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on 31 January 2012
1969's The Space Pirates has the distinction of being one of the poorest Patrick Troughton serials, but I must admit, although I was not totally looking foward to watching this story, I quite enjoyed it when I sat down one evening and viewed the whole thing in one fell swoop. I can't quite understand why this story is so slated as the acting is to a very high standard and the production values are not that bad for a story that was produced on less than £20,000. I can think of worst Patrick Troughton serials {The Dominators for instance}, so to judge The Space Pirates quite so harshly is beyond me.

Anywho, now that I have cleared that up, I would like to review why I think that this serial is in effect quite entertaining. We have some fantastic quest cast in this story such as: Gordon Gostelow as Milo Clancey, Jack May as General Hermack, Donald Gee as Major Ian Warne, Dudley Foster as the villianous Cavern and Lisa Daniely as Madeleine Issigri. Throw in Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury and what you have is pretty much the perfect cast for this type of serial. As well as the great cast and production values, we have fantastic incidental music by Dudley Simpson. His use of female voices, as in The Ice Warriors, makes for an effective and chilling soundtrack.

Great direction comes from Michael Hart as he uses the maximum amount of space available to him, on top of this we have some truly space age model filming and fantastic camerawork on the surviving episode 2. This is Robert Holmes second storyline that he had submitted to the Doctor Who production team after the success he had on The Krotons. As with The Krotons though, The Space Pirates will never be high up on anyone's greatest stories list but still I think he does a good job here.

One thing I must point out though is although Mark Ayres has done a brilliant job in restoring this lost story, it does suffer from poor audio quality recordings, this is probably the worst story for which audio recordings have been sourced. I suppose the recordings must have been done by somebody using a microphone pointed at the tele instead of the more quality orientated way of wiring the mic straight into the speaker cables, this gives a much improved audio quality. Just a shame that nobody except one man, taped visually the story, ironically, the only episode of Doctor Who that was recorded in the 1960's off-air, is of an episode that sadly exists. So, no hope there then.

Overall, I would have to rate The Space Pirates as a first class space opera, a story that shares some familiarity with Star Wars, it was just made about 8 years earlier. I hope that when this serial is released on the Lost TV Episodes Collection - Volume 5, better audio recordings have been located. That way it should ensure that The Space Pirates is fully enjoyed in all its soundtrack glory.

Highly recommended,

Many thanks for your time in reading my review, its greatly appreciated.

M.B.
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on 5 December 2007
There seem to be a lot of Doctor Who stories that are labelled boring or lacklustre. The Space Pirates has suffered thia reputation. But Im afraid that i really like this story. This has great characters in place of monsters. For six episodes its very enjoyable. Some six parters are laboured, but this story is not one of them.

The Space Pirates is yet another story that rubbishes the theory that the old series never really had any real emotion. Id like to point out the final two episodes when Madeliene finds out that Caven has been keeping her father alive when she thought he has been dead for years, her reaction seems or at least sounds, very realistic indeed.

And to say the least, Pat Troughton is really at his best, with some great one liners amidst this great space opera that actually does work! I like this more than many of the monster oriented who's. Robert Holmes always had a knack of writing brilliant characters and Dom Issigri and Milo Clancey are two great creations.

