Next Time, I Shall Not Be So Lenient!

Alex Wilcock writes a lot of words about Doctor Who. He’s followed DWM’s Time Team since 1999, and is now revealing everything he’s ever sent to them. Very gradually.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Doctor Who – Marco Polo Episode One: The Roof of the World

Now I come to the biggest gap in Doctor Who’s first two seasons – a story that we can’t see today, for all the flurry of rumours in the three weeks since I wrote about why so many episodes are gone. Yet this was the first full-length story after the series’ massive breakthrough with The Daleks, intended to be and succeeding in being just as big a hit and with considerably more money spent on it (as is visible, if no longer in motion, in the wealth of glorious colour photos that survive).

I first heard Marco Polo on a very indistinct audio recording about a dozen years ago, and it didn’t do a great deal for me. Since then, I’ve experienced it in several different formats, and have warmed to the story a great deal more. At the same time, I’ve grown much colder (or perhaps more heated) towards one of its main characters, which may just show through in my subtle hints below. There are a handful of supporting characters beloved of most Doctor Who critics for being apparently chummy and respectable who I now find myself disliking – another springs to mind from 1977 – but this one I’ve really taken against in a major way and, I think, with good reason.

The story itself is said by quite a few reviewers to be the best Doctor Who historical adventure, or even the greatest Doctor Who of all. I like much about it, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near that far. You’ll be able to pick out why in the one-line thoughts below, and more over the next few weeks.

The next few weeks, you ask?

I’m making a commitment that may be both unexpected and unwise. I have, amazingly, already written my one-liners for the whole story, though not yet some of the value-added material, in the aim of posting it all last night. But on reading through it all, I realised that even for me it would be an unprintably vast amount for one go. I suspect the reason for this is that, over the years since I last wrote up a story on here, I’ve watched Marco Polo several times, made copious notes each time, then done nothing with them until now. And this time round, I’ve just watched the Recon, listened to the official CD, watched the condensed Recon on The Beginning DVD boxed set, read the Tele-snap ‘photonovel’ in the DWM Special, and read the novelisation. So I may have overcompensated for not being able to watch the moving pictures on TV.

As a result, perhaps for this one time only, I’ve broken my thoughts into seven collections, and I intend to publish an episode’s-worth at a time. I suppose if ever there were a Doctor Who story for which it’s appropriate to go on for ages across many diversions without ever seeming to get anywhere, it’s this one, which lasted a month and a half on screen and is said to take three months for the characters. My usual set of ‘extra features’ will be split between today’s article and the finale, with the long journey in between just the one-liners. Time to embark…

My ‘The Review all Doctor Who Challenge’ posting in an online discussion, January 2004:

Bit of an odd one, this. The Doctor’s very entertaining – laughing at the end of Episode One, sparring with Kublai Khan – but it’s really the ‘Ian vs Marco’ story, with the series’ least incompetent plotting villain setting everyone against each other. It’s very well done, and I’d recommend the colour Recon to get an eye-popping view of the sets, but you get an odd feeling that not much is actually happening for most of it.

As some have suggested, if you got some of the episodes in the wrong order, or missed them out entirely – no-one would notice. It’s a ‘travelogue’ story where it would make no difference whether it was four parts, or twelve. It’ll depend on the mood you’re in as to which it feels like ;-)

The other funny thing about Marco Polo… No other Who story is as didactic. Ian and Barbara’s teacher status really gets rammed down our throats: ‘In today’s lesson, children, we’re going to learn about the travels of Marco Polo, condensation, nomadic Mongol encampments, and how air pressure affects a/ the boiling point of water and b/ the explosive effects of bamboo.’

Or maybe it’s just odd to hear companions giving the explanations.

“A caravan that flies... do you imagine what this would mean to the Khan? It will make him the most powerful ruler the world has ever known; stronger than Hannibal… Mightier than Alexander the Great!”

