a different “story” from the telly ad, although Lister’s promotional spiel is the same. Kryten records a ship’s log about another life-threatening breakdown, which ends in a reprise of him engaging panic circuits, where once again the familiarity of the trope is offset by the execution; the tiny sequence of all four of them collectively panicking for just a second or two is great, rounded off perfectly by the faint sound of Rimmer squealing “mummy”. We end with a gag about Cat looking in mirrors, and it’s the same again – an obvious joke, done well. It’s a tough brief to get characters that people know so well across in such little airtime, just thirty seconds in this case. Broad strokes are what’s required, but they make for a lovely composition.

So at the start of today there had been a total of zero adverts featuring the Red Dwarf crew in 31 years, and now there are two. So what’s next? Is this advert a one-off, or will they make more, considering the warm reception this first effort has received online today? Actually, who’s to say they haven’t already made more, given how good a job they did of keeping this under wraps? And given that it’s already covered two mediums, will this campaign spread to posters, billboards, newspaper ads, newspapers, the web or social media? Based on what we’ve got so far, and how much fun it’s proven to be having a miniature dollop of new Red Dwarf dropped on you of a Monday morning, let’s hope so.

Besides which, all of this is incredibly good news for Red Dwarf as a brand. There’s a surprisingly high proportion of people that react with utter shock when you mention that the show’s still going. But this ad was played during the break in Coronation Street tonight, and even allowing for those who fast-forwarded through or went for a piss, the viewing figures for that break will be higher than any new episode since the 90s. And a healthy brand means a happy fanbase, as the opportunities for new material, merchandise, stage shows and God knows what else increase. Red Dwarf started out niche, became hugely popular, and then ended up niche again; nobody would have predicted that now, in 2019, it would be brought back into the spotlight in such a major mainstream way. What a wonderful thing to have happened to our show.

Tags: ,

120 Responses to Stellar Rescue Review

Jump to bottom

  1. Lovely to see so much positivity around this. It feels like a real treat, and it’s great to see something like this made with such love and care.

  2. I absolutely love it! Normally I wouldn’t be on board with Red Dwarf being used as advert fodder, but this will get it noticed by a bigger audience and by so many of those who “used to love it” but don’t seem to be aware of any of the new series!

  3. Rimmer with the big phone in the header image just gets me. It’s just so funny. And the way Craig is looking at the AA woman. Exquisite taste.

  4. Yeah, this was just good fun. Cool to see. :)

    Although I’m sure you realise that if you’ve done a ‘Let’s Talk About… ‘ post and a Review for this, you’re legally obliged to also do a Dwarfcast.

  5. I love the audiobook theme. I have nearly as much affection for that theme as the main themes.

    “Under the plexiglass dome on Mimas…”

  6. Not bad for a bit of green-screen in a Gateshead layby.

  7. Whilst I agree with the review, unfortunately a handful of random people on twitter have described it as ‘selling out’, ‘sold their souls’ and can’t believe that they’d do an advert ‘for Direct Line’ so clearly there is no coming back from that.

  8. Yes, as I’ve written elsewhere today, this campaign’s very well produced, looking (and sounding) lovely, with witty scripts, and no glaring dollarpoundsigns in the collective eyes of GNP.

  9. All the incidentals have seemingly been remade afresh. That’s a synthesised trumpet farting those old cues out.

    Not sure that’s Howard either, as he has left the show as far as I am aware.

  10. My mum is one of those people who instantly lose respect for anybody who dares to do an advert. It’s like she doesn’t realise money is a nice thing to have

  11. Obviously all of the cast and the show itself had an unblemished history in regard to associating with adverts prior to this.

  12. There was the time when the Cat briefly turned into a Spearmint Polo.

  13. Don’t have an issue with the music, it’s an advert. It’s a jaunty fun version for an amusing advert.

    If they’d made a £50m movie and stuck this music on, I’d have an issue, a 60 second AA advert, nah.

  14. Yeah, it was a bit jarring at first but it’s fine.

  15. Always weird though on stuff like this where they’ll spend a million on a shoot but won’t stump up for session musicians. Would only have been another grand for a trumpeter and a guitarist. That’s a tiny, tiny fraction of what a minute of ad space in the middle of Corrie cost them. It’s the composer’s lot.

