Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Doctor Who The Pirate Planet |
Story 99, The Key to Time Series Part 2
Actor: Tom Baker
Genres: Television, Cult Movies
As the Doctor, Romana and K9 head for the planet Calufrax in search of the second segment of the Key to Time, they are in for a surprise when the TARDIS brings them to Zanak, an entirely different planet occupying the same... more »
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Searching for the second segment to the Key to Time, The Doctor, Romana and K-9 land on what should be the planet Calufrax, but the reality of the situation is not what the Doctor expected. "The Pirate Planet" might look a little cheap at times, but behind the cheesy CSO effects, is a clever, witty and totally absurd script. There are rampant "Hitch-hicker" jokes, and even a couple of Monty Python influences. Baker is in top form, giving a commanding and goofy performance. The supporting cast sometimes seems a little lazy, but the main characters give it their all. With "The Ribos Operation", this is the highlight of the 16th season."
Not quite Hitchhiker's but...
Jeffrey Ellis | Richardson, Texas United States | 05/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The late Douglas Adams wrote three scripts for the classic English sci-fi serial Dr. Who. Speaking as a fan of both the writer and the series, I hate to admit that the combination of the two never quite jelled. While both approached science fiction from a refreshingly English point of the view (i.e., none of the painfully serious, pompous preaching that have basically made the various incarnations of Star Trek, for me, unwatchable), Dr. Who was always -- at heart -- a rather earnest enterprise and that idealism was an uneasy mix with Adams' more pythonesque sense of the absurd. As a result, all of Adams' scripts ended up playing more like a slightly toned down version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and less like Dr. Who. However, this is not to say that Adams' scripts didn't have their charms. When taken on their own terms, they are actually some of the most entertaining stories told over Dr. Who's lengthy run.The Pirate Planet was Adams' first script for Dr. Who and -- if rather underappreciated at the time -- it probably holds up the best. The Doctor (played, in his fourth incarnation, by Tom Baker) and his companion, Romana (played by the very classy and lovely Mary Tamm) -- while searching for the second segment of the all-powerful Key to Time -- run across a hollow planet-turned-spaceship that is ruled by the occasionally buffoonish but thoroughly evil Captian (played by Bruce Purchase who manages to be both hilarious and evil at the same time) who basically spends his time using his hollow planet to plunder the valuable minerals of other, less-hollow planets (of course, these other planets are destroyed in the process but these things happen...) Its actually a rather clever story and -- even if his script is heavy with his trademark humor -- Adams also managed to keep the threat of the villians entirely credible and so, even if the story is full of silliness, it never actually becomes silly itself. As for the humor, this episode actually contains some of Adams' funniest lines. Luckily, Baker and Purchase were obviously pros when it came to delivering over-the-top comic dialouge and Mary Tamm's own regal bearing and distinguished air brings just the right amount of class to the absurdity on screen. If you're not familiar with Dr. Who, the Pirate Planet is probably not the best introduction to the series. However, fans of the series will probably enjoy the Pirate Planet's change of pace and this is definitely a must have for fans of Douglas Adams curious to see what he was doing when he wasn't following Arthur Dent across the universe."
"They slammed him to the wall with good vibrations?"
Brian May | Australia | 03/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This adventure, penned no less by Douglas Adams, is a zany, over the top romp. It has lots of inexplicable technobabble, machines and gadgets with absurdly long names and a blustering cyborg pirate Captain, complete with robot parrot. It's also lots of fun! With Douglas Adams you know to expect it to be completely over the top, and he certainly delivers! The second story in the Key to Time series has the Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive at the exact moment in space and time they are supposed to - but the wrong planet! The plot of the story is not really feasible sci-fi; many of the concepts are incomprehensible and sometimes downright silly. But the story is so enjoyable, who cares? Everyone looks as though they're having fun; some of the characters are plain and bland, but the Captain and Mr Fibuli are an excellent pairing. I also love the close-up on the Polyphase Avatron when K9 appears on the bridge's monitor! Despite its deliberate humour, "The Pirate Planet" has its serious moments. I don't think I've ever seen Tom Baker's Doctor so passionate when he confronts the Captain about the immorality of his actions in episode three. The story also has plenty of pace and an exciting, tension filled final episode. It's terrific!"
