Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Keff's theme arrangement. Bit Marmite.
David MacGowan@SpaceyBox aww i like Keff's theme and the way it starts in the wrong place. It's his scores i can't stand lol!
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 I actually like it. I wonder if it's because it was the one when I started watching.
Simon Pittman@LibraryPlayer The theme sounds like it was put together on one of those Yahama keyboards. Does grow on me after a while though. :-)
KippyWoo@TygerWhoCame2T I've softened to it a bit, but it has its place, and that's 1987-89. It's dated worst out of all the versions.

In a darkened circus ring, a rapping ringmaster introduces the show...

It's a pretty tatty looking ring, and his costume's cheap and garish. The least said about his (c)rapping the better; this is not a circus at the top of its' game.
Simon Pittman@LibraryPlayer I found the rapping a bit annoying after a while...

This is Grade era BBC where they treated children's TV with contempt, & treated Doctor Who as children's TV. 

From the luxury of having the show back now, I take a view it was all meant to be. 

Sadly it's reputation was such then that I doubt it could have attracted a decent lead after Sylv. Not without a major sea change at the beeb of wanting to make it a success with a big revamp.
In the TARDIS, Ace is looking for a missing bag. "Things don't just vanish!"

Nord, Vandal of the roads arrives on the planet Segonax, en route for the Psychic Circus...

Junk mail able to break into the TARDIS. What a terrible idea. 
Davad@davadsteel Nah! It's great! A definite Cartmel touch! And a contemporary reference that's better than a cameo from McFly! Also a great new way of getting the Doctor to the story. More Cartmel innovation!

I tend to dislike anything that makes the TARDIS just an ordinary spaceship to be honest, starts with Saward destroying temporal grace.though to be fair maybe that's what made the TARDIS vulnerable to the junk mail. Reckon I'd've been fine with a signal that couldn't be turned off, it's the idea of a robot being able to materialize aboard.
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland There is a school of thought that Doctor Who himself let it on board to trick Ace into going to the Circus...

Okay, I could see that, yeah. Sort of deliberately turning off the firewall that normally keeps them out.
And if he planned it, that would explain why he was already practising juggling.

"Oh no, not the spoons again!" Ace speaks for the nation.

The spambot calls Ace a chicken, so she agrees to visit the Circus.

Meanwhile on the quarry planet, Bellboy & Flowerchild are running for their lives.

Even on this horribly cheap looking video, Ian Reddington manages to menace like nothing else as the chief clown.

Those spy-kites are a great idea, and clowns in a hearse is wonderfully macabre.

It's the inventiveness of these sorts of ideas that make this an intriguing prospect.
Davad@davadsteel We loved it in our house! My sister has hated clowns ever since.
aston Lewis@astonlewis666 it's got a great cast .

Definitely. There's one or two slightly weak characters but the performances are pretty much all top drawer. Reddington's is the standout performance, which, with TP McKenna in town, is an even greater achievement than at first glance!
The Doctor and Ace meet a local stallholder and have to curry favour...

Special mention for Mark Ayres' score for this story, haunting & chilling in all the right places.

Bellboy & Flowerchild are immediately sympathetic, which draws you in...

...but sadly the stuff with Peggy Mount is terrible, tedious, padding, that keeps the Doctor and Ace - and therefore us - out of the story. 

Bellboy tries to lead the kites away...

...while Flowerchild searches the bus.

That fruit they have to eat does look particularly horrible, like watery scrambled eggs & sweetcorn.
Simon Pittman@LibraryPlayer Its like the mushy seedy bit inside a melon!
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 wonder whether it actually was?

"Here comes another one of your lot."

"Get lost... or I'll do something 'orrible to your ears!"
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 brilliant threat, lol!
Pete@other_pete As Colin Baker says to Paul Darrow on the Timelash commentary "Do you think that style of acting will ever come back into fashion...?"