  16. You should check out the AA’s YouTube comments to people on the advert.
    There is clearly some fans involved :)

    Someone said that they thought Dave was the last human and AA replied she’s a hologram! :)

  17. https://youtu.be/e3Pu-ebXh2M

    As an AA member just had this behind the scenes link mailed to me. I haven’t been able to watch as at work. I hope it is a YouTube link for all and not just AA members

  18. https://youtu.be/e3Pu-ebXh2M

    As an AA member just had this behind the scenes link mailed to me. I haven’t been able to watch as at work. I hope it is a YouTube link for all and not just AA members

    Oh wow! Rob and Doug were behind the scenes! That’s cool!

  19. It’s an unlisted video, so I’m guessing we’re not meant to see it (although that may just be because it was uploaded a few days before the ad was released, with the intention to make it public later).

    Not that that stopped me from watching it, and it looks like they filmed at least one or two other ads we haven’t seen yet – there’s footage of a male AA driver played by an actor on board Starbug, and a quick shot of the boys looking out into the midsection from the cockpit door.

  20. What is Rob Grant doing there? :o

    Given Robs feeling on the new Red Dwarf in the past. this is nice to see.

  21. WTF Rob is there?!

    And it was directed b Declan Lowney. This gets more intriguing by the minute.

  22. It’s an unlisted video, so I’m guessing we’re not meant to see it (although that may just be because it was uploaded a few days before the ad was released, with the intention to make it public later).

    Not that that stopped me from watching it, and it looks like they filmed at least one or two other ads we haven’t seen yet – there’s footage of a male AA driver played by an actor on board Starbug, and a quick shot of the boys looking out into the midsection from the cockpit door.

    I think it was meant to stay hidden except there was a share button on the video so I pressed it…

    The blurb from the site around video says (spoiler not very interesting content afoot):
    As one of our loyal members, you get an exclusive sneak-peek behind the scenes (or should we say ‘behind the Starbug’) of our new TV ad. With comedy legends Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) on set, there were laughs all the way down the intergalactic hard shoulder. Enjoy!

  23. G&T Admin

    Blimey! Lots revealed in that 90 second clip.

  24. A new director and Rob’s involved. Very interesting indeed! :D

  25. Whoa! OK, I don’t know what I was expecting, but “This AA advert is the first Red Dwarf Rob Grant/Doug Naylor collaboration since The Bodysnatcher Collection” was not it.

  26. So, is there anyway of explaining Rob’s involvement with the ad that doesn’t involve him having any involvement in XIII? Because otherwise we would have to presume he is back working on Red Dwarf with Doug in some for or another, which is very exciting indeed.

  27. G&T Admin

    Rob Grant is still a company director of GNP. He has a financial interest in all this.

    That could explain it. It might not be a creative thing.

  28. Spoilsport.

  29. Rob Grant is still a company director of GNP. He has a financial interest in all this.

    That could explain it. It might not be a creative thing.

    That’s the sort of thing I was thinking.

  30. Not to be a downer, but popping down one day to watch/consult on/talk about an ad for the AA based on your intellectual property hardly follows through to agreeing to co-write a whole thirteenth series of it, after declining to write the previous five. Still cool to see him, though. I’m just not ready to jump into the “Rob Grant confirmed for XIII” camp

  31. Not to be a downer, but popping down one day to watch/consult on/talk about an ad for the AA based on your intellectual property hardly follows through to agreeing to co-write a whole thirteenth series of it, after declining to write the previous five. Still cool to see him, though. I’m just not ready to jump into the “Rob Grant confirmed for XIII” camp

    I don’t think it’s being a downer, I think it’s being realistic. Which is why I asked in the first place. As much as it’s nice to see him there, I was/am certain there are other reasons/motives other than “Rob is back working with Doug”, and him being a Director of GNP is that reason most likely.

  32. Aw, that’s all lovely.

    I expect Digital Spy to run a “Rob Grant confirmed for Series XIII” story any minute now.

  33. I got the impression from Rob’s line about how weird it was “seeing other people doing your thing” – which reminds me of previous things he’s said about Doug’s solo Dwarf – that he wasn’t involved creatively, he was just invited along for the day.

  34. Maybe they could get the AA to inadvertently fix Holly in a repair

    Let’s face it, anything’s possible lol

  35. I think maybe Rob’s Dimension Jump appearance has maybe upped a few people’s interest levels, getting them (slash us) overthinking things a little.

