Doctor Who #242: The Space Pirates Part 3

"It's very rude to point, you know. Especially with a gun."TECHNICAL SPECS: Missing from the archives, I've gone to a reconstruction for solace. First aired Mar.22 1969.

IN THIS ONE... Milo Clancey brings the Doctor and friends to Ta where the pirates are holed up.

In many ways, this seems a throwback to much older Doctor Who. As if written for the Hartnell years, it has the Doctor trying to get his TARDIS back and not actually actually getting actively involved in the plot. Perhaps that's why it's so hard to take sides between the stuffy authorities and the greedy pirates. Who cares if a mining company makes more or less profit? Or if nondescript beacons are stolen and sold for scrap? Neither the Doctor nor the audience have any emotional investment in these issues, so we cannot care beyond whether or not our heroes get their police box back. Is Milo Clancey are baddie? Or is it just a coincidence that he decides to hide on Ta where the pirates have their secret HQ? If he's not one of the pirates, why is Madeleine Issigri, obviously in league with them, defending him to the General? The fact that these questions are likely met with ambivalence is part of this story's failure.

We do get a couple of Holmesian lines here and there (as in Robert, not Sherlock), like the quote above about pointing guns, and some of Clancey's colorful language. Overall, it's hard to love this script which misunderstands its world's economy to a great degree. Argonite cannot possibly be the most expensive metal in the galaxy AND be used in the fabrication of everything. The advocate for the prosecution: Plastic. Zoe's making tea like she's Polly or something (another throwback), and wondering why the Doctor didn't think of using maths to calculate the TARDIS' destination, revealing a problem with the characterization. We don't need any help, Mr. Writer or (more likely?) Mr. Script Editor.

So once again, it's up to the regulars to save the day with bits of comic business. Jamie is queasy aboard the fast-flying LIZ-79, and gets even more so at any incidental mention of food. His "what?" at the Doctor telling Zoe to get up on the Scots' back to get a better look at something, is quite amusing. But these moments aren't enough to salvage a story that is resolutely NOT about them.

THEORIES: "Martian missiles"? I wonder if they're just a catchy God of War-related name, or if in this future, humanity's done a little business with the Ice Warriors and adapted some of their weapons technology. Knowing my species, we probably just moved in and those WOMDs are just being manufactured there.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie are still slumming it in somebody else's show, and though some wit tries to show through, it's not enough to elevate the episode to recommendable status.



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