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  1. #1
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    Default Commenting on the Commentaries.

    Commentaries can be a mixed bag. Sometimes they're really entertaining, sometimes they're slow and boring.
    But do you listen to them? Which ones have you really enjoyed and which have bored you to tears? Are they even a good idea bearing in mind that a lot of Who material is very old and the participants even older with dodgy memories.
    My favourites have to be the Peter Davison ones. There's always a fun vibe to them and Davison always does his homework by watching the story ahead of time. I think a lot of the 60's ones can be a bit clunky, especially when the participants can't remember a great deal about the production. But my least favourite so far was Talons of Weng Chiang. Given that he produced some of the finest who ever, Phillip Hinchcliffe is the dullest person to listen to ever.

  2. #2
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    Hinchcliffe is the kiss of death for commentaries!

    I think the best ones are where you get the likes of Barry Letts and Katy Manning together. Part 6 of The Green Death is heartbreaking!

    My other fave was the Earthshock commentary, where Peter, Janet and Sarah spend the whole time taking the piss out of Matthew. It's hilarious!

    Some of the early ones are very difficult to find people for. Fortunately, Peter Purves is fantastic value as is Frazer Hines, especially when coupled with Wendy. So the only ones that are really heavy going are the early Hartnells, with Carol Ann-Ford and William Russell. William is great but he can't remember anything, while Carol doesn't have much to say.

    But Chris D'Oyly John is a real treat. I can't remember which ones he's on, but he's very interesting because he knows all the behind-the-scenes stories everyone had forgotten.
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  3. #3
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    The worst I remember ever hearing was the original TV Movie one, I really was losing the will to live!
    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” - Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

  4. #4

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    I've not really heard many of them, I'd definitely like to hear some Davison ones which I haven't heard any of, but the worst I have heard was undoubtedly Jacqueline Pearce on The Two Doctors. She couldn't remember anything at all, seemingly had no interest or understanding of the story, and basically contributed nothing and came across as a massive luvvie bore.

  5. #5
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    I quite enjoyed that one but then thats down to whether you like Jacquie Pearce or not.
    Peter Purves does a fantastic job on the second episode of Daleks Masterplan. He has the hard job of getting something out of Kevin Stoney, who is about 200 years old and can barely remember whi he is let alone anything else, and Raymond Cusick who still seemed bitter and uninteresting. Thats he achieves anything at all is good but some how he makes it entertaining too.
    I've recently listened to all teh commentaries on Trial of a Timelord which was entertaining. I think Colin is quite good value for money. There are some brilliant bits in the Vervoid story where Pip Baker says some derogatory things about Colin in jest that you can tell Colin doesn't find funny. Which is very entertaining. The only one I didn't like was the Eric Saward one on part 13. He sounded very bitter about it all still and it was a bit of downer after the other ones.

  6. #6
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    I think the 4 to doomsday commentary was better than the feature. Interesting as Janet Fielding really kind of talks about how the companions were treated as baggage on set, and perhaps why she had so much bitterness towards Doctor Who ...
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

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    Does she bitch about everyone's hair and clothes?

  8. #8
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    I must admit I rarely listen to the commentaries - I went through a phase of 'religiously' doing them all, but then reached a stage of finding a lot of them hard-going for little 'reward'. The Davison ones are a bit of an exception, with Resurrection being a particular favourite.

    There are, though, a few commentaries I've quite deliberately not listened to on the DVDs I have. Logopolis in particular, I'm not sure I'm quite ready to watch it with people yammering over the top of it - plus I'd hate to find the commentators picking holes in something which I really like. I did the Castrovalva one, which was entertaining enough but just left me feeling a bit stupid for liking the story so much!

    I seem to recall the original Remembrance commentary was one of the very first I listened to, which was mainly Sophie talking with not much help from Sly. Bit of a struggle!

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    Its all down to whether the participants enjoy themselves or not isn't? Thats seems to have happened with the Davison ones.

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    On Resurrection I particularly liked Peter's comments about the difference between the deaths of actors and the deaths of extras!