  36. From the Campaign website (sorry, don’t feel up to attempting a link):

    “The work was written by Jon Farley and Alex Lucas, in collaboration with Red Dwarf creators Doug Naylor and Rob Grant, and directed by Declan Lowney through Another Film Company”.

    Lovely review by the way, I’m so excited about what this might mean for the show’s profile.

  37. So it’s still the first Dwarf with input of any sort from Rob since Bodysnatcher, then.

  38. Wasn’t expecting any of that. Lovely stuff. Rob’s remark is slightly odd given his lack of input to the previous six series of the show. I wonder if his appearance at DJ made him slightly more open to being involved in new content. I’d be astonished if he was onboard for XIII, but it’s good to see him involved on any level really.

  39. Well he did say on Carpool that he only ever tried to watch Tikka to Ride, and was so sloshed he had no idea what was going on, so this is potentially only the second time he’s ever seen Dwarf content not by him, however unlikely that is. Probably didn’t help that he chose Tikka of all episodes to watch pished, as that opening is hard enough to follow as it is, and it was probably a lot to try and take in somebody else’s resolution to your cliffhanger, on which you’ve probably had a few ideas yourself.

  40. No G&T review is complete without some comments on the sticker:

  41. Seeing the outside of the Starbug set being so tall and thin looks so weird. I hope they jig it about for XII and make it a bit more spherical, the current shape is bizarre.

  42. Though it’s unlikely to get my wish of having a larger set I hope they shoot it from the side like the old days.

  43. The only time they get the Kryten mask right in 20 years and it’s for a blummin advert! xD

    Rob being involved here is a real wtf moment…! As others have said, because it’s his and Doug’s property ‘featuring’ in something, this is most likely the only reason he’s here. Though, the thought occurs…(several of them, in fact) of how pleasing it might be to have a Declan Lowney-directed series with Rob returning.

    Rob returning in ANY capacity is bloody awesome, let’s be fair.

  44. Seeing the outside of the Starbug set being so tall and thin looks so weird. I hope they jig it about for XII and make it a bit more spherical, the current shape is bizarre.

    It’s only because its a set, they could have made it a sphere but you’ll never see the outside so why would you

  45. Does anyone think there will be other RD adverts from the AA?
    Rather than just the one singular advert and radio sketch?

    Often when companies get hold of someone famous there tends to be multiple adverts on different aspects of the product.

    I hope so anyway

  46. Does anyone think there will be other RD adverts from the AA?

    Well judging by the behind the scenes video, it seems like they did film another one, as you see a different AA person on the set.

  47. There will most certainly be more, but they’ll have this on rotation for a few weeks then swap it out for the second one to keep it fresh

  48. Well it probably is AAja vu.

    Grant Naylor should have a commentary track on evey episode just so there are hours and hours of Grant Naylor commentaries.

  49. https://youtu.be/e3Pu-ebXh2M

    As an AA member just had this behind the scenes link mailed to me. I haven’t been able to watch as at work. I hope it is a YouTube link for all and not just AA members

    Crazy times.

  50. https://youtu.be/e3Pu-ebXh2M

    As an AA member just had this behind the scenes link mailed to me. I haven’t been able to watch as at work. I hope it is a YouTube link for all and not just AA members

    I watched that with a big smile on my face. They really are the nicest bunch of guys. Could happily sit through a half-hour doc on the making of the ad (I’m sure there’s enough material).

    And Rob Grant was … unexpected, to say the least.

  51. I have just realised another reason why Rob may have decided to pop along – he script edits/helps write Edward Rowett’s ad agency sitcom Reluctant Persuaders (which may I add is brilliant – half Cabin Pressure, half IT Crowd) for Absolutely, and this is a rare opportunity for some field research.

  52. I have just realised another reason why Rob may have decided to pop along – he script edits/helps write Edward Rowett’s ad agency sitcom Reluctant Persuaders (which may I add is brilliant – half Cabin Pressure, half IT Crowd) for Absolutely, and this is a rare opportunity for some field research.

    That sounds incredibly far-fetched, I doubt it

  53. I have just realised another reason why Rob may have decided to pop along – he script edits/helps write Edward Rowett’s ad agency sitcom Reluctant Persuaders (which may I add is brilliant – half Cabin Pressure, half IT Crowd) for Absolutely, and this is a rare opportunity for some field research.

    That sounds incredibly far-fetched, I doubt it

    Does it? I need to recalibrate my plausibility sensor then.

    Might not be the only reason like, but I think it took a few to get Rob to anything Red Dwarf filming related.

