Sunday, August 19, 2012

Doctor Who-The Greatest Show In The Galaxy
                           With the ending seemingly looming on the horizon,Doctor Who was exiting it's silver anniversary season when this serial began airing and entering the final season of it's original run. It was a very strange ending to say the least. The program had gone from the peak of it's popularity,from the Jon Pertwee up through the Peter Davison era of the show as one of the premiere science fiction programs of it's day,when it seemed to be able to do no wrong even when the budget was occasionally tight. The BBC were viewing sci fi at the time as a distraction from the realities of the world,not a metaphoric medium that could in any way imply any change on the future of the world. Doctor Who not only needed to prove them wrong,but to do so by reflecting this attitude in different ways in the show itself.

                      The Doctor and Ace receive a robotic advertisement for something called the Psychic Circus on the planet Seganax. The Doctor decides to take Ace even after her revealing her fear of clowns. When they arrive they encounter not only distrustful natives,but a shady explorer Captain Cook and his companion Mags. When they enter the circus,they find a ring occupied by only one family so it seems and when they think they've been invited in as part of the act,they are taken prisoner. After Mags and the doctor engineer an escape with Ace,who discovers that the circus itself,having originally arrived with Utopian intentions are now being manipulated by another force.

                     The doctor and Ace find companions in Bellboy,who designed robot clowns who are now used by this greater force to kill "unworthy acts" in the circus and Kingpin,whose mind has been swiss cheesed for trying to discover the true nature of this greater force. While playing the conniving Cook and the other clowns at their games the Doctor soon discovers this great force that turned the Psychic Circus into a murderous cult are the Gods Of Ragnorok,powerful sadists using the circus people to entertain only themselves. The Doctor is able to topple their game with his own brand of slight of hand,using a medallion they created to harness their power to destroy them in the end. When invited to join Kingpin and Mags new circus the doctor and Ace,now free of her fear of clowns decide to depart Segenax,with the doctor concluding circuses have grown sinister to him.

                On the top of this story is the idea of the circus that comes into town and causes trouble with the locals. But there's a stronger message to this story that the writers don't even try to hide. The Gods Of Ragnorok  are clearly manipulators of the people of the Psychic Service,whose Bohemian ideals allowed their world access to evil. The word "hippie" is even used several times,the doctor himself stating he never has strayed from his Bohemian nature that first become obvious with Tom Baker years before. The Psychic Circus is only turned murderous when the free spirited circus people have their own imagination and creativity turned against them and their customers. As with all quality Doctor Who,it becomes a show championing the free spirited and creative people over tyrannical leadership. In addition to the presence of a rapping ringmaster and it's abundance of colorful,surreal imagery this goes down as one of the most inventively designed and compellingly written stories of the classic Doctor Who series.
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