As we begin to enter what surely must be the final phase of DVD releases (bar a few special editions and notable classics) we come to one of the Seventh Doctor’s finest moments, the bizarre and totally wonderful The Greatest Show In The Galaxy.
Although Ace hates clowns, the Doctor decides to take his companion to the Psychic Circus on the planet Segonax. There they find a group of scared performers who live in fear of the sinister and creepy Chief Clown. But what is so dangerous about this particular circus, why is there such a small audience and will Ace be able to overcome her fear before it’s too late?
With a well chosen cast and a surreal atmosphere that the best of McCoy’s era were known for, The Greatest Show In The Galaxy benefits from a solid script and cracking direction. It has a cast that was made for Doctor Who; the legendary T.P. McKenna, the incredibly talented Jessica Martin and the star of the show Ian Reddington, long before he was Tricky Dickie in EastEnders or Vernon in Coronation Street. His multi faced Head Clown is an inspired piece of sinister acting and I’d really like to see the character return, just for one more try out. But the script shines at every turn. Much has been discussed in the wonderful world of fandom about the underlying metaphor about the story being about the series itself especially with the geeky character of Whizz Kid played by Gian Sammarco who at the time was best known for playing the onscreen version of Adrian Mole. Its obvious that this is caricature of Who fandom and it hit a chord with many and to me is the show’s bravest swipe at hardcore fans.
McCoy and Aldred have gelled so well that they bounce off each other in this adventure. Here the show works beautifully, delivering brave and challenging drama inside a well loved format. Something the new run is always applauded for.
Commentary – Toby Hadoke moderates this charming and warm gag track where actors Sophie Aldred, Jessica Martin and Christopher Guard chat alongside writer Stephen Wyatt, script editor Andrew Cartmel and composer Mark Ayres though not all at once. Hadoke is ringmaster here and as usual gets a shedload of stuff from all concerned.
The Show Must Go On Cast – Here we look at the complicated shooting of this serial. With most of the cast and crew interviewed (no McCoy once again) we discover the trouble the production came up against, the fun the crew had whilst bonding and the rather nasty accident Reddington was unfortunate enough to suffer.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – A compendium of footage removed from the original cuts of the episodes accompanied by a lovely out take from Sylvester.
Lost In The Darkness: The Greatest Show In The Galaxy’s Missing Model Shots – Mike Tucker takes us through the SFX shots that weren’t used but were created for the serial. As usual Mike is good value and is honest about why these shots just didn’t make it
The Psychic Circus – Written by Christopher Guard who also supplies vocals alongside Jessica Martin and T.P. McKenna, this is a dire piece of retro. This God-awful music video is available to view in stereo or 5.1 audio mixes. Either way its pretty rubbish even when viewed with a tongue-in-cheek, kitsch frame of mind.
Remembrance ‘Demo’ – Before Mark Ayres was commissioned to provide music for this serial he was asked for demos. Written to the script of Remembrance of the Daleks Part 1 here we are treated to his calling card, as it were. Fans will delight in hearing Terror In Totters Lane and The Headmaster piece is just perfect. These are also available to view with the option of stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes.
Tomorrow’s Times: The Seventh Doctor – Presented by Anneke Wills this regular series look at Sylvester’s time on the show and uncovers much of the negative press the poor series came up against during the late 1980s. Most had turned their backs on the show and we must remember the BBC had even placed it against Coronation Street! When it gets to talking about the shows cancellation it’s a very sad a strangely moving moment. Marcus Hearn has uncovered some gems here and should be applauded for his sterling work.
Victoria Wood Doctor Who Sketch – Taken from Victoria Wood–As Seen on TV this is a woeful attempt to poke fun at the show. A misfire from the much celebrated writer its stars Jim Broadbent and shows how Doctor Who was seen at the time.
Photo Gallery – A selection of Production shots from the creation of the serial. Never my favourite extra.
Audio Options – Apart from the Commentary you can also view the serial with either a stereo or 5.1 surround sound mix. You can also choose to listen to the score by itself.
Info Text – Now this is always value for money and one you should turn on as soon as you load up the disc. Packed with gems of information this is a cracking piece of infotainment!
PDF Materials – Pop the disc into your PC or Mac and you’ll find the Radio Times listings from when the show was originally broadcast plus Visual Effects Designs and Storyboards.
Coming Soon – A spiffing trailer for the Hartnell classic Planet Of Giants.
Easter Egg – Not saying.
As The Greatest Show In The Galaxy Season 25 to a close, the show was, in my humble opinion at the time, on the rise and McCoy was coming into his own. I just wish he was contributing to these DVD releases more.
You can purchase The Greatest Show In The Galaxy from all good stockists – on Amazon you’ll find it for as little as £12.99.