Doctor Who #245: The Space Pirates Part 6

"Ah! Not another banshee! Take your volume down, will you General - you're blasting me ears off!"TECHNICAL SPECS: The final missing episode, ever. I'm glad to be on my last reconstruction. First aired Apr.12 1969.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor frees the LIZ from remote control, defuses a bomb, and somewhere in there, the Space Corps kills the pirates.

REVIEW: Let's count ourselves lucky that the Doctor was only slightly gassed by the rocket exhaust(!) because he's needed in this twice in this episode to do bit of engineering. He fixes the remote control that is keeping air from getting to Dom Issigri and Milo Clancey, and then later must defuse a bomb. Slow, silent (and in this case, unseeable) tech scenes that made me realize that while "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow" and buzzing the sonic screwdriver at things might be cheating, they're a heck of a lot better, dramatically, than watching/hearing a man fiddle with wires for minutes on end. It certainly doesn't help that the climax is practically a silent film, with the Doctor's success never acknowledged in dialog (the missing video is harsh on this one), and the destruction of the pirate ship at the hands of the Space Corps as falt a conclusion as they come.

The sound cannot possibly carry the episode, first because there's just so much SHOUTING, and second because they're trying to shout over a new musical cue that's just so ANNOYING. Short, driving trumpet beats on a repetitive loop, too bouncy to help with the tension. Just distracting. The dialog's no help, not with Caven comparing his bomb to "80 old-fashioned hydrogen bombs". It's very poor writing when characters speak as if they know there's a late 1960s audience watching. Or is Caven, like Milo and Dom, some kind of antiquing nut? In the resolution, Madeleine contemplates her future once she turns herself in, one of the few good things about the episode, but they completely avoid giving her closure by reuniting her with her father on screen. Why this complication if you weren't going to resolve it?

And while the Doctor is doing all the hard and boring work, where are the companions? In the background, looks like. Zoe and Jamie have very little to do beyond reaction shots, until the end when Jamie's queasiness returns at the notion of flying the LIZ back to the TARDIS and there's an explosion of group laughter, like we're in some damn Scooby-Doo episode. Milo's accent and vernacular almost make me believe that's the case.

VERSIONS: The Target novelization condensed the repetitive scenes, but otherwise made no changes to the story or characters.

- Terrible from stem to stern, the fact that it's a missing episode with little dialog certainly doesn't help, but the poor writing shows through anyway.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Low - Good model work and distinctive music just aren't enough to elevate a story in which the Doctor plays such a minor role. In addition, there are problems with plot logic, character depth and consistency, and repetitive sequences. The low point of the Troughton era.



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