  54. seen this a few times on tv today. best coverage the show has had for years. great stuff.

  55. Just saying it may have been on his mind as an additional good reason to spend the day there, is all.

    Anyway, you should all listen to Reluctant Persuaders. Nobody here ever mentions it.

  56. Sick of all this Rob wasn’t involved shit. He is working with the gang again ok? Stop being so fucking negative.

  57. He was involved in the Mobisodes as well and wasn’t “working with the gang again” then either.

  58. Yeh it’s just frustrating to see many folks trying to find good reasons he ain’t fully back. I mean can we just simply dream once in a while.

  59. If Rob Grant was involved with Red Dwarf as a whole again, you’d think they would have told us or something. Make a big deal out of his return and all.

  60. Maybe they didn’t want to risk the entire fandom having a heart attack all at the same time, losing future potential revenue.

  61. No if Rob Grant was back in the mix they probably wouldn’t make a huge deal out of it. it would probably be revealed in some post on the official site in a small section of a much bigger story. or at least thats how it seems when it comes to Red Dwarf news sometimes.

    There is probably more chance the cast spilling that information in an interview tbh.

    IMO its a positive he is even around on set of the advert. sadly it may not mean anything, but its nice that the Rob can get back into the mix in some way or another.

  62. >The boys go for a curry
    >It’s front page news
    >Certain people think that if Rob Grant was back it would be buried in a small section of a much bigger story (what much bigger story? Doug and Chris go bowling?) because that’s just what happens sometimes
    Yeesh

  63. But thats like saying on if there was an AA advert with the Red Dwarf guys on the way we would hear about it on TOS with celebration because its big news!. yno rather than get little tweets from the cast hinting something is coming. but thats what happened. there are just things that are kept quiet and even when they are revealed its within the context of something else.

    You really think Rob Grant coming back would result in a huge big news article being out about it? why are we only hearing about a new series from Danny in an interview?

  64. >Why are we only hearing about a new series from Danny in an interview?
    I genuinely cannot fathom a reason. Not one. No idea. This has never happened before

  65. But if Rob Grant was back we would hear about it like that *snaps fingers*

    Or maybe thats just not how this system works.

  66. G&T Admin

    This is a bizarre conversation.

  67. I’m sorry, Dax, are you new to this process? Have you not been around for the lead-up to _any_ of the previous four series in which exactly this happened?

  68. Well yeah i remember a cast member usually says we are filming at the end of the year. then a long time of nothing and then gradually things start to come out. most of it on twitter.

    I am just puzzled why people think this information would be out by now, if something like a new series in general is being kept quiet?

  69. Surprised there was no update on the official site mentioning this today – it’s about the Japanese Blu-Ray sets instead.

  70. I’m assuming that’s a scheduled post and nobody from the AA or GNP thought to tell Seb in time about the campaign. It does seem like it’s all been on a need-to-know basis, though obviously TOS should have been in on the loop. Might have been AA’s call and they said no.

  71. Saw a post from the effects house in charge of this, seemed to say all of the Bug stuff was CG, which is very impressive, and was likely very expensive.

    Makes the model shoots from XI and XII look like someone faffing about with the interactive playset and some fishing wire though so it’d be nice if we could get anything like this for any future series.

  72. When Starbug takes off at the end of the advert you can kinda tell its CGI.

  73. When Starbug takes off at the end of the advert you can kinda tell its CGI.

    So what? It still looks way better than anything in XI/XII

  74. When Starbug takes off at the end of the advert you can kinda tell its CGI.

    Not to piss on the parade, but I don’t think that AA van can really fly, either.

  75. The whoosh effect at the end gives off CGI effect. thats all i mean. jeez!

  76. I just assumed they’d filmed the full-size one from last week taking off for real.

  77. Yes we were all pulled in and instantly bought AA breakdown cover, thinking “now my spaceship on wheels can be fixed should I breakdown, as the AA will cover me for that”. These kind of stunts are hardly a new thing. What a daft article.

  78. Frankly, if you didn’t know that was a publicity stunt/viral marketing you’re a fucking idiot.

  79. I think it’s fair enough. The AA used news outlets as an advertisement platform. Regardless of how many people were fooled, it’s still pretty dodgy territory and something they know they shouldn’t be doing (hence the apologies).

  80. Or they could have Googled the number plate, instead of publishing a press release unchecked and then moaning about the integrity of ‘journalism’ being compromised.