Flowerchild recovers a small container from the bus but fails to spot the figure shambling up behind her...
After nearly being run over by the Clown-mobile...

...The Doctor & Ace meet Captain Cook, "the eminent explorer!" and his companion Mags.
Nord stops to ask for directions to the circus when he's already in sight of it. Not the brightest.
There's a grunting robot in the sand with laser eyes. 

"I've seen ones like this often enough, thankyou very much!"
Simon Pittman@LibraryPlayer You haven't met his brother, Brian, he's much worse - tries to sell people insurance! :P

That's definitely an empire that needs toppling!

Ace hits it with a spade, which seems to do the trick.
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 if in doubt - twat it!
That's my default technique for playing pool.

Bellboy only makes it as far as the stall before he's rounded up.

"Is there no end to you wierdos!"

And here comes Adrian Mole. 

The Doctor & the gang make it to the hippy bus...

...where the robotic collector lies in wait.
The Doctor confuses it... 

...then sets its laser blasting ticket machine back on it.

Ace picks up the earring she wore on her jacket in the previous story...
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 timey-wimey!

"Some people just can't bear being proved wrong..." The Doctor visits GallifreyBase.
Pete@other_pete Wish they'd dubbed on her saying 'Another one?!'
Andrew-Mark Thompson@Andydrewz There's an argument here. Just because the stories were originally broadcast in the wrong order for scheduling reasons doesn't mean they have to be watched subsequently in that order. It's always a given in they happen in chronological order.

True. In a lot of ways, I feel like Remembrance of the Daleks should've been the season finale. The 7th Doctor's character develops over season 25 but not in the right order. In s24 he blunders into things, in this & The Happiness Patrol he is checking into something evil he's heard about, in Silver Nemesis & Remembrance of the Daleks he's actively plotting & scheming, arriving places on purpose for his own ends. s26 then takes that & runs with it around a really strong story arc for Ace.
Tim Gambrell@Mr_Brell Silver Nemesis is pants, but it was set up to be the season finale and it works well that way. Greatest Show doesn't, alas..
David Cann@drwhofan_194 I love Greatest Show, but it's not season finale material, for certain.
The stallholder is despondent to discover that that nice, clean, respectable young Whizz Kid is another devotee of the Psychic Circus.

The Chief Clown welcomes the Captain and Mags.

The Doctor senses evil at the circus and heads straight for it.

Bellboy is taken into the ring & the ringmaster mutes Mags screams. Where was he when Mel was around?

Terrible cliffhanger. "Shall we actually start this story or not?" Of course they're going in.

One of those pointless cliffhangers where no resolution is ever intended and it was merely a marker scene. Happens a few times too often in the McCoy era.
Chris Cwej@chriscwej it should have ended on the clown waving.

Yes! Much better!

The Doctor and Ace bump into a fortune teller. 

 Bet the Doctor sees the future better. 

The fortune teller sadly reminisces about happier times, but she's afraid of something and clams up when the sinister chief clown oozes in, all malevolence behind the insane grin.

The boring bored family are a great touch. 
I'm The Batman@MGW_007  have a crisp.

Nothing about any detail of the psychic circus is right all adding up to a nagging, oppressive, sense of dread. 

Which is fitting because I dread another one of those abysmal raps from the ringmaster.

The ringmaster picks the Doctor out to be an act in the ring. At least someone at the beeb wanted him.

It's only when the clowns have Ace alone that the chief's mask slips...

Reddington's different voices to different audiences as the Clown are a subtle bit of work that adds much.

Captain Cook does nothing to stop the Doctor being imprisoned. 

"It's Survival of the fittest!" Shh, spoilers!

The fortune teller and the ringmaster speak as if they're prisoners. 

Everything about the circus feels doomed.

Unlike some earlier McCoy stories, this one feels more like it's winning against its production values...

