The Space Pirates

“There’s never been a better time for getting rich.” – Caven

The last of the lost early episodes. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing since it’s a rather low point of the Second Doctor’s era. The story is by great future script writer Robert Holmes and the general plot is not horrible, just not terribly exciting. It’s dragged out even more by long and tedious sequences that accomplish little—some a bit artful (like the space walks laying explosives), some cliché (cutting wires to stop bombs), and some just ridiculous (like the Doctor explaining to Zoe how candles work!). Holmes might deserve some credit for a very early try at the “Western in space” motif which has been used to much acclaim in other programs but the overall attempt, turning aragonite miner Milo Clancy into a cranky old space prospector, comes across unnecessarily silly and comedic here. Some of the other characters are also larger than life in bad ways—miscast or in bad costumes that undercut their roles rather than enhance them. At least the story sees Holmes stretching his wings in the repartee of old Milo in what would become a later knack for dialogue and one-liners. There’s not a lot else to say about the show. The actors come across rather bored since the action is so slow and they’re not really given a lot to do.

Best (or worst) unsettling moment:

Given the rather low key performances otherwise, the fear and anguish in Don Issigri’s rambling voice when they discover him trapped and emaciated is quite disturbing.

Firsts:

  • First mention of the Space Corps

Regrets:

The whole story is rather slow and lifeless. It also seems far-fetched that Madeleine Issigri would have so much of a conscience about murder and yet wouldn’t foresee that teaming with a known bloodthirsty killer like Caven would put her close to that. It would have been much more interesting if it had turned out she was the secret and ruthless leader of the pirates!

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