Classic Doctor Who Review: Carnival of Monsters

‘Carnival of Monsters’ is my first Pertwee episode and let’s just say it didn’t fare well. This was a Groundhog’s Day, irrelevant alien hostility, “Honey, I Shrunk The Doctor” mess.

It starts when a carnie guy and a lady with a box of Trix floating around her head arrive on a planet with a bunch of cranky grey aliens. They showed the cranky grey aliens their cargo which is called a Miniscope. The Miniscope takes normal sized beings, shrinks them, and sucks them inside. When inside, the beings live out about an hours worth of material before them program resets itself. They forget all that has happened and start all over.

I did not take to Pertwee as the Doctor straight away but when he took off his jacket and started kicking ass in a frilly green shirt, I was in love. This was the first time that I’ve seen Jo Grant as a young woman with the first being her appearance on The Sarah Jane Adventures. I was surprised that she was such an annoying bimbo. She tried to help the Doctor with her “out-of-the-mouths-of-babes” wisdom but it just didn’t work for me. When it was time to run, I could not understand her problem with it. Her heels weren’t that high but she managed to fall at the most inopportune times.

I was amused at the Doctor and Jo having to navigate the circuit board of the Miniscope. I’m sure it looked high tech for the era but it was hilariously outdated to the point of being adorable. I liked it a bit. Unfortunately my patience started to wane when they found the big scary monsters. They had so many opportunities to escape them but it seems as if they were stalling for dramatic sake. They didn’t walk far to encounter the monsters but it took twice as long for them to escape them.

The B-story with the grey aliens was the most senseless addition to the episode. Heads of state or rulers of the planet were plotting the downfall of a rival faction at what amounts to an airport. They wanted the Miniscope. They wanted the monsters in the Miniscope but what doesn’t make sense is how the arrival of a carnie set off their desire to create political instability. If they had so much power, why would the be hanging out at the airport plotting and scheming?

This episode had too much going on. It gets points for creativity but loses points for terrible execution and disorganization.
1972-73 Jon Pertwee ♦§♛ Carnival of Monsters (★★½ – 5/20/2011 ❤)
Season 10, Episodes 5-8

Cat’s Doctor Who Watchlist

‘Carnival of Monsters’ @BBC

‘Carnival of Monsters’ @ The TARDIS Index File

‘Carnival of Monsters’ @Netflix Streaming

‘Carnival of Monsters’ @ Amazon Streaming


  1. […] entire episode is about power, how we treat others, dehumanization/depersonalization of other sentient beings, and […]

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