More evidence of The Day Today’s prescience

Permanent Commentator This is a post about DVD commentaries. I don’t know if this is firmly in the “obvious” category. I think three or four years ago, these commentaries were universally derided. Yet you rarely see any DVDs released without one, and I have seen people spitting tacks (of the cyber variety, on the internet) when a DVD was released without a commentary.

I got a couple of DVDs recently, series 2 of Look Around You and The Mighty Boosh. I noticed that the two Mighty Boosh discs had different certificates. Then I saw this message on both DVDs in tiny writing on the back of the packaging:

Certificate 15 (Overall category raised to 15 due to additional material being classified at a higher certificate than the main feature — 12)

It occured to me that it is some poor bloke’s job to sit there in some BBFC office and listen carefully to the commentary in case somebody utters the word “fuck”.

Whenever I listen to these commentaries, the first quarter of the commentary everybody is really rusty, and apologising because the commentary is rubbish. They clearly don’t want to be there. Sometimes they get into the swing of things, but before long they start to get really bored. And then the whole commentary can begin to be about how bored they all are. Or they’ll start making up songs to pass the time. Or telling really crap jokes.

Peter Serafinowicz yawns at one point in the Look Around You 2 commentary and says, “I’m sorry. I’m not tired, I’m just bored.” That was pretty much the highlight of the entire commentary.

Commentaries are universally dire. So why the hell to I always listen to these commentaries? I don’t know. If you’re lucky, you will find out some interesting information, but at the expense of the loss of three hours of your life. I think instead of giving these commentaries age certificates, the BBFC should have a traffic light system indicating how interesting the commentary is. They’ll all be black, indicating “coma inducing”.


  1. My brother has the full set of Futurama DVDs. I really ought to get round to watching them; whenever I saw it on the television I found it really funny.

  2. On the other hand, you can get commentaries where one of the actors takes great enjoyment in pointing out when they’re on screen and how great they are. I’ve experienced that a few times with Brendan Fraser, some guy in The Goonies and most of the cast of Lord of The Rings.

  3. You want to listen to the John Carpenter / Kurt Russell commentaries for The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China – nearly as entertaining as the films themselves.

    There are always exceptions to the rule. The rule, however, is mostly valid. (Spoken as someone who had to sit through all four commentaries on all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films… Christ… That’s about 48 hours’ worth.)

  4. Heh, NM mentions what I was going to. I guess this is a case of YMMV, I really like some commentaries, I’ve occasionally spent weekends watching LotR all the way through, extended edition, commentaries on.

    Directors commentary is best, but the hobbits are always funny.

    But TV show commmentaries are uniformly dire.

  5. The Napoleon Dynamite commentary is good – I can easily watch the entire film with that on, there’s a real love from the director for some scenes, certain angles and certain shots.

    For me, the Boosh commentaries do work on that basis. Noel is clearly taken by the high concept behind certain scenes / outfits, Rich Fulcher just sings crazy songs and brings the non-sequiters in. But if you don’t enjoy that I struggle to see how you can enjoy the series itself.

    Other options? Get viewers’ commentaries instead.