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The Friday Docback Learns That ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ Isn’t!! DOCTOR WHO Story #151, Here Comes Season/Series 7, New SHERLOCK Hints & More!! NOW WITH NEW TRAILER!!



- via David Smith, whose father whose father worked on The Sea Devils (Pertwee, Story #62).  "My dad, David Smith, designed and built the Bucaneer jet skis used in the sea chase for the 1972/73 Sea Devils story.  Roger Delgardo, who played the Master at the time was somewhat reluctant to pilot the new craft so my father stood in as stunt double."




Merrick here...


With a look at The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, a four-part McCoy-era DOCTOR WHO story originally transmitted December 1988-January 1989.  


This marks the last of our vintage DW retrospectives for a while - Season/Series 7 begins next week (September 1 in UK and North America), and the focus of Docbacks will once again shift to current episodes of the show.  There will be breaks during S7’s run - during which we will immediately resume our classic/vintage emphasis - until new/fresh eps return.  Swinging back and forth as scheduling dictates. We will occasionally piggy-back "New WHO" and "classic" Docbacks should the release of new "classic" DVDs arrive on a "New WHO" week.  


PLEASE NOTE:  we always warmly and enthusiastically welcome both returning and new Docback participants, and fervently encourage the open exchange of ideas throughout the Docbacks.  HOWEVER, the Code of Conduct which appears beneath each Docback - designed to promote and maintain civility and courtesy - will be continue to be stridently enforced as we transition into Season/Series 7.  This is very important to note as we move into S7 - as many "New WHO" Docbackers will be joining or re-joining us.  Folks who don't necessarily watch the classic show, and may or may not have settled into these guidelines.  


Yes, this is AICN, and AICN is rarely about "moderation," so this can sometimes be confusing.  Just know that the Docbacks function differently than anywhere else on AICN  - and will continue to do so.  


As with Season/Series Six - Docbacks wil continue to be opened on Fridays, and will reamain relatively SPOILER FREE until each episode broadcasts in the next day  (which will happen a few hours before the episodes' North American bow).  Once an episode premieres in the UK - the Docback becomes a SPOILER INTENSIVE ZONE  - where anything about the episodes can be discussed.  PLEASE NOTE the subject line protocol posted in the Code of Conduct below.  In the few hours between DW's UK transmit and its Nort American appearance, it may be wise for those wishing to remain spoiler free to simply avoid the Docbacks untl they've seen the current installment for themselves.  


We truly hope you'll join us to discuss all things WHO, and Season/Series 7 in particular - which so far is sounding rather nutty and remarkable.  


As mentioned above...
Here's an embed from BBC featuring Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Caro Skiner discussing a series of minisodes which premieres Monday via BBC's DOCTOR WHO site.   We'll round up these POND LIFE episodes and post 'em in next week's Docback.  





So hints yesterday's Tweet from The Moff...


...and THIS article called to my attention by Docbacker Postbopfusion.  

Adam just called our attention to this Tweet, teasing the next batch of SHERLOCKs with three words...


Discuss and theorize below! 




BBC has released a new promo for Asylum of the Daleks - the first installment of Season/Series 7.  





The Greatest Show in the Galaxy 



“ Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way or another“

- the Doctor, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy Part Three 




The Doctor and companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) are startled when an odd little remote device materializes inside of the TARDIS, toggling the vessel’s view screen to a promo for The Psychic Circus (aka “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” ), taunting them to visit.  Which they do...



There’s a deep, vacant feeling one gets when entering a store which is in its final days of operation, or a building that’s being decommissioned, or a home which a beloved family is leaving behind.  It’s an esoteric vibe - hard to put one’s finger on.  A sense of emptiness,  of loneliness, as if the diminishing purpose and energy which used to prevail in that place is calling out to us.  Seeking some sort of remembrance, and solace.  


That’s the feeling one gets from nearly every single frame of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy - a sensation I noted very early on in the Alan Wareing directed, Stephen Wyatt scripted story - before I looked it up to realize that this tale was one of the very last McCoy-era DOCTOR WHOs.  Six stories away from what would become a 7 year dearth of new DW on television.  TGSITG brings us DOCTOR WHO in what is perhaps the most cut-rate and ailing age it has ever known - the  late 1980s.  It shows us a DW whose essence is failing, ailing, and whose entirety is on the verge of regeneration.  


