‘I am what I am.’ So, yes, it has got a gay subtext. ‘Night-time’s when they come out,’ says Priscilla P of the Killjoys, with a delighted shudder, and Susan Q “comes out” to Ace. Generally, though, I think it’s just wrapped into a broader sideswipe against Conservative politics (the workers are forbidden to enter the city, the Killjoys go on protest marches). I suppose Helen A having ‘controlled the population down by 17 per cent’ might be a comment on AIDS but probably isn’t. I’ve seen criticism that no-one on the Happiness Patrol actually smiles or seems to be happy, but for me that seems to be the point: no-one in power ever thinks the rules apply to them.
It’s not as good as Part One, mainly because the Pipe People feel like a sub-plot too far (I think it might have been neater to have them as Killjoys hiding in the pipes, tying back to Silas P’s whisper of ‘a secret place’ in the first episode), and they’re not particularly well realised. The moments of a rubber pooch chasing some rubber rat people around would be hard for Graeme Harper to pull off let alone Chris Clough.
Elsewhere, I respect the intent of the ‘throw away your guns’ scene, even if my inner Saward can’t buy it. And I do enjoy the Doctor turning the tables on Trevor Sigma just like he did the Chief Caretaker, marching into Helen A’s office to demand answers and leaving her impotently fuming as he swans off, having got what he came for. I love Earl, whose, ‘You’re a nice guy Doctor but a little weird’ is a great tagline for the seventh Doctor. I love the Kandy Man’s dialogue (‘I am a Kandy Man of my word’) and the poetry of the script (‘A pleasant melancholy’).
Next episode: The Happiness Patrol – Part Three