    FWIW I do think this publicity stunt was a terrible, unclear idea as well as a morally ambiguous proposal, but it’s nothing compared to the hilarious piety of that article. Also didn’t realise it was the same company who paid Piers Morgan to badmouth the Greggs vegan sausage roll on Twitter and hooked in thousands of gullible people to advertise (and buy out of spite!) a product for free.

    Fact is, if you’re going to go after fake stories being planted in the press which are secretly PR or advertising campaigns, you’d have to go after a third of every UK newspaper published in the last fifty years first. The aggressively wilful literalism of Twitter seems to have caused a lot of intelligent people to unlearn how to decode the printed word and it’s hugely depressing. (Also – it’s incredibly, terrifyingly easy to plant fake stories in the press. Try it one day, you’ll learn a lot.)

  81. What a ponce that Stephen Naysmith. How can you write so much about so little?

    >Fortunately, the patrolman wasn’t fazed (or phasered)
    Wrong show, mate

  82. G&T Admin

    My view is somewhere between these comments and that article. If the news pieces had contained a little “this was of course a cheeky PR stunt designed to promote the new partnership between Red Dwarf and the AA”, I think it would be fine. Everyone’s having a bit of fun, and we’re all in on it. As it is, the fact that they willingly printed untrue things presented as fact, without any acknowledgement that they were doing so, is just a bit icky. And as I said on Twitter at the time, you can’t do this kind of thing on a TV show without massive disclaimers, even if it’s for a light entertainment or comedy show, so why are newspapers held to lower standards?

    Also:

    What a ponce that Stephen Naysmith. How can you write so much about so little?

    Hi, welcome to G&T. You’re currently commenting on a 1,500 word review of a one-minute advert.

  83. And as I said on Twitter at the time, you can’t do this kind of thing on a TV show without massive disclaimers, even if it’s for a light entertainment or comedy show, so why are newspapers held to lower standards?

    Stuff You Should Know Podcast had an interesting episode on this just the other day, though it is specifically about US Law, it may be similar here.

    https://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts/how-the-fairness-doctrine-worked.htm

    Basically, back when Radio (and later TV) first started. anyone had access to the airwaves. No commercial radio, just anyone broadcasting anything they wanted if they had the equipment. This was allowed to go on for a while until shortly after the Titanic sank and a lot of emergency communications couldn’t get through because there were no specified emergency channels, and a lot of the others were filled with really unimportant things people were broadcasting between themselves and too audiences.

    So the FCC took control of the airwaves, and auctioned them off, reserving certain bands for emergencies, the military, boats, that sort of thing.

    The thinking was, that because now, there was a barrier to entry with radio communications, unlike there press/papers (you needed a radio licence) that broadcasters should be held to a higher standard. To prevent someone coming along, buying up all the radio bands and then promoting one ideology, or one political candidate, or a certain consumer brand etc, rules were set to make sure all voices were heard. So, if you were going to broadcast news, you had to give a right to reply to the negative news you were broadcasting etc, and vice versa.

    It was called the fairness docterine. In 1987 or 1989, it was basically abolished in the US … and now we have Fox News. YAY!

    Anyway, that’s why, or at least probably why that’s the case here too.

    In theory, anyone can set up and sell news papers. There’s no limit to the number that can be in circulation. There is a limit to the amount of radio and tv can be broadcast (sort of … the reason they ditched the doctorine was because there is practically infinite space, especially with digital and stuff now-a-days) so the broadcasters were held accountable for what was broadcast.

  84. When I was writing for local news, a while ago, admittedly, a large chunk of day to day news stories were basically just rewritten press releases, and they were generally taken at face value – so I can see how they might have overlooked the advertising angle. If the PR firm running the stunt didn’t mention that it was a promotional setup in their press release, then that was probably intentional on their part.

    Going back to the miniatures vs. CG topic – I think this ad shows that we’re at the point where we can the best approach is a hybrid of both. Decent, reasonably photorealistic CG is no longer restricted to big budget studios and camera and motion control rig technology has come on massively since Red Dwarf’s glory days, to the point where shooting decent MoCo shots is no longer prohibitively expensive and difficult for smaller productions. Nowadays, it might work best to retain miniatures for large scale, detailed ships and environments, ie. Red Dwarf, other large ships, planet/moon surfaces, landing bays etc – and mix these with 3D assets for the smaller shuttles, pods, anything that needs to zip around and move dynamically. Exception would be closeups, in which case larger scale miniatures generally work better.