Whizzkid is a classic misstep from a JNT production; we get the point but it could never overcome the fact that it would never deflate the stereotype, only reinforce it, and they should have recognised that.
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 feels like a bit of a kick in the nads to the fans!
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland When I was 8 I didn't care - Adrian Mole was in Doctor Who! Still don't care now - he's exactly the sort of fan the Psychic Circus WOULD have...
Tim Gambrell@Mr_Brell what destroys the illusion for me with Whizz Kid is the time factor. He claims to have corresponded with a founder member...But the suggestion is that the Psychic Circus is ancient. Yet why are he and the circus performers all young?

They only arrived on Seganox fairly recently - while Kingpin was in charge - it's the stones & gods that are ancient. 

He expects that the current line up won't know or be interested in the originals maybe? Like Dr. Who production teams... 

It's the equivalent of an obsssessive fan who's read about and written to e.g. Mervyn Pinfield discussing him with Andrew Cartmel. I've never though the current lineup or the circus itself was supposed to be ancient though, only the well on Seganox.

Ace encounters Bellboy...

...but has to hide when the Chief Clown stops by.

Nord takes his turn in the ring, and things seem to be going well...

...until he has to tell a joke...

...with predictable consequences. The Nord Show gets cancelled.

The fortune teller tries to discourage Whizz Kid but the Chief Clown ushers him in...

Mags and the Doctor team up to escape...

...but the Captain doesn't want to know.

Deadbeat impedes Ace's escape, allowing the Chief Clown to catch up with her.

Whizz Kid is called down to the ring.

I like that fan theory that Cook = Star Trek, Deadbeat = Blakes 7, Clown = Grade, Gods = BBC execs, but not sure if it really holds water if I'm honest.

The Doctor and Mags find their way to the heart of the tent...

...where there are ancient stones like the ones in the ring...

...and a strange simulacrum of the moon that frightens and repulses Mags.

Now we start to get to the secrets behind the circus as the Doctor & Mags find a well with an eye at the bottom.

But the Doctor's out of time - Captain Cook decrees he's on next... week that is. 

Now that's more of a cliffhanger.

Ace is locked in a room of robotic clowns...

...but Bellboy has the off button.

Mags gets a bit narky at the sight of that moon symbol, and the Captain backs down when she gets a bit growly.

The family are becoming a deliciously black chorus.
"I don't think much of this, Father." 
"Mum, Mum! I'm bored." 

"There's no point in going on, dear. We're all bored. Something has to happen soon."

We know about the production problems of course but it actually works better that the tent is a tent.

Turns out that Bellboy was the one who built the grunting robot.

Deadbeat reunites the Doctor and Ace. The Doctor's coming round to Ace's way of thinking. Clowns are creepy...

Whizz Kid is shown to the Green Room slash Holding Pen, where he's thrilled to meet Captain Cook.

"Although I never got to see the early days, I know it's not as good as it used to be..." Knowing wink or actually just a coy apology?
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland Old fans probably took it as an apology. But then 'Tomb' came back...

But Tomb is great. The backlash from certain fans was just more pathetic self-loathing silliness because they saw a couple of Kirby wires and got childishly defensive.
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland Yes, but its no more or less silly than most of show's output 87-89...

Oh, absolutely. But the line itself is so knowing that it obviously acknowledges that perceptions were otherwise, if only as a swipe at viewers watching in rose-tint-vision. Coming in the same story as whizzkid it makes for an odd anti-audience undercurrent.
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland On purpose, perhaps? Are they doing Brechtian alienation? Ha!
Certainly seems so! Gutsy, but suicidal in truth. seasons 25 & 26 had a real integrity of aims about them, so it does play in to that.

John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland I hadn't been scared for weeks, but this genuinely terrified me. Last time I hid 'behind the sofa'

Bellboy remembers that Deadbeat used to be the Kingpin.

He's gone to seed after losing that fight with Daredevil.

Deadbeats singing some awful song. Think I actually preferred the rapping. Oh. More rapping. No I don't.

Whizzkid gets the full sweep of null points.

