I do not believe in ghosts, astrology, palmistry, John Cage, love or God.
- Gore Vidal
There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates.
- James Russell Lowell
(who, surprisingly, died a long time before The Smugglers was shown and so therefore couldn’t have seen it)
Me: Ah. I’ve done a bit of reading on this, but nothing’s gone in for whatever reason. You know that Captain Avery from The Curse of the Black Spot isn’t in this?
Him: Uh huh.
Him: Can we just get on with it?
Me: Fed up?
Him: Maybe. Are you?
Me: No. Not really.
Him: It’s just… If they were in colour and moved – that’d be slightly more bearable.
Me: Anyway. Season Four.
We’re off. The recon begins with a dedication to Michael Craze.
Me: That’s nice of them.
Then, it’s straight in - to the end of The War Machines.
Me: That’s odd. We’ve already been rude about this.
Ben and Polly deliver Sircharles’ information about Dodo to the Doctor and almost leave. Instead, they let themselves into the TARDIS just as it dematerialises.
And then the Loose Cannon reconstruction intro titles start.
Him: I wish it was the butterfly lot.
Me: I don’t.
Him: Why does The Sensorites still exist?
Me: Just bad luck.
The ‘directed by’ credit comes up. It’s Julia Smith for this one.
Me: Oh. First lady director?
Him: Apart from the others.
Me: Of course, that’s right, Paddy Russell directed The Massacre. I should’ve known that straight off.
Finally, The Smugglers actually starts.
It’s the interior of the TARDIS, and the Doctor’s not happy. He shouts background information at Ben and Polly.
The Doctor: Now, you see that scanner? That is what I call a scanner. Up there.
The TARDIS lands in some caves. If you just take it as read that Ben and Polly do the usual ‘but we can’t have traveled in time – that’s bonkers’ thing for most of this story, then we’ll be fine.
The Doctor checks all the readings and then opens the TARDIS doors.
The Doctor: Oh dear, all this distraction. And I really thought I was going to be alone again.
Me: “Just me and this cabbage.”
Just outside the cave is a beach. The Doctor locks the TARDIS and explains to Ben and Polly that he can’t actually aim it. There’s an odd distorted bubbling sound running under all of this.
Him: What’s all that noise?
Me: It’s from the tape.
Him: The Doctor looks like Einstein there.
Me: He’s not sounding great either.
Him: What d’you mean?
Me: It’s hard to put my finger on, but he sounds - well - tired.
Him: How tired?
Ben’s annoyed about missing his ship, but Polly’s having the time of her life.
Polly decides that they’ve landed in Cornwall, which is a pretty good guess seeing as they have.
Ben and Polly, with the Doctor bringing up the rear, make their way along a cliff path to a church. The Doctor dates it as post-sixteenth century.
Suddenly, the church door opens and a blunderbuss and moustache appear. These shocking beauties are attached to a churchwarden by the name of Longfoot. After quizzing the travellers as to how they actually made it to Cornwall, and satisfying himself that it weren’t by no boat, Longfoot lets them into the church.
Me: Tlotoxl’s in this. Well, John Ringham anyway.
The Doctor settles on the seventeenth century as the most probable date. Longfoot tries to ply our chums with brandy and begins filling in the back-story. He seems to be waiting for a ship and a gentleman named Avery.
The Doctor: And you are expecting this ‘Avery’?
Me: He’s off robbing asteroids, so you’ll have to wait a while.
The Doctor observes that Longfoot appears to be afraid. He’s also got some damaged fingers that the Doctor fixes by rebreaking.
Longfoot’s grateful. Thunder rumbles. Our friends leave the vestry of the church, to discover that the tide’s come in. They prepare to head off to the village inn for shelter, but Longfoot catches the Doctor. A hidden someone observes the following exchange.
Longfoot: If you should come this way again and find me gone, remember these words-
Me: “Or an approximation of them at least.”
Longfoot then lists some words as thunder rumbles. He tells the Doctor it’s a secret worth remembering. Our friends leave.
In the village inn, Kewper the Innkeeper, calls Tom the Dogsbody over. He gives him a message for Longfoot. A delivery is on the way. Tom hurries off on a colourful horse.
Me: Movement! Some of this was actually shot in Cornwall.
Him: Ok. Oh! But that’s in colour.
Me: It’s not, strictly speaking, from The Smugglers either. But it is.
Him: Huh? The BBC didn’t film it?
