The Smugglers

Written by Brian Hayles

Directed by Julia Smith

Today was a pretty awesome day for Doctor Who. The new series (the second half of season 7) with the new companion, Clara, started fantastically well, with some classic Steven Moffat writing and the most 11 Doctor performance ever from Matt Smith. Meanwhile, it was announced that fantastic actor David Tennant will be making a return as the 10th Doctor for the 50th anniversary special, along with the also great Billie Piper, as Ace-a-like, Rose. You can tell their different characters because Rose doesn’t blow stuff up. The past multiple Doctor episodes have tended to be if daft affairs lacking in any real depth or story, but fun nonetheless. for the most part: the 30th anniversary Eastenders crossover was a bewildering mess. If anyone can make it work, though, I suspect it’ll be Moffat.

Enough about things that lie in the future though. As far as we’re concerned it’s 1966 and the first story of the original 4th season, not 2013 and half way through the new 7th season, some 47 years later.

I have to admit to forgetting about The Smugglers. In many ways its a historical Who story by numbers. Arrive. Split up. Capture. Escape. Loop loop loop. Back to the TARDIS. Leave. To write it off as completely forgettable, however, would be a mistake. The intricate backstabbing of the duplicitous characters and twisting of the plot, backed up by some great performances, make this story far more interesting than one might expect. It may not have the great dialogue of, say, The Crusades, but the way that you’re never quite sure where you stand with any of the characters leads to an entertaining story.

Ben and Polly, here on their first propper adventure, are as likeable as they were in The War Machines, particularly since you’re not constantly made angry about how fucking good-looking they both are since the story only exists as audio*.

So the Doctor’s faced robots and pirates. Next up come the ninjas. Or maybe just more robots. Although, to call these guys ‘only’ robots would be understating it a bit. Next up, the Doctor meets one of his more deadly enemies in The Tenth Planet.

*That might just be me.

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