The Space Pirates

At first, this story is only tangentially related to the Doctor and his companions. The writer seems more interested in setting up this new sci-fi universe, filled with history, politics, corporations and… pirates.

The evil space pirates doing evil piratey things... in space.

The evil space pirates doing evil piratey things… in space.

Attacks on government satellites have finally caught the attention of the Space Corps, who track down a band of pirates who have set up an argonite smuggling operation with a seemingly legit mining company. The Tardis lands in the middle of a raid on one of the satellites, and the Doc and co find themselves shuttled back and forth, caught up in a sting operation, facing death at the end of each episode (although miraculously surviving, the big teases!), and eventually averting atomic disaster and stopping the pirates.

Captain Posh and Commander Yank. Maybe, I can't remember.

Captain Posh and Commander Yank. Maybe, I can’t remember.

A colourful cast of characters helps flesh out the story, with a bizarre mix of accents. The captain of the Space Corps cruiser sounds either ridiculously posh British or German. Or both, I’m not sure. The old timer space trucker Milo Clancy has one of the worst American accents I’ve heard since… well, since the wild west Doctor Who episode! Then there’s the woman in charge of the mining company, whose father is secretly still alive, and the evil pirate boss uses him as leverage to ensure her cooperation, because, y’know, he’s so evil. This sort of self-involved storytelling reminds me of some of the older William Hartnell episodes, except this has the advantage of being futuristic instead of some boring historical setting.

Milo Clancy sits down to eat breakfast in his cockpit.

Milo Clancy sits down to eat breakfast in his cockpit.

The ships and sets and practical special effects are impressive for their time. The show seems to be using more miniatures recently, daring to be a bit more ambitious with its scenarios, which is good. I think Clancy’s old rocket ship might be the same one from The Seeds of Death, but I can’t be sure.

Only one of the six episodes remains complete – the rest are reconstructions and therefore a little harder to follow. If they were all complete, I think the story would be more bearable, but as it stands, it’s difficult to fully recommend it.

This is, thankfully, the last reconstruction I will have to watch. Every episode from here on is complete. This is quite a relief! Next is the final serial of Patrick Troughton’s adventures as the Doctor…

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