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The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

Reviewed by Murray Jackson

Well, this wasn't too bad. It was an interesting story without being great, basically fairly standard fair, but better than earlier reports indicated it was going to be. Y'see you've got these aliens, well, they're more like Gods really, and they demand to be entertained. If they don't like what they see or the person that is doing their best to entertain them the Gods destroy them. Nothing malicious, just good common sense. Actually, one wonders if this isn't a brilliant satire on the current production team. If they don't perform then 'poof' they're gone. Well, anyway, guess who stumbles along? (Gosh, could it be the Doctor and Ace???)

Look out for clowns, kites, fruit sellers, ticket inspectors, werewolves, safari men, bikies, and Gian Simmarco proving he can only act the part of Adrian Mole and nothing else.

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy proves Doctor Who can still be done on a low budget and look fairly good. Give it a chance, it has a sinister atmosphere.

Last word: This story has the worst cliffhangers ever!!!

Reviewed by Ken Tod

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy was quite good, although I found the ending rather an anti-climax personally. JNT's dig at UK fans was cleverly done through the Whizzkid character.

I rate this story third equal with The Happiness Patrol (it's very hard to separate the last two).

Reviewed by Craig Young

Finally (What Have They Done To) The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, set in a circus which is controlled by highly advanced but malevolent Psychic Vampires, the Gods of Ragnarok. Despite the clichéd theme, there are some genuinely good pieces of character development here - Bellboy the robot designer, the malevolent clown robots and Mags the lycanthrope. It went up in my estimation when we saw Gian Sammarco (`Adrian Mole') as the 'whizzkid' getting zapped and did have its moments. Reminds me of a Hartnell serial.

Reviewed by Stephen Murray

It gets worse ... Let's throw in the towel now, while you've still a leg left to stand on.

The Psychic Circus in the middle of some sand dunes, with a fruit seller nearby who moans about all the weirdoes that frequent these parts is not my cup of tea. Yes, there's more to it than that, some of it good, most of it rubbish. If the party of video watchers had held up their score cards at the preview mine would have read 1 (for effort). It did have some redeeming qualities, unfortunately these had nothing to do with the Doctor. There is pleasure unimaginable when a certain TV personality gets the big zap. Not to forget the brilliant sequence with the robotic conductor. Conclusion: boring, but a sad tear for the bus conductor. May he return. The story would have worked better if it were along the lines of Circus of Horrors with Vincent Price. Bring back the Master, all is forgiven.

Reviewed by Richard Scheib

I quite enjoyed this one in places, even though ultimately one has to add a cautious 'in spite of itself'. It suffers the same story problems I stated previously - a plot that consists of far too much running around and a vague menace, sort of a Lovecraft piled together with the Norse myths. What I did like about it was its sort of own three-ring circus profusion of some quite odd and offbeat images and characters - the incredibly sinister looking ever-smiling clowns driving a hearse; the ringmaster who recites in rap beat; the punk werewolf; the motorcyclist designed along the lines of a Gremlin who snarls such delightful lines "Do you want me to do something horrible to your ears?"; Gian (`Adrian Mole') Sammarco as an even more precociously Adric-esque kid whose destruction is organised with inordinate delight on the parts of both the story and audience (now that's the sort of black farce that would have saved The Happiness Patrol). The only element that didn't really come off was the robot bus conductor. But they're all wrapped up in a rather uninteresting story with surprises that simply aren't. Must also say that the incidental music for this episode (in fact generally for the whole season) was excellent.

Reviewed by Wendy Toynton

Now that I've finished with the other two stories, it's time for me to review The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (I saved the best for the last!) How am I to describe this fantastically wonderful show? Let me describe the ways...

Throughout this entire story the suspense is kept running high, and the tension strong.

Ace conveys her hatred of the circus in an excellent manner, (probably one of the best I've seen in a long time) all the way through the story.

The characters, especially Ace, were three-dimensional, and incredibly realistic.

The appearance of the Adrian Mole stereotype was totally unexpected. There was something fishy about this boy though. Why did he look so profoundly twentieth centuryish, and use a matter transporter? Perhaps Time Lords have carried Earth fashions with them to distant galaxies, where they have been instantaneously adopted?

The way the clowns drove around in the hearse, and the robot bus driver that zapped people with his tickets were both amazing and inventive.

There were, however, two unexplained factors. One was the significance of the kites, and the death of Flowerchild. She couldn't have been killed by the Bus driver, because the Bus driver would have presumably have informed Marcel Marceau's lookalike, and also Ace would have found the body when she searched the bus. I would be interested in hearing other views on this matter.

Mags the werewolf should have joined the Doctor. She would have made an interesting companion.

This item appeared in TSV 12 (March 1989).

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