  11. #11
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    I love m'commentaries. Some of them aren't great but the use of moderators for the early ones has definitely helped.

    Always great value -

    Frazer Hines
    Terrance and Barry
    Peter Davison
    Christopher Bidmead
    Peter Purves
    Mary Tamm

    Usually good -

    Colin Baker
    Lalla Ward
    Janet Fielding
    Tom Baker
    Katy Manning

    Disappointing -

    Elisabeth Sladen
    Philip Hinchcliffe
    Sylvester & Sophie

    Just plain unsettling -

    John Levene

    Seeds of Death still ranks as my all time favourite - just the right mix of affection, information and amusement.
    Dennis, Francois, Melba and Smasher are competing to see who can wine and dine Lola Whitecastle and win the contract to write her memoirs. Can Dennis learn how to be charming? Can Francois concentrate on anything else when food is on the table? Will Smasher keep his temper under control?

    If only the 28th century didn't keep popping up to get in Dennis's way...

    #dammitbrent



    The eleventh annual Brenty Four serial is another Planet Skaro exclusive. A new episode each day until Christmas in the Brenty Four-um.

  12. #12
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    They're an eternal contradiction to me. When I walk in and a snatch of one is on, I find it impossibly addictive. It's very hard to escape the room when you've started listening.

    But I've always found something very damaging about the whole concept of them to my personal viewing. There are a finite number of Doctor Who stories, and one has to ration viewing of them. In a way, watching a story with commentary is a bit like having it on in the background when people are chatting - you feel you have "watched" the story in the sense that you couldn't then sit down the next day and watch it properly and enjoy it, but you haven't appreciated any of the finer points, the dialogue, the plotting. It's like you've "wasted" a viewing of it, and it feels a bit sacriligeous. To me, these stories are works of art! If I'm going to sit down with them, it feels disrespectful to have some actors chatting away over the top.

    So I definately wouldn't watch a story for the first time in a while with the commentary on. However, as I said they are very fun to listen to in their own right! So perhaps the best use of them for me, and I don't do it often, would be to re-watch a story I have just seen with the commentary track on, while doing the ironing or another activity where I don't need to be able to see the screen.

    Si.

  13. #13
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    I agree! Listening to a commentary whilst doing the irony is a guilty pleasure of mine!

    I nearly always enjoy the commentaries, to varying degrees, of course. The only one so far which I’ve not been able to get through is The Keeper of Traken, only because of Matthew Waterhouse constantly interrupting everyone. It’s especially annoying on this as it’s the only commentary with Anthony Ainley, and he hardly gets a word in.

    I would agree that the Davison stories generally have the best commentaries. He has a good balance of praise and good-natured ribbing of the show, and always gets the best out of his co-commentators, with the exception of Janet Fielding who rarely has anything else to say aside from moaning about hair and costumes.

    The early Tom commentaries were a bit dry as he never seemed to be able to remember anything from his time, but on the later ones he’s generally good value. Phillip Hinchcliffe is rather dry I suppose, but I still enjoy hearing what he has to say.

    Some of the most enjoyable have been the Letts/Dicks/Manning commentaries. Dear old Barry never fails to capture my interest, and always had a remarkable clarity in recalling events from around 40 years previous. He has a definite advantage over Hinchcliffe in that he’s been an actor, writer and director as well as producer, so has multi-faceted views on everything. Terrance has an impishly silly sense of humour which I love, even though he often repeats the same old anecdotes, and he and Barry always bounce well off each other. Katy Manning is just bonkers and I love the way she periodically laughs herself silly at something on screen, which usually gets the other two going. It’s amazing how that ‘family’ feel was still there after decades.

  14. #14
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    Back in the days when I was buying and watching all the DVDs as soon as they were released, I used to go back to each DVD approx. 6 months later and do the commentary. This continued up to and including Genesis, which came out some 5 years ago. But later that year I started to fall seriously behind as the release rate upped, notably with the KTT box set which really slowed my progress down, so I haven't bothered with revisiting DVDs to do commentaries on the basis that I've had a constant backlog of viewing new DVDs for the last 4 years or so, never mind revisiting them!

