Well, that's 2 of my all-time favorite WHO stories in 2 days-- and a 3rd one set for tonight.  What a turn-around!
    DRAGONFIRE has these moments of absolute brilliance, but they're side-by-side with the most mind-wrenchingly stupid things which just destroy any hope the story has.  Every time I watch it, I try to enjoy it (and the good parts really do make me laugh), but by the time it ends, I'm always shaking my head in total dismay.
    REMEMBRANCE may have flaws... but apart from a BAD sound mix, none of them are really evident as I watch. And I've seen it at least 8 or 9 times by now.  I like how someone said this is the right way to do continuity references.  They explain anything important, and you don't have to have seen previous stories to really "get" what's going on.  But doing so adds to the enjoyment.
    I e-mailed Philip Sandifer last night, suggesting when he gets to Season 25 that he review them at his blog in the "proper" order, rather than how it was broadcast and indexed ever since.  I also mentioned that the Shannon Sullivan site got it WRONG.  THE HAPPINESS PATROL was never designed as the season finale, any more than THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE GALAXY was.  It's painfully clear SILVER NEMESIS was meant, from the word go, as the season finale.  It bothers me when some website like that posts incorrect info which is then endlessly parroted by others for decades to come.
    I remember being a bit unsure what to make of GREATEST SHOW the first time I saw it, but it's gotten better every time I've seen it.  It's interesting how many people picked up on the "allegorical" nature of the story.  Just like TRIAL OF A TIME LORD, it seems to be making commentary on the state of the show itself, as well as television in general.  "Anyone stupid enough to go in the ring gets killed!"  Makes you wonder why anyone can stand to do a TV show nowadays, when they keep cancelling things faster and faster.  Mike Nesmith did a song once called "Hollywood", which is almost a more philosphical version of "Do You Know The Way To San Jose".  It's got a line in it, "Now I will go to some place that I know, where things don't start just to end."
    One thing nobody at PageFillers picked up on was the possibility that Captain Cook and Mags were counterparts of The Doctor and Ace themselves.  He's a "famous intergalactic explorerer" and she was "rescued" from a dire fate, and has trouble controlling her violent streaks.  But I think Cook is specifically a commentary on Colin Baker!  He's chubby, he's always running off at the mouth about things nobody cares about, he's totally full of himself, but he never seems to actually DO anything.  And too damn many people seem to know who he is.  There's also the spooky scene, "But, I thought you were dead!"  "I am-- I AM!"  The Doctor has died 6 times by here.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one bothered by the way the story never seems to "explain" anything about who The Gods of Ragnarok are, why they're doing what they are, etc.  I suspect when The Doctor said he's battled them for all eternity, he was being metaphorical within the context of the story.  It's bad enough that in THE CURSE OF FENRIC we have some ancient "evil from the dawn of time" who is never explained properly, who the Doctor faced in some story we never saw (a growing, recurring problem by this point) but to also have it with the Gods of Ragnarok is just too much in too short a space of time, I think.  Even though, they're much more impressive-looking than anything in FENRIC.
    I love the way the characters are developed in this.  Ace, particularly, is amazing.  She was totally unlikable in DRAGONFIRE, then, really annoying in some scenes in REMEMBRANCE, yet incredible to watch in others.  Then, in GREATEST SHOW, she finally manages to calm down enough to be thoughtful.  Some of her scenes with The Doctor, and Bellboy, and Kingpin, are just amazing.  The story starts out with so much tight editing, from scene to scene to scene, but as someone pointed out, each very brief scene seems to lead so naturally into the next, it's done far better than in almost any other story from the era.  And then, in the middle half, it slows down and allows scenes to play out at a natural pace, for both mood and plot-development.
    The result is, even if the story doesn't make perfect sense, it's so good to watch, you don't care!
    The Doctor and Ace were strangers in DRAGONFIRE.  They barely seemed to know each other in REMEMBRANCE.  Here, each winds up saying to the other, "Trust me."  Which shows a lot of development, as they've become much closer.  All this has to happen before THE HAPPINESS PATROL, in which they've become a fine-tuned team, almost like Batman & Robin.  I always watch them in this order.  (When I watched them in broacast order, the first time around, HAPPINESS was very jarring coming right after REMEMBRANCE.  You could tell it wasn't in the right place.)
    Taken together, the whole season works as if it were one unit (providing you watch it in the right order).  This goes both for the character development, and the pacing.  It starts out with a bang, then slows down for the 2nd "act".  A lot of music albums are put together this way, too, with the slowest song being the 2nd one on side 1.  The 3rd and 4th stories, the momentum builds again and reaches insane levels by the end of SILVER NEMESIS.  It is so stupid that the first time in ages they designed an entire season this way, the schedule got screwed up, because of a sport event.  (I don't care if it was the Olympics!)

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Interesting - it's been ages since I've seen this - but I seem to recall one fanboy theory that "Captain Cook" was meant to represent Star Trek.

That fanboy must have been deeply delusional. I can't see how that comparison even remotely makes the slightest bit of sense.

I dunno.  I'll have to wait until I see it next, whenever they get aorund to releasing it on disk.

T.P. McKenna, who played Captain Cook, much earlier had appeared in "DEATH AT BARGAIN PRICES", one of the earliest Mrs. Peel episodes of THE AVENGERS.  (It's the one about the department store.)

