Tuesday, March 26, 2013

7J1 - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy 1

It doesn't seem immediately apparent, but Part One of this story features the final scenes in the TARDIS set built in 1983 for The Five Doctors. After this, the classic series would see the inside of The Doctor's time machine once more, in Battlefield, where the walls are little more than drapes disguised by low lighting. I always adored the 1983-89 console room set, especially the ultra-futuristic console as designed by Mike Kelt. It had computer monitors on it! But the TARDIS interior has always been a place of safety and inactivity, and as a result, the energetic Seventh Doctor and Ace always seemed out of place on the rare occasions that they found themselves within its safe confines. Seeing The Doctor practice juggling and Ace rummage around the TARDIS wardrobe for her rucksack while events are occurring on Segonax seems just a tad too "traditional" Doctor Who for the Cartmel era.

The characters on Segonax, though, are anything but traditional. I particularly love Peggy Mount's crusty stalls lady character, and Nord, Vandal of the Roads, is outrageous, but so much fun. Like with the various eccentrics in stories like Delta and the Bannermen, they provide Sylvester McCoy an opportunity to play it straight by comparison. This is particularly evident in his brief few scenes opposite T.P. Mckenna's wonderful Captain Cook, about whom more later.

In fact, McCoy is the real star of this episode, despite all the madness that's going on in this initial installment. His best scene is when he discombobulates the bus conductor robot with a flurry of increasingly speedy bafflegab, then, once he blows the robot up, his subtle delivery of the quip "Just the ticket." is sublime. Both McCoy and Sophie Aldred are on form here, especially compared to their previous outing in Silver Nemesis (which was shot after this story, and, indeed, delays in production of Greatest Show prevented the two leads from having a full rehearsal period for Nemesis). Part One of this story might be less than the sum of its parts for me, but it at least helps cleanse the palette after the previous story...


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