22 May 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 507: The Pirate Planet, Episode Three

Dear diary,

I’m like a yo-yo with this one. Episode One really didn’t do it for me. Episode Two put things back on track somewhat. Today’s episode has just left me… cold. I’m not sure what it is, really, because there’s a lot in the episode that I really should be enjoying. The dialogue continues to be quite witty (indeed, I think it’s here that the story is really working), there’s some nice design work on display, and today we even get to watch K9 have a fight with a metal parrot! All that, but I’m still finding my attention wandering. There were a few moments during today’s episode where I actually zoned out, leaving me somewhat confused as to what’s actually happening (The Captain is sucking the life force out of these planets, yes? The result of this is that a black hole will be formed, maybe? That’s where I’d started to let my attention lapse a bit, so I’m not completely sure…

To that end… I don’t really have all that much to say on the subject of today’s instalment. All my notes are centred around the dialogue, taking down exchanges that at least raise a smile, if not produce a genuine laugh. I think the highlight has to be “You don’t want to take over the universe, do you? No, you wouldn’t know what to do with it. Beyond shout at it…” There’s plenty of other lines I could happily quote for you here, but I think I’ll leave it at that. It’s tricky not to mention Tom Baker’s cry of “THEN WHAT’S IT FOR?!?!?”, though…

There came a point during today’s episode where I wondered if I just didn’t ‘get’ Douglas Adams’ sense of humour, and if that might be what was stopping me from enjoying the story as much as I’d like to. A quick call round to a friend later and I found myself listening to the first episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. Hitchhiker’s is obviously Adams’ most famous work, and it’s particularly pertinent to this story, because he was writing the first series interchangeably with the script to The Pirate Planet - both commissions having arrived at once. Due to the different lead times in production, the radio series made it to air a little bit quicker than this story did, and the first episode was broadcast between Parts Five and Six of The Invasion of Time.

I’m pleased to report that I really enjoyed the episode, and soon found myself letting the CD run on to the next episode, too. And then the one after that. I’ve heard the first three now, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’d imagine that I’ll take the opportunity to have a listen to the rest of this first series at least, and then I might even venture as far as hearing some of the later ones, too. It’s easy to see the links between his radio work and this story (Indeed, there’s a few lines which I’m sure crop up in both!), so it’s just a shame that his first foray into Doctor Who is leaving me so cold… 

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