My Thoughts On Story 012 – “The Romans”

All roads lead to Rome. The I-10 being, perhaps, a notable exception.

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“Oh, sod the aqueduct, Chesterfield!”

This story is, essentially, light farce, and in that way it works fairly well. Yes, it deals with some rather heavy subjects, like slavery and the near rape of a character, as well as various attempts at murder, but it’s all played lightly and works surprisingly well.

Derek Francis really steals the show as Nero. He’s very over-the-top and entertaining, and really helps make this story work. Credit must also go to Hartnell, who does an excellent job showing a more comical side to the Doctor. Also, I’m glad Vicki was given some things to to do other than just be a scared little girl, as Susan was way too often. The writers seem to have found their footings with Vicki more easily than they did with Susan.

Now I will say there were times when I felt my attention drifting, and had a tough time remaining focused on the story. It wasn’t ever drifting or anything, but it did feel a bit unfocused at times. The completely different story for each of the TARDIS crew was a nice idea, but perhaps could have been trimmed down a bit.

That minor complaint aside, this really is a great and entertaining story, and so it saddens me greatly to realize what’s next. *sigh*

Cast
Others
  • Derek FrancisNero
  • Michael Peake — Tavius
  • Brian Proudfoot — Tigellinus
  • Kay Patrick — Poppaea Sabina
  • Peter Diamond — Delos
  • Derek Sydney — Sevcheria
  • Nicholas Evans — Didius
  • Barry Jackson — Ascaris
  • Anne Tirard — Locusta
  • Dennis Edwards — Centurion
  • Margot Thomas — Stall Holder
  • Edward Kelsey — Slave Buyer
  • Bart Allison — Maximus Pettulian
  • Dorothy-Rose Gribble — Woman Slave
  • Gertan Klauber — Galley Master
  • Ernest Jennings, John Caesar — Men in Market
  • Tony Lambden — Court Messenger
Production
Writer Dennis Spooner
Director Christopher Barry
Script editor Dennis Spooner (uncredited)
Producer Verity Lambert
Mervyn Pinfield(associate producer)
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Raymond Jones
Production code M
Series Season 2
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 16 January 1965
Date ended 6 February 1965

Next episode: “The Web Planet”

Next story: “The Web Planet”

Episode LVII – “Infernus”

Concines veniam ad res, ut non sepelias eam Google search Si hoc potest imago felicem exitum turbatio.

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Brian est, coniunx sum!

Nos committitur cum proposito gladiatorio noctis pugnaretur. Suus ‘vere iuste et rationabiliter bene ridiculo luctuosum videtur, si ad similem omnibus Scholam Errol Flynn Cinematic Fencing.

Ian et eius pal novum, quo id nomine Naughtius est maximus, quoniam illum curre, relicto pauper Babs haesit in Nerone, aka: “Veni Crazypants”. Interim Medicus faciat aliquid machinatur, ut ceteri se TARDIS quadrigis hostis uelut videtur plerumque paulo post tempus.

Ridiculum est parvi momenti, an ubi Doctor occupatus fallere conatur Neronem incipitque ignis accidens. Videtur adesse Neronem Carmina Bi- Polar, qui habet excusationem descendit ad inflammandam urbem comparare reædificare illud. Praesent justo scaena historiae, etsi sit amet est.

Socii et amici servi Ian coetus et fecerunt quin animadverterem non potui ponere aliquem repperit in edendis deleas eam.

Unde manifestum antefixa fictilia deorum Romanorum amicis Christianum. Nos scimus quia hic gerit cruce, quam Christiani tunc nequaquam. Et sicut non multa videor ibi recordatus fueris, si in parte Romae, obstante quod citra dictum fabulis.

Videmus ergo disputet Vicki conflagraret Nerone et Doctorum (qui tum extra urbem per viam) citharamque strums custodit eam. Et odo, quia scilicet facit. Et itur ad astra Barbara et Ian, qui paulo minus faceta iocus circa reliquias.

Iam satis quisque redeat, et sentit bonum! Saliunt in et off et TARIDS sunt, et socius Stories remissa sunt. Nam finis pulchra valde bonum solidum historiaque.

Deinde tempore: “Tela Orbis”

Episode LVI – “De Coniuratione”

Sunt qui audeat dicere coniuratio!

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Stwike him, Centuwion! Stwike him vewy woughly!

In hanc rem opus est numerus “Billy Flubs” admiratio. Im ‘non certus quantum serie temporis ipse in hoc tempore , tamen suus’ forsit expendere tempus ipsum aut res subtracta a praesentibus.

So Nero gets to meet Babs, and is quite taken with her, it seems. Can’t fault the man for taste, I suppose, though his wife seems quite willing to do so.

Vicki is, meantime, hanging out with the official court poisoner. So that’s an interesting job. One has to wonder what career path would bring someone to such a position in life.

Well, we now enter the comedic sex farce portion of our story, with Nero chasing Barbara and her trying to avoid him. There are some Scooby-Doo doorway bits, and for the most part, it actually works.

Vicki apparently has this rather flawed master plan to poison Nero. The Doctor seems to believe this might alter history a tad, and I think I might have to take his side on this one. I can kind of understand Vicki’s thinking here, but it was just a tad irresponsible.

The Doctor has to put on a performance where he plays the lyre. He bluffs his way through. I do wonder how old “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is as a story, because that’s basically what he does here, and I’d think people would have gotten wise to that one ages ago.

And our story ends with a gladiatorial fight…more or less.

Next time: “Inferno”

Episode 055 – “All Roads Lead to Rome”

Ut res discunt, omnes viae Romam ducunt.

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I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome named Biggus Dickus.

So we start with the Doctor defeating the would-be assassin, and then going on a crazy ego trip, which is rather amusing, though perhaps not as funny as Vicki thinks. Probably never hurts to suck up to the boss.

