11 September 2008 | bob the moo
Despite Lyman's narration, this is a really engaging and telling look at the struggle facing the show coming into season 6
I forget what season it was on, but some of the previous documentaries on the DVD extras were little more than promotional filler of little value and I sort of expected the same from this. I thought my fears were confirmed when the gruff and overly-serious narration from Will Lyman started us off with a very brief overview of the show with lots of clips played under his voice. Some people like his style but to me it suits some shows but generally pushes the film one way and it is generally an "overview" with "big sentences" rather than letting the subjects talk. After this though we get to what the film is about which is following the process of creating an episode which, either by very good fortunate or by good selection, is the subway one.
What this means is that we follow it from the idea in the informal writing meeting where it is pitched as an idea, through the writing stage, the rewriting stage into the shooting and finally to the editing of the final episode. The focus of the film is not really about the "how" (although bits of that come out) but more about the challenges faced in making this episode, with us being given the understanding that this is not only relevant to this one episode but week-in, week-out. The camera manages to not get in the way and, although we don't get "warts and all", we do get frank discussions and the frustrations and strains on those involved is evident. As writer and producer of this episode, most of the time is spent with Yoshimura and I think catching him at work prevents the glossy sound-bites that some of the other set interviews produce. It is this that makes the film interesting and engaging and provides a good snapshot into why the show went the way it did and how hard it was to get it onto the screen each week for many reasons.
Non-fans of the show will perhaps not care about the subject as much as I did, but it is unlikely that non-fans will be buying the sixth season box-set of the show. So while season 6 may be a slight disappointment for those who love seasons 1 & 2, this documentary helps you appreciate why and perhaps be a bit more understanding of what the writers were trying to do with it. Well worth checking out if you have the DVD.