Reviewlet: Doctor Who – The Commentaries

Commentary tracks over films or television programmes are hit-and-miss things; sometimes fascinating insights into the writing, filming and/or acting process, sometimes lengthy awkward pauses interspersed with “uh… yeah… it was really cold that day”. I don’t often get around to them on DVDs, but the ever-splendid BBC offer Doctor Who commentaries as podcasts, and I can quite happily listen to them while wandering around doing other stuff. Very occasionally they don’t work too well without the accompanying visuals (“ah, now *that’s* very significant later!”), but so long as you can remember the episode reasonably well they’re mostly just fine in isolation.

There are a good mix of people involved in the podcast: writers (including the sporktastic James Moran), actors (David Tenant, Catherine Tate, the lovely Freema Agyeman), members of the production team, regular monsters (the actors who regularly play monsters, that is, not the monsters themselves; you couldn’t let a Sontaran loose in the commentary booth). I guess it’s still generally the preserve of somewhat-more-dedicated-than-is-normal (or healthy, for that matter) Doctor Who fans, but the latest commentary, for The Forest of the Dead, is well worth a listen. It’s Steven Moffat, David Tennant and Russell T Davies, not long after the announcement that Moffat is to take over from Davies as lead writer and executive producer for the fifth series, and there’s a lot of excellent banter between the three, with an occasional digression to talk about the episode.