Plot: What’s it about?
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) has arrived on the planet Segonax, home to the notorious Psychic Circus. Ace is terrified of clowns, but duty calls and so she remains by The Doctor’s side. They soon discover that while the circus has the expected elements of such an event, there is a darker side as well. The Ringmaster (Rico Ross) oversees the circus, which seems to exist to entertain not a massive audience, but a single family in the stands. The eclectic performers of the circus must win over this family, or else face a horrific, brutal death in the arena. As The Doctor explores the circus and learns about those within, he learns that most of the performers are in intense fear and are prisoners of the circus. Some have attempted to escape, but they’ve either been killed or returned to the circus for perhaps an even worse fate. Can Ace overcome her fears and help The Doctor uncover the truth about the circus, or will they be claimed as it’s victims?
Everyone loves a space circus, right? This story has a circus, clowns, junk mail, and yes, even rap music. As hilarious as rap in a Doctor Who story sounds, it is even funnier when you see it yourself. This is a fun, brisk story that has a wide scope of colorful characters and some nice inside references to earlier Doctor Who adventures. Ace trying on the signature clothes of previous incarnations is perhaps the most memorable, but other inside jokes also entertain here. The theme seems to be the corruption of “hippie ideals,” but the plot is secondary in this case. The real interest comes from the eclectic group of characters and the performances that bring them all to life. Sylvester McCoy isn’t one of my favorite Doctors, but his turn here is fine, while Sophie Aldred is a lot of fun to watch in this one as Ace. The supporting cast is littered with memorable performances, but perhaps none surpass the cringe inducing rap music from Rico Ross. An unusual Doctor Who adventure to be sure, but The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is a blast to watch and has ample memorable moments.
Video: How does it look?
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is presented in full frame, as intended. These episodes look excellent, much better than I had expected. The detail is superb, with a lot more fine detail visible than anticipated. This gives the visuals a crisp, refined texture that lets the image shine. The colors are vivid and bold, as you’d expect given the circus atmosphere, while contrast is spot on and consistent. These episodes simply look tremendous and fans will be thrilled.
Audio: How does it sound?
A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is provided and it sounds good, but not remarkable. The circus environment allows the surrounds to open up a little, but the mix doesn’t force the presence. This results in a less active, but much more natural overall sound and that is preferable. The music sounds fine here, as do the various sound effects. Dialogue seems to be the center of the mix, which is reasonable and vocals have a clean, clear presence. This disc also includes an isolated musical score, a stereo soundtrack, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The main supplements are audio comments from the cast & crew and a half hour look behind the scenes called The Show Must Go On. Both of these extras are filled with insight about now this unique story was brought to production and how it has fared since broadcast. This disc also includes deleted scenes, The Psychic Circus music video, still photos, two re scored scenes, and a look at the show’s model effects.