Thursday, March 8, 2012

Doctor Who: The Pirate Loop

by Simon Guerrier
read by Freema Agyeman
(London: BBC Radio, 2008)
MP3 Audiobook, 34.7 MB, 2.5 Hours, Fiction

The Doctor’s been everywhere and everywhen in the whole of the universe and seems to know all the answers.  But ask him what happened to the Starship Brilliant and he hasn’t the first idea.  Did it fall into a sun or black hole?  Was it shot down in the first moments of the galactic war?  And what’s this about a secret experimental drive?  The Doctor is skittish.  But if Martha is so keen to find out he’ll land the TARDIS on the Brilliant, a few days before it vanishes.  Then they can see for themselves.

So, when we ended the last Doctor Who audiobook, my kids immediately wanted to listen to another. My four-year-old daughter put in a request for something with Martha Jones, since Martha is her favorite companion of the Tenth Doctor. So, I dug through my digital archives and found this! The Pirate Loop not only starring Martha but read by Martha. How could I deny my daughter this opportunity?

The answer is … I couldn’t.

While my kids absolutely enjoyed this story, I have to say that it wasn’t exactly my favorite. While Agyeman’s performance/reading is spot on, I found that there were some flaws in the story that didn’t make The Pirate Loop as fun as it could be. Unfortunately, to discuss any of them would be to engage in some serious spoilerage so I’ll keep my tongue but just say that Guerrier employs a plot device that seems both lazy and overwrought, allowing him to do things with the characters that frankly, just aren’t all that fun … especially when you figure it out, which happens pretty early on.

That said though, there is a lot that is fun about this particular outing with the Doctor and Martha, chiefly the pirate characters as well as the Doctor. For the part of the pirates, for some one-off villains, they are surprisingly well-rounded characters that are a lot of fun. I mean, how can you not like six-foot tall anthropomorphic badgers in space suits with gold rings in their ears and Cockney accents?  Plus the image that Guerrier paints of these pirates is really quite vivid, and in a series where it is really easy to create some one-dimensional villains (i.e. the Slitheen, the Abzorbaloff, and the Autons to name just a few) it is nice to see some effort put into menacing the Doctor.

As for the Doctor himself, it never ceases to amaze me that the authors of these books are so able to capture Tennant’s persona as the Tenth Doctor and translate it so well into print, especially since Tennant’s Doctor is such an animated character, full of energy and little quirky movements and looks. So for that to come across in a printed format that is read by another actor is nothing short of amazing, and I am amazed every time an author pulls it off.

My reservations aside, though, my kids absolutely loved it, and I did enjoy myself, it’s hard not to be caught up in the Tenth Doctor’s manic energy, especially when you are experiencing the excitement of your children (who are HUGE fans of the series) listening to a new adventure in the Doctor Who universe.

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