Doctor Who: The Space Pirates – Episodes 4,5 & 6

I have been dragging myself through The Space Pirates and ‘dragging’ really is the most appropriate word. No one with any foreknowledge of it has ever happily sat through the entirety of The Space Pirates. I am now quite certain of this. All I knew was that there were six episodes and a few episodes in this was enough to put me off. Eventually, feeling that my progress of one episode a month was procrastination taken too far, I decided to just get it over with and watch the final three episodes in one sitting.

We ended Episode 3 with me feeling optimistic about the rest of the serial but this optimism took a nosedive fairly soon into Episode 4. After the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe dive into a cave to escape the pirates they find themselves trapped in there along with another fellow. They spend most the episode trying to escape the cave. It feels like such a waste of the main cast.

Episodes 5 and 6 blurred together a bit for me as I struggled to concentrate. Whilst the action did slightly pick up again, the plot truly baffled me. I was sure the pirates must have some other plan aside from stealing argonite but if they did I never worked it out.

The bloke they met in the cave, Sorba, is shot soon afterwards by Caven, the leader of the pirates.

Not having long escaped the cave they trapped themselves in, the Doctor, Jamie, Zoe and Milo Clancey are imprisoned in a study/library type room. Wood and varnish must be retro style in the future. There is an old, bearded bloke in there. Between his muttering and Milo Clancey’s accent, half the dialogue is complete gobbledygook.

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In between it all we continue to have these utterly, awfully dull scenes on the Space Corps ship.

Towards the end, Caven realises the Space Corps are onto him and decides to start blowing stuff up so a series of bombs are set. The Doctor has to carefully diffuse them. This might actually have been quite tense to watch but in telesnap form, it’s impossible to work out what is going on.

Whilst various bad guys get their comeuppance, sadly Milo Clancey is with us until the end, giving the regulars a lift back to the TARDIS. Though last time I remember us seeing the TARDIS it was floating off in space so I must have missed how they found it again.

A major problem throughout the whole story, The Space Pirates varies between dreary Space Corps dialogue and visually heavy scenes. They aren’t necessarily always ‘action’ scenes but they are sequences with people doing rather than saying. With only one live action episode in existence, this makes the story a really difficult one to watch. Five mind-sapping episodes’ worth of telesnaps is pretty tough. In fact, there aren’t even enough in existence so praise be to Loose Canon, who put these episodes together, for some decent editing in order to give us a little more variety.

I would speculate that with more episodes discovered we might reappraise The Space Pirates completely. Perhaps some would but for me, the underuse of the series’ regulars hurts the story a lot. They aren’t particularly central to the plot and spend half their time trapped in various rooms. They aren’t in most of the first couple of episodes. They get stuck on the broken up beacon, then on Clancey’s ship whilst they travel to Ta, then in the cave and then in the study.

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I think the only saving grace for this story is that Milo Clancey didn’t become a companion.

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