Me: Kind of. Someone had a camera with them – like that Carole Ann Ford montage thing, remember?
Kewper isn’t that welcoming to the Doctor, Ben and Polly until they reveal they’ve met Longfoot. He also thinks Polly is a chap. Kewper fetches contemporary clothes so the travellers’ll blend in better.
Me: Bill sounds back on form here. This was shot at the end of Season Three of course and just held over to start off the fourth.
Longfoot’s secret observer turns out to be a nasty chap by the unlikely name of ‘Cherub’. There’s a confrontation and revelations. A ‘Captain Pike’ and an ‘Albatross’ get mentioned, as does Avery’s curs'd gold. Cherub reckons that Longfoot knows where it is. Longfoot says he’s got powerful friends. Cherub wants to know who the Doctor is and what Longfoot told him. Longfoot doesn’t give the information up and starts moving long enough for Cherub to throw a knife in his back.
Me: Oo! Censor clip!
Longfoot dies. Cherub decides to quiz the Doctor.
Back in the Inn, our heroes have finished dinner. Tom returns from the church. Turns out Longfoot’s dead.
Me: “Dead? He’s not done that before…”
Fearing the new arrivals are murderers, Kewper sends Tom off to collect the Squire. Tom leaves as Cherub and some pirates arrive. There’s a confrontation. The Doctor holds his own.
Me: Go on, Bill.
The air turns as blue as a corpse.
Me: Cherub’s a nautical cove and no mistake.
Ben is knocked unconscious and the Doctor is grabbed. Someone else dressed as the Doctor is carried outside as the picture starts moving again.
Him: Colour! I love colour!
Me: More home movie joy.
Ben remains unconscious as Polly squawks around the Inn.
The Doctor is loaded onto a boat and rowed out to the Black Albatross.
A man on a horse rides into town. It’s the Squire.
Him: That should be a TV show.
Him: ‘Kemper and Squire’.
Me: Seventeenth century crimefighters?
Me: That’s cool.
Ben wakes up and is arrested for murder
The Doctor is presented to the captain of the Black Albatross, a gentleman by the name of Pike. Instead of a hand, Pike’s got a spike, which he bangs into some wood, provoking a cliffhanger.
Him: ‘Samuel Pike’?
Me: Yeah. Some people just grow into their names.
We recap. There’s Cap’n Pike again. Avery gets another mention – this lot turn out to have been on his crew – Longfoot too. The timbers creak. Cherub has an offer to get the Doctor talking.
Cherub: Let me give ‘im a taste of Thomas Tickler.
Me: It’s all quite nasty really.
Him: What? ‘Blubber from a whale’? It doesn’t make good soup.
Elsewhere, Ben and Polly are in jail.
Him: Whoah! Look at Ben’s chin!
Polly spots a rat, so at least they won’t go hungry. Tom appears to see where his pet’s got to.
Me: I quite like Ben.
Polly comes up with a plan to outwit these superstitious bumpkin primitives. It’s an interesting one.
Me: They did, of course, burn witches. Not as many as you’d have thought, but even so…
Him: What? In Doctor Who?
Me: Um. No. I was just saying that Polly’s plan could backfire nastily.
The Doctor and Pike have skipped the three-threat-course and moved onto a dessert of elegance and digity with a general gentlemanly chat sauce. Wine is involved. The Doctor attempts to bargain himself a share of the gold. Pike has a slightly different idea. A pirate by the name of Jamaica pops in to say that Kewper’s drawing close to the Black Albatross. Jamaica takes the Doctor to the galley to sit this one out.
Polly and Ben are putting the plan, such as it is, into action. Polly sways and moans, which succeeds in drawing Tom in.
Ben: The old Doctor’s a wizard no less, Tom. And we’re his apprentices.
Me: Careless, Jackson.
Still, the plan works and they escape.
Me: Interesting escape attempt of the week there.
Cherub and Kewper have a chat about business. Pike joins in. ‘Trust’, ‘honesty’ and other hi-falutin’ words are bandied about.
Me: It’s alright, but there’s not much actually happening.
After suggesting that the Black Albatross crew might be smugglers, Kemper ends up being captured too. Pike resolves to have a chat with the Squire.
Ben and Polly make their way back to the church.
Me: What do you think of Ben and Polly?
Him: I’ve seen them before.
Him: It’s not colour. It’s not moving.
Me: But what about Ben and Polly? Do you like them?
