Intended as a one-time appearance in the classic series Doctor Who episode “The Invisible Enemy“, the robot dog K9 became an instant favorite with kids, including myself. (K9 is my favorite Companion.) So they rewrote the ending, allowing him to join the TARDIS crew. He lasted through four incarnations on the show, including a TV pilot of his own we don’t like to talk about and a charity skit we talk even less about. In the time since, character creator Bob Baker (no relation to Tom or Colin) has been trying to get a TV series centered around the character. One idea was having him be part of a starship crew, which oddly is an idea I had and made a comic about. I’m sure it’s around here someplace.
Finally he put together a British/Australian co-production simply titled K9, airing for one year in Australia. SyFy gave it a marathon a couple of times and Shout Factory released the full series on DVD here in the US. Last week they released the pilot on their YouTube channel, which means I can now introduce you to the series. If you’re expecting something like modern Doctor Who you aren’t going to get into this. It’s lighter than The Sarah Jane Adventures and shares their target age group, kids. And due to certain rights issues (Baker owns the character, but the BBC owns the design) you won’t see the classic K9 design but for a few minutes in the beginning. The rest of the series has his brand new design. I can promise you it’s at least better than K9 And Company. Whether it’s good or not beyond that is up to you, but I liked what I’ve seen.
Unfortunately there will be no season two, as they’ve opted to focus on a movie, K9: Timequake, which they hope will be the pilot of a brand new series. I haven’t watched all the episodes but what I’ve seen is rather good. It’s more of a comedy/adventure series, but still less jokes than The Orville. Both shows have comedy elements but know how to do the drama when needed, and that’s really the only comparison I can make between the two.
And yes, that is John Leeson returning to the role. It’s odd that this version of K9 doesn’t like being referred to as a dog, since he never minded before and referred to himself that way. Officially this is the original Mark I version first created by Professor Marius to replace the dog he left behind on Earth. He’s referred to as Mark 2, using the English rather than Roman numeral to set him apart from Mark II, the version the Doctor created himself when Mark I stayed behind on Galifrey. Whether this or a new model will appear in Timequake I don’t know. Researching for this article was the first time I’ve heard of it. I’m not sure if this is only CG or if they made a puppet or robot to interact with the human performers in certain scene but it looks like the latter.
The human character themselves are okay but I don’t much care for Darrius as of this episode. I don’t think he gets much more interesting but I haven’t seen every episode. Starkey and Jorjie are both trying to expose the corruption and fascist control of the current government and are the main protagonists, Starkey being the main character and K9’s current master. Professor Gryffen has agoraphobia, the fear of outdoors, and it’s tied into what he’s doing here and what’s with his family. The full details of what happened to his family is not revealed according to my research. They also work out of a police station, a nice nod to the parent show.
What I do know is that there is some corruption in the London government of the future this show takes place in the year 2050. I can understand having systems in place for dealing with aliens due to the frequency they popped up on Earth on Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures (and I guess Torchwood but kids shouldn’t be exposed to that…and I envy kids that) as well as using their tech, but as you’ll see one of the kids’ parents are rather close to the corruption as bad things go on. Between alien invasions and corrupt governments, plus the fact that Starkey is still on the run from the cops, K9 and his new friends are going to be very busy. K9’s scrambled memory not only explains why he doesn’t call the Doctor or the Time Lords for help (it’s not clear what part he played during the Time War) but allows Park Media an out to not have to dance around why they can’t tie in to the parent show’s continuity while still allowing the show to be set there.
Since I had a job at the time, I did pick up the Shout Factory DVD, which includes all 26 episodes plus a behind the scenes segment and an interview with K9, but I haven’t had time to watch it or a bunch of my DVDs. You can also catch it on Shout Factory’s free (with ads) streaming channel without the extras. You can also check out the official website and there’s a link there to join the official Facebook page.