Doctor Who — The Smugglers


Season 4 – Episode 1 – (1966)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
 Polly, Ben

Season 4 of Doctor Who… This is a strange one. The highs should be dizzying but the BBC’s junking policy ruins this. The lows are present. I want to get back into this and I have made a decision!… So from here on in if a story is dull beyond belief it can score a minimum of 3.5/10 … This means I will re-score The Crusades. 

This story… Well it follows on immediately from The War Machines and our new companions have been smuggled away on the TARDIS…

Ben and Polly are well placed as a double-act. Polly will buy the situation and Ben is a complete skeptic on anything, which makes for a nice dynamic. If you are only familiar with the modern series, you may remember the First Doctor referring to Ben and Polly, especially the fact that Polly maintains the TARDIS. This is done in the 2017 Christmas special though I’d argue she has no time to do this for The Doctor. Anyway Ben and Polly question where they are (what with all this bigger-on-the-inside business) and The Doctor is very frustrated that he is not on his own again. At this stage in the show, the Doctor cannot control the TARDIS so their chances of going back are minimal. The Doctor explains about the ship, Polly believes and Ben doesn’t.

So my main problem with this story is that it’s just dull. It is! Polly is mistaken for being a boy, wearing trousers in 17th century Cornwall and they get snagged up in a story with pirates. It sounds like it could work but it is just like The Crusades for me… Let’s do a dash through the plot…

The Doctor finds Ben and Polly have wandered into the TARDIS just as he departed at the end of the war games and is exasperated – lamenting he could have been on his own again. He informs the pair that they have left 1966 and will not be able to go back. Upon leaving the TARDIS they find they are not in central London and Ben is maddened, as he is due back to report to the navy. Then pirates happen…

There’s a big riddle that leads to buried treasure and the Doctor is off to solve it. Eventually he does while convincing Ben and Polly that his time-travelling wanderer story is real.

What can I say though? Hartnell knows that the end is nigh for perhaps the whole story but the fact that this episode is lost does it no favours. It’s a completely skippable episode; it’s a pure historical, it’s boring, but it’s a continuation… Well my friends, pirates can be boring!


Favourite Quotes:

None from this one



Next time:

The writers finally come up with another villain that can match the Daleks in infamy. They’re creatures that are human but rebuilt to replace parts and they come from Earth’s twin planet. Oh and something else happens… The Doctor may reach the end of his life but don’t worry… this doesn’t mean the end of the series. Next story is one hundred percent a Hartnell story.


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