And I Said…

The first episode’s rather super, if pedagogic – both Ian and Barbara get To Show They’re Teachers, but it really kicks into overdrive when the Doctor first goes into fury and then pisses himself at Marco at the end. He really is terrific, and it’s a stunner of a scene.

Seeing eager Susan with Barbara in the snow in colour is utterly thrilling – and, blurry as it is, the slightly over-saturated colour of the Recon works better for me than the black-and-white-with-a-tint seen on BBC1 in prime time a month ago. Although, Billy, prime-time, BBC1, was something that was utterly thrilling in itself! And somehow already using the stick the great Khan gives him later this story, hmm?

With the two women kneeling in wonder beside a huge indentation in the snow, we’re meant to think, after the Daleks, that this is ‘Doctor Who and the Snowmen’! It’ll come…

William Russell’s got a lovely voice for narrating the CD, and it’s well-written and rarely intrusive… So the point at which I was suddenly taken out of it was hearing, “From it steps an elderly white-haired man…” That’s him, now! But the scene-setting works well: “These four are the time and space-travelling occupants of the TARDIS.”

This is incredibly didactic. Watched after The Beginning thirteen episodes, it stands out a mile: it’s slow, it’s informative, it’s very detailed, it has very strong guest characters and design almost to rival The Daleks… But it really shoves Ian and Barbara’s little homilies down our throats. So is this the only story ever written to the show’s original brief?

The half-hour condensed version has about ten minutes of the first episode in it. Shows how much plot there is in the rest.

I grew up in the Tom Baker days thinking the TARDIS was always breaking down, but at least by then the complexity was at fault – after the fluid link and the spring, it doesn’t get more prosaic than ‘the fuse has gone’, which seems to be the case here.

The Ship breaking down yet again and so utterly disastrously feels very forced, but the Doctor’s reaction to it feels very real: angry, frustrated and rather startling as he snaps,
“Everything’s gone to pot!”

Teacher Watch 1: a verbal tour of high mountain ranges (only Susan gets it right); air pressure affecting the boiling point; Marco Polo; Cathay.

Though it’s Susan who identifies the right mountain range, Barbara’s guess of the Andes may be a bit of prefiguring…

This is an historical in more than just the fan-story-descriptor sense: we’ve seen the Doctor in a towering, superior fury before, but this starts with a petty loss of control over a blown fuse. John Lucarotti writes both him and his granddaughter as less unearthly than in any other script, then gives the teachers all the exposition, making this perhaps the closest story to the series’ original conception but the furthest from where it was already going. An historical oddity.

Although on a more careful listen he probably says “Are you telling—?” I laughed at the more profane implication of what seemed like Barbara and the Doctor’s “But that’s serious. We could freeze to death.” “Serious. Are you taking—? There’s no need for you to tell me that, really!”

One element that lets the script down early, and is more shocking in context of the previous stories, is that Ian puts down Barbara’s story of a strange “print” in the snow as just an ‘hysterical woman’… And, where the previous stories up-ended that trope by every time showing the woman in fact justified, here it’s dead straight and he’s telling off his friend for getting the wrong idea in her silly little head. It’s certainly the wrong idea in Mr Lucarotti’s.

The script’s a strange one for Barbara, playing to her strong points when being a history teacher doing the explanations but making her a much weaker and stupider woman when involved in the plot.

Perhaps part of the reason Barbara’s role suffers here is that all the rest of the crew gain from a new pairing: Susan and Ping-Cho, passionately; the Doctor and the Khan, warily and never going to stay together long, but having enormous fun; Ian and Polo, on an entirely false basis. But Mr Lucarotti will make up for that in his next script.

The first scene with the emissary-warlord Tegana and Marco Polo gives us a taste of things to come in Mr Lucarotti’s scripts: Tegana’s “Hear me, Mongols” has the same ‘Othering’ appeal to racism he’ll use later on the Khan (and, subtly, tells us his opinion of Polo from the start), while Polo is set up as the ‘reasonable’ one overruling the ‘savages’, like Autloc will be.