A story with plenty to offer and an easy to follow yet very vividly directed plot line. This story is actually a real lost "classic"!
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on 27 August 2007
"The Space Pirates", which was one of the first contributions to "Doctor Who" by writer Robert Holmes, is one of those stories that received fan wisdom declares to be rubbish. I'm no follower of received fan wisdom but, after listening to "The Space Pirates" and watching the surviving second episode on DVD in the "Lost in Time" set, I must admit that the story didn't exactly push my buttons.
It doesn't help that, like episodes four and five of "The Reign of Terror", the CD release of "The Space Pirates" suffers from incredibly bad audio quality. The tech-heads at the BBC have done their best to remaster the audio copies of the missing stories with these CD releases, but the end product still depends to some extent on the state of the source material which, by reason of its ancient and off-air nature, is never perfect. The dialogue on the CD isn't often completely unintelligible, but you do have to concentrate quite hard at times to hear what's going on.
The story itself features an unusually hardcore sci-fi scenario involving space chases between renegades and galactic law enforcers. In doing so, the human element of Doctor Who is somewhat lost, and the roles of the principal cast are marginalised (much of the story is seen from the perspective of General Hermack, in a somewhat OTT performance by Jack May, and his V-Ship crew). The other main supporting character is the eccentric prospector Milo Clancey (Gordon Gostelow), who I think is intended to be American. Clancey is amusing during his early, predominantly visual scenes in episode two, but when his accent is combined with the poor audio quality, his lines become particularly difficult to hear, and the scenes between Clancey and the regular cast where Clancey does a lot of the talking get rather waring.
There's a certain amount of action to be had across "The Space Pirates"' six episodes, but it doesn't come across particularly well in the audio medium, even with the benefit of Frazer Hines' clear narration. If a clearer audio transfer can be produced and if the large-scale animation of missing episodes ever becomes economical, then this story is definitely one that would benefit from an animated reconstruction. As it is, the story offers relatively little on audio compared to some of the missing stories, and the best bit is probably towards the end, where the characters who have become involved with leading pirate Caven begin to realise just how dangerous and ruthless a man he is, and begin to have second thoughts. That, at least, is a good bit of writing and acting that doesn't require a video image to succeed.
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on 6 February 2006
BBC really did a number on this one. Unlike most of the "lost" Second Doctor storylines, there are not even surviving "telesnaps" for "Space Pirates," Patrick Troughton's second-to-last adventure (1969). Only Episode 2 of this 6-episode tale survives, and is available in the (utterly indispensible) "Lost in Time" DVD restoration. So this is Troughton's fully mature portrayal of the Doctor. And what a portrayal it is - brilliant, intense, comical (though the plot calls for less slapstick on Troughton's part than usual), and thoroughly winning. There is little doubt Troughton was the finest actor to play the role, and that includes the great Tom Baker.
So what is this "most missing in action" Doctor Who yarn about? Space pirates have been deconstructing unmanned space beacons to melt them down for their argonite (the "most valuable metal in the universe" and which, in this particular time period, is used for building nearly everything, including spaceships). The pirates have twice eluded the Council's slower ships, and the General (expansively played in basso profundo here) orders the other beacons manned, as the pirates are on their way to take the third beacon apart for salvage. The TARDIS chooses that moment to materialize in one of the compartments of the doomed beacon; the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe (splendidly played as always by this truly great team) are mistaken by the Council forces for pirates, and in fleeing they find themselves many compartments away from the one containing their time machine. Their pursuers are killed, however, by the pirates, who have just arrived, and the beacon is blasted apart, trapping our trio. (End of Episode 1). In the surviving filmed Episode 2, the Doctor tries to keep Jamie and Zoe alive by rationing their dwindling supply of oxygen, while he attempts to use an electromagnetic field to pull their compartment to the next-closest compartment, a mile away. As Zoe fears, this attempt backfires, and the reverse-polarity between the compartments hurtles the three away from the rest of the beacon pieces, including the one holding the TARDIS. Milo, a crotchety old-fashioned argonite space miner with a aging spaceship spots the errant compartment and blows open the side; the ever stalwart Jamie confronts him, but Milo, surprised, shoots him with a ray gun. (End of Episode 2). Fortunately, Jamie is only stunned, and Milo rescues the trio just as a Council ship prepares to blast Milo's ship, believing Milo to be the ringleader of the space pirates. They make their escape, surrounding the faster Council ship with small copper pins, which render its argonite-based radar and weapons systems useless. Meanwhile, the pieces of the beacon, including the one housing the TARDIS, are on their way to the pirates' base, the planet Tar. The mining operations at Tar are owned by the daughter of Milo's old mining partner Dom, who disappeared years ago; Dom's daughter Maddy now runs the operations, and is close to the General. Secretly, however, Maddy has made a deal with archfiend Cavan, the ruthless head of the Space Pirates, under which Cavan brings stolen argonite to Tar for processing. In the succeeding episodes, Milo's ship lands on Tar, and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe become lost in its maze of mining tunnels until they are taken prisoner by Cavan. Cavan's spineless assistant Dervish rigs Milo's ship with a remote control, planning to let Milo and his new friends escape from Tar just in time to be spotted by the Council ships, at which point the ship will be blown to bits. The Doctor, Milo and the others are kept prisoner in what turns out to be Dom's old office, where they discover the missing, befuddled Dom, kept prisoner by Cavan all these years as a tool for manipulating his daughter Maddy. When Maddy learns Cavan plans to kill the group, including her long-lost father, she turns on him and tries to contact the General, but Cavan interrupts the transmission and posts Dervish as guard on Maddy, with orders to kill her if she makes a move. Meanwhile, through a usual clever ruse (which you'll certainly enjoy), the Doctor manages to escape with his comrades, and they head for the ship. Milo and Dom enter the craft, but Jamie and Zoe hold back, and the Doctor leaves to search for them, just as Dervish pushes the remote control unit that prematurely launches the Lizz, Milo's ship, and turns the oxygen off as Milo and Dom lose consciousness. But an even worse fate awaits the Doctor - Cavan and Dervish have rigged the mining operation's atomic reserves to blow the planet, and everything on it, in minutes, to cover their escape. The suspenseful conclusion is well worth the price of admission.
In the maturity of his portrayal of the Doctor in "Space Pirates," Troughton is much more serious than usual, and is very effective. While Tom Baker's Doctor, for example, is seldom in any real danger, Troughton's was a far more vulnerable, far more "human" Doctor, and these traits probably reach their zenith in this well-plotted story. Troughton's magic easily overcomes the near-absence of the film record, so fine an actor he was, and his richly expressive voice is a treat to listen to. Frazer Hines' (Jamie's) narration is gripping, and never gets in the way of the tale's unfolding action. If you're a fan of this greatest of all Doctors, Patrick Troughton, this is required - and most entertaining - listening. Go grab it!
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on 3 August 2011
I've just finished listening to 'The Space Pirates' audio track for the first time and have changed my view of an adventure which I never took much notice of before. It's actually very good. It has a strong plot idea and is unusual for being rather more 'rough and ready' than many Troughton era adventures. You could probably put it in Jon Pertwee's era and, with a few tweaks, it wouldn't look out of place.

