Doctor Who: The Psychic Circus Review

DW The Psychic Circus

In the second of a strange makeshift “Seventh Doctor travelling alone meets a renegade time lord” trilogy, The Psychic Circus is actually, as you’d imagine, far more a prequel to the McCoy TV story “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” than it is anything else, which is fine if you have a fond attachment to the serial… me? It’s alright, but did I need a two hour drop of backstory? Let’s find out!


Lots of fun for the family, at the Greatest Show in the Galaxy!

When a junkmail robot invades the TARDIS, the Doctor gets led down an unnervingly familiar path.

Meanwhile, space beatniks Kingpin and Juniper Berry just want to hitch rides and busk – until a greater purpose calls.

The Doctor’s past and Kingpin’s future are entangled by malevolent forces. The Psychic Circus is just beginning: it may lack clowns, but it already has a Master…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

DW The Psychic Circus Cover

Removing James Dreyfus’ name from the cover seems rather pointless when he’s front and centre in it…

I mean, let’s get this out of the way: While it’s one of the stronger McCoy TV stories, I don’t have any particular fondness for “Greatest Show”, and much like with the Mags trilogy last year, I find myself mildly confused at the repeated callbacks to it. This however was at least written by the TV serial’s original writer, Stephen Wyatt, and therefore was probably great fun for him. It also brings back several members of the original cast, including Ian Reddington as the creepy clown … erm, “Chief Clown”, whose backstory is at least a bit more interesting than you’d think…

So besides lots of scenes where you can almost hear Mr. Wyatt go “and that’s the origin of that, now on to the next one” in your head, what does this do? Not a lot…

The Bad:

Taking away the continuity-fest, the story is quite dull. The Doctor spends a good majority of the story hanging out in his TARDIS talking to a malfunctioning delivery robot (that at several points gets extremely loud, so beware headphone users!) and then gets caught in a very familiar trap, this time by the James Dreyfus incarnation of The Master, you know, the one everyone hates because Dreyfus is a complete toolbag in the real life. The sheer amount of “The Doctor plays the spoons” scenes is as impressive as it is obnoxious, and The Master being left to his fate in front of the Gods of Ragnarok, with The Doctor knowing his past self is soon to arrive to defeat them, was… fine, I guess.

Basically if you really love “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” then you’ll enjoy hearing how each character got to the point we see them at the start of the TV episode. If you don’t have strong feelings towards it one way or another, you’ll no doubt be bored. Er, if you hate it then I wouldn’t recommend this, but then that should be obvious, really…

The Continuity:

… Well, you know… “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” is the only thing it’s really tied to, but boy is it ever tied to it!

Overall Thoughts:

A short review I know, but I was so bored listening to this. I just don’t like Greatest Show enough to hear their previously weak characters get fleshed out backstories, and while some performances were good and some of the backstory was interesting, so much of it wasn’t. Your mileage may vary, but for me, it wasn’t great…

2 Star Listen

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