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.