Thursday, July 10, 2008

TV: Confidential Whets Appetite

Having taken in the current series of Doctor Who (see yesterday's posts), I picked and chose my way through the companion Doctor Who Confidential episodes. I started watching the Confidential episodes last year and found them fascinating in many ways.

They are each a "Making of ..." documentary on the episode of the Doctor Who show that has just played. I feel I know the crew of the show as well as I know the fictional Doctor Who. Russell T Davies is a jovial explainer of why and what -for in terms of writing the show. It's not hard to see the little boy and big-time Doctor Who fan in him at all. When he's not writing, the episode's writer shows up to explain how-come and why-for. With Steven Moffat explaining his various episodes as writer, I feel comfortable with him in the command chair come series 5.

Then there are the crew. Producer Phil Collinson, Executive Producer Helen Vallis and their merry band of imagination creators all get a moment in the sun to show what they do to make Doctor Who seem real to many, many fans. The stunts and the special effects are shown in preparation and execution. You get a real sense of just how a TV show is made. It takes some of the glamour and magic away from the show, but shows how many people it takes to put on the show. It's a veritable army.

Plus, you get to meet some of the actors outside of their characters. David Tennant is a really likable chap it seems. He likes to laugh and gambol about. A star having fun can make a shoot WAAAAAY more enjoyable than a 'serious' actor who is above mixing with the common rabble of gaffers and lighting men and the like. Trust me on that one. I will continue my vow not to mention a certain bionically-enhanced actress when discussing these kinds of primadonnas.

And it's just not the stars that get their five minutes to talk up the process. Most of the guest stars get their turn, even the ones who spend the whole show encased in some monster's rubber costume. I would have thought the Sontarans were all teenagers from their height. Not so. It's apparently doable to find five-foot tall accomplished actors to do that kind of job.

I was also gob-smacked to find that the actress who played The Doctor's Daughter, in The Doctor's Daughter, was actually The Doctor's Daughter! Really!! Georgia Moffett is the daughter of Peter Davison, who was the fifth Doctor Who. Davison and Tennant had a fun-time playing off each other in a short called Time Crash last year, and it just seemed reasonable to keep the part of the daughter in the family so-to-speak. I quite enjoyed Moffett's performance as Jenny and forsee, happily, a return for her in some future Doctor Who series.

To be frank, I'm not going to watch all of the Confidential episodes. I've watched about five and will watch two more (the final two). I'm not interested in the excuses and reasons for the mistakes that lead to the dreary episodes from this season. I know they MEANT well. But not every one is a winner.

That said, if you have ANY interest in participating in the TV business, in just about any way, then this show stands out as a prerequisite for that college course and apprenticeship you have ahead of you. Might scare you off. Or it might lead you to being the next Doctor Who companion, writer, stunt co-ordinator or star himself!

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