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Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet

11 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 70.66
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Product Details

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison
  • Writers: Sydney Newman
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: BBC / Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067FPG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,958 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) penned this episode in which the Doctor and Romana seek the second segment of the Key to Time on a parasitic planet.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy scribe Douglas Adams made his scriptwriting debut for Doctor Who with this 16th-season episode, the second in the "Key to Time" story arc, and a delight for fans of the series and Adams's work. Tom Baker's Doctor and companion Romana (Mary Tamm), in pursuit of the second segment of the Key to Time, accidentally land on the planet Zanak, which has been cored out and converted into a ship with which to plunder the mineral resources of other neighboring planets. The Doctor and Romana must outwit the Captain, the planet's half-human, half-metal ruler, in order to retrieve the segment, which is concealed in the shriveled husk of a conquered planet. Adams's wry humor (well delivered by Baker and Tamm) and imaginative flourishes help buoy this episode, though Who aficionados that dislike the series' humorous efforts may not appreciate the serial's overall light tone. Fans of the Hitchhiker series will note several references to elements from that series (Adams was writing a radio adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide at the same time he wrote this episode) woven throughout the script. --Paul Gaita

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

By Michael Christy on Sept. 19 2003
Format: VHS Tape
You hear, "Mr. Fibuli!!!!" alot in this excellent Dr. Who adventure. Out of my vast collection of Dr. Who tapes that I own, this adventure has to be the most watched. This entire story is so well done and it is such a unique tale that you will want to watch it again and again. The story starts with the Doctor in search of the 2nd key to time, which takes him to the planet Calufrax. Calufrax is actually a planet this is just about to be consumed by the very evil Pirate Planet. The captain of the pirate planet and the evil queen Zansea move about the cosmos eating other planets for their minerals. (Our Earth eventually becomes one of their targets... YIKES!!!) Of course, this is completely unexceptable to the good Doctor and the ever lovely Romana. After landing on the Pirate Planet they quickly become involved in aiding the mentiads in overthrowing the evil captin and queen. This story has a lot of adventure and excitement. The story is very engrossing and the special effects are actually not to bad this time around. The acting is well done and you will fall in love with the captain, queen and the comical Mr. Fibuli as they race toward their inevitable destruction. I won't tell you how this ends but I will tell you that it is an amazing surprise! Definately get this episode for your collection and you, like me, will find yourself walking around your house yelling ... MR FIBULI!!!!!! MR. FIBULI!!!!! hehe.
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Format: DVD
"The Pirate Planet" is, like "The Ribos Operation" immediately before it in the Key To Time box set, a story that mostly went over my head at age 12. A mixture of technical jargon and too-fast dialogue proved too much for my young "Who"-addled brain to grasp. It took the onset of relative old age, and reading the first four Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy efforts, to persuade me to enjoy this story as much as author Douglas Adams intended. Since I'm now older than Adams was when he wrote this, I figured it was about time I caught on.
"Pirate Planet" is indeed prototypical Adams -- it's his first DW script and was written contemporaneously with the original Hitchhiker's radio serial. There's a brilliant sci-fi concept at the heart of the story: a hollow planet with the power to materialize around other worlds, and crush the minerals and fuels right out of them. Overlaid on that is Adams' trademark satire. I enjoyed how the planet's villagers (exactly 4 speaking parts) are all ciphers with silly haircuts, while the villain is a full-blown pirate Captain: a cyborg with a mechanical bird on his shoulder, and a "plank" at the top of a mountain, off which his victims must walk. There are black leather-clad guards and earnest yellow-clad telepathic rebels. And then Tom Baker's Doctor shows up to smirk at it all, and trade barbs (alternately funny and profound) with the Captain. The story's powerhouse moments come when the Doctor and the Captain square off, and in the end, the Captain is far more than just a one-dimensional villain.
The DVD edition is a good showcase for the story.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: VHS Tape
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...
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