Stellar Rescue – Smart Breakdown Review

You all know the feeling. You finally decide to act like an adult and get that breakdown cover and then you go months and months without any cause to use it. Well, thankfully Starbug’s finally carked it again after eight months of smooth running and so the AA are back to get it back on the SPACE ROAD and give us all another little tranche of Dwarf to enjoy.

Most of Ian’s excellent breakdown of Stellar Rescue could be copied and pasted here without changing much, and that’s not particularly surprising. This was shot at the same time as the first advert and it follows pretty much the same structure, but it’s still really fun to have new(ish) Red Dwarf gags while we wait for the Special later in the Spring.

There’s a definite art to pitching an advert like this correctly. Anyone unfortunate enough to endue Halifax’s recent campaigns will tell you that using beloved characters to sell your shit is something that can very easily fall flat or end up almost offensive. If a well known and well loved show is going to be used to sell something then it needs to be appropriate and done with the utmost care and respect, and it’s obvious that AA have found the right balance here.

The temptation to do something the easy way must be very strong when creating an advert like this, but if any aspect was off it would be really obvious. But the costumes, performances, set and effects are all *precisely* as they would be in a real episode which helps immediately sell the situation not only to long time fans, but filthy casuals alike. The writing of course has to sustain a certain amount of wonk because of the need to hurl Lister face first into the fourth wall and sell us on the product, but what’s impressive is how the rest of the dialogue doesn’t suffer because of this. The bare minimum page space is given to actually selling the AA, and all the rest is in service of some nice little gags and moments.

What we end up is something that’s actually much snappier than the first advert, with Kryten arguably enjoying the best moments with the candle gag and his characteristically cheeky but harmless dig at Lister. If Kryten making a joke about emergency light sources sounds a little familiar then I imagine that’s no accident, especially since next we get Rimmer in full on Dimension Jump mode as the AA’s own Ace Rimmer turns up to fix their shit. Finally, we find that the source of the drained power is none other than… the cat’s hair drying apparatus and the trio of episode references is completed with Bodyswap (EDIT: ok, ok, it’s DNA. Thanks to Dave in the comments for showing me up in front of the class). That’s pretty much a masterclass in writing a scene like this. Leaning on all the familiar Dwarfy tropes while casting them in a new enough light to stop it feeling like a rehash.

It’s fun, familiar and has the same great production values as the first. The opening shot is perhaps a little less impressive than before, but the fact they produced a new landscape at all is a nice touch and adds to the feeling of care that’s gone into the production. Aside from the obvious close involvement from GNP themselves, you can tell there’s a long time Red Dwarf fan in AA’s marketing department that’s supremely pleased with themselves right now. I hope there’s either more to come from the original shoot in the future or they get a chance to record more of these, because they’re undeniably fun and well made and anything that keeps Red Dwarf in the public eye is alright by us.

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24 Responses to Stellar Rescue – Smart Breakdown Review

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  1. It’s pretty good! Just imagine if this were being made during the VII/VIII era… I would have been kinda dreading it. Just goes to show how far everything’s come. I love the position Dwarf is in right now!

  2. Finally, we find that the source of the drained power is none other than… the cat’s hair drying apparatus and the trio of episode references is completed with Bodyswap

    DNA, surely?

  3. G&T Admin

    Ah! It’s both. They pull the same thing when they’re fixing the mess the rogue Skutter made.

  4. The VFX shots in this are great. Hopefully they’re indicative of what we’ll see in the Special – time/budget permitting of course.

  5. The lighting was better ironically as the lights were off, when they come back on its way too bright and colorful in my opinion. Other than that, good ad.

  6. Ah! It’s both. They pull the same thing when they’re fixing the mess the rogue Skutter made.

    Really? I must have completely forgotten that bit. I remember Lister going to see Kryten and Rimmer and complaining about poker being cancelled in Bodyswap, but I didn’t remember Cat even being in that episode until Lister orders the Toffee Crisp. I thought the stuff with his beauty gadgets was just in DNA.

    Those scenes are quite similarly-staged though so maybe I’ve mixed it all up in my mind somehow.

  7. No intention to show you up intended! I mix up loads of little bits of stuff between III and IV myself.

  8. G&T Admin

    That’s it Stouffer, you help.

    It’s important that I unify my brand across all my platforms.

  9. G&T Admin

    No intention to show you up intended! I mix up loads of little bits of stuff between III and IV myself.

  10. Wasn’t the Cat draining power with his hairdryer also in the last series? or was it 11… i dunno. it just wasn’t on screen. it was just Cat explaining he done it?

  11. Yeah in M-Corp

  12. > you can tell there’s a long time Red Dwarf fan in AA’s marketing department that’s supremely pleased with themselves right now.

    Maybe they can give you a hand with your episode references, Cappsy. ;-)

    Anyway, I think this campaign has been quite the achievement. As an advert it’s not exactly a work of art or amazingly funny, but it captures the spirit of the show in 30/60 seconds. Think it actually works better as publicity for the show than as a commercial for the AA, mind.

    (FWiW, I just remembered that my AA membership was up for renewal a month or two ago, and these commercials didn’t even cross my mind when I thought about renewing)

  13. Just saw it at the cinema.That is probably the nearest we will ever get to the Red Dwarf movie.

  14. I think they are effective adverts for the AA. They show that they are a breakdown service. Thus explaining the product.
    Imply they easily get to far out places. Use a trusted face / character as a voice of reason and others as a familiar panicing friend. Show the AA representatives in both diversity and general friendlyness. Then these adverts have taught me that the AA have two snazzy app type things. So with their slogan about the future, they attempt to market position themselves as the most technically brilliant and up to date choice. Given all that and that I like red dwarf I would say the advert is all in all a 100 % successful with me. Except. I don’t have a car.

  15. “Filthy casuals” haha!

    I’m pleasantly surprised and impressed at how successful these adverts have turned out. There’s always a danger in something like this for the actors to come out of character and become mouth pieces. But these seem to work quite well.

  16. The first episode was fine, but I thought this one better. The first made me smile but the gag at the end made me laugh.

    I know it’s not completely original (being a riff on the console powering down scene in DNA) but (as Cappsy states in his review) it’s different enough. More a running of a theme than a complete rehash, if that makes sense. If anything the similarity aids the joke… although that might just because I like this kind of gag, mixing a Star-Trek type conundrum with a mundane cause.

    And Danny does good silly faces as the Cat.

  17. Noticed that Direct Line have got Bumblebee (VW Beetle version) from Transformers now on their breakdown cover adverts, battle of the nostalgic, quite expensive adverts for who comes when your car shits the bed.

  18. Whatever next?

    Start Rescue doing Start Rek themed ads?

    Green Flag reuniting the cast of Blackadder? (Slogan: “If you need a cunning plan to get your car working again, don’t call The Black Adder; call Green Flag.”)

  19. David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst are just waiting for that call from the RAC.

  20. Direct Line have a few characters for their ads, RoboCop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bumblebee from Transformers for starters, who knows who else they have got. Johnny 5 next maybe?

  21. Direct Line have a few characters for their ads, RoboCop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bumblebee from Transformers for starters, who knows who else they have got. Johnny 5 next maybe?

    Yeah I saw the TNMT advert last night, it’s not as good as the Transformers one, they’ve probably signed a deal with Paramount or whichever studio it is.

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