Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dr Whooooooo? Continued...

2. K9 - A Time Lord's (and girl's) best friend

Well hello me hearties!! I'm back. And it's the weekend now which is even nicer. No more working for a day or two...The sun is shining outside the window of my South London penthouse and it's shaping up to be a nice relaxing Saturday. Can you work out which part of the last sentence is a complete lie? My hubby is at work (poor thing - he's currently in training to be a senior team leader, and then hopefully assistant manager, so it's hard work for him, but it will all be worth it in the end when he gets that promotion!) So I am currently on my own-e-o.

Anyhow, to return to the previous topic of discussion, which was my favourite things from the wondrous world (or cosmos?) of Doctor Who....and as you can see, favourite number 2 is none other than robot dog K9. Get the joke? A cunning play on "canine", of course. That's him in the picture above, next to Sarah-Jane Smith.

K9 first appeared in the show in the story "The Invisible Enemy" in 1977 and was the creation of Earth scientist Professor Marius, who was working in a hospital called the Bi-Al foundation, based in the asteroid belt within our solar system (a little bit further to go than Holby City then). The good Professor, missing his real pet dog back home, created a robot equivalent and K9 was thus born. And a very clever doggie he is too. Not only does he have a highly advanced brain, he can also communicate with computers, has an inbuilt laser gun in his "snout" with can stun or even kill, and sensors. And probably other things that I've forgotten to mention. He certainly proves very useful in helping the Professor, Doctor and companion Leela in their fight against the Nucleus of the swarm (!! great name, huh? More on the aforementioned Nukey later) and at the end the story the Professor very kindly agrees to let the mechanical mutt depart with the Doctor in the TARDIS.

I must have been about 8 years old when this story was first broadcast and me and my primary school pals were immediately taken with the arrival of the amazing robot dog. This was 1977, the era of "Star Wars" and science fiction was very "in". Admittedly Dr Who couldn't quite compete with big screen sci-fi; one of the most derided aspects of old-school Dr Who is its low budget and consequently, sometimes rather crap sets, cheapo special effects, baco-foil monsters and so forth. "The Invisible Enemy" is no exception (again more on this later). However one of its saving graces was undoubtedly K9. He was soooo cool! My mates were soon all paraphrasing K9's expressions in the playground: "Affirmative, master!" "Negative!" We attempted to make our own K9s out of Lego (rather hard in fact) and (ahem) I even remember constructing a K9 out of cardboard boxes and taking him down the local shops. I can't believe I've just revealed that. Well, I was very young at the time.

In the context of the programme there were actually several incarnations of K9. The first version travelled in the TARDIS for a few stories until he elected to remain with Leela on the Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey in "The Invasion of Time". Before you could say "sonic screwdriver" the Doc created a brand new K9 Mark II, who remained with him until the end of "Warrior's Gate", choosing to stay in E-Space with Time-Lady Romana (well basically he had no choice, as his memory and circuits had been eroded by time winds and the only way he could keep intact was to stay in the alternative universe. I bet you are all wondering what the hell I'm going on about now aren't you...)

The final and most recent incarnation of K9, Mark III, was given as a gift to none other than Sarah-Jane Smith in "K9 and Company" and proved invaluable in helping Sarah battle a local coven of witches. He then resurfaced for a cameo in "The Five Doctors" and most recently "School Reunion".

So that's a potted history of the pooch. Although obviously a robot, K9 does have a very human personality, and can be superior and smug at times and a bit of a know-all, but overall he has always been loyal to the Doctor in all their time/space adventures, referring to him as "Master". Awwww. A Time-Lord's best friend, no less. His recent reappearance in the programme was a joy to behold and definitely a great nostalgia trip for Who freaks like me. Perhaps his role in "School Reunion" was a little underwritten but in true K9 fashion he was there to save the day again, making a final heroic gesture by blowing up the monstrous Krillitanes and so saving the world from alien invasion. Unfortunately in doing so, he also sacrifices himself, much to Sarah-Jane's sadness. However the ever-thoughtful Doctor surprises her by giving her yet another rebuilt K9, which made for a touching conclusion to the story.

So there you have it. Of course still being a child at heart I have a mini K9 on my desk at work and also a small speaking version which accompanies a Tom Baker doll. Some people never grow up I guess...."Affirmative!"


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