I’ve always contended that Sylvester McCoy was an extremely capable, perhaps even excellent, Doctor who was woefully under-served by the material he had to work with.  This has never been more evident than in Greatest Show.  If one’s able to focus and pay attention despite  this laughably inflated story - which may conceivably have worked as a tightly-focused two parter but completely jumps the rails beneath the strain of four full installments - one can see McCoy trying.  Trying so very hard to forge something palatable out of the blabbering nothingness of Greatest Show’s script. But, as talented and immensely capable as McCoy could and can be...even he ‘s simply unable to breathe life into this corpse.     Aldred also makes an equally honorable run at her material - but even snarky, uppity Ace can’t break through excessively shoddy production elements (even by DOCTOR WHO’s sometimes challenged standards), and the murky tedium of Wareing’s direction.  Supporting players are neither noteworthy nor dismissible - here one gets the sense that they’re lost and subtly trying to make sense of the circumstances their characters are experiencing.  They’re capable, but never particularly inspired or invested.  

While the whole of Greatest Show in the Galaxy struck me quite negatively, there are a few moments I find wonderfully executed and/or inspired.  I love this shot of a circus tent on an alien world (Segonax) - and wish the rest of the story had captured the whimsy suggested by this image as nicely. 



These 'Gods of Ragnarok' were also well conceived and nicely shot.  I'm a big fan of this David Laskey design...




And the story's closing moments show McCoy's Doctor exiting a circus tent shortly before a huge explosion - he never flinches or misses a beat.  Very well executed.  


In the past I’ve jumped all over inept episodes like The Sensorites  (Hartnell, Story #7) - stories which had tremendous potential and a compelling essence, but simply missed their mark due to clumsy or ill-informed execution.  Despite its complete meltdown of script and direction, I continued to grasp for some sort of point to what was happening on screen throughout Greatest Show’s running time.  By ‘point’  I don’t mean ‘deep, meaningful resonance’ - I mean some kind make The Greatest Show in the Galaxy worthwhile.  An interesting angle...some sort of WHO-worthy thematic.  It simply ain’t here.  Or, if it’s present, it’s far too diffuse, and thoroughly under-developed.  A few moments suggested proceedings may, in fact, end up representing a scathing indictment of the entertainment system - illustrating through symbolism and analogy how performers live and die (literally) at the hands of almighty audiences.  Whether this was a thought proves which ever entered scripter Wyatt’s mind?  I can’t say - but it’s as good a guess as any. 

Is this the worst DOCTOR WHO ever made?  I haven’t seen the entire run of the show, so I’m not qualified to make such a brazen assertion at this point.  I will say however, that...due in large part to its overall pointlessness...this is the worst I’ve yet come across in my journey through the entirety of the show.  OF course, The Twin Dilemma (C. Baker, Story #136 ) awaits. 


A great, great many “good” - or at least “very interesting” WHO stories have been made over the decades -  not to mention Steven Moffat’s adrenalized, stylized, dramatically relevant 2010 + interpretation which is still unfolding.  And even with so much goodness to be found throughout the show’s vast run, we tend to pick and disassemble and lament and gripe about how we wish things were different - sometimes claiming we know better, or that “so and so” would’ve handled it in a cooler way, etc.   This is understandable: it’s the nature of fandom, and an expected byproduct of any show, movie, or franchise into which folks are investing their precious time, money, and resources.  With this axiom in mind:  the next time someone becomes too uptight, dismissive, or just plain bitchy about how <insert title here> DOCTOR WHO “sucked” because of <insert reason here> ?  Tell ‘em to watch this episode.  It may bring them a new appreciation for whatever WHO that just et them off and clearly illustrate how bottom-dwelling matters can truly become.  





The newly restored  DVD ofThe Greatest Show in the Galaxy is now available HERE in the U.S. and HERE in the UK.  




Extras include...




The Show Must Go On (30:17)


Insight into the production of this story from...


-- Andrew Cartmel (Script Editor) 


-- Sophie Aldred (companion Ace)


-- Mike Tucker (Visual Effects Assistant) 


-- Alan Wareing (Director) 


-- David Laskey (Designer) 


-- Ian Reddington (Chief Clown) 


-- John Nathan-Turner (Producer - Archive Interview) 


The Greatest Show was almost shut down due to production problems rising from Asbestos in studios.  Producer John Nathan-Turner stood up for the story and pushed to get it made.  




