Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I feel disorientated.

In two ways.

1. Geographically.

This London is not one that I recognise. I therefore cannot place where these events are set. I don't even know the suburb, let alone how to get there by tube.

In this episode K9 'saves' some members of the public when (presumably) the London Eye goes haywire, so we must be on that green by Waterloo Station where I took my mum and dad in 2001. However despite a lot of close-ups of the area, this just doesn't look like that stretch of the Thames. This is partly because of the colourful surrounding fauna, and partly because the sky looks so clean. But mainly it's because the River Thames does not appear to be running alongside it. (although it is elsewhere in the vicinity)

But this is the London of the future, so of course the landscape is different. In the future, it's been rebuilt, something of a necessity after alien engagements like the battle of Canary Wharf. So maybe they simply relandscaped, moving the famous big wheel a bit?

Except that they will keep on cutting to those aerial shots of more contemporary-looking London, although admittedly not in this episode. Rather than helping to seal the illusion, these images keep on shaking me out of my dogged presumption that what I'm watching is set where it was shot - in Australia.

After all, so many residents of this future version of London do seem to sport Australian accents. This is quite at loggerheads with the main Doctor Who series, in which most residents of London quite rightly sound Welsh.

K9 however is even more industrious with anatopisms than The Sarah Jane Adventures, and that's saying something. Except that these aren't really anatopisms. An anatopism is when a thing is out of place. It's not so much that these elements are out of place, more that there there is no clear place for these elements to exist within.

The only true Brit here seems to be the professor, but even he is an overseas stereotype of a Englishman, complete with obsession for drinking tea.

(reminiscing) "There used to be a café there - they served the best baked bean sandwiches in London!"

(giving advice) "Chaps, get out of there!"

(expressing surprise) "Thompson's plumb pudding!"

I say, Mrs Tea Lady, next week we may well find the fellow writing a postal order for two shillings and six in payment of a spiffing new pair of union jack braces, what? Rather!

2. Philosophically.

Can you read what this news ticker tape says? (you can click to enlarge) For one moment there the reference to a "Mr Smith" made me feel as though I was connecting with an old friend from The Sarah Jane Adventures. And then, it turned out, that I was.

That's meant to be a reference to the Doctor isn't it? Suddenly realising that he can use time-travel to get rich. As if he'd (a) never worked this out before, and (b) have any use for the money.

A similar gag headline reads "Electronics company recalls model THX1138 self-aware oven for refusing to cook bad food." Somehow these vague stabs at referencing other SF just feel too silly in a world that we have to believe in in order to care about it.

But y'know what? I'd love to see more connections made with the bigger Doctor Who universe that this series is weakly permitted to be a distant relative of. I know they're not allowed to make many direct references to the BBC's properties, but that has never prevented writers of comicbooks from being clever. For example, maybe instead of creating all these new Halloween-costume type races, they can hire writers from the original series who likewise retain the rights to their own creations.

So it's tough to place these events, either geographically in London, or philosophically within the Doctor Who universe.

In fact, even the soundtrack just doesn't belong where it is. The dubbing in this is terrible. Outdoor dialogue has an echo. By the 'London Eye', Drake's dialogue doesn't even look like it's for the same shot.

As for K9, we're still not even sure which K9 he is. This episode reveals that his arrival in the first episode was from the Galactic Peace Assembly some 50,000 years in the future. This marginally improves his odds of being K9 Mark 1 from after his remaining with Leela on Gallifrey at the end of The Invasion Of Time, but before the events of the Time War, yet still isn't remotely conclusive. Hmm, we're still waiting then.

However, the joy emerging in this series seems to be, if you'll excuse the pun, its nature as an underdog. Here's hoping that the team rise to the challenge and make us root for them.

They've clearly created an entire original world of their own for these adventures to take place in, but I still have yet to feel at home here.

But maybe that's because I'm a Londoner.

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