The recaptured Mags is powerless to help... Whizz Kid too is cancelled.

The Doctor thinks Deadbeat has something to show him.

"You're just an ageing hippy, Professor."

Bellboy wants to stay behind to buy them time. "Everything I loved has gone. There's no point in living on to do work I hate."

Sure enough it's not long until the chief Clown arrives...

...but Bellboy activates his repaired clown robots and has them turn on him.

The Clown bids adieu...

The Doctor works out that Kingpin, as he was, accidentally released the evil forces that now control the circus with his now-knackered medallion.

"Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another!"
Simon Hart@Si_Hart Love that line!

As the Doctor suggests a 3-way with Mags & the Captain there's a season 24 throwback with "...hammer in the works."

The Captain has a new act up his sleeve...

...Mags is really a yellowy green punk werewolf!

The Captain sets her on the Doctor!

The Captain intends to deal with the powers behind the circus once the Doctor is out of the picture.

Ooh, that bored family have glowy green eyes. They're more interested in seeing the Doctor suffer.

Ace and Kingpin head for the bus; the Chief Clown anticipates a swift end for them, as the conductor is back in action.

"You're not only a scoundrel and a fool, but you're a crushing bore!" The Doctor finally zings Captain Cook.

Love that Clown that does the comical gasp alongside Cook's reaction.

The Doctor's having a swinging time with Mags.

The stare of the family force him back into the ring.

The Doctor makes his getaway when the Captain gets too close to urge Mags on, and she turns on him.

Ace finds the box that Flowerchild was after, but she too is stalked by the robotic ticket collector.

Kingpin sits around while the repaired bus conductor tries to crush Ace's head.

But remembers in time it has a self-destruct button under his hat.

With the Conductor blown to bits...

...Kingpin's stopped being a rubbish stoner now and knows they need to get the medallion to the Doctor.

His transformation is slightly reminiscent of Tommy in Planet of the Spiders.

With Mags' bloodlust satisfied, she returns to normal and the Doctor helps her escape.

With no more acts, the ringmaster and fortune teller are next in the firing line... 

Their pleas fall on deaf ears.

That family are obviously not all they seem.

As the Chief Clown pursues Mags into the wasteland...

...the Doctor decides it's time to meet the power behind the eye.

He demands a pathway, and the dimensions distort around him.

The Gods of Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrragnarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrok!

The Gods of Ragnarok, actually no relation to the far superior, and seemingly Earth-bound Fenric.

"You ain't seen nothing yet..."
Davad@davadsteel So cool.

When the Clowns pin them down...

...Ace, Mags & Kingpin are able to use Bellboy's robot.

Bit off that they actually just gun them down...
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 and a bit ridiculous the Chief just stands there waiting to be shot after watching all the robots going first!

...but I like Kingpin's "he used to be a great clown" lament.

The Doctor stalls the gods with flim flam and faffery...

...playing for time & dying on stage.

Nothing, no matter how good, how hard fought for, satisfies them...

To be fair, I suppose he is taking the piss.

"You're not interested in entertainment, just endings!" In case you didn't get it, the gods are the BBC top brass seeking cancellation.

Captain Cook rises from the grave to steal the medallion that Kingpin is trying to send the Doctor's way.
I'm The Batman@MGW_007 'thought you were dead' - 'I am' - is a slightly creepy moment.

But Ace distracts him with a quick "Oi, sarcophagus face!"...

...and the Doctor receives it just in the nick of time.

Captain Cook goes too far and overreaches himself. "As an experience I'd say it was very overrated!"

With the gods defeated...

...the Doctor walks away, cool as a cucumber... the circus explodes right behind him.
John Mark Frankland@JMFrankland A great Doctor Who moment...

The Doctor is now completely bald on the back of his head.

The Doctor turns down the chance to join the Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

"I'm afraid we've got other galaxies to travel. And besides, I find circuses a little sinister..."

Coming Soon... The Three Doctors

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