Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Brought to the London of the future through a space-time portal, K9 is forced to self-destruct to protect some locals from a party of Jixen. (aliens who move as though they have been filmed on a mobile phone, and whose bodies vanish after K9's explosion)

But wait - K9 now has the hitherto unmentioned ability to reanimate himself, and somehow generates a whole new redesigned body out of thin air. (as opposed to out of the wreckage of his old one)

There then follows what feels like half a story, in which three kids and a guy called the professor have a few skirmishes with the aforementioned aliens and the robotic law, while the ever loyal K9 flies around and copes with the amnesia of his previous TV series.

In the middle of all this, everyone suddenly begins to chuckle good-naturedly, and stone me if the closing credits don't begin rolling. It's not the middle - it's the end. Unless you consider this to be the first half of a two-parter, which is admittedly debatable.

As first episodes go, I was okay with all of this. I don't expect any series to gel at the start, but this show nonetheless has plenty going for it. Clear - albeit poorly dubbed - dialogue, and plenty of it. A surreal future version of London, excusing the otherwise ridiculous use of Brisbane to double for it. (even the robot cops are Bruces) Thank goodness that nobody stops running for their life to talk about how they feel, or how cool K9 is.

Still too much music though.

The robot cops have no infra-red capability, and are as slow as Cybermen.

Gryffen, getting a great line of motivation: "I have to get you out of here." Thanks for explaining that to us Gryffen.

In retrospect, I'm glad I embargoed watching this series until now, for a whole raft of reasons:

1. In the UK, Channel 5 predictably stuffed-up their airing of the series by trying to strip it across the week, then changing the timeslot almost daily, missing out episodes and no doubt plastering that stoopid great logo of their's over the corner of the picture. (Channel 5 has always assumed its viewers to all be too thick to know which channel they're watching) If all that wasn't bad enough, this was the only time a Doctor Who-related series has had its first UK broadcast in the mornings.

2. Broadly speaking, Doctor Who is currently going through a self-inflicted 10-month break, so for me this series has a good window in which to stand on its own wheels.

3. The series is based in the future, so getting another series of Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures watched beforehand could be just a smidgen more chronological.

4. On a related note, The Sarah Jane Adventures have also now concluded in their entirety, making this series of K9 something of a successor. A show about K9, three kids and an adult Doctor-type scientist (even called 'the professor') dealing with alien encounters in a version of London filmed in a different country? Yes, I have an opening for that.

It's easy to assume that this is even the same K9 Mark 3 from SJA, especially if the events of this episode were the cause of the character's non-appearance from the last series. This would entertainingly transform all of Luke's explanations to mum for K9's absences into guilty lies to cover up having lost him!

But it's just not K9 Mark 3. It can't be K9 Mark 1 either, who by implication was killed off with Leela and all the Time Lords on the planet Gallifrey in The End Of The World. In fact, the same episode also killed-off Romana, presumably leaving her K9 Mark 2 to become something of a free agent.

In fact, no matter what anyone else may tell you, no matter who they may be, according to this episode, this unit is deliberately stated to be K9 Mark 2.

Blink and you really would miss it, but when K9 reboots, there are only two options there, and as you can see, his system selects the second. Of course, you could argue that these refer to his different design of body, but that is just not what K9 himself has used the term "Mark X" to denote over the years.

Even his box in The Invasion Of Time was labelled "K9 M II" and turned out to contain the classic model, not the funky flying one. I am just following what this episode says, and what K9's other TV appearances have said over the years, which agree with it. Interesting that K9 Mark 2 retains a dormant copy of Mark 1's operating system in there, but that figures if the Doctor copied Mark 1's design and expanded upon it.

Smart of the Doctor to put that regeneration component in there too, no doubt inspired by his own ability. It would be unlikely for the original K9 to have that.

I also don't mind K9 getting redesigned, but it is annoying given the retro theme that the rest of the series seems to be aiming for, even in its synth music. K9 already looks retro! Still, at least we did get to see the original model for a whole scene early on, and an enormous relief that John Leeson has been retained for the voice. These two things carry so much credibility.

That this team are not afraid to demonstrate their understanding of the importance of making these connections is both encouraging and promising. A shame that the makers of Rose did not feel the same way.

K9: "Human communication functions are seriously flawed."

Pike: "Yeah, says the dog who mistook his nibs here for a Jixen."

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