Doctor Who #243: The Space Pirates Part 4

"Which end did you land on when you fell down that shaft?"TECHNICAL SPECS: Missing from the archives like most of this story, I've used a reconstruction. First aired Mar.29 1969.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor tries to find a way to get out of a prison cell, is freed by Milo Clancey, and they discover Madeleine Issigri is in league with the pirates (duh).

REVIEW: The large sections with the V-ship and the pirates and all that is clearly meant to be exciting, but it really isn't. The music's trying, but it's all procedural dialog otherwise, coordinates and whatever. Very boring, and at best supported by the same model shots we've seen before. So it's up the Doctor's escape attempt to entertain?

Alas, these bits are rather poorly written. We have Jamie twisting his ankle like a latter-day Susan (is Holmes paying tribute to each companion in turn and I'm just not getting the joke?). We have the Doctor using a tuning fork to get the right sound to open the audio lock, except don't tuning forks always make the same note? Isn't that the whole point? (Too bad they've forgotten the sonic screwdriver, because this is right up its alley.) Jamie seems to accidentally find the right tone when he throws the fork away, but no, it's Clancey saving the day. Of course, there's this ridiculous argument about whether or not Clancey's one of the pirates, even though his springing them from jail proves he isn't. This kind of padded nonsense just made me give up in bored frustration.

After the escape, there are some good bits, but they're slim. Zoe's dry humor when the Doctor gets a shock from old equipment. Jamie deciding to go back and fight the pirates to buy them some time. A bit of MacGyverism from the Doctor. Clancey's ever colorful language (a "buzz of bees"?). But then we get into Madeline Issigri's office and - SHOCK AND SURPRISE!!! - she's one of the baddies. Well, no kidding. The production couldn't have telegraphed it more if they'd given her a mustache to twirl.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - Boring and badly written. Truly the low point of Robert Holmes' Doctor Who scripting.

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