    I’m thinking of something similar to WETA Workshop’s work on the Thunderbirds remake, minus the weird 3D characters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk97ur-HPLE

  85. When I was writing for local news, a while ago, admittedly, a large chunk of day to day news stories were basically just rewritten press releases, and they were generally taken at face value – so I can see how they might have overlooked the advertising angle. If the PR firm running the stunt didn’t mention that it was a promotional setup in their press release, then that was probably intentional on their part.

    Going back to the miniatures vs. CG topic – I think this ad shows that we’re at the point where we can the best approach is a hybrid of both. Decent, reasonably photorealistic CG is no longer restricted to big budget studios and camera and motion control rig technology has come on massively since Red Dwarf’s glory days, to the point where shooting decent MoCo shots is no longer prohibitively expensive and difficult for smaller productions. Nowadays, it might work best to retain miniatures for large scale, detailed ships and environments, ie. Red Dwarf, other large ships, planet/moon surfaces, landing bays etc – and mix these with 3D assets for the smaller shuttles, pods, anything that needs to zip around and move dynamically. Exception would be closeups, in which case larger scale miniatures generally work better.
    I’m thinking of something similar to WETA Workshop’s work on the Thunderbirds remake, minus the weird 3D characters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk97ur-HPLE

    I think the current Red Dwarf bigature and cut down model are God awful (why make a bigature if you’re not going to put any more detail on it? And don’t get me started on that massive flat panel that’s supposed to be the nose cone), so how about a huge to scale 3D Red Dwarf with procedurally generated detail so you could do some ridiculous pull outs and zooms.

    Otherwise agree. Things like sand, rocky environments, snow, will be cheaper and look better to do irl.

  86. It is very telling that all the really good effects shots in XI and XII are either pure CG creations or accomplishments in compositing (or both – witness the amazing Universe scene from Krysis). Not one genuinely good model shot in the entire last three series – and let’s never underestimate the full horror of ‘Starbug is pushed gently along a pasting table with some sand on it’ from Twentica. The issue with Red Dwarf’s CGI from 1997-1999 was never that it was CGI. It was that it was the work of an amateur working alone without proper facilities, unlike the models which were the work of seasoned pros with top notch facilities and equipment. That situation is now completely reversed, yet the show’s still backing the wrong horse.

  87. >Not one genuinely good model shot in the entire last three series
    There are a few in X. Lots of nice background stuff in that series, with suns etc. Despite being a bit wobbly, X’s hero shots of the Dwarf are superior to XI+XII’s, honestly.

  88. I think there are some good model shots in the last 2 series. in Give and Take you see starbug flying next to Red Dwarf. its clearly on green screen but visual its a nice shot.

  89. I think there are some good model shots in the last 2 series. in Give and Take you see starbug flying next to Red Dwarf. its clearly on green screen but visual its a nice shot.

    I hate that shot, you can see that the Red Dwarf model has no engines, it’s not shot from an acute enough angle to get away with that.

    The space station exploding looked nice though.

  90. I hate that shot, you can see that the Red Dwarf model has no engines, it’s not shot from an acute enough angle to get away with that.

    I assumed that was just the angle hiding the curve.


  91. Honestly that’s better than some of the model shots of Starbug and the Dwarf in V and VI, there Starbug is tiny and clearly composited onto the image really poorly

  92. I hate that shot, you can see that the Red Dwarf model has no engines, it’s not shot from an acute enough angle to get away with that.

    I assumed that was just the angle hiding the curve.

    If you look at the full model you see how long it is in the engine area, and how much detail beyond the bits the bigature has is flush with the trench on the side.

    So in my opinion, the actual shot should look something like this

    Praying those embedded images work.

  93. I think that shot works pretty well, but yeah, I definitely agree that larger scale Dwarf model needs more detail built in for closeups. The original S1 model had so much surface detail that if you look at it from a distance, it’s almost unreadable. But it works up close. The pinprick window lights also helped to sell the scale of the original model, which is something that doesn’t appear to have carried across to the newer versions.

    X had some great shots; the Dwarf towing the Trojan, the Beginning chase sequence, and I don’t get the hate for the Twentica crash scene, I think it looks great. The grabbing arm sequence from Siliconia also works really well.