Him: They’re ok. I don’t know why Dodo just left. She was… sort of… kicked out.
While we’ve been talking, Ben and Polly have knocked someone out.
Back on the ship, Pike takes off the spike in preparation for meeting the Squire.
Ben and Polly bring their guest around.
Me: Ah. That be John Ringham.
It turns out that their guest is an agent of the Revenue named Blake. He’s not happy about being tied up. Blake’s aware that there’s smuggling taking place and he’s here to arrest them. It seems the smugglers are using a passageway from the crypt to the caves on the beach. Ben realises this might well lead to the TARDIS and he’s off.
Pike and the Squire have a brandified chat. They’re starting to plan some smuggling when Polly bursts in and points out that Cherub helped kidnap the Doctor.
The Doctor and Kewper are passing the time being rude about their hosts. ‘Avery’s curs’d gold’ gets another airing.
Me: With all this referencing of Avery, it’ll be interesting to see rewatch how Matt Smith deals with suddenly being in a prequel.
Him: It’s not a prequel, it’s a sequel to this.
Me: Yes, but it happens before this. That’s why Avery’s vanished.
Him: But the Doctor said he already knew Avery.
Me: No, he’d heard of him. Avery was real, I think.
Polly’s not convincing the Squire. She might be a very pretty lad, but he’s more into money really.
Suddenly, in the church – there’s a cliffhanger.
Me: Oi! Come here and be amusing.
Him: Can I just go and do something else and you can put stuff in afterwards to make it look like I said it?
Me: I could do that, but would you honestly want to just be saying “wibble” all the time? Because that’s what’ll happen.
Me: Good lad. Do you know what I really fancy?
Me: What?! No. Umm… Oi! Ah. Uh… Um…
Me: Yeah, you win this round.
We recap. Ben, Polly and Blake have been captured by the Squire, Pike and Cherub – up until the Squire recognises Blake that is, and then it all gets a bit confusing. Ben and Polly remain tied up, but Blake leaves.
The Him’s building a nest
Back with the Doctor and Kewper. Cards have been produced, and Jamaica is told to select any five.
Me: Tarot reading, eh?
Him: That’s what I said.
Me: No, you said ‘wibble’, I’m afraid.
The reading is carried out.
The Doctor: I know it’s only cards, but sometimes they tell the truth.
Him: So this is the sequel to something that hasn’t been invented yet?
Me: Like A New Hope.
Having outwitted Jamaica with astrology (and a solid blow to the back of the head), the Doctor and Kewper escape in a Kewper’s boat.
Back in the churchyard, the Squire reveals that by pressing a particular carving on a particular tomb, brandy is revealed.
Me: Awww. They’ve got a den.
|Meanwhile, in Legend.|
Later on. The rogues have reached an agreement. There’s a beacon to be lit. Cherub watches.
Ben and Polly have been locked in a stable. Blake turns up and releases them. He doesn’t trust the Squire as he’s heard rumours of his being a wrong ‘un. The Doctor turns up and I notice that we’re actually watching it at this point. Well, half of us are. The other half are enduring it.
Him: Sometimes these historicals get really annoying. It’s just black and white pictures of actors talking on top of a radio play. Wibble.
Me: If we were still doing the gag, I’d say it all smells a bit Sensorite, but as we aren’t, I won’t.
Pike returns to the ship to find his guests have left. He’s displeased with Jamaica, to say the least.
Me: There’s not quite enough going to keep it interesting really.
Him: No. It’s more like a docudrama.
And Jamaica’s dead. Killed by Pike’s spike.
Me: Oh, that lifted it.
The Doctor info-dumps on Blake. Suitable informed, Blake hops on his horse and trots off to collect reinforcements (seven at least, I'll wager). Ben takes this opportunity to start padding.
The Doctor won’t leave as he feels he’s under a moral obligation to the town. And of course he knows a clue as to where the treasure is.
Me: I like the idea of this. I just can’t figure out why it doesn’t work.
Him: It’s ‘cause it sucks. It’s so boring!
Cherub and Tom bump into each other. Tom reveals where our chums are off to in exchange for keeping his throat unslit.
|A rare still from Magick. Or is that too obscure?|
The Squire and Kewper are reunited. Kewper reveals that the gent in the wig is Cap’n Pike and he’s after…
The Squire: Avery’s gold?
Him: That guy on the right has a – like a – robotic jaw. It looks like the whole thing should move.
Me: Like a ventriloquist’s dummy?
