Only episode 2 exists of this six parter.
A spaceship docks with a beacon. Three men enter the beacon. A bomb is placed on the beacon; the men return to their ship and detonate, breaking the beacon into parts. Another ship is in the area. The commandor, General Hermack, announces to the crew that space beacons are being broken up and stolen by pirates because they are made of argonite (a valuable mineral). The pirates Caven, Dervish and two fellows enter a new beacon. The military ship catches the pirates red-handed but the pirate ship is too fast and they make off with another beacon. The General thus decides to place small parties aboard beacons as a defensive measure. The TARDIS dematerialises in the computer bay on beacon Alpha 4. Sorba and his men go into the bay and start firing at the Doctor and co. They run. The pirates arrive at Alpha 4, unnoticed by the soldiers. The pirates shoot the soldiers; Sorba is able to send an SOS. Caven melts the door lock to the compartment where the Doctor and co. are. Sorba is taken aboard the pirate ship. Charges and propulsion charges are set on Alpha 4. The military ship is moving towards the beacon as the charges are detonated, sending the Doctor and co. reeling.
The General has lost track of the pieces of the beacon, where the Doctor and co. are unconscious. They track a different ship. On that ship is a cowboy looking figure, sitting down to boiled egg and toast. The General contacts the owner - a prospector, Milo Clancey - and prepare to board. Clancey and the General talk about the pirates. The Doctor and co. recover and realise the beacon is in parts and that they are seperated from the TARDIS. The General lets Clancey go because he suspects he is in league with the pirates. The Doctor realises the beacon was orinally in pieces when it was constructed; the bits were put together magnetically. So he sets to work trying to boost the magnetc field on their segment in order to attract the next until they can reach the TARDIS segment. The General talks with Madeleine. Her fater was killed, rumour has it by Clancey, and she has inherited a large argonite business. The Doctor operates the magnet but the poles are the same, thus shooting their part of Alpha 4 further away from the rest. Clancey is monitored collecting a section and the General issues an arrest order. Clancey enters the section and shoots Jamie.
The General orders Lt. Warne to fire a warning shot at Clancey's ship. Jamie comes too; Clancey thought they were the pirates. The Doctor, Clancey, Jamie and Zoe board the ship; Warne threatens to blow them up. Clancey releases copper needles to confuse the tracking mechanism of the military ship and head to Ta, where the General and Madeleine are! The General notes that Madeleine has a model of a spaceship like the pirates. Zoe has calculated the course of the beacon parts and has thus pinpointed the location of the TARDIS - ten miles away from them on Ta. They suspect Clancey of being a pirate. However, the Alpha 4 parts are being redirected to Lobos. The Doctor and co. find the pirate base and they are at work on the beacons. They are spotted and run, but they fall into a hole.
They have fallen down a shaft into a prison cell. Clancey looks down the shaft. The Doctor walks towards a man, who is groaning; it is Sorba, who is injured and in pain. Caven and Dervish communicate; he learns that the military are heading to Lobos. The Doctor looks for a hidden door in the cell. Dervish reports that a part of the Alpha 4 beacon is missing; Caven remembers the strangers Sorba mentioned earlier and goes to question him. The Doctor discovers an audio lock on the hidden door. The General's ship has tracked the 7 sections of the beacon; and they also pick up a ship too. That ship puts on a friendly signal cone, which Madeleine had said her company uses; but it is the pirate ship. The Doctor and co. open the door and see an armed Clancey. Two guards arrive; Clancey shoots one but the other escapes and sounds the alarm. Caven realises that Clancey is helping our heroes. Caven and his men attack; Jamie holds them off for a while but the gun's energy runs out. The Doctor and co., Sorba and Clancey make it to Madeleine's office; Clancey requests she send for the General but she says her guards can deal with it. Clancey goes to radio but is stopped by Madeleine and Caven. Sorba is killed. Caven and Madeleine are working together.
Madeleine doesn't want the prisoners killed. The General discovers that the beacon sections were sent to Lobos as a red herring; computing their originl course, he sees that they would have headed for Ta. The Doctor and co. are put in Dom Issigri's study; they meet a frightened old man - Dom. Dom has been kept prisoner and tortured; Madeleine is prevented from entering the study because Dom has been held captive by Caven. Dom begins to come to his senses and relax. Madeleine tries to persuade dervish to turn against Caven, but without luck; then she messages the General but the message is cut short. Caven catches Madeleine in time and tells her he has her father and uses threats to blackmail Madeleine. She communicates again, saying nothing is wrong. The General continues his course. The pirates are preparing Milo's ship for a decoy plan. The Doctor sets fire to some things, the guards rush in and fall on marbles. They escape and head for Clancey's ship which Caven has a remote control for. The Doctor rushes out to find Jamie and Zoe as Caven sets the ship into blast off. The Doctor is overwhelmed by the backblast and falls.
Jamie and Zoe help an unconscious Doctor. Caven orders the air released from Milo's ship, whilst Madeleine pleads. he Doctor slowly recovers. Jamie knocks out Dervish and his shot hits the remote control. Madeleine pleads to the Doctor to help save Clancey and Dom; the Doctor repairs the air circuit and tries to hail the unconscious Dom and Clancey. Unseen, Dervish slips off. Clancey begins to revive; the General draws up and is told of Caven's piracy. The Doctor helps Milo override the remote control system. Caven orders some charges placed by the atomic reactor which will destroy the entire complex; Madeleine informs the General. Milo is busily rewiring the controls under the Doctor's instruction. Then he goes to the reactor to defuse the charges. The Doctor dismantles the charges and the space pirates are destroyed by the military. Madeleine thanks the Doctor and then the travellers get a lift to Lobos from Clancey in order to collect the TARDIS.
Jack May makes a lovely calculating general and his voice adds to the role. (He had a long career prior to Who and was the voice of Nelson Gabriel in the Archers.) Dudley Foster is a ruthless pirate Caven. But top honours go to Gordon Gostelow as Milo Clancey - a fabulous comic character who you don't quite know whether to trust or not until the end.
This was Robert Holmes' second outing and a distinctly better story than the Krotons. There isn't much action until later so much of the story is taken up with developing the setting and the characters. This is done well, although at times I did get the feeling of padding and matters being a bit drawn out. The first two episodes have surprisingly little action for the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe.
The costumes are a bit daft and there is a truly irritating incidental score (more screeching woman's operatics).
Wendy Padbury's sassy hotpants and boots combo.
Irritating the Doctor again with her brilliant mathematical brain.
A bit dull in places but otherwise an entertaining space opera.
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