It’s weird to have a first episode packed with other people, isn’t it? I’d got used to pretty much just the four of them to get into each story.

Tegana’s big horned furry hat versus the soldiers’ single-spiked furry hats suggests he’s twice the Mongol any of them are. While Marco’s massive furry hat apparently gives him authority, he’s all muff and no spike.

Tegana’s character basically starts off as ‘I’m a psycho’. Bit of a clue, there.

You can tell Ian’s a teacher: Susan’s already said it’s the Roof of the World, but she’s only a pupil, and a girl, so he wasn’t listening to her and is surprised and so looks dim when told the same by a man.

The half-hour condensed version has about ten minutes of the first episode in it. Shows how much plot there is in the rest.

Tegana is persuasive with his “magicians” line, and poetic – as well as telling – in calling the Ship “a warlord’s tomb”. And even Marco’s worried that it’s not big enough for them all: that’s the part beyond his understanding, so he tries never to find out and challenge his set ideas.

The Doctor’s sarcastic “It doesn’t roll along on wheels” to Ian way back at the start of the series becomes an observation of suspicion and danger here for the “warlord’s tomb”…

From starting the episode wound up and taking it out on everyone, the Doctor becomes utterly charming with Ping-Cho, and invitingly naughty about her soup and Tegana’s role.
“For an emissary of peace, he has rather bloodthirsty habits, hasn’t he?”
And there it is, in plain sight, in the first episode! Tegana’s a killer; he dresses like a baddie; he plots; the Doctor spots it. Obviously, in a story that goes on so very long, being so blatant so very early must only be to set up a surprise character pivot later. Eh? What’s that you say? Oh.

It’s not just Tegana whose character is given away immediately: more subtly, Polo promises help with the TARDIS; the Doctor agrees not to go inside until Lop for diplomacy’s sake. The Doctor shows he can be reasonable when there’s a reason, and keeps his word. Polo is a lying plotter from the start. Remember that through his pretensions to the moral high ground.

This is the story’s original sin: Marco saves the Doctor’s life and the Doctor gives his word in return, and keeps it. But Marco is a thief and deceiver from the very first – and when the Doctor and the others save his life in return, even several times, that doesn’t change his nature.

Barbara works out who Marco Polo is from various clues, but I wonder if this scene works better on audio than it did in the burnt TV sequence: identifying him as being the European in the Khan’s service, I suspect several of the other actors in his caravan would have looked European, too.

Last week, we had the Doctor getting Ian’s name wrong for a laugh to show his concentration relaxing once the crisis was over; here were get “That’s my grandchild, Susan, and that’s Miss Wright… And that’s Charlton. Hmm!” as another scripted gag to give Ian a little character moment and start him talking with Polo.

Polo’s map and journal combine for a very effective device: the Recon’s moving map effect and coiled dragon are lovely; Polo’s narration makes this his story and commands us into his point of view; and yet it gives him away as villainous in soliloquy, proclaiming to himself
“Success! My plan has worked.”

So, Marco is handsome, popular and utterly self-centred; he writes about his travels to show himself in the best possible light and minimise everyone else; and while not a killer for the fun of it, he’s sociopathically content to let anyone die who gets in his way. I bet JK Rowling enjoyed reading the book of this story before she came upon Gilderoy Lockhart.

Polo’s journal in which he frames himself as the hero and, more ineffectually, his speeches to a hostile audience make the point that narrators are unreliable and history is written by the side that convinces everyone they had the best justification for winning. Later, he even keeps the TARDIS key in his journal, imprisoning their story within his.