Deleted and Extended Scenes (11:10) 




Lost in the Darkness  (2:08)


Missing model shots from the story (the Junk Mail Robot approaching exterior TARDIS - dumped because the footage appeared ‘too dark’).




The Psychic Circus (3:52) 


A music video/montage.




‘Remembrance’ Demo (3:24) 


Demo for Remembrance of the Daleks ( McCoy, Story #148) - used by composer Mark Ayres to land a gig on The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. - cut into a sequence from Remembrance for the first time. 




 Tomorrow’s Times - The Seventh Doctor (14:30)


A look at press reaction to McCoy-era DOCTOR WHO, gleaned from The British Library’s Newspaper Archives - hosted by Anneke Wills (companion Polly) 





Victoria Wood Sketch (1:15)


A lampooning of  McCoy-era DOCTOR WHO.





Photo Gallery (7:20) 





PDF Materials 


Radio Times Listings 


Visual Effects designs and storyboards 






Coming Soon (1:04) 


A trailer for the forthcoming restoration of Planet of Giants (Hartnell, Story #9 ).  





Glen Oliver




Google +








Asylum of the Daleks (S07E01)  














"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"

"Let's Kill Hitler"

"Night Terrors"


"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)  





"An Unearthly Child" (Story #1)

"The Daleks" (Story #2)

"The Edge of Destruction" (Story #3)

"Marco Polo" (Story #4)

"The Keys of Marinus(Story #5)

"The Aztecs" (Story #6)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7 - full DVD release) 

"The Reign of Terror" (Story #8)

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9) 

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (Story #10)

"The Rescue" (Story #11) 

"The Romans"  (Story #12) 

"The Web Planet" (Story #13) / SHERLOCK - "A Scandal in Belgravia" (Story #4)

"The Crusade" (Story #14) 

"The Space Museum" (Story #15) 

"The Chase" (Story #16) 

"The Time Meddler" (Story #17) 

"Galaxy 4" (Story #18) 

"Mission to the Unkonwn" (Story #19) 

"The Myth Makers" (Story #20) 

"The Gunfighters" (Story #25)

"The Tomb of the Cybermen" (Story #37)

"The Mind Robber" (Story #45)

"The Krotons" (Story #47)

"The Seeds of Death" (Story #48) 

"The Colony in Space" (Story #58) 

"The Daemons" (Story #59) 

"Day of the Daleks" (Story #60) + Preview of the DotD Special Edition

"The Three Doctors" (Story #65) 

"Carnival of Monsters" (Story #66) 

"Death to the Daleks" (Story #72) 

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (Story #71) and SHERLOCK: "The Reichenbach Fall" (Story #6) 

"The Android Invasion" (Story #83) and SHERLOCK: "The Hounds of Baskerville" (Story #5) 

"The Face of Evil" (Story #89) 

"The Robots of Death" (Story #90) 

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (Story #91)

"The Sun Makers(Story #95)

"The City of Death" (Story #105)

"Nightmare of Eden" (Story #107) 

"Kinda" (Story #118)

"Snakedance" (Story #125) 

"The Five Doctors" (Story #129) 

"The Awakening" (Story #131)

"Frontios(Story #132)

"Resurrection of the Daleks" (Story #134) 

"The Caves of Androzani" (Story #136) 

"Time and the Rani" (Story #144)

"Paradise Towers" (Story #145) + New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits

"Dragonfire" (Story #147) 

"The Happiness Patrol" (Story #149) 

"Spearhead from Space" (Story #151) 

"Doctor Who: The Movie" (aka TVM) - McGann) 


Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2

The Companions of DOCTOR WHO + New Trailer & Artwork For Season/Series 7  


[Season / Series Seven Docbacks]

The Coming of Season/Series 7





1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)... 

2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity.  Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example.  "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well.  " **SPOILER** Why did everyone die?"  Is NOT good.  
And, above all... 

3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way.  Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning.  Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated.  Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.  One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation. 
In short, it's easy.  Be excellent to each other.  Now party on... 
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