Properly titled "Doctor Who And The Pirates or The Lass That Lost A Sailor".
One of the most well-loved Big Finish Doctor Who episodes, and certainly one of the Sixth Doctor's most popular episodes ever made. The (intentionally awkward) title is a parody of both "Doctor Who And The Silurians" and H.M.S. Pinafore or The Lass That Loved A Sailor.
Sally, a history student, is having a hard time, and the last thing she wants today is for her favourite tutor, Dr. Evelyn Smythe, to turn up and tell her a long, rambling story about pirates.
But Dr. Smythe won't be dissuaded. In fact, she even invites her friend and travelling companion, the Doctor, into Sally's apartment so they can take turns with the pirate story. Evelyn insists the whole story is true, even though Sally points out that it's a transparent Self-Insert Fic set in a mess of pirate cliches.
As the story goes on, though, Sally starts to see some uncomfortable similarities to her own life. In particular, to a very recent, very painful, very personal loss... someone very dear to her was killed in a car crash. Sally was driving. And she doesn't think she can go on.
The story deals with a pirate captain named Red Jasper, who's after a map leading to a treasure. A cabin boy named James London (Jem for short) turns out to be the son of the only man who knew its location. Evelyn and Jem are captured by Red Jasper, and despite Evelyn's best efforts to bluff her way out (posing as "Evil Evelyn, the Pirate Queen"), Jem is tortured and brutally murdered. Evelyn blamed herself for his death, and asked the Doctor to take her home after the adventure was over. When she got home, she found Sally's suicide note in the mail. She asked the Doctor to take her back in time so they could talk Sally out of it.
Although Sally isn't sure what to make of the story in the end, Evelyn manages to explain to her that real life doesn't have a happily ever after — just good days and bad days. And that as long as one person cares, life is worth living.
This episode is directly followed by "Real Time". Which also makes this one the last time the Doctor wears his infamously horrible coat for some time.
- Anachronism Stew: Sally accuses Evelyn of this, because at this point Evelyn's telling the story based around pirate tropes rather than what actually happened.
- Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: The Doctor and Merryweather have a song about this.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Captain Swann isn't evil so much as spoiled and useless.
- Axe-Crazy: Red Jasper. Briefly played for comedy, then played chillingly for drama. He truly is utterly insane.
- Batman Gambit: The Doctor lets Merryweather challenge him to a rum drinking contest, followed by a plank walking contest. Merryweather, lacking the Doctor's Time Lord constitution, gets drunk off his face and falls right off the plank.
- Boarding Party: Just one of the many pirate tropes that shows up.
- Break the Cutie: Evelyn suffers due to the subject matter in this story, despite making it Lighter and Softer.
- Buried Treasure: Another pirate trope - Jasper's looking for Ezekiel Bones' treasure.
- Canon Discontinuity: The Doctor, In-Universe, wonders to himself if Hecate is in continuitynote .
- Cliffhanger: After a few hints and hums from the Doctor, episode 2 ends with the following exchange...Doctor: Why, you could almost say I was the very model of a Gallifreyan buccaneer. [song cue begins to play]Evelyn: Oh no! You are going to sing!Doctor: Well, yes! I am! ♪I-iiiiiiiii-am — [Theme music plays. Episode ends].
- And then he gleefully sings it as soon as the next episode starts.
- Continuity Nod: The Doctor credits Mel's exercise regime for his excellent physical form.
- Evelyn also mentions he doesn't like talking about the Great Fire of London.
- Continuity Porn: The Doctor's "buccaneer" song namedrops Daleks, Quarks, Cybermen, Mavic Chen, Tobias Vaughn, Autons, Axons, Monoids, Vampires, Voords, Hecate, Manussa, Dulkis, Skonnos, and Tigella.
- Credits Gag: The final credit theme is rewritten as a Gilbert & Sullivan pirate tune.
- The Dragon: First Mate Mr Merryweather.
- Dark Reprise: The song "Pirate Queen" first shows up when Evelyn and Red Jasper are singing about the virtues about being a Pirate Queen and King, respectively. The dark reprise occurs not 5 minutes later when Jasper sings it again, celebrating his complete authority after cutting out the tongue of one of his crew and pushing the Doctor off the plank.
- Drinking Contest: During "I'm a Better Sailor Far Than You".
- Driven to Suicide: The whole reason Evelyn's at Sally's house. She received her suicide note in the post tomorrow morning, and she convinced the Doctor to nip back to the night before so she could spend the night with Sally when she needed someone.
- The Drunken Sailor: Both a plot point and a recurring leitmotif during "I'm a Better Sailor Far Than You".
- Duel to the Death: The Doctor (no, wait, it was the First Mate) challenges Jasper to one... and gets killed.
- Either/Or Title: The "or" portion being a reference to HMS Pinafore.
- Eyepatch of Power: Red Jasper, and also more than likely, One-Eyed Trent.
- Flashback Within a Flashback
- Framing Device: The Doctor and Evelyn tell Sally a story.
- Giver of Lame Names: Evelyn names all the new pirates with the same idea. John Johnson, Bill Bilson, Tom Thomson, Nicholas Nichol... Nickleby!. At which point she switches track to Dickens, with Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Little Nell, before she thankfully gives up.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Red Jasper.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor versus Bill Oddie's Long John Silver expy Red Jasper.
- Hard Gay: Mr. Mate, supposedly.