Interesting to have a narrator – it emphasises that the Doctor’s not in control of this story, and that it’s not his, long before Russell T Davies brought in stories about famous writers. When in-story narration eventually returns to the series, it’s the Doctor finding his way home after almost as long as Marco…

It seems to me that John Lucarotti saw Marco Polo as the hero but, to keep the time travellers at his side, couldn’t help writing him as the villain. More even than the Daleks, he comes across as the perhaps not evil but gittish mirror of our heroes, the selfish, self-aggrandising traveller.

With this adventure conceived as “A Journey To Cathay”, its intention as a travelogue rather than a story was plain from the start. What was less plain was that the narrator of this BBC travel show was going to be such a shit, like Michael Palin’s evil twin getting to put his show on or the baby gets it.

Barbara and Ian in Chinese hats with her in a pink pully look adorable. They’re so a couple on holiday. And so a British couple on holiday.

You get used to the teachers’ constant exposition, but Susan’s is a stranger choice: she explains “Fab” to Ping-Cho, something that the audience would know and establishing herself as a very Earthly, and indeed swinging, child.

Translating most of the words yet getting “Cathay” wrong, then “Fab”, makes you think the TARDIS really has broken down: ‘Oh, most of it’s in place, stuff it, I’m cold…’

Richard suggests the TARDIS is still sore at them after they nearly piloted it into a massive explosion last week and didn’t listen to its warnings: ‘Right, take my translation for granted, will you? Then every time you say something from the 1960s I’m going to make you look an arse.’

Susan’s shocked reaction to Ping-Cho’s arranged marriage to a seventy-five-year-old is an interesting illustration of her unfamiliarity with other cultures, but is never really more than colour at the edge of the plot: by John Lucarotti’s next script, he’s learnt to personalise much more of the story to our heroes.

Susan and Ping-Cho strike up an immediate friendship, but it’s sadly a Bechdel fail in their first episode: asking about each other’s backgrounds, it’s all about grandfather, father, then fiancé.

It’s a good job Polo has no backbone, supported by his (borrowed) soldiers in stealing the TARDIS but still too cowardly to enter it – this could have been another An Unearthly Child. Tegana reacts exactly as the Doctor feared Londoners would, fearing the TARDIS, making a big thing of it, and seeing his main chance, so I wouldn’t put it past the Doctor to invite Polo in for a look, then whisk him off, too! Imagine the series where the Doctor solves each week’s problem by kidnapping a different troublemaker…

Marco: handsome, popular, utterly self-centred; writes up his travels to glorify himself and minimise others; content to let anyone die who gets in his way. I bet JK Rowling read the book of this story before she came upon Gilderoy Lockhart.

Marco’s soldiers prevent the Doctor from entering the TARDIS – breaking Marco’s word – and he then goes into a long, self-pitying speech in front of his literally captive audience to frame (to himself, chiefly) his lying, selfish theft as ‘reasonable’ and with a ‘generous’ offer to let the Doctor build another TARDIS. Rightly, the Doctor treats him with contempt from this moment on.

Marco’s ‘invitation’ at swordpoint for the time travellers to sit and listen to his life story doesn’t go nearly as well as talking to a journal that doesn’t answer back: the Doctor’s savage laughter at the “savage” quickly needles him into losing his temper. For all the force at his command, the ‘Mr Reasonable’ act can’t stand up to the awkward truth that he’s a gobshite.

Polo’s disgusting self-serving wheedle includes the hypocrisy that he’s reliant on the Khan, suffering from old age: “If he dies, I may never see Venice again.” Yet he proclaims it reasonable that the Doctor, apparently just as old, should make a journey of many years with a long labour to build a new Ship at the end of it. And he sees no contradiction in that.

Another of Polo’s self-servingly blind hypocrisies: “Surely, for a man who possesses a flying caravan, all things are possible?” The crucial point being – for a man who possesses it. Once he doesn’t, it isn’t!

You can see just how reasonable Polo is when, after a long speech to justify his theft, he’s told why it’s impossible to build a new TARDIS and announces, “I refuse to listen to any more,” then flounces out, leaving our heroes under threat of death if they try to get their own property.

