Monday, August 23, 2010

K9 episodes 1 & 2: "Regeneration" and "Liberation"

Spoiler Rating: Medium

Back in the late 90's when I was working conventions, Joy & I were sharing a table with a local anime/comic shop.  During one of the quieter moments, one of the guys from the other shop and I got to talking about Doctor Who, which somehow led us to talk about its attempted spin-off, K9 & Company.

"I've seen all of those, too..."

"Well, they only made one episode," I pointed out.

"Oh no, no, they made 65 episodes.  The PBS stations in America only aired the first episode."

"No, it was a pilot.  They never made anymore."

There was a pause while my friend mulled this over.  Then he gave his head a firm nod.  "...No, I'm pretty sure I've seen all 65 episodes."

Well, what do you say to that?  It's not like he was a jerk or being pompous... he was just a really nice guy who genuinely thought he'd seen them, and I couldn't push the issue without being a jerk myself.

And only now, some 15 years later, do I truly understand.  He was watching temporal television!  Somehow this show was transmitted back through time, and he was lucky enough to actually see them before they were made!  Or perhaps, just like there are many lost Hartnell and Troughton episodes, these are K9's "Lost Episodes," only now being recovered!

So, now that we've got that mystery solved... how were the episodes themselves?

"Regeneration" was a very decent start.  The series is set in a dystopian future London, where we meet a batch of teenagers (all of which came across better than the kids in the pilot for Sarah Jane Adventures), and a scientist who's been trying to recover his lost family via time travel.  What he gets instead is K9, plucked out of time and dropped into their world, where he regenerates into a slick new model.  K9's memories are gone, presumably by whatever crisis he just escaped from.

Now, K9 (the series) is being made by Bob Baker, one of K9 (the character)'s co-creators, without any connection to the BBC.  Thus, the show is not allowed to use anything directly from Doctor Who.  But Bob Baker has stated that the K9 in this show is the original K9 Mk I that stayed behind on Gallifrey.  So the viewer can then presume that he was upgraded with regeneration technology while he was there, and that his escape and memory loss are from his escaping Gallifrey during the Time War.  It all makes total sense, but of course is never directly stated (or even implied) in the show itself.

As a pilot, "Regeneration" worked a lot better than Sarah Jane Adventures "Invasion of the Bane" pilot.

"Liberation," on the other hand, was a bit of a chore to get through.  The first half spends most of its time having the two lead teenage boys bicker with each other.  Which wouldn't be so bad if it was witty banter that gave us insight into the characters... but these writers are no Joss Whedon.  This is just annoying, like over hearing kids in the park while you're trying to read.  You can tell exactly what the next comeback line is going to be each time.

The second half, however, was pretty good, and actually felt like it had a lot of story exposition crammed into it.  If they had used more time from the first half to work on the exposition and less of the bickering boys, I think it would have worked much better.

And it's worth pointing out that John Leeson, the original voice of K9, is back for this series, giving K9 his classic personality and making him the K9 we know and love, no matter how he looks!  And I'm willing to forgive a shaky start;  after all, Sarah Jane Adventures just got better and better, and K9 looks like it has the potential to as well.

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