Sunday, 5 June 2011

28: The Smugglers - A Loveable Swashbuckler With Ties To The Recent Episode 'Curse Of The Blackspot.'

Written By: Brian Hayles.
Companions: The Doctor, Polly & Ben Jackson.
Monsters/Villains: Pirates.
Brief Synopsis: The Doctor gets caught up in a seventeenth century treasure hunt.
Rating: 8/10.

Another corker! We've got a new crew with Polly and Ben, and although they don't particularly get to stretch their muscles in this first outing I am confident that they will become a productive part of the TARDIS dynamic. There's a lovely and poignant moment after Polly and Ben's shock of being trapped in another time and place has calmed when the Doctor says "And I thought I was going to be alone again."

The new TARDIS Crew.
Polly and Ben's initial reaction is to want to go home. After the Doctor explains the TARDIS and his inability to steer it, Polly is more open to accepting her fate whereas Ben refuses to acquiesce. 

The TARDIS trio meet Longfoot (Terence de Marney).
They've arrived on the shoreline in Cornwall in the 17th century. After some exploring the gang discover an old church and a man comes out brandishing a revolver. After some discourse he softens and offers the trio some brandy. We then get what now is an exciting name drop as the man, Longfoot, the church warden, questions whether the Doctor knows of Avery. The Doctor claims ignorance and asks if Longfoot is expecting Avery? To which he replies "he's been buried theses long years past. But his spirit rides and the dark souls of those who follow in his wake."

Hugh Bonneville as Captain Henry Avery in The Curse of the Black Spot.
For those who haven't been watching the new series; The Doctor, Amy and Rory recently arrived aboard the Good Ship Fancy in the episode The Curse of the Black Spot. The ship belonged to none other than infamous pirate Captain Henry Avery. Avery was played by Hugh Bonneville as a 17th century man turned space pirate. Although the programme doesn't explicitly connect the character with his historical namesake there is a clear likeness with that of the real life pirate Avery. The fictional Avery is depicted as having started his career in the Royal Navy before turning pirate, being dedicated to his wife and children, and having captured a great treasure from an Indian Mughal. It also provides a fictional aetiology for his supposed disappearance. Perhaps the character's legacy can be discovered here in the Doctor's past. Although Avery does not appear in The Smugglers he is mentioned repeatedly. Ironically Pike says Avery died a pauper, but one of the historical accounts of the real Henry Avery states that he famously retired with his loot, without being arrested or killed in battle.

A depiction of the real Avery.
Longfoot is clearly expecting danger and so passes on to the Doctor a 'secret worth remembering.' "This is dead man's secret key. Ringwood, Smallbeer and Gurney." As the Doctor, Ben and Polly leave for the village we see a man pulling a knife and entering the church.

Longfoot's body is discovered and the village inn keeper Jacob Kewper thinks the Doctor and his companions are responsible and sends for the Squire to act as magistrate. A pirate named Cherub arrives and the Doctor is kidnapped, tied up and taken away to face Captain Samuel Pike. Cherub batters Ben and passes over Polly. The Doctor is taken to the Black Albatross for an audience with Captain Pike (clearly a pun on Captain Hook). 

Michael Godfrey as Captain Pike.
We learn that Longfoot used to be a member of Avery's crew along with Cherub, and Pike. I know it obviously wasn't intended, but I enjoyed this story even more imagining Cherub, Pike and Longfoot as some of the courageous (Hugh Bonneville) Avery's crew who outlasted their captain and turned to the darker side of pirating. The Doctor's even heard of Avery the Pirate, unbeknownst at this point in his life that he will make him the man of legend he will become. 

George A Cooper as Cherub.
Before murdering Longfoot, Cherub saw him whispering to the Doctor. Pike believes that the Doctor holds the key to Avery's lost treasure. The Doctor gets around Pike by flattering him and calling him a gentleman and in asks for a reward in return of his secret, a share in the treasure. Meanwhile Ben and Polly are locked up, but the duo quickly use their historical advantage as Ben pretends to use voodoo magic on Tom, their guard in order to obtain their freedom.

Ben meets Blake (John Ringham).
On behalf of the crooked Squire, Kewper meets with Pike (who has left the Doctor aboard his ship) about selling him some smuggled materials. Ben and Polly meet Blake of the King's revenue (played beautifully by the returning John Ringham) who has been sent to find smugglers operating in the area and they procede to tie him up. Pike and the Squire are rumbled when Polly comes across their meeting and recognises Cherub. Pike, wanting to take the smuggled goods for himself captures Kewper and goes to meet the Squire. Ben discovers a route right to the TARDIS from the crypt. The Squire draws his gun on Ben, who is rescued by Blake, who forces Ben and Polly back to the inn but then frees them. He trusts them but not the Squire as he believes that he is possibly the head of the smuggling ring.

Under the watch of Jamaica (the pirate left to guard the Doctor) The Doctor offers to tell Kewper's fortune. Jamaica wants his fortune told but the Doctor drops the cards and Kewper clubs Jamaica on the back of the head enabling them to escape. When Pike returns to discover this he is angered at Jamaica and kills him in cold blood. 

Jamaica and Captain Pike.
Ben tells the Doctor about the route to the TARDIS but the Doctor says they cannot leave as he is responsible, he could be the reason for the destruction of the village. The squire and Kewper join together and plot to get the treasure. Meanwhile Blake goes in search of reinforcements.

Ben and Polly play the age old kids game of find the oldest grave stone, and as the laugh at some of the funny names on the headstones the Doctor grasps the puzzle left to him by Longfoot. The names are graves in the crypt that will lead them to the treasure. Just as they discover a secret entrance in the crypt, Kewper and the Squire enter in search of the treasure only to be killed and wounded respectively by Cherub, who has come to claim the treasure for himself. Then Pike shows up and fights and kills Cherub for his mutiny. The Doctor stalls just long enough, eventually even giving Pike the treasure before Blake arrives with his militia, who kill the pirates. Just as Pike is about to kill the Doctor, the still kicking Squire redeems himself by using his lapsing energy to distract Pike allowing Blake to shoot him dead.

The Doctor and Ben leave unnoticed finding Polly waiting for them at the TARDIS. The three enter, dematerialise and almost immediately arrive at what the Doctor says is the coldest place in the world. Oddly the trio appear to be able to feel the cold even though they're inside the TARDIS.

What a great story, the ties to Matt Smith's current series definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this tale, but it was marvelous regardless. Just one left to go now, Hartnell. I hope you're ready to go, I'm not sure if I'm ready for a new Doctor. Join me next time for the introduction of the Cybermen and William Hartnell's last story, The Tenth Planet.

1 comment:

tigerna said...

Captain Avery is the ancestor of our friend Anne Avery who lives in Oxford!