Marco telling his story to the time travellers – making himself the lead character, and so it only right that the audience sympathise with him and he gets his way – is of a part with his narration, attempting to control the narrative with a flood of words. “You do me an injustice,” he tells the Doctor, just as he later tells the Khan – and in both cases, he doesn’t actually wait to hear what the other says before butting in to assert, ‘It’s not fair! It’s all about me!’

Polo cuts the Doctor off with an accusation of “injustice” because it’s ‘unjust’ for a thief to be confronted with his thievery and why it’s wrong, instead offering generously to take them several years out of their way for an impossibility.

Marco wants to feel better about himself, but only by giving them his leavings that don’t inconvenience him in any way, and by wilfully ignoring every practical problem they raise. He looks noble and handsome, but he acts just like the Sheriff of Nottingham.

It’s clever to pair Polo with Ian, for two men of an age and an heroic pose to try and forge some bond. Had Polo mainly been sparking off the Doctor all story, we might have been reminded of several of the TARDIS crew in one – desperate to get home, and prepared to kidnap them all to do it.

It’s the first time we get to see (if only in photos, now) a Doctor Who fan on screen! …The Doctor clutches one as he faces off against Marco in the way-station at Lop.

Look! A Doctor Who fan gets on the cover of the Radio Times before even the Daleks do.

The Doctor’s most gorgeous moment in the whole episode isn’t upset, or engaging, or defiant, but at his lowest point: Polo has the TARDIS and he’s utterly powerless. So he just pisses himself laughing at the humour of not having the faintest idea what to do. It’s utterly endearing, made all the more so by the picture of Ian looking resigned to one side while the Doctor cackles!

I’ve already loved William Hartnell’s Doctor from his very first scene, but here his character expands in unexpected directions in a tour de force, turning in just the first episode from blazing fury, to incredulity, to pissing himself in the background and then the foreground as, for once, he doesn’t have a clue what to do and rather than the earlier rattiness just giggles.

While The Daleks’ moral against ‘Dislike for the unlike’ was slightly undermined by the ‘beautiful’ Thals being good and the ‘ugly’ Daleks evil, this is the series’ first ‘Don’t judge by appearances’ moral. Mark Eden is handsome, dignified, and offers a performance that makes us think Marco must be noble, overlooking all his theft, bullying and selfishness. Cast an actor with an ugly face and a whiny voice in the part to reflect his character and viewers wouldn’t give Polo the time of day.

Handsome and dignified he may be, but remember that from the first episode on Marco Polo’s prime characteristic is that he’s a thief, abusing state power for utterly selfish reasons. He’s also a scheming plotter, a fawning creep, a bully, a blackmailer, a cad, an ingrate, an idiot, a liar, a hypocrite and an all-round gobshite.
[There’s something about the detestable Polo that really encourages my vindictive side. If he sets you off in the same way, you might like to go the full Shona Spurtle:
“You are a waster, Polo. You are a lying cheat. You are a fibster, a fabulist, an equivocating shim-shammer, a cozening card sharp, a pathological mythomaniac, a yarner, a poulterer – who perjures – a whited sepulchre, a cantering serpent, a rat!”]

Marco Polo is the first of a long series of a particular kind of Doctor Who stock character – the jumped-up petty bureaucrat who abuses his power and gets in our heroes’ way. The difference from most is that he’s not a cartoon played for laughs, but has a backstory and a motive… Or, to put it another way, he’s not merely officious but crooked.

Polo is a selfish, nasty little villain who gives himself airs and can’t bear to be punctured. Tegana shows himself not just a better villain but a stronger character when the cliffhanger gives him the series’ first proper villain’s speech: not a petty promise to his journal but ambition to a fellow soldier to serve his lord, and he knows how to do it.

