Being an almost absolute completist, my love of Dr Who led me to try another spin-off of the series. But this show is most definitely for the completist, and the kids, and it stars one of the best companions ever. No, not Adric!
When introduced in the 1970’s, K9 immediately became very popular with fans everywhere. The super smart talking robotic dog with with all sorts of cool gadgets always entertained me as a child. When he left the show, the BBC tried to get a spin-off going, but it never went pass a single episode.
With the massive popularity of the relaunched Dr Who in the 2000’s, the BBC tried again, but this time licensed the character to someone else. Much like their foolhardy decision to cancel the original show, this outsourcing to Australian television of the show, or rather just the name, does not work or service the fans very well.
Now remember, all they got was the name here. So everything else is new and original and comes with lowered expectations. In the London of the future, the government is sort of a dictatorship. A lonely eccentric Professor, whose family is deceased, is working away trying to fix an alien time machine in order to save them. His assistant, Darius, is a surly young man with issues. Entering their lives is a teen-age boy named Starkey, who is a runaway hacker activist. Also along for the ride is a teen girl, Jorjie, whose mother is a government official.
In the first episode, everyone ends up by chance in the Professors house just when he activates the time vortex. Out of it comes vicious alien warriors and our hero, K9. When the battles ends, our robotic dog blows up, then regenerates into a new body. This was because Australia had not licensed the design of K9. So now, with a new flying body and convenient memory loss for K9, our heroes begin new adventures.
Which are for the most part passable. These twenty or so episodes are aimed very much at the younger set, with very few scares involved. The writing is also wonky, with K9’s abilities being weak and uneven at the start. And because it is a children’s show, they focus quite a bit on the teens, which is a pity. Only Jorlie can really act, a fact quickly realized by the producers as they spotlighted her more often than not.
Since they could not reference anything Dr Who, all new aliens and monsters were invented. Thankfully all them could fit in the good Doctors canon very nicely, so no culture shock here. The handful of times when anything from K9’s past is brought up, it is of course not part of the official history, but still feels like it could have happened. The writers thankfully kept the integrity of the character intact.
Towards the end of the series, an actual tribute to Who occurs. Jorjie is trapped back in time, to 1960’s London when An Unearthly Child, the premiere episode of the good Doctor is going on. Little mentions and visual clues are planted thoughout, which always warms my geek heart.
While K9 is not always entirely to my tastes, Dr Who fans with OCD, or younger viewers who might find true Who to be abit frightening, can enjoy it. My viewing of K9 was passable, and got better towards the end, with some happiness attained that I had at least seen this spin-off. I just wish it had been a smidgeon more of what it should have been.
…is currently reading The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon.
P.S. Check back with Scoops Mental Propaganda on Thursday for my thoughts on The Sarah Jane Adventures.