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Doctor Who and the Pirates Audio CD – Audiobook, 25 Mar 2003
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Top customer reviews
The Big Finish dramas are at their best when playing around with the format and trying something new. And that is what we have here. Essentially this episode is Doctor Who the Musical. The Doctor and Evelyn are relating a tale to one of Evelyn's students, weaving a story of adventure on the high seas (the plot of which will sound familiar to fans of treasure island!) and telling in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan in appropriate places. The pastiche works well to my ears and makes for an entertaining couple of hours listening. Especially the slightly dark ending, where the pair's motives for telling the story become clear, and the relationship between the Doctor and Evelyn is explored a little bit further.
Once again Colin Baker does an outstanding job as the Doctor, leavening the harsh, arrogant style of his TV episodes with a compassion and humour that gives the character much more depth. The great Bill Oddie does a turn as the Pirate Captain Red Jasper, hamming it up to the rafters yet striking just the right note and providing entertainment and menace in equal measure.
All in all an excellent adventure. It can be listened to in isolation, but it might help to hear some of the earlier Baker/Evelyn audios to understand some of the back story. A bit different from what you normally get, but a welcome experiment, and one I hope the Big Finish team repeat with other Doctors sometime.
In the first of the four episodes, there is a lot of light-heartedness in the relating of the tale; Sally pulls Evelyn up for her caricatures of the pirates, and it all seems very jolly. The second episode is much darker, as the true nature of the pirates becomes clear, and the story becomes more than just a tale being related. Strangely, the third episode largely takes the form of a musical (yes, a musical; you'll see why when you get to that part). Now, I really don't like musicals, but I absolutely loved this, and found myself singing along as I listened to the cd in the car. In the fourth episode, all the threads of the story (both the pirate story, and Evelyn and the Doctor's visit to Sally) come together. There is humour, pathos, sorrow and humanity.
I really enjoyed this; I think the relationship between the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn is really honest and brings out the best in the Doctor. The two characters go so well together that it's a joy to listen to them. Bill Oddie, who plays the Pirate Captain Red Jasper is absolutely wonderful, and Captain Swan is totally hilarious.
There's a lot to take in, in this story, and it swings through so many emotions and moods that you really need to listen to it more than once to appreciate it fully. Totally recommended; a real keeper.
Let’s face it both comedies and musicals polarise opinion but the musical episode was the highlight for me. Whereas the comedy was extremely anodyne. It was well written and the singing and acting was superb all round. Katy Manning in the Scorchies proved musical can work really well, although I couldn't see the comedy in that one either. Another highlight is the way they handled Jolly Jasper the pirate turning into a killer thug.
Is it bad? No. Did I enjoy it? Not really. I think if I were a real fan of Gilbert and Sullivan I might find the musical numbers screamingly funny, but I'm not.
In amongst all the excellent tales of mad scientists and evil monsters wanting to rule the Universe, I suddenly found this story and saved it for Pantomime season! ‘Doctor Who’ fans happy to occasionally let their science-fiction hair down will enjoy it; ‘Doctor Who’ fans who are also fans of Gilbert and Sullivan will be in seventh heaven on the seven seas, though there are also two stories of personal heartbreak under the foam and froth.