Thursday, April 9, 2009

D7 - Assassin at Peking

And so finally the saga ends, with Marco being granted his release to Venice, Ping-Cho getting out of her arranged marriage due to a technicality (her fiance died), Tegana getting his comeuppance, and The Doctor and co. scarpering in the TARDIS at the very end.

I have to say that, going into this one, I wasn't looking forward to it as much due to its extreme length and the fact that none of the pictures move. But it has been a massively enjoyable experience watching this story. Whereas parts of The Daleks seemed to drag on, the storyline for Marco Polo was so wide and varied and contained so many different plot twists and set pieces that the time just flew by. The whole story was given it's initial thrust in the first episode - Marco Polo has captured the TARDIS and is taking it to Kublai Khan as a gift. But it was the (literal) journey along the way which made this so entertaining.

The very end of the episode is quite magical, actually. In the previous episode, Marco expressed his disbelief of Ian's story of where he comes from. Yet the very last words of the story are of Marco finally accepting the truth - "I wonder where they are now? The past? Or the future?" This is the first pure historical in the programme's history (meaning that, apart from The Doctor, his companions, and the TARDIS, there are no other unearthly aspects in the story), but is also unique in that it directly involves the technology of the TARDIS in the storyline. Future historicals would have the TARDIS occupants far removed from their time ship, and no mention would be made of the travelers' origins. Marco Polo bears more than a slight resemblance to the "celebrity" historicals of the new series, in which The Doctor meets a famous person from Earth's history and exposes him to the wonders of the universe. If this story still existed in the BBC archives, one could almost believe that it might have inspired Russell T Davies when crafting the historical episodes in the new series.

Let's hope these seven episodes are found in some basement or broom closet somewhere and unleashed upon the world again, as they really are lost treasures that deserve to be seen again.


James said...

Despite the lack of surviving footage I think Marco Polo qualifies as my favourite story so far. The only comments I was going to make were on the ending but you have really said everything that can be said about it I think. I really hope that this story turns up. The only negative comment I have doesnt relate to the story but the copy I had with colour photos which seemed to spoil it in a way, hopefully I can find a copy of the telesnaps version as it is definitely worth another watch based upon the quality of the first episode I had.

Post a Comment