Monday, April 6, 2009

D2 - The Singing Sands

I've already talked about how relatively little screen time The Doctor has had thus far in Season 1, but the first two episodes of Marco Polo prove that point to the extreme. The Doctor is taken ill with "mountain sickness" midway through the first episode, and is absent through almost the entirety of the second installment, partly because of his illness, but mostly because of his sulking in protest of Marco Polo's actions in wresting the TARDIS away from him.

As such, it's yet another Ian-heavy episode, but there's a few nice scenes for Carole Ann Ford at long last. Susan and Ping-Cho hit it off almost instantly, not surprising given that Susan has met no one yet that is close to her in (apparent) age. Although it does seem odd that she didn't have many friends in 1960's London, but seems to be see eye-to-eye with one girl from the Middle Ages. (The answer is, of course, obvious - the BBC bigwigs saw the youth of the day as vacuous, rock and roll loving ne'er-do-wells, whereas a girl such as Ping-Cho, who is arranged to be married to someone four times her age, clearly knows her place in society and accepts it. You won't find that on any contemporary official document signed by Sydney Newman or Donald Baverstock, but we all know that's what they were thinking...)

Tegana, the emissary for the Mongol warlord Noghai, is also travelling with Marco to negotiate a peace with Kublai Khan...but he has other sinister intentions. Tegana is played by Derren Nesbitt (who, coincidentally, would appear with Mark Eden, who plays Marco Polo, in the very same episode of The Prisoner in 1968). Tegana is a Mongol. Derren Nesbitt, like any other actor in this serial, is not. That's another thing about early Doctor Who that takes some getting used to. England of the 1960's was nowhere near the multicultural hub that it is today, and so non-Caucasian actors hard to come by in those days. Still, Tegana is a character of some menace, scheming as he does to rob the caravan of all their water before he robs Marco of his newfound TARDIS.


James said...

At this point my new copy comes to an end and I have to return to the original Loose Cannon copy which I had. This is a little more difficult to get used to with a handful of colour photos and a very strange effect which is supposed to show a sandstorm. But despite this the story prooved remarkably easy to follow helped by the scrolling comments on the action which were provided. It must have been a little strange for the viewer at the time to have the Doctor absent at this stage, he hasnt gone anywhere he is just sulking and in his room. At least with the Doctor lite stories there is a reason for his reduced involvement. I understand the reasons for this in practical terms but it is a little jarring and evidence for why William Russel should have been on equal pay with William Hartnell.

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