Tuesday 8 June 2010

The Pirate Planet

Continuing with their quest for the Key to Time, the Fourth Doctor and Romana 1 arrive on a mysterious planet.

The Ribos Operation is followed by another good story.

Despite a huge amount of technobabble, this story is fantastically scripted. It will surprise nobody that writer Douglas Adams opted for an extremely comic vibe, making it one of the most hilarious Doctor Who stories.

There are some minor things to complain about. The ending is a little confusing. The Mentiads are disappointingly dull (as are the inhabitants of Xanak). I am puzzled as to why the climate of Xanak does not change and become more like that of Callufraz. It is also irritating that the guards are hopeless marksmen, while the good characters always hit their targets. Nevertheless, the huge sense of fun makes up for all these faults. This is one of the most fun Dr. Who stories ever.

Tom Baker is in his element in this story, ever the comedian, yet still fierce in his confrontation with the Captain. Mary Tamm is as cool and delightfully aloof as she was in her debut. She works effectively as the Doctor's companion. Her posh girl status is reinforced by the revelation that she was given an air car for her 70th birhday.

Doctor Who is full of ranting villains, and they can get tiresome, but the ranting of the Captain is simply glorious. He rages, bullies, intimidates and utters curses about a 'sky demon'. The Doctor sums him up brilliantly:

"What is it you're really up to, eh? What do you want? You don't want to take over the universe do you? No. You wouldn't know what to do with it beyond shout at it."

Yet he is also deeply sentimental. He is deeply upset over the death of the metallic parrot, his 'only friend.' He also grieves over hte death of Mr. Fibuli, who he had mercilessly bullied and threatened with death. The Captain also turns out to be a lot cleverer than he appears.

Doctor Who villains are often paired with a lieutenant which makes for superb double acts like Davros and Nider and Irongron and Bloodaxe. The Captain is paired up with the hilariously camp Mr. Fibuli. While Mr. Fibuli attracts our sympathy as a victim of the Captain's bullying, he reveals his cruel streak when he smiles with glee when the Doctor is apparently made to walk the plank.

While Queen Xanxia is not the most impressive performance in the story, her role is used highly effectively, with her appearance as the nurse increasingly becoming prominent as the story progresses.

The set for the Captain's HQ is very impressive.

The Pirate Planet is a very entertaining story.

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