The Space Pirates

I’VE DONE IT! I’VE DONE ALL THE MISSING EPISODES!

Hurrah, frankly. No more hunting down recons that have been copyright-blocked for containing tiny censor clips. No more pondering how accurate a reconstruction I’m watching, given how little reference material exists for some episodes. No more having to concentrate really hard after a long day’s work because it’s really bloody hard to follow an action sequence via the medium of stills and scrolling text. Such a relief to know that I’ll always be coming home to a proper episode, and indeed such a relief to find that I didn’t give up.

Seriously, I always knew from the start that missing episodes would the biggest challenge in the quest to make it through 50+ years of Who. Seasons 3 and 4 just looked so daunting on the spreadsheet. I’ve got to give a huge amount of credit to Loose Cannon Productions for the sheer quality of their recons. Their commitment to both authenticity and incorporating as many sources as possible has made it a lot more tolerable than I thought. Not half glad to see the back of them though.

As for the serial itself… it’s not brilliant. I see what they were going for, with a deep space version of a western, but it doesn’t quite come together. The Space Corps crew are all very plummy – and hammy in several cases, although I’ll forgive Igor from Count Duckula because he’s Igor from Count Duckula – but then you’ve got this crazy old prospector who sounds like the Cowardly Lion.

The main problem is that The Doctor and his companions are barely in it, and when they are, it’s barely anything to do with the main plot. He doesn’t even meet the Space Corps, so it’s hard to care about them – a problem when around half the action is from their point of view. A huge chunk of this serial is just a bunch of scenes between people we don’t know, so there’s no emotional impact to their exploits.

It’s not helped by some terribly clunky expositional dialogue to establish the backstory. “Milo Clancy? But he’s the man I blame for my father going missing. You know, my father – the one who established this mining company that I run.” I’m exaggerating, but not by much. And by the way, her secretly working for the pirates is the least surprising twist ever. If you’ve not seen this story before, I promise you that’s not a spoiler – you’ll know it the second she turns up. I assume Robert Holmes gets much better at some point, considering that so far he’s only done this and the ultimately unremarkable Krotons.

It gets a bit better towards the end, as The Doctor finally starts doing things that actually impact on the plot, and aren’t just him stumbling around while a story happens around him. Even if the last episode does end like an episode of Police Squad. But overall, it’s not exactly near the top of my wishlist for when they next discover a lost story. (For the record, the top of that list, on reflection, would be The Evil of the Daleks).

Of course, the only downside of getting to the end of the missing episodes is how perilously close I am to the end of Troughton. But at least his final story is ridiculously huge. I’ll see you in a week and a half…

RATING: 5

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