Doctor Who – The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Hmmmm. This one’s been sitting on my pile of things to watch for a while. I started to watch it a few weeks ago, realised I wasn’t really taking it and stopped. I picked it up again on Sunday, and this time managed to get all the way through. You see, for me, the problem with The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is that it’s longer than it needs to be. By this late point in the show’s original run, three episodes was becoming the normal thing, and the odd four episode story could seem long by comparison. Indeed, early in the story’s development, it was expected to be have three parts.

But it does have its good bits. IT’s an early indication of where the development of the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) was heading, and the relationship with Ace (Sophie Aldred) is working nicely. They arrive in a quarry on a remote planet which is currently home to the Psychic Circus, which is famous throughout the galaxy. And being a famous circus in Doctor Who, it naturally has sinister clowns (there’s another kind?) and a Grim Secret. And it’s the Grim Secret that the Doctor is there for, of course. In what will be seen as typical for this incarnation, he’s not just randomly falling into trouble, he’s deliberately seeking it out with quite deadly intentions.

The circus exists in two realities, one in the usual kind of tent, where the audience is a rather hard to please family, and the other in an ancient stone arena, where the audience turns out tob e something the Doctor knows from previous adventures that we haven’t seen.

It all sort of works, but could have done with a bit of editing. But maybe that’s just me…

In addition to the usual bits and bobs, extras include:

  • The Show Must Go On – the usual cast and crew thing, looking back at the production
  • Tomorrow’s Times – The Seventh Doctor – a review of the generally harsh response the press had to this era of the series.

There are some smaller features, including a staggeringly unfunny skit from a Victoria Wood TV show and a cringe-inducing music video featuring clips from the story set to a song written by guest star Christopher Guard. With most of these things, I generally say “worth watching once”. I’m not so sure about that one.

I’m not sure why this story doesn’t appeal to me as much as others of the period (for instance, I really like Silver Nemesis and Battlefield, which come in for a lot of criticism). Maybe it’s the clowns.