Sunday, May 3, 2009
The first out-an-out comedy episode in the history of Doctor Who is particularly notable by the fact that it really isn't very funny at all. But, golly, it sure tries hard, doesn't it? There's a lot of unnatural dialogue from the four regulars, and it's a bit laborious in the set-up of the situation which they will find themselves in over the course of the four episodes. But it is only one episode in, so we'll see.
Aside from the "comedy" being bludgeoned into the viewer, this episode is interesting for a couple other reasons. First off, it seems clear that The Doctor and his crew have been resting an relaxing for about a month, squatting in some departed civil servant's villa. Sure, it's exciting to see the TARDIS crew go from adventure to adventure without a break in between, but, with all the death, destruction, and derring-do that occurs every week, who would want to keep living that life with all the death going on? Who wouldn't use the TARDIS to find a nice relaxing spot somewhere (like Rome in summer time), chill out for a while, and, as the saying goes, do as the Romans do? The month-long hiatus in the travels may be a bit slow dramatically, (and not the best way for The Doctor, Ian, and Barbara to introduce Vicki to their way of life), but it is much more believable to think that the crew would take little time outs every now and again to actually have some fun.
Speaking of having fun, Ian and Barbara were totally doing it by this stage. If they had cigarettes, they would have been smoking them in the scene before they were kidnapped. And speaking of death, The Doctor reacts with remarkable indifference to the murder of Maximus Petulion, and all in the name of the afore-mentioned apparent comedy. If it was any other episode, the murder, and The Doctor's actions afterwards, would have been portrayed far more differently than it is here, and probably far more believably.
I know that opinions on The Romans is sometimes split, and that the story has its share of strong supporters, but it's not the most confident step into unexplored territory the show has taken.
Posted by Steven at 11:32 PM