Possibly – in fact, probably – because it’s never been officially novelised (er, Gareth Roberts, can you put this on your ‘To Do’ list please?) The Pirate Planet is one of those stories that I don’t remember as clearly as others around it, so on the rare occasions I see it, there are elements that have got misremembered or forgotten over the years in-between. John Leeson’s rendition of John Molyneaux’s links helps to fill in the gaps (adding in the odd bit of information that wasn’t necessarily clear on screen).
It’s a typically clever Douglas Adams script, with some witty lines, and big ideas casually thrown around, but it sometimes comes across as a little too clever for its own good. Every so often, though, it really comes alive: the Doctor’s anger at the Captain over his misuse of technology is Baker at his finest, giving a level of emotion that many of the other Doctors simply come across as overacting when they try to emulate.
The links don’t give as much point-of-view as Robert Ayres’ script for Horror of Fang Rock, but they do their job, and Leeson delivers them well. There’s also an interesting interview at the end for those who haven’t heard Leeson’s stories before (as well as what seems to be interview David Darlington’s audition for a Bond villain laugh at the very end…)
Verdict: The next best thing to digging out The Key to Time box set to relive the adventure. 7/10