The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
I'm tempted to say, well, it's not this, but truth is, it is. This story has always sat well with me as it's very good. It evokes some scares from clowns and ciruses and to be honest, it wrings it all out of it well. I've always had a love/hate relationship with circuses and zoos, mostly because I worry about how they treat the animals and because of what could happen there (such as fires and stampedes etc mostly culled from childhood memories of movies from the 50s and 40s that show this), illogically.
One thing I forgot to mention is that this ep and ep1 of SILVER NEMESIS is the sound quality. There are times when the Doc and Ace walk away from the camera and we can't really hear a lot of what they are saying. Similarly in SILVER, the witch and Rich walk toward us from afar and they are talking and we can hardly hear what they are saying. Unless it's just the copies I have (doubtful) the sound quality is poor!
Clowns are creepy sometimes. Here we have a great planet, a great looking planet, an unusual set up and a Doctor, who while doing something that Tom Baker's Doctor might do, is also setting up Ace again to face something that she fears...and we'll get more of that later on, too. The grouchy people on the planet, both visitors and natives, are well set up: Nord (a Mad Max rip off if ever there was one and a mean person to boot) , Bellboy and his girl (Bellboy's right fit he is), the fruit lady (rotten fruit is disgusting and that seems to be what Ace and the Doctor are forcing themselves to eat in order to get in her good graces), and the circus itself. It's obvious there's something sinister going on but not what, I hoped that would come later. Chances are when I first saw this, I wasn't paying much attention because I expected that the explanations and what was going on would not come later as some things in SILVER just weren't fully explained, nor the Doc's motives in some of the more recent stories. Here, again, he's heard things as in other stories of this time. To be honest, it seems as if one big bad (Fenric? The Gods?) have gotten all of the Doc's worst and most powerful enemies together, many of them that we've never seen before (Fenric, The Gods of Rarrrrrraggnnoorrraaccckkkk, the witch, Morgaine, etc etc) and a few we have (Davros, Daleks, Cybermen) and gotten them all to go up against him at the same time while also making him think HE'S the one setting them all up. Of course, none of this is obvious until about CURSE OF FENRIC and frankly at the time, I hated all of it, every last bit of it. Nowadays, not so much. I just thought the idea of a traveling scientist/explorer was lost into something that was just...sort of stupid and even a bit predictable and where it wasn't predictiable it didn't seem to make any sense. Then fans and writers explained more of it. But is that good TV? or even good storytelling? I think not.
But anyway back to this: the set up of Bellboy and his girl, attacked by the Robot and the Circus and the kites was intriguing. Ace's fear of the circus made us have someone we could identify with, finally; and the intro of Mags is good. The Capt annoys and he is like a Dr Smith/Mr Fitzhugh from LOST IN SPACE/LAND OF THE GIANTS. The two later robot attacks in this episode (there are three!!!!) are strange...Mags is digging one up when it attacks her and the Doctor...and the other one is a Tin Bus (another bus, what is it with this series and buses?) Conductor that killed the girl---disturbingly---who gets zapped by the Doctor...how? How did the Doctor just do that? Was the Robot just malfunctioning? or was it just stupid? Or what?
The Whizkid character is meant to be us fans. Thanks JNT. I guess it's his revenge on that fanzine that always attacked him in the 80s...what was it called, DW Bulletin? Not sure.
Anyway a good episode.