I finished watching "The Pirate Planet" to-day, a Doctor Who serial I'd been looking forward to for quite some time, as I knew it was written by Douglas Adams. It turned out to be one of my favourite serials of the series so far, by a long shot. It may be my single favourite. I'd read some people were unhappy with the amount of comedy in the episode, yet I found it to be a serial filled with more effective tension than most of the others. Even though the Doctor is yet again saving an entire civilisation (the Doctor actually makes a nice little joke about it, in fact), the plot had a sort of internal integrity to it the other serials frequently don't have, particularly those by Robert Holmes which always feel like they're being totally made up as they go a long with little or no fidelity to things previously established. In this one, when the Doctor reveals the complexity of what's happening, and his plans on how to combat it, it all satisfyingly fits together, and the Doctor feels genuinely brilliant, instead of everyone else around him just being sort of dumb for a while.
I'm liking Mary Tamm as the new companion, Romana, and she had a nice line when her telepathic allies temporarily lost their powers--a cool something like, "So much for the paranormal. Back to good old brute force, I suppose." The cliff-hanger at the end of the third episode was one of the most satisfyingly resolved--something it seemed impossible for the Doctor to escape resolved with a perfectly reasonable answer to another question presented in the same episode. A lot of the obstacles the characters come across are both reasonable to be expected from an evil pirate government and are settled by means acceptably within the characters' abilities. So all the stakes felt real, consequently the events are a lot easier to get swept up in, however absurd they are. The fact that the antagonists are space pirates therefore comes across as funny rather than just ridiculous.
I wish there had been more episodes written by Adams, though I'm pleased to see he becomes script editor for a little while.
My heart really went out to Rachel Maddow on Friday's Real Time;
See the latter half of the clip.
Yes, Steve Moore, the facts are the facts and you're clearly afraid of them coming out of this woman's mouth.