Judge Gordon Sullivan wants to know when the sonic screwdriver gets a spinoff.
Who's a good dog?
Doctor Who began as a children's television show in 1963. It was intended to be a little bit scary, a little sci-fi, and it apparently warped several generations of British children who grew up to be creators. Since its 2005 relaunch (and subsequent popularity), Doctor Who has struggled with the perception that it's "just a kids show." For instance, when companion Amy Pond was introduced, there was much hemming and hawing over the length of her skirt and her sex appeal, given that the show is supposedly a children's show. Though the original show hasn't done much to "dumb down" its content for children, the creators have spun off a couple of more kid-friendly series in the wake of the relaunch, both of which bring back iconic characters from Doctor's past: The Sarah Jane Chronicles and K-9. This DVD set of K-9: The Complete Series is a good way to introduce younger viewers to the Whoniverse, though only obsessive Whovians or those with younger children will really relish sitting in front of these episodes.
K-9 was introduced as a robot companion for the Doctor in 1977 and has appeared in various forms and incarnations, always popular (especially with the younger viewers). To get this series off the ground, a pair of teens—Starkey (Keenan Joyce, Superman Returns) and Jorjie (Phillipa Coulthard)—working with Professor Gryffen (Robert Moloney, Trixie) open up a space-time portal. Through it comes K-9 and an alien menace. Though K-9 must self-destruct to ensure earth's safety, he gives the team instructions to rebuild him. Once they do the group sets off on a series of adventures protecting Earth from alien invasions. All twenty-six episodes of the show are included on four discs.
First, the good. This set is a great way to get kids interested in the world of Doctor Who. In a world where younger viewers are often given nothing but cartoons or tween sitcoms (think Miley and her ilk), K-9 stands out in a field of fairly similar programming. It's nice to see a show embracing more adventurous roots. While K-9 doesn't harken back to the serials of old, it does put action and comedy to the fore. Though not overly moralistic, the basic premise of saving the world from alien invasions is a laudable one that parents can be comfortable putting their kids in front of.
This DVD set is also pretty good. The show's twenty-six half-hour episodes are spread over four discs, giving these 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers plenty of room to breathe. Overall the show looks clean and bright throughout. The show's mix of live-action and CGI (for both K-9 and the aliens) looks sharp, and black levels are consistent and deep. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks are solid, offering clean dialogue and a few directional effects during action scenes. Extras include a short making-of featurette and an "interview" with K-9 obviously aimed towards a younger audience.
Now, the not-so-good. From the adult perspective, K-9 gets a bit formulaic after a few episodes: alien menace plus investigation equals K-9 saving the day. That's probably fine for kids, but the parental types will probably not get quite as much out of the show. Also, rights issues kept the show from making the most of its Doctor Who connections; Bob Baker the effects guru owns the rights to K-9, but since the BBC control all things Whovian, there isn't any significant crossover between shows. A few appearances by David Tennant or Matt Smith would have added serious value to the show, at least from a Who fan's perspective.
K-9 creator Bob Baker has long been a champion of his little tin dog, and after years of trying to get a K-9 television show off the ground (at least a decade's worth if the internet is to be believed) it would have been nice to have more extras devoted to Baker's love of the character. Obviously this is a kids show, but considering how many adults are into Doctor Who, I can imagine this set selling a lot better with some extras devoted to the companion and the special effects that create him. The lack of subtitles is a little disappointing; though the accents never get too thick, it would have been nice to be able to put subtitles on for those who have trouble with that kind of thing.
K-9 is a decent little sci-fi/action-adventure show that is a great way to introduce young kids to the world of Doctor Who. K-9: The Complete Series collects all twenty-six episodes of the show on four discs and is a great way to own the show, even if fans might wish for a few more extras.
For kids, K-9 is not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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