The acting honours are divided equally here between Patrick Troughton (of course) and Gordon Gostelow. Some people, I think, didn't appreciate the Milo Clancy character. I think he's superb! A lot of my regret at the BBC's destruction of the rest of the episodes is not being able to watch more of Gostelow in action. Making him a space-age equivalent of an old Wild West frontiersman was a touch of whimsical creativity by Robert Holmes and he brightens up what otherwise would be a rather hard-edged and sombre storyline.

So -a seriously good story and well worth buying.
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on 7 June 2011
This story has a bit of a bad reputation and even a 2nd doctor fan like myself I avoided getting this release for many years being content with the surviving episode 2, however, having listened to this from start to finish this story is very good and does keep the suspense up and doesn't lose the feeling of tension in the later episodes. Even on audio the good acting shines through. The sound quality is fairly good although not as crystal clear as the majority of audio releases from the previous 2 seasons (except episode 2 which is sourced from the film print) but this doesn't distract too much from the story.
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on 17 April 2014
Came in good condition as promised. I thought the story line very good there is one complete episode in one of the lost in time dvds which is woth watching
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on 29 March 2010
One of the doctors stranger adventures, complete with hi tech gadgets, dodgy accents and mysterious villans the doctor saves the day in a slightly less than dramatic finale.
All in all a good story and highly enjoyable.
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