"Ah, back to sanity."
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 10/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE PIRATE PLANET must count as one of the Doctor Who stories with the highest number of total deaths. Untold trillions of people are killed, countless civilizations are completely wiped out, and genocide occurs multiple times - and this is even before the opening credits have run. Strangely enough, with all of this death, destruction and mayhem in the background, the story that follows is a goofy and silly Douglas Adams script that bounces between slapstick gags, silly one-liners, and hilarious dialog. There's a serious undertone to the story (horrific, if one really pays attention), but somehow it never really overshadows the humor.Bruce Purchase has the thankless task of playing a villain who actually has a legitimate reason for being a seemingly over-the-top, screaming, raving lunatic. His Pirate Captain plays very well off of Andrew Robertson's Mr. Fibuli, and the two of them make for hilarious viewing no matter what else happens to be going on in the scene. The Captain's dialog is particularly wonderful, and Purchase obviously relishes the task of stomping through the BBC sets screaming such energetic nonsense. "By the left frontal lobe of the Sky Demon", indeed. "Obliterable!"The balance between drama and comedy becomes a little strained at times, with the story not quite knowing which direction to go. The example that leaps to mind is the Doctor's passionate confrontation with the Pirate Captain as he expresses the absolute horror at the destruction that has been unleashed. And the moment his speech is over, Tom Baker goes straight back to into ham mode. It's been said that surrounding the sudden seriousness with humor (as these sequence did) helps to emphasize the horror that the Doctor feels, but I just don't see it. It's a stunning moment that's striking in spite of the surrounding humor, not because of it. Individually, a lot of the pieces are quite good, but not all of them gel together.
There are several aspects of the plot that don't really make much sense under scrutiny. The ending is a bit of a problem with the conclusion boiling down to a few twists of the TARDIS controls solving all the problems. The dramatic battle between the two ships attempting materialization in episode four would have been a more satisfying conclusion, but unfortunately there are too many loose ends left dangling, so the plot must continue on for quite a while afterwards. It's a pity that there isn't a little more drama, though overall it doesn't make the adventure that much less enjoyable. One can see that Douglas Adams hadn't quite yet got the hang of writing for Doctor Who's format; of the three cliffhangers, only the conclusion to episode three carries any sort of dramatic weight. The other two seemingly appear out of nowhere, with hardly any build up at all.Still, the main question is whether the story was entertaining or not. And that is the main thing that THE PIRATE PLANET does well. Whether it's watching the Doctor claim credit for the discoveries of Isaac Newton, or boggling at the sheer scale of Douglas Adams' imagination, this adventure does a lot of things right. The dialog is nice and snappy, with Tom Baker's antics containing more positives than negatives. Even the pieces that don't make a lot of sense are amusing to watch. The story marches ahead confidently, defying logic or reason. Maybe it's a matter of style over substance, but Douglas Adams had quite a lot of style. It may be madness, but it's madness that is hugely entertaining to behold.The DVD commentary from actor Bruce Purchase and director Bernard Roberts is more restrained than that of Tom Baker and Mary Tamm in the previous serial (THE RIBOS OPERATION), but what it lacks in pure entertainment it makes up for in its informative nature. Purchase is particularly amusing - after one of the Pirate Captain's more explosive outbursts, he quietly asks Roberts if he managed to hear that all right.The production notes feature on this disc is particularly noteworthy, giving us details about what the original Douglas Adams script was like and how it evolved as it reached the production stage. That initial script certainly seemed to be more Hitchhiker's Guide based, with little tidbits in it such as Queen Xanxia being sold the time dams by a corrupt and collapsing mega-corporation, and Mr. Fibuli wryly noting near the end that the newest "Golden Age of Prosperity" was occurring mere days after the previous one.Once again, the Doctor Who DVDs give us picture and sound quality that is far greater than other comparable television discs on the market. Another tradition being kept is the strange desire to feature extremely boring film clip extras. I'm not sure who would be interested in seeing the zombie Mentiads marching and attacking the Captain's Guards without the aid of special effects, but I suppose someone must be. Of course, these extras (along with the Who's Who and Photo Gallery) are just that - extras. And they certainly can't detract from what is a great disc."