Evelyn pays a visit to a student of hers named Sally, arriving quite unbidden to tell her the tale of a recent adventure she and the Doctor experienced on the high seas – a tale of pirates, treasure, daring deeds, and terrible tragedies. Indeed, by invading Sally’s home to foist the story upon her, the Doctor and Evelyn are trying to avert another tragedy – but Evelyn worries that even that may be impossible when, during the recounting of their waterlogged adventure, the Doctor decides it would be better to tell the story in song.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Evelyn), Bill Oddie (Red Jasper), Dan Barratt (Jem), Helen Goldwyn (Sally), Nicholas Pegg (Swan), Mark Siney (Mr. Merryweather), Timothy Sutton (Mate / Sailor / Pirate)
Timeline: after Jubilee and before Project Lazarus
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: So, a Doctor Who musical. Quite honestly a terrifying thought, and I remember thinking that it might even be a bad idea when I first heard of it. After all, hadn’t this concept been worn quite thin already thanks to Buffy and Lexx and Xena (and that’s just the genre stuff that I could name off the top of my head)? Granted, it seems like a shoo-in for the audio medium, but that particular land had already been plowed quite well, thank you very much. What could a musical offer to the Doctor Who universe without imitating these other SF and fantasy shows, and more to the point, what could Doctor Who offer to a musical?
More than you might expect. And truth be told, there’s only one episode out of Doctor Who and the Pirates‘ four installments that really fits the musical bill. That the moment Evelyn realizes that the Doctor is about to break into song is itself turned into a cliffhanger is all the more hilarious – the sense of ancitipation is right up there with any of the show’s “major suspense!” cliffhangers, due largely to the feeling of “my God, they’re really going to do it, aren’t they?” But don’t get sidetracked by the colorful reworkings of Gilbert & Sullivan here – this is also the episode where we really find out what’s going on, who Sally is, and why the Doctor and Evelyn have barged into her home to regale her with their tale of pirates and treasure. There’s something a lot deeper than the thrust of the story, thus far, would lead you to believe, something truly different in terms of Doctor Who’s usual storytelling, and something very touching indeed.
And so help me, Colin Baker can really sing. So can Helen Goldwyn – really, her singing quite frankly blows away nearly everyone else in this story who tries to hold a tune. Bill Oddie, a former member of the Goodies comedy troupe, goes way over the top as the pirate captain, though not so much that you can forget the he’s a dangerous, and most likely dangerously insane, man. Maggie Stables also shines here; she’s been much praised in the past by myself and others, but here I’m ready to make a bold statement: it is she, not Peri, not Mel, not even Frobisher, who has attained the position of being the definitive companion for the sixth Doctor. They can both be compassionate, both be blustery, and complement each other perfectly. This comes damned close to being my favorite audio with Colin Baker as the Doctor, as off-format as it is, because of the emotional core of the story – it’s really not all about pirates.
And finally…when Zagreus was as long-winded and barely coherent as it was, and when Doctor Who and the Pirates blasted the fourth wall down with Baker singing the lovingly self-referential “I Am The Very Model Of A Gallifreyan Buccanneer”, why wasn’t this the 40th anniversary episode? The mind boggles. A unique Doctor Who adventure – and as much as I enjoyed the musical conceits, it should remain that way. Trying to do it again might diminish the uniqueness of Doctor Who and the Pirates.