  94. Someone has posted on Reddit that there’s a TV licence radio ad now being played featuring the cast, though I think it’s the AA one and they have got confused. But interesting if this is another company using the show for ads and releasing them at the same time as the AA.

  95. Bits of the Twentica crash are great (the CGI view from the windscreen especially), but the shot I mention is a shambles.

  96. Twentica crash scene for me, cockpit looking out stuff is probably as good as Red Dwarf has ever looked. Gorgeous, amazing what blue screen, drone footage and camera tracking can do.

    The crash itself, the approach is so bad it’s hard to watch for me. It really does look like power point. Cardboard cutout Starbug with a motion path on it, and a composited rubble effect.

    I think of the scene in Serenity, when the Serenity crashes, how they filled more of the screen with the ship, and had the ship tumbling, it is meant to be dead stick after all, all seemed pretty calm aboard Starbug.

    I know Serenity is a movie, but it’s a fairly old one, a fairly low budget one and that scene had a fair chunk of CG, and CG has come a long way. In fact some of the CG in Serenity is pretty ropey now. A supermarket own brand version is realistic in my opinion. The 3D model of Starbug tumbling around above a background plate of a deserty planet, bit of motion blur, particle effects, cut to the inside a few more times because that looked really nice, and then have the model crash.

    The crash, all over too quickly, and very little sense of momentum. Starbug’s just fell a few thousand feet, but it seems to coast in and stop within a few hundred metres.

    It’s one of those things where the gravity of the shot isn’t quite right, I probably moaned about the frame rates being wrong at the time, the calculation they do not being adhered to for whatever reason (camera not doing the required frame rate at the resolution they filmed at perhaps, no specialist high speed cameras now on Red Dwarf).

    The final coming to a halt shot is nice enough unless you start thinking about scale.

    Here’s the Serenity clip, imagine this being in Twentica with Starbug. Basically the same thing, ship gets hit by an EMP, heavy landing.

    https://youtu.be/BnnCQlp2msk

  97. My main memories of the Twentica crash are eww motion blur, eww compositing, eww wonky speed, eww no sense of weight, fairly cool looking final shot that feels fucked up in terms of scale, oh well at least they tried.

    I do like much of the model work/CG elsewhere in the series (although none of it involving Starbug I don’t think) so I’m not just being a Debbie Downer. I think part of the reason I was so disappointed by it is because I might have read the first few comments of the live thread on here or something and saw everybody praising the sequence to the high heavens, so had some expectations going into it. So uh, you did this to me. I hope you’re all proud.

    Also fuck the Mars Bar line, you’ve already done that joke in X, Doug, and it wasn’t funny then. It was nicely alliterative and performed better, but it feels like something you’d hear on Mock the Week. Post-Boyle.

  98. My main memories of it were “ooh, Starbug has crashed, I wonder what will happen next”.

  99. The mars bar line is not the level of work you expect of a professional comedy writer. If a person you know said that you’d groan if you liked them, say nothing and never talk to them again if you didn’t. Why it got a laugh I don’t know, in fact there are a few momenta in X, XI and XII where I can only assume the audience have been drugged or are entirely deranged because the “jokes” are sub cracker joke level.

  100. “Oh. It’s started. I knew it would.”

  101. Somebody pointed out the joke got a round of applause because it came as a little bit of relief at the end of a complex and tense sequence, rather than because it’s a particularly good joke, and I choose to go with that, otherwise I would agree that they probably pump the studio full of laughing gas while filming

  102. >My main memories of it were “ooh, Starbug has crashed, I wonder what will happen next”.

    Same.

    I’ve never really had a problem with how the crash looked.

  103. My main memories of it were “that stuff with the kidnapping future selves and holding them hostage was a really cool idea, they should have gone with that as a main plot rather than spoofing First Contact”.

  104. Y’ALRIGHT PROMOTED CONTENT

    The shortened version of the good advert takes out all the Rimmer jokes and is poopy.

  105. I didn’t realise UKTV had the physical assets. That’s certainly blown a lot of my assumptions out of the water.

  106. Interview with Doug and the script for a deleted scene!

    That’s actually very funny, but I wonder if that made it stray away from being an AA advert into being a very short episode of Red Dwarf (if that makes sense).

  107. I take it the version with a male AA guy never appeared?

  108. I saw a ‘normal’ (ie Bugless) AA ad today, and wondered if perhaps they’d done with our lads for a bit. But if there’s still happening, then yay.

Jump to top / Jump to 'Recent Comments'

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.