...I remember seeing the novel of this - Did I have it ????????? - in a Lyle Stuart edition .

Got this on disk last night, some thoughts below:


1)"Segonax" almost sounds "Second Acts". A coincidence probably, but an interesting one.


2)I never had the fear of clowns that people often report having had when they were kids.  However, I never found them all that amusing, and I can see how they can easily be made quite creepy.  Certainly, the guy playing the Chief Clown here manages it quite well.


3)Actually, Sylvester McCoy gets to show off quite a bit of his own clowning skills in this.


4)I looked it up last night, and the idea that Captain Cook represents Star Trek comes from The Discontinuity Guide, by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping.  It seems to be mostly based on the idea of "Captain Cook" sounding a bit like "Captain Kirk" and the whole notion of Kirk being a "galactic explorer" of sorts. I don't see it, myself. Too me, the Captain and Mags seem almost like funhouse versions of the First Doctor and Susan, the self-serving old guy and the "girl with something extra".


5)The Whizzkid is a rapidy of obsessive Doctor Who fanboys - the writer has said as much.  "Although I never got to see the early days, I know it's not as good as it used to be, but I'm still terribly interested."


6)"Is there no end to you weirdos?" Well, no.


7)Thanks to them juggling the schedule around, Ace picks up the earring that we've already seen her wearing in "Silver Nemesis".


8)The Gods of Ragnarok are not really all that impressive. "I have fought the Gods of Ragnarok all through time." Which is why you've never mentioned them before?


9)"You're just an aging hippy, Professor."


10)"Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another."  However, being mad does not guarantee that you are interesting.



  • Part One: "Are we going in or aren't we?"
  • Part Two: "You're the next one due on in the ring."
  • Part Three: Mags is a werewolf!
  • Part Four: The Doctor decliens to join Kingpin's new circus...



I thought this was kind of a so-so story. Some interesting moments, but not overwhelming.

The seventh Doctor's era was a mixed bag. The show was trying to prove itself after it's initial cancellation during Colin Baker's term, and everyone behind the scenes was still trying to get use to the new, shorter format foisted upon them by the BBC.

But I found the Doctor's possible connection to Merlin the Magician, and the hints that there may have been more to Ace, let alone her future, quite interesting, and wish the seventh incarnation had lasted longer.

But am I the only one to have ever used the term Doctor McCoy, when referring to the seventh actor in the role?

Tracy is one of those people who are disturbed by clowns, but I was much more disturbed by the “rappin’ ringmaster.” Say, did you notice that Ace is wearing the Fourth Doctor’s scarf in the first scene of episode one?

I knew there was something about this episode being broadcast out of order, but I didn’t really know what it was until I read the above posts. Because the stories are released in such random order anyway, I can’t say I really noticed. Perhaps if I ever watch them in broadcast order the problems will be more apparent.

Captain Cook bears about as much resemblance to Captain Kirk as Forbidden Planet does to The Tempest, which is to say none at all. Well, there was that one “brave new world” scene in the movie, but other than that, the resemblance (Robby the Robot = Caliban) is purely superficial.

Generally speaking, I don’t like stories translated to other media. (I don’t like movies based on comic books, I don’t like comic books based on movies, etc.) “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” struck me as a comic book story that didn’t translate particularly well onto the small screen. (Besides, there is a point at which the BBC’s shoestring budget ceases to be “charming” and crosses over into “cheap.”) The “allegorical” nature of the plot works best, I think, on the printed page. I think the dialogue when the Ringmaster replied to everything the Doctor said in rhyme would have worked better in print (and the setting could have been drawn more convincingly).

…aaaaaaand another Doctor’s adventures are now complete.

Next Up: The last of the First Doctor! (Sep 11)

[Unless you care to read an example of bad customer service, you may skip the rest of this post.]

Yesterday I made my selection and presented it for purchase. The clerk said to me…

“‘Doctor Who.’ Does this have anything to do with the new show?”

“The original was on the air from 1963-1989, then it came back in 2005.”

“This is a different guy!”

“Yes, there have been eleven different Doctors.”

“Oh, this is old!”

“It’s a little cheesy in comparison to the new show,” I volunteered.

[At this point, she apparently became an expert.]

“Oh, yeah, it’s cheesy… it’s way cheesy! This may have been okay in the ‘70s or if you are a kid, but today? As an adult? Uh, uh… no way.”

I just stared at her with an expression I hope conveyed, “Did I ask for your opinion?”

Then she added, “Have a nice day,” and our transaction was complete.

That clerk story is bizarre.  First, she doesn't know if it's connected, then she says "It's a different guy" (there's been 3 on the new show!), then she suddenly "became an expert"-- WHA'???

Would have served her right if you thanked her for her opinion of it being "WAY cheesy", dropped it on the counter and walked out. (Especially if the manager was watching.)

Two more notes from watching the extras:


1)I hadn't realized how close this story came to going "Shada" - apparently, they found asbestos in the studio they were going to use and it had to be shut down. JNT was determined not to lose the story and kept it alive while they worked out the idea to film the story in an actual tent in a BBC parking lot.


2)“The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” struck me as a comic book story that didn’t translate particularly well onto the small screen."


Funny you would say that, Jeff, because on the commentary they kept coming back to what a great graphic novel this story would have made.

It's not just me!

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