The Smugglers (1966)

The Smugglers is the first story for Ben and Polly as the companions. The story arrives in Cornwall in the seventeenth century. It’s typical of the show to go from the modern day of 1966 to two hundred years in the past. The Smugglers is not really a big story as it is more or an introduction story to the new companions. The story starts off with Ben and Polly not believing that they have actually travelled in time. It’s amusing that Ben and Polly still seem to think that they are in 1966 despite the surroundings changing from when they entered the TARDIS to leaving it. It’s Ben that finds it hard to believe that they have travelled in time. It’s also amusing that Polly is mistaken for a man however it is stretching believability a bit.

The Smugglers isn’t a great story because the plot is a little bit bland. Normally in a historical adventure such as The Romans and The Gunfighters, there are entertaining characters in a setting that might have some terrible incident that happened then. It is interesting to see how the last couple of stories in the First Doctor era were and it’s a shame that this no longer exists in it proper form though on the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/photonovels/smugglers/) this allows you to at least imagine what everything would look like. This helps make it seem much more real than it otherwise would have been.

William Hartnell puts in one of those performances that shows he’s just having fun with the dialogue and the scenes. In his penultimate performance, it leads me to think of how far the character has come in just over two years. Back then he was a crockety old guy who would quite happily have caused harm to his companions, now he the exact opposite. He doesn’t treat Ben and Polly like grandchildren like he seemed to do with Vicki and probably even Steven but he does treat them well and that’s one of the positive traits about the first Doctor. For their first story as companions, Anneke Wills & Michael Craze push the story for me as they seem to be putting all the pieces together. It’s not hard to see why these two worked so well together. The brother/sister relationship was one of the best things about those two characters and it’s a shame that they didn’t last longer than they did.

The Smugglers is the calm before the storm in many ways as the next story would one of the most historic stories in Doctor Who history. Despite being written by Brian Hayles (The Celestial Toymaker and the Ice Warriors), this isnt his best script. It just didn’t have that sucker punch that you would expect. Shame really.

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