Messr Marco may not be a villain in the style of most in the series, a conqueror like Tegana, but he’s all the more contemptible for that – selfish, domineering, absolutely misusing the authority he holds in trust. Tegana is more ruthless and nasty, but he’s much more moral by his own lights.

We’re meant to side with the ‘reasonable’ European in the position of authority in both of John Lucarotti’s early scripts, yet both Marco and Barbara are selfishly misusing their power and, by the lights of local morality, the villain.

Next Episode – The Singing Sands

In which Brian Hodgson creates a fantastic soundscape of howling, jabbering sandstorms so justly famed that I couldn’t think of anything original to say about them. So what does that leave me with?

Coming Soon on Marco Polo:

The Singing Sands
Five Hundred Eyes
The Wall of Lies
Rider From Shang-Tu
Mighty Kublai Khan
Assassin at Peking

What Terrance Dicks Said…

I started this year at a small but perfectly formed Doctor Who convention on the first Sunday in January, Fantom Films’ Celebrate 50: The Patrick Troughton Years. On stage, former lead writer and producer Terrance Dicks and Derrick Sherwin were asked about how much the series has changed. Rather than starting with their own approach, they both pointed out that the series had always changed, even from the beginning to their day. First Derrick, not positively:
“It started off as an educational series.”
“Yes. They’d go back and see Marco Polo in history so that they could learn about him. And it very soon came to the point where the kids said, ‘Fuck Marlo Polo’—”
At which point the audience collapsed in a mixture of whoops, cheers, laughter, giggles from the few children and despairing groans from their parents, and Terrance carried on, quite unabashed:
“‘…never mind Marlo Polo – we want more Daleks!’”

I don’t entirely disagree with him, and he was hugely entertaining about it (and clearly getting the name wrong on purpose for the ‘kids’ voice’), but I should say that I do love the historicals… And that I’ve previously written on my main blog that people who slag them off as unpopular tend to get it wrong.

Radio Times Teasers for Marco Polo

An adventure in space and time


Marco Polo is a doubly important step forward: not only is this the story where the Radio Times starts getting into the series properly with exciting little teasers that for the first time tell us something about each episode, but it’s the first time the series gets the front cover. Though note that Polo’s such a rotten git that he even steals the Radio Times cover from William Russell.

The Roof of the World
“The Tardis has landed on the roof of the world. But which world, and when?”

Plus interesting guest credits:
Mark Eden, Derren Nesbitt
and introducing
Zienia Merton

Available In All Good Shops? Part I

The short answer is, of course, no: the episodes have long since been burned. The long answer is more complex and more rewarding: you can experience Marco Polo at least in part in about half a dozen different forms, some available in shops, some less officially. I’ll leave talking about two of them – the novelisation, and the condensed Recon available on the Doctor Who – The Beginning DVD box set – until Episode Seven, but in the meantime, here are the other main versions…

As I wrote three weeks ago, there are several ways in which ‘missing’ episodes survive, of which the principal ones today are soundtracks and Tele-snaps. The Tele-snaps of Doctor Who episodes have been rediscovered in dribs and drabs – and in one huge haul – over the years, and I understand that Marco Polo’s are the most recently found. The director, Waris Hussein, happened to have a set in storage, and about eight years ago, someone happened to ask him about them. As a result, they’re the only Tele-snaps for ‘missing’ episodes which you can’t view on the old BBC Doctor Who website, as that was already being wound down in favour of the new series, and these off-air photos of the action only exist for six of the seven episodes, as Mr Hussein was ill during one week and another director took over. However, this set of Tele-snaps have been made available to buy in several formats, including twice by DWM: way back across issues 342-347, and all together earlier this year in the Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition 34: The Missing Episodes – The First Doctor. You can probably still find that in shops for a few more weeks, and I recommend it.