    Of the ones I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the Davison ones the most, followed by the Letts/Dicks ones, for all the reasons cited above.

    Probably the first one I did was Robots of Death, which I found very tedious, and the TV Movie was seriously compromised by only having one person - I believe that remains the only release to have that distinction?

    One day I expect I'll go back and do Inferno onwards...

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    I think the commentaries are very much something you "do once then never again".

    It really depends on the character of the people who are talking. I guess it's like convention guests. Sometimes you go to see someone who you really admire their work, they're up on stage and its "omg this is so boring".

    One of the best guests I've ever seen played Nassir (I think) in Robin of Sherwood. And not done much acting other than that, but mainly stunt work. And there was just no shutting the guy up! But he's just know how to tell a good story.


    But so far for me, I thought Earthshock was probably the best.
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

  16. #16
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    One of the best guests I've ever seen played Nassir (I think) in Robin of Sherwood. And not done much acting other than that, but mainly stunt work. And there was just no shutting the guy up! But he's just know how to tell a good story.
    Mark Ryan! To digress slightly he's brilliant value on the third series of Robin of Sherwood commentaries. Along with Jason Connery. They're some of the most entertaining commentaries I've ever heard.

    Anyway back to Who. I've not done any Pertwee era ones. I'll have to make a start as they sound fun.

    I generally listen to the commentaries when revisiting a story as others have said. Although sometimes I find that if its been too long, I find myself straining to hear the story beneath all the nattering. Its was like trying to watch anything with my nan in the room!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Monk View Post
    I generally listen to the commentaries when revisiting a story as others have said. Although sometimes I find that if its been too long, I find myself straining to hear the story beneath all the nattering. Its was like trying to watch anything with my nan in the room!
    I used to belong to a sci-fi group in Burton, and we used to have monthly video days. Quite why we put anything on I don't know ... as we'd usually end up talking all over it ala Mystery Science Theatre!
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

  18. #18
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    The commentaries are generally brilliant- one of my favourite extras on the DVD range. I've heard virtually all of them (only The Sea Devils and The Keys of Marnius remain unfinished).
    I always watch the story and commentary straight off. Quite frankly I know the stories so well now, that I find watching with the commentary is often more rewarding straight off than just seeing the story. After all you can always watch the story straight when you're ready- I just find doing the commentary when the DVD is new a fun and lovely thing to do.

    Of all the various commentators, I've found you can't beat Barry Letts, Peter Davison, Peter Purves and Chris Bidmead are probably my favourite contributors. It's possibly because they remember so much about their various times on the show that makes them work best of all.

    I've enjoyed the ones recently where the mix of behind of the scenes crew and actors and the production team swap around. There's been a good mix of contributions and stories come out of that.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  19. #19
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    Oh and I wanted to mention but forgot a minute ago that it's a shame certain peiople died before the DVD range got going. I'd have really loved to hear JNT on them or Jon Pertwee. In fact I think JNT is definitely for me the voice most missing from the range.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    Given today's sad news, do we know yet whether or not Nicholas Courtney has left us any commentaries for any of the unreleased Pertwee's?

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    There can't be many left surely. Wonder if he did a Daemons?

    Si.

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    Oh and I wanted to mention but forgot a minute ago that it's a shame certain peiople died before the DVD range got going. I'd have really loved to hear JNT on them or Jon Pertwee. In fact I think JNT is definitely for me the voice most missing from the range
    Absolutely. I often think it's a shame that although we've been and continue to be lucky that there are key people around right back to the early days, there are nevertheless other key people who passed away too early. JN-T is a particularly sad one, but also David Whitaker, Douglas Camfield, Bob Holmes.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    There can't be many left surely. Wonder if he did a Daemons?

    Si.
    I seem to think he did a 'Terror of the Autons' commentary with Katy Manning, in about 2003. Wonder if they'll use that on the upcoming release?

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