Thursday, April 4, 2013
Doctor Who had always flirted with popular music over the course of its long history, from The Beatles' off-key caterwauling in 1965's The Chase to the character of the DJ spinning classic records in 1985's Revelation of the Daleks. The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, though, sees Doctor Who take some tenuous steps into the world of rap music, not just as background music, but worked into the narrative. Performed by Ricco Ross as the Ringmaster, it actually comes off not too badly, even if the backing music sounds like an approximation of what a white guy thinks rap music sounds like.
And that white guy is Mark Ayres, who makes his musical debut in Doctor Who with a very unusual score, certainly in comparison with his subsequent scores in Season 26. Ayres relies on his drum machine for the backbone of a lot of the music, but Ayres's device is much more subtle and tasteful than the bombastic digital percussion that Keff McCulloch employs. The score is offbeat, no pun intended, just like the story it features in, which is as precise and perfect a matchup between story and score as heard in the series up to this point.
And I've been resisting the urge to talk about how chillingly awesome Ian Reddington is as the Chief Clown because I could include something exemplary that he does in each episode review. The best aspect of his performance might be the different registers he speaks in depending on what he's talking about and whom he's talking to. He's got the creepy clown laugh down for his public persona, welcoming guests into the tent, and his "normal" voice when he's directing his robot clowns or asserting his authority over the rest of the troupe of the Psychic Circus. But it's his hoarse whisper when he's threatening Ace or demanding answers out of Bellboy that is downright frightening. When Ace escapes after being surrounded by clowns and interrogated about Flower Child's earring, instead of barking an order at his minions to catch her, he merely utters a quiet "After her!", which is much more effective than any ranting villain performance could have done. Reddington is just wonderful, and provides one of the top guest performances seen in some time.
Posted by Steven at 2:49 PM