Alternatively, the soundtrack is available on CD, recorded off-air by fans in 1964 and since cleaned up and given helpful narration from William Russell to make it a far less muffled proposition than the bootleg copies I first heard. First released singly, Marco Polo is now part of the first volume of Doctor Who – The Lost TV Episodes Collection, which I also recommend, complete with a bonus disc containing assorted interviews and other extra features in pdf form such as a map of our heroes’ travels with Marco Polo and copies of the original scripts. William Russell’s is the longest and the best of the CD interviews, intelligent, funny and informative. Though he mixes praise and criticism of the series and those who worked on it, he has an air of being forthright, firm, and telling it like it is – while also appealingly positive. Carole Ann Ford is less positive, though at least reacts with glee to mention of The Edge of Destruction – her favourite, she says, because it gave her something to do – while Maureen O’Brien is very sniffy and is not someone to listen to if you want to retain your illusions (though David the interviewer seems to have poked her with a stick into suddenly saying something nice at the end).

By far the best way to experience Marco Polo is, though, for me the glorious Loose Cannon Reconstruction, which mixes surviving sound and visual material and even offers special features of its own. I wrote about Recons last time, but this one is unique: it’s in full colour, and not only was it made before the Tele-snaps were tracked down, it unexpectedly gains from that. With so many colour photos taken of the fabulous sets and costumes, the reconstructors were able to colourise the smaller if still substantial amount of black and white material to match; I don’t think that would have happened had there been so very much detailed black and white material so temptingly to hand. I said last time that this is my favourite Recon, and though the multi-colour-switching titles are occasionally a little jarring, shivers still go up my spine for those few colourised seconds of Susan and Barbara starting off a William Hartnell story in colour, and continuing throughout.
“If only they knew – I didn’t tell half of what I saw…”

Not only is the whole story presented in bold, lively, almost supersaturated colour – clearly seeing no point in using colour if you’re only to offer anaemic hints of it – but it’s boosted considerably by some terrific extra material all (well, most) of Loose Cannon’s own. Mark Eden clearly enjoyed playing the title character; nearly forty years later he returned to the role for Loose Cannon, and what a gent, I have to say, as I doubt they had any money for him. Not only does he give an informative interview to camera – and is very blunt that it should never have been junked, instead treasured not just for the actors but its wonderful sets and costumes – but he also appears in tent, in robe and back in character for a brand new framing device, writing again about his travels. An impressive ‘Making of’ brings together actors Carole Ann Ford, Mark Eden, Zienia Merton and Philip Voss, along with clips of designer Barry Newbery and director Warris Hussein plus various other productions, then a whole mini-documentary on Marco Polo himself which is again narrated by the lovely Mr Eden and an intriguing addition.

I’d like one day to see a more complete Tele-snap-based Reconstruction than the condensed version I’ll come to in a few weeks’ time, to offer greater accuracy and some details they couldn’t provide – the revelation of Marco wrapped up against the cold in big cloak and bigger furry Russian-ish hat, say – but I can’t help feeling that it might look rather dowdy after this Technicolor masterpiece, and that I’d be more likely to watch the existing Recon again than one that’s more accurate but bound to be less visually striking.

And, if you’ll excuse one last terrible ‘fan’ gag, it’s curiously appropriate that we see the Doctor reliant on a fan in this story’s original moment of crisis – and that thanks to the series invisibly relying on fans since, we can still see and hear so much of it.

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And You Said… (2)

Blogger Matthew Kilburn said…

I was going to mention the TARDIS as warriors' tomb when I got round to reviewing The Name of the Doctor, as I didn't think anyone else had noticed Tegana's mention... funny what makes me competitive.

7:53 pm, June 23, 2013  
Blogger Alex Wilcock said…

Ahhhh, I'm sure you can still compete and win with that reference. This blog being updated with the frequency of a geological age turning makes it exceptionally obscure.

I've always loved the term - the way it sounds like superstition the first time he uses it, then turns to imply a weaponised portent of doom...

8:22 pm, June 23, 2013  

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