Doctor Who: Looking Back At The Spin-Offs

WARNING: This article will contain some spoilers. Over the course of fifty years, Doctor Who has birthed a number of…

James T. Cornish

Contributor

torchwood team

WARNING: This article will contain some spoilers.

Over the course of fifty years, Doctor Who has birthed a number of spin-offs that followed the Doctor’s companions in their lives after leaving the Doctor. In terms of creating and selling new content, spin-offs are an obvious move for Doctor Who. It has an ever-changing cast and, over the course of their time with Doctor, the companions grow and become greater than they were before, with some becoming capable of following in the Doctor’s footsteps and fighting injustice wherever they find it. Which makes them perfect leading characters for similarly themed spin-offs.

As you’ll see, not every Doctor Who spin-off worked but despite a couple of clunkers, there’s a lot of good spin-off material to enjoy. So now with only three months until the 50th Anniversary, we continue our monthly countdown to it by looking back at Doctor Who’s spin-offs…

 

K-9 And Company – A Girl’s Best Friend (BBC1, 1981)

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What’s It About?

Sarah Jane Smith, her aunt Lavinia’s ward Brendan Richards, and a new version of K-9 investigate the disappearance of Lavinia and its connection to a local coven of witches.

Is It Any Good?

I’m going to sum up this spin-off (which never went beyond a pilot broadcast at Christmas) in one word: Tedious. It’s a Doctor Who spin-off but the only sci-fi element in it is K-9, it’s about as fast paced as an episode of The Antiques Roadshow, and it ends on the hugely irritating resolution that Aunt Lavinia (whose disappearance was the thrust of the entire episode) was never abducted in the first place. She just left for her lecture tour in America a few days early without telling anyone.

The only remotely exciting scene is the climax where Sarah Jane and K-9 rescue Brendan just as the witches are about to sacrifice him, and Sarah Jane starts beating up the witches while K-9 shoots at them. If the whole episode had been on that kind of energetic and adventurous level rather than being stuffed with padded out dialogue, it would be far more interesting.

Special mention also has to go to the bizarre opening sequence. It’s a minute long and is pretty much just really dull footage of Sarah Jane and K-9 over electronic music with John Leeson (K-9’s voice actor) saying “K-9″ repeatedly. For some reason, it features shots of K-9 perched on a wall and (I kid you not) Sarah Jane reading The Guardian, jogging, and sat at a typewriter while drinking a glass of wine. It’s like if somebody set the opening of Murder She Wrote to bad electronic music.

The only good thing to come out of K-9 And Company is that it was eventually used as a set-up for Sarah Jane and K-9’s return to the Doctor Who universe in the 2006 episode School Reunion. Other than that, it’s just incredibly dull and doesn’t have any of the warmth or charm that a child-orientated Doctor Who spin-off needs.