Here’s a sign this episode first aired in 1988: it opens with a rap song.
Ok, beyond the usual datedness of the show in the form of whatever the companions and supporting characters are wearing, what we really have here is an episode where the Doctor, for whatever reason, chooses to ignore a lot of obvious warning signs. Granted, if he didn’t there’d be no justice against the next batch of evildoers, but still.
Here’s the set-up: the Psychic Circus sends out invites all over the place for people to come see the show. As such, there are a lot of oddballs on this planet that includes killer robots, clowns acting as muscle, and a few folks who look like they got lost on their way to a low budget remake of Mad Max. And considering how low the budget was on the first few Mad Max movies, that’s saying something.
That also includes two characters named Bellboy and Flowerchild who seem intent on fleeing the circus. Bellboy tries to distract their pursuers long enough for Flowerchild to escape, but she’s caught by something mechanical and dies. He’s taken back to the circus.
So, what warning signs did the Doctor ignore? Well, a robot shows up with a circus invite inside the TARDIS, and he opts to go over Ace’s objections. Here’s a short list of the things the Doctor is ignoring by going through with all this:
- Nothing good ever happens when something just shows up in the TARDIS
- Ace is afraid of clowns and anything she is afraid of should probably be taken into consideration.
- A cranky woman outside the circus selling gross snacks made of pumpkin innards says only oddballs and weirdoes go to that circus
- A galactic explorer, Captain Cook, and his punk rocker sidekick Mags are there and he doesn’t seem interested enough in saving Mags from a robot trying to take her away. Fortunately, Ace is nearby with a shovel.
- The deadly robot looking for tickets inside the bus that the Doctor manages to defeat rather easily all told
- And Mags screaming when she and Cook go inside the circus to see what is happening to Bellboy. To be fair, it doesn’t seem as if the sound of her screaming is getting outside the tent where Ace and the Doctor are.
That’s a lot of warning signs to ignore. All for what? To help Ace get past her fear of clowns? Granted, this might work, but it does seem to be kind of a dick thing to do.