Dramatic slow-motion shots? PAH. That stuff’s for chumps. Shots that have been sped up, usually for comedic effect? THAT’S where the real good stuff is at, and Red Dwarf has a good chunk of it! Lets check out where my favourite TV show speeds up footage, and why.
Confidence and Paranoia – It was probably quite funny watching Craig Charles fall off a chair at normal speed. So speeding up the fall must make it funnier right? Right! Adding a zippy sound effect to it completes the gag, and the idea of using sped-up footage to accentuate gags is fully sown in the minds of the Red Dwarf production team.
Me² – Only six episodes in and we have an in-universe example! Lister gets bored watching a video of Rimmer natter on leading up to footage of his own death, and so spins on through it. I quite like the sped-up sombre music actually. We’ll gloss over the fact that Rimmer dies under Hollister’s desk and not where his powder was found in The End…
Parallel Universe – One of those moments where the sped-up audio is the main source of the comedy, and not just the high-speed visuals. Listen to the high pitched yeowls as the Cat dances at high speed to impress the Dog. I’m tempted to slow this down and see what it looks like at normal speed, but I think it would just be quite flat and boring, really.
Backwards – Rimmer being ejected from Starbug’s cockpit. This footage was sped for two reasons – firstly, it would have been a bit dangerous to yank Chris Barrie upwards that quickly, so they had to speed it up. Secondly, of course, it just looks funny.
Polymorph – The heat seekers point of view… nothing funnier than watching the Cat run around in high speed!
White Hole – A rare moment of the sped-up footage being used for a story point (in conjunction with slowed down footage). The time dilation in an amazingly compressed space features Rimmer then Kryten being sped up to show the weird effects of the white hole.
Justice – As the crew are escorted to the Justice Zone, the footage is sped up to accentuate the funny walks in their escort boots. Predictably, Danny John-Jules once again is the comedic highlight here.
Meltdown – Hitler’s waxdroid blood draining from his mouth is sped up, as presumably, it didn’t dribble out quick enough on the day.
There’s not much sped-up video to be found in series V, surprisingly, outside of a model shot.
Demons & Angels – As Starbug leaves the low Red Dwarf, it careens around down the launch-bay – and the footage is sped up to give it a little more urgency.
Legion – Legion’s faster than light drive blasts out of Starbug, and the crew get sucked toward the hole in the hull. Except not really – it’s just the cast gripping onto the set and each other to try and make it look a big ol’ decompression. Yet again, Danny John-Jules physically comedy comes to the fore, as he backwards-rolls into shot and the whole thing is sped up for (I presume) comedy effect.
Gunmen of the Apocalypse – Time for another model shot to be sped to impart some urgency! This time it’s Starbug swinging around and shooting the Simulant ship.
And in the same episode, the shot of Jimmy catching Lister’s knife-thrown apple in his mouth is not only sped up, it’s sped up AND played backwards! DOUBLE WHAMMY.
Duct Soup – See, I’d have built a vertical duct and dropped Craig and Danny down it and filmed that (this is why i don’t work in Health and Safety). But no, they just forward-roll down the set to make it look like they’re being blown down the duct. At least the sped up footage is pretty funny.
Pete Part I – During the basketball game, Cat climbs up the pile of hindered officers to dunk a scoring ball in glorious high speed – Danny John-Jules obviously couldn’t climb a human pyramid fast enough.
Pete Part II – Lister and Rimmer’s time delayed beating sends them flying backwards down a corridor into a wall, at high speed. One of the cleverer, funnier bits of Series VIII incorporates sped up footage, COINCIDENCE I THINK NOT?
And in the same episode, the newly semi-hatched dinosaur runs off in some hastily sped-up footage too. Almost like the poor vis-fx guy in the egg couldn’t really walk fast in the costume.
Back To Earth
Barely any sped up footage here, apart from a few small bits in the montage to give Carbug a little bit of extra go.
The Beginning – Slightly reaching here, but I’m pretty sure as Hougey hits the wall and plugs the gap in the hull, the impact is sped up to give it more punch.
Krysis – Footage is briefly sped up to show just how damned good Kryten’s upgraded body shell is at turning around at high speed. Bonus digital manipulation to keep his head facing Lister throughout the move.
M-Corp – the only bit of sped up footage I can recall in Series XII is from the time-lapse stock footage used in the M-Corp company advert… not so much comedy for this one as corporate.
Okay, now let’s see how all this sped up footage manages in terms of making it into the title sequence!
Series I & II are obvious non-starters in this regard, but the Series III title sequence features a heat-seeker POV shot, and Series IV features a snippet of the time-dilation-in-a-compressed space shot. Series V then lets the side down slightly with no sped-up bits making the cut, but Series VI does feature the Starbug hull breach scene, but before the footage gets accelerated. Series VII then drops the ball, but Series VIII steps up and includes the footage of the time-delayed fight in it’s title sequence. Back To Earth and Series X, Series XI & Series XII all then go on to eschew using any sped up footage shots.
This is obviously an important but of analysis, and it needed to be made, but future Red Dwarf discourse should of course be handled by people with brains larger than a grape.
Anyways, I think that’s all the sped up bits that spring to mind – if I’ve missed any, of course, sound off below.