Wednesday, April 8, 2009

D4 - The Wall of Lies

The main problem with reconstructed episodes is that the quality of them is dependent on the source material available. The most renowned recon group, Loose Cannon, relies on telesnaps for theirs, but also specially creates scenes and pictures using digitally altered shots and even some crude CGI. For scenes that don't feature much dialogue, a scrolling text marquee is used to inform the viewer what they might be missing. But their recon of Marco Polo was done before the telesnaps turned up in 2004, so their conversion relies purely on colour publicity stills from the time.

My favourite recon provider, the mysterious Elephe, uses some crystal clear versions of telesnaps paired with the official BBC audio release narration. However, Marco Polo is not amongst their canon of fine quality product.

I am unsure of who made the recon that I own for Marco Polo, but it obviously includes telesnaps, but no scrolling text marquee or audio narration. The problem with relying on telesnaps is this: it was Waris Hussein, director of six of the seven episodes of Serial 'D', that recovered the only telesnaps that are known to exist for this story, probably finding them in his attic on a Sunday afternoon. The only episode that is sans telesnaps is episode four, The Wall of Lies, which was directed by John Crockett. Thus, I had the hardest time following along to this episode more than any other.

Despite this, I'm not about to go scrounging for script details from other sites to try and decipher what happened - no! Like the junior Mr. Popplewick, I still have my pride. Only while watching the following episode did I understand what happened at the cliffhanger for The Wall of Lies (Ian discovers a murdered guard), but that didn't entirely hamper my enjoyment of the episode. The relationship between Marco, Ping-Cho, and the travellers reaches its lowest ebb due to Marco punishing everyone involved for spelunking in the Cave of Five Hundred Eyes. It's this constantly changing relationship that is the core of my enjoyment of the episode, but I'll get into that as the story moves along.


James said...

With the copy of the episode I had there were quite a lot of text prompts as to the action taking place so I don’t really have any complaints about following the plot of this one. The only comment I do want to make is with the style of the story as a whole. The story is told by Marco Polo through the use of his diary and maps. This is not something which has been tried since this story (that I can think of anyway) and provides an excellent way to move the episode forward. It actually feels as though they are moving constantly despite the fact that all of the action takes place in waystations or in tents. I don't think that such an epic story as this could have been told without this narrative device and I'm a little suprised it wasn't used again for some of these old stories.

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