Doctor Who Story 155 – The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is undeniably a magical episode. It merges styles and approaches to sci-fi in a way that are compelling. In a way, this metaphorically exploring fandom, not just of Doctor Who, but of science fiction in general. The Gods of Ragnarok passively watch the battle of show against show, blithely looking for stimulation, wanting to see something new and exciting. Naturally, the Doctor wins in the end, establishing the show with his name on it to be the greatest.
But what is also interesting is the establishment of the Doctor against gods. In past stories where the Doctor took on religious figures, it was revealed that the religion was based on a misunderstood scientific explanation, typically aliens mistaken for gods. And while there is no specific refutation of the Gods of Ragnarok as aliens (indeed, what would a god be but an alien entity), the story takes for granted that the Gods of Ragnarok are indeed gods. Their power is not explained in terms of natural or technological phenomena. They just exist and do as they wish. And so, while Christopher Bidmead (oh so long ago) turned technology into magic, now we have Cartmel making magic a thing in itself. Doctor Who has blurred that line between science fiction and fantasy, and it seems better for it.