Written by Robert Holmes
Directed by Michael Hart
From The Reference Guide: Far into the future and far out into the black depth of the galaxy, the TARDIS materializes. The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe discover the space pioneers of the future, the adventurers and guardians of planets. But lurking also in the emptiness of space is the evil—the evil of The Space Pirates!”
There are many ways to portray space adventures. Often we get stories of wonder as our protagonists visit one alien location after another. In this type of story, we are exposed to landscapes and creatures we can never see on Earth. Another type of space story is to show how frightening and dangerous the cosmos can be. In these stories, space is cold, distant, and lonely; the only life which exists is that which cares nothing for you and would kill you with little thought or reason. Then there is space as frontier, not for scientific exploration, but for gathering resources or founding new settlements. In this type of story we find outlaws, miners, sheriffs, and claim-jumpers—even pirates!
Yes, The Space Pirates is a space-frontier story, having more in common, thematically, with Firefly than Star Trek. The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe materialize on a space beacon that has been targeted by pirates who wish to blow it apart to salvage the scrap for argonite—one of the most precious materials in the galaxy and whatnot. Along the way, they encounter a space miner by the name of Milo Clancey. Clancey is eccentric, due to spending many years alone as he travelled through space, and a bit over-the-top due to Robert Holmes still developing his style for Doctor Who characters. But Clancey proves to be a valuable ally as The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe attempt to find the mastermind who is funding the pirate operation. While I found this particular revelation to be predictable, I did appreciate the nuanced motivations of the individual who funded the pirates.
Essentially, this story was a romp. A slow romp, admittedly, but a romp nonetheless.
Unfortunately, I cannot comment much on the look of the story. Episode two still exists, but I don’t have access to it. However, this will no longer be a problem as I have finally completed all the missing stories. From this point on, every episode exists! Likewise, from this point on the endeavor becomes more expensive as I will now have to buy DVDs rather than audiobook downloads. And there is a new Doctor just around the corner. . . .
Final Verdict: The Space Pirates is a decent entry by Robert Holmes. It is a bit slow in places, but is an enjoyable story if you don’t mind audio adventures and one over-the-top performance. Besides, it is interesting to see Robert Holmes before he hits his stride.
Coming Up Next on Doctor Who: The ten part Patrick Troughton finale The War Games! This one may take a bit of time to watch. After that, a Second Doctor wrap-up, then a much-needed update to the site’s look. Thanks for reading.