Me: Well, Chucky there’s in The Mutants as well.
Him: That doesn’t make this any more interesting.
Me: The location footage would probably have helped.
Him: It’d be a thousand-and-thirty-two times better if it moved.
The Doctor, Ben and Polly are in the graveyard. The Doctor names the words he was more or less informed of by Longfoot. They seem to match carvings in the crypt. The Doctor’s so excited he starts to say something. And then gives up and runs off.
Me: Couldn’t be bothered with that line eh, Bill?
In the crypt a hidden tunnel is opened and closed. Ben calls out names. The excitement mounts as the Squire and Kewper corner our chums.
Outside the crypt, wrong ‘un’s arrive.
All of a sudden Kewper is killed-
- and the Squire shot. Turns out it’s a cliffhanger.
Him: Can we just skip this?
Me: No, not really.
We recap. There’s a confrontation in the crypt. Cherub grabs Polly.
Cherub: Now, Sawbones, talk! Or the young lad dies.
Me: He still thinks Polly’s a chap.
Me: “It’s weird. Isn’t it, ‘Bob’?”
Him: ‘Bob’! That’s an unusual name for a girl.
Avery’s curse gets mentioned again as the Doctor reveals the names to Cherub. The Squire’s not dead yet.
Cap’n Pike and his boys have arrived on the beach. He sends a pirate to find Cherub.
Later… Pike and the pirates approach the church. Pike opens the tomb we saw earlier and reveals the loot.
Pirate mit Eyepatch: Aye aye, Cap’n.
Me: Bit rich, that chap saying “Eye eye”.
Blake and his men are drawing closer.
Pike confronts Cherub in the crypt. The air turns blue with insults. The Black Pig is mentioned.
Me: Unintentional Captain Pugwash reference.
|"I've got a farthing on this."|
Him: ‘Captain Pugwash reference’? Wasn’t he that fat guy with the useless crew? I remember you finding a video and getting all excited and saying, “wibble”.
Me: Yes, very good.
Pike and Cherub have a fight (by the sounds of it).
The Doctor tells Ben to get Polly back to the TARDIS, while he hangs on to see what the outcome’ll be.
The fight in the crypt reaches its natural conclusion and Cherub dies.
Him: How long now?
Me: Ten minutes.
That’s a lie, it’s more like fourteen.
The Doctor and Pike shout at each other while the Squire keeps bleeding on the floor.
On the beach, the pirates Spaniard and Daniel are unloading kegs. They find the TARDIS and decide to wait and see who claims it. After all, it might be full of brandy.
A rogue's agreement is reached between the Doctor and Pike and our hero tells the Cap'n where Avery’s curs’d gold can actually be found. The Squire is rude to Pike, and Pike replies in a very salty fashion.
Ben and Polly make their way along the tunnel. Upon sighting the TARDIS, Ben heads back to collect the Doctor.
Ben: Put the kettle on.
Me: Oh GOD!
Him: What’s even happening?
Me: It’s concluding.
Pike solves the riddle and starts prising up a flagstone with his spike. There’s a deep gap beneath – it seems to be empty. Pike starts shouting. There are noises of pirate stabbage from outside. A sword fight kicks off.
Me: Might be some movement here.
Polly’s made her way onto the beach. She’s caught by Spaniard and Daniel, but escapes.
Ben and Daniel end up in a fight.
Me: No movement here either.
Blake’s men find the cave and Blake shoots the remaining pirate.
The Doctor opens the tomb as Ben, Blake and Blake’s men all arrive.
The Squire continues dying. The Doctor helps him out a bit.
Pike attacks the Doctor but is finished off by Blake, with a bit of help from the Squire.
Him: Was Captain Avery real?
Me: I think so.
Blake notices that the Doctor and Ben have left.
Back on the TARDIS and the Doctor’s knackered. His card reading came true as well.
The Doctor: Superstition is a strange thing, my dear, but sometimes it tells the truth.
Me: I’m not touching that.
The TARDIS lands. It’s snowing.
The Doctor: Just look up at that scanner! We have arrived at the coldest place in the world!
NEXT: THE TENTH PLANET
Him: Patrick Troughton’s years are going to be hell.
Him: It makes you wonder. Seeing as The Sensorites was so awful, if these missing ones were still around- Well, you know how you were wondering how good they might be? Well, what if they were all as bad as The Sensorites?
Me: Or all as good as The Myth Makers?