Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred
The Doctor and Ace seek a bit of diversion in a trip to the planet Segonax to see the Psychic Circus, but they soon discover that the show is not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, all the previous acts have ‘died’.
Editorial review of Dr. Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy courtesy of Amazon.com
Doctor Who isn’t really known for having villains with a high level of creepiness for anyone over the age of 10, but if you have any sort of clown phobia, this adventure is sure to confirm your worst fears about them. The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace land on a barren planet that is hosting something called the Psychic Circus, which has fallen on hard times. Now, any soul unfortunate enough to stumble into the big top is forced to entertain in the center ring with typically fatal results. The Doctor tries to find out who or what is behind it all, and the resulting story comes off like an allegory for the series itself.
After a creative slump in the mid-’80s, Doctor Who was finding its footing again, although the story is burdened by throwing as many disparate elements as possible (including an animated corpse, a wolf girl, and even the gods of Ragnarok) into the mix. The gods, not unlike the audience, demand to be entertained, but for the most part the best the Doctor can do is some cheap conjuring tricks while waiting for the inevitable climax. The most effective element throughout is the menace provided by Ian Reddington (a regular on the soap opera EastEnders) as the Chief Clown, sending victims to their doom with wave of his hand and a perpetual smile painted on his face. –Ryan K. Johnson