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Reviews for Doctor Who and the Pirates

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Do You Feel Better?

By:Stephen Carlin, Bangor, Northern Ireland
Date:Monday 17 May 2004
Rating:   1

Evelyn visits an old friend, a friend who is in trouble. She decides to out her friend's heart at ease and her problem into perspective by recounting an adventure she had with the Doctor on the high seas. The ship the TARDIS landed on was attacked by pirates...oh by the way, the Doctor joins in and decides that at last one part of the story should be sung.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among people to confuse novelty with good storytelling. It doesn't matter how bad the story is or badly told it is, if you put an interesting spin on it then suddenly everything is all right.

This is dire! For a start, because the story is told from the point of view of either the Doctor or Evelyn then events that occur outside their POVs are not told. And there is quite a lot that happens outside their POVs - especially in part 4.

Ok, so the 6th Doctor could be given to moments of melodrama but seriously...he would suddenly decide to sing his story? No, no, a thousand times NO!

Big Finish obviously heard about the musical episode of BTVS and set out to do their own version.

I'm sorry but this was awful, its a dire story in which very little happens and it ends badly. Take my advice and don't buy this. Borrow a copy, wait until everyone is out of the house for a couple of hours and listen to it (with the windows closed). It is embarassingly awful!

Loads of fun

By:Siskoid, Moncton, NB
Date:Friday 14 October 2005
Rating:   9

Pirates is great, great fun. Not just a change of pace, but a well-realized one. It is many things: a Gilbert & Sullivan parody, a touching relevant story, a play on narrative structure, and not everyone's cup of tea!

It starts out with Evelyn seriously screwing up a pirate story, going back and forth, changing details, exaggerating, correcting errors, etc., all of which is highly comedic and pleasant. When the Doctor arrives, we'll get to one of the most hilarious cliffhangers in the history of the series.

As for the songs, there are 2 or 3 that really stick out in my mind, and the CD does have better replay value than most. You'll get more mileage from them if you know your Who references, but they can be funny and, in one case, rather sad, even if you're a relative newbie. Extra marks for the very special packaging for the CD, in the G&S poster style.

It's not all roses of course. This may seem rather irrelevant a story, but it's a personal one under all the comedy. I think it doles out drama in enough measure. It walks that highwire well. My one beef is with the villain of the piece, Red Jasper, who's way OTT and screechy.

Overall: An odd duck, but immensely enjoyable, but I guess only if you don't have an aversion to musicals.


By:PJ Johnson, Hoddesdon, United Kingdom
Date:Monday 7 August 2006
Rating:   9

It has long been acknowledged by many fans that Doctor Who is at its finest when venturing into new territory. Experimental stories such as The Celestial Toymaker and The Mind Robber from the 1960s are fondly remembered by most fans, while others feel that they simply strayed too far from the 'traditional' Who approach. Similarly, Doctor Who and the Pirates not only strays from the tried and tested path, but in this imaginative and witty script, Jacqueline Raynor has launched Colin Baker and Maggie Stables' characters into a whole different world, provoking extreme praise and criticism in almost equal measures. Personally, I found the story immensely enjoyable and at times touching, and to those who dislike it, I say: lighten up!

First of all, it goes without saying that, as usual, the regular cast of Baker and Stables both give excellent performances, further concreting their spot as the best Doctor/companion team the Big Finish audios have yet established. The guest cast are also up to standard, and while it can be said that both Bill Oddie's pirate Jasper and Nicholas Pegg's Captain Swan are rather over the top, this is clearly intentional, reinforcing the idea that we are listening to the story as retold by the Doctor and Evelyn, who are exaggerating the characters' traits.

The sound is also excellent throughout. Everything - from swordfights to sinking ships to exotic carribean islands - sounds completely genuine, in fact one could be forgiven for thinking the entire story was recorded on location.

The first two episodes are dramatic enough to balance the heavily comedic presentation, with part two providing a highly amusing cliffhanger. Part three is where things get really interesting (and is also the point at which many of the story's critics give up completely), as we are treated to a series of classic Gilbert & Sullivan musical numbers, adapted to fit the story and featuring a number of amusing references to Who mythology. For me, this was the most enjoyable episode, as the cast throw themselves whole-heartedly into the songs, and while they may not be the greatest vocal performances ever heard, they are more than adequate and hugely entertaining. Jacqueline Raynor's adapted lyrics are incredibly witty and clever, and particularly rewarding if you have at least a basic knowledge of Who mythology and the works of Gilbert & Sullivan. In part four the songs make way for a touching and poignant final episode, providing a thought-provoking - if perhaps somewhat undramatic - ending to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish, and I think - providing it is approached with an open mind - the majority of listeners will enjoy it, too. It is, ultimately, a bit of fun, with poignant undertones, and as such works incredibly well.

Deserves a 0.

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 25 October 2006
Rating:   1

I agree with Stephen Carlin. This is awful drivel. We get thrown one cliche after another, over-the-top performance after over-the-top performance. It is full of wretchedly silly dialogue. By the time episode 3 comes around and, having exhausted all the other pirate cliches, the producers heap Gilbert and Sullivan on us, I have lost all my patience with this. I am sure that many fans like it because it is "silly" or some such thing, in the same way that fans like those horrid Star Trek episodes with gangsters and Romans. I find the whole thing is just an insult to the intelligence.

Painful and Confusing

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Sunday 25 February 2007
Rating:   2

Aye! A more rum scurvy mess of a tale I never did see! Har!

I do feel that this story deserves a 2, at least. You see, the sound design is superb, and is worth 7, but the pirate story contributes a negative 5 to the score. The comedic stuff is a nice try, but it just doesn't fit, there's just too much of it, and it tries way too hard, which successful comedy never needs to do. It does have its moments though, including the sixth Doctor's "Gallifreyan buccaneer" song, which had me smiling with raised eyebrows... But the overall result is just a painful, confusing embarrassment. Irritating rubbish.

Silly rubbish

By:Matt, London
Date:Wednesday 24 October 2007
Rating:   2

It's all a bit silly and rubbish! However, there are some good bits - the singing and I like the story being told from their POV. The rest is absolute drivel though.


By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Saturday 5 April 2008
Rating:   10

I agree with PJ on this one. This is defintely an experiment, but for me it works so well im afraid.
Jac Rayner has crafted a tale with so many laughs and yet with an overtone of sombre reflection as some mistakes cant be avoided when you travel in time.
Jac always seems to be writing her best for history or moments and events set in history at any rate. The Pirates is a real treat on the ear for me.
Colin Baker immediately grabs the ear with perfect delivery in the singing sections of this highly theatrical production. This should really be done on the stage i can tell you all out there. And the lyrics are side splittingly funny to say the least. Gallifreyan buccaneer is blinking hilarious. Perfect musical direction i must say.
I too also like the POV of Evelyn and the doc in this story as they try to comfort Sally who feels bad for having killed someone in a horrible accident. This really is an intelligent piece of drama.
Maggie Stables once again reminds us of how great Evelyn is as a character too. Not a loud mouth like many younger companions of the doc.
Bill Oddie is the perfect casting choice as Red Jasper, he really takes centre stage as the decididly bonkers pirate.
This is doctor who at its best
this nearly beats all the rest
the whole story is very satisfying and just plain cool.

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