- Hook Hand: Evelyn initially claims Red Jasper has two hooks for hands. When Sally points out that he would not be able to fire a pistol, Evelyn admits she was embellishing, but never really establishes if he had one hook or none.
- I'm A Historian Not An Impressionist: Evelyn's excuse for doing the same voice for all the sailors.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Played with — Evelyn invents some treasure for the Sea Eagle to be carrying, so it'd sound more like a pirate story.
- Innocent Innuendo:Captain Swann: "I should be doing all the stroking."
- In the Back
- Karma Houdini: Capt. Swann, who gets to be Captain again at the end. In fairness, he was just a complete and utter berk with no regard for anyone else, but it still rankles that he seemingly learned nothing. Red Jasper, on the other hand, gets off much easier than other Doctor Who villains who commit equivalent crimes, when he's left marooned.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: All the damn time. The Doctor and Evelyn telling Sally the pirate story counts for most of it, and the songs do this for Doctor Who as a whole.
- Lighter and Softer: In-Universe, Evelyn starts making the story "more fun" once she realizes it's actually a pretty dark tale.
- Memento MacGuffin / Orphan's Plot Trinket: Jem's compass. Nobody learns it's an Orphan's Plot Trinket until after poor Jem has been tortured to death, though.
- Mobile Shrubbery / Trojan Horse: The Doctor and Evelyn hide in barrels, hoping to get taken aboard Red Jasper's ship as booty. It doesn't work.
- Mood Whiplash: An light-hearted romp set during the golden age of piracy gets pretty damn dark before the eventual dawn.
- Musical Episode: And all acquit themselves very well! Specific musical and song tropes include:
- "I Am" Song: First by the Doctor with "I am the Very Model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer" and then by the pirates with their "An Assassin's Lot is Not a Happy One."
- "I Want" Song: Sally has a heartbreaking one. She wants to be Together in Death with her partner because she blames herself for his death.
- Major General Song: "I Am The Very Model Of A Gallifreyan Buccaneer", probably the best-remembered song from the whole episode. Naturally also counts as the Patter Song. Have a listen: "I Am the Very Model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer"
- Loads and Loads of Roles: Timothy Sutton plays the Mate and every other unnamed sailor and pirate role, because Evelyn's not good at coming up with character voices and does the same one for all of them.
- Musicalis Interruptus
- The Mutiny: Captain Swann's sailors think he's a bit of a git and join the pirates. Later, the Doctor convinces the pirates to do this when Jasper and Merryweather are on the island.
- Non-Indicative Name: Merryweather is not a very appropriate name for The Dragon to Red Jasper.
- Obviously Evil: Evelyn is trying to make sure Red Jasper is considered the bad guy by giving him every Red Right Hand she can think a pirate should have - one eye, two peg legs, two hook hands...
- Pepper Sneeze: The Doctor's failed attempt to hide in an empty rum barrel. Turns out it's an empty pepper barrel.
- Plucky Middie: Jem's the lower-class "plucky cabin boy" variant.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The Doctor and Evelyn get away safely, and the Doctor even managed to pocket a few of Captain Bones' treasure hoard of rubies. But Jem London's still dead.
- Pirate Booty: Another classic pirate trope. This one actually does happen - the pirates are searching for Captain Bones' hidden stash.
- Pirate Girl: The Doctor claims Evelyn is "Evil Evelyn, the Pirate Queen". The masquerade works... briefly.
- Pirate Tropes get lampshaded and pointed out by Sally, who (accurately), blames most of it on Treasure Island.
- Record Needle Scratch: Towards the end of Episode Two, the Doctor bursts into song. Evelyn and Sally stop him with one of these... but it doesn't last, of course.
- Self-Insert Fic: Sally accuses Evelyn of this.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." The first hint we get that Sally's not in the best place emotionally right now - Lady Macbeth says this because she can't stop thinking about the murder she committed.
- Spot of Tea: Evelyn insists on making multiple cups of tea for Sally.
- Survivor Guilt: Sally crashed her car and killed her partner, and now this is driving her to suicide.
- Swashbuckler: The Doctor doesn't do too bad at being one, when he gives it a go.
- Talking to Himself: Timothy Sutton, who plays all the sailors — because Evelyn is talking to herself, doing the voices.Sally: "Hey that's the same man!"Evelyn: "No it's not. Anyway, I'm a historian, not an impressionist."
- Talk Like a Pirate: Of course. Bill Oddie sounds like he's having the time of his life talking like this.
- The Doctor Taught Tarzan: Obviously a lie, and he gets called out on it.
- Time Skip: Justified seeing as it's a story being told.
- Treasure Map: Evelyn brings one to show Sally. It's the one that was hidden in Jem's compass.
- Unreliable Narrator: The whole story, with details changing depending on who's doing the telling. Most notably, Red Jasper changes from referring to the Doctor's "Horrible coat" to "Stylish outfit" in between the two. Guess which person used which.
- Upper-Class Twit: Captain Swann
- Very Special Episode: This story is like one in many ways, in amongst all the jokes and songs and pirate cliches is a serious discussion on mental health, suicide and dealing with feelings of guilt, loss and remorse.
- Walk the Plank: Yet another pirate trope embraced, particularly when the Doctor briar-patches Mr Merryweather into walking off it.
- Would Hit a Girl: Red Jasper.