There really are a large number of Billy Flubs in this episode. Hartnell probably needs a vacation. Again.

I do rather like that it’s pretty clear, without being spoken, what kind of slavery Babs can look forward to. At least she’s not stuck in a galley like Ian. Though did the Romans generally use actual slaves for this purpose? Wouldn’t they have used soldiers who can then fight after ramming an enemy ship? I do know their navy kind of sucked.

Hey, Wikipedia knows all.

In Roman times, reliance on rowers of free status continued. Slaves were usually not put at the oars, except in times of pressing manpower demands or extreme emergency.

So there we go. That said, it makes for decent drama. Though I also notice the rowers aren’t very well synced.

Now Nero has swanned onto the scene and pretty instantly steals the spotlight with some rather over-the-top comedy, and he’ll continue to steal it for the next two episodes!

And we end today with a very American-sounding guard and some stock footage of animals!

Next time: “Conspiracy”

Episode 054 – “The Slave Traders”

Here we are, at the start of the story known as “The Romans”. And I promise, absolutely promise, that I won’t make any Life of Brian jokes. Well, not many, anyhow. Certainly not one in each caption.

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So you are a Woman?

Our heroes have arrived here and gotten their hands on a villa. They’re basically relaxing and having a good time, as one might in Rome. The Doctor is watering plants, Ian is feasting upon grapes, and Babs and Vicki are exploring the local village. We also learn they’ve been in the area for almost a month now. That’s one thing I kind of miss about these older stories; they weren’t afraid of the stories taking many months to unfold.

As the ladies walk, we see a man sharpening his gladius. Ah, but, I say to myself, it’s my understanding that those weren’t generally sharpened on the sides! Only the pointy bit was sharp. Silly BBC. Or silly me if I’m completely wrong, which is entirely possible.

So an old man gets killed for his loot. Or is it a lyre? Hard to be sure. Yes, that’s a terrible joke, but this is a comedy story, so I’m allowed.

Vicki makes the point that it’s actually pretty boring living in this villa, which as someone used to having access to all that the 21st century offers is something that I can understand.

I do believe this is the first “Chesterfield” incident, and Ian quoting Shakespeare is amusing.

So Ian and Barbara have been captured to be sold as slaves. Awkward. Also, a bad guy gets an actual “dum, dum, DUM!” on the soundtrack. Fantastic.

Next episode: “All Roads Lead to Rome”

Episode 053 – “Desperate Measures”, and My Thoughts on Story 011

So here we are, the end of this rather short, two episode story. It’s been interesting so far! But what do we have in store next?

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Ah.

So Ian is about to go over the edge of a cliff and fall down into an area with some monster thingy. The scene is nicely staged, but a bit silly, and the whole death trap thing makes very little sense.

Babs seems a bit trigger-happy here. You give the woman a gun and the first thing she does is use it to shoot some strange alien thing.

Following that, we get an interesting little character scene where Vicki is understandably freaked-out, and the Doctor has to calm her down. He does an excellent job, with some truly great acting by Hartnell.

There’s also another rather lovely scene where Ian and Barbara explain to Vicki what’s going on and where they come from. There’s also a great moment right after where the Doctor hears them talking and gets a nice, genuine smile.

Bennett was the one dressed as the alien running around doing things. He claims to have detonated something that killed the entire sentient race of the planet. So…everyone on the whole planet was gathered together for a big ceremony? What, was the species limited to about four? Because they clearly had a pretty big work force to build the structures we see. I imagine that an explosion big enough to kill all of them would have also destroyed the spaceship. As it turns out he didn’t kill all of them. At least two remain, but they appear to be both male, so…good luck with that?

After all the dust settles, Vicki becomes the first person the Doctor actually invites to join the TARDIS crew. It’s a nice touch, and a good moment for the Doctor’s character development

And on that note, we’re off on the road to Rome!

Now about the story as a whole. This is a pretty good little story. It’s nice and compact, and features some wonderful character moments. It is dragged down a bit by the alien costume, which just looks silly, but otherwise, quite a decent little tale! And, man, talk about your cliffhanger endings!

Cast
Others
Production
Writer David Whitaker
Director Christopher Barry
Script editor Dennis Spooner
Producer Verity Lambert
Mervyn Pinfield(associate producer)
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Tristram Cary[a]
Production code L
Series Season 2
Length 2 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 2 January 1965
Date ended 9 January 1965

Next episode: “The Slave Traders”

Next story: “The Romans”

Episode 052 – “The Powerful Enemy”

Susan is gone, long live Vicki (which is not short for Victoria)! For the first time since the TARDIS left Earth way back in episode one, our happy crew takes on a new passenger. Say hello to Vicki Lastname!

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Palister, according to later sources, though it’s never said on screen.

We begin with a shot of a crashed spaceship, and I must say that if nothing else, we can be grateful to Star Trek for changing the way we think a spaceship can look. At this point in sci-fi, it’s basically just a crashed Apollo rocket, which seems a bit unambitious. But on the other hand, if it didn’t look like that, how would people know it was a spaceship?

it seems Vicki is trapped on a strange planet with a man named Bennett and is awaiting the arrival of a rescue ship. Meantime, the TARDIS comes in for a landing; one that the Doctor sleeps through, which startles both Ian and Barbara.

There is a nice little scene that’s just slightly heartbreaking. The Doctor and friends are getting ready to leave the ship, and the Doctor reflexively asks for Susan to do something before stopping and staring into middle distance. The show never really spends too much time reminding us of her, but this little moment was nice.

The TARDIS has landed in a cave. Oddly, the doctor goes back inside for a nap while letting Ian and Babs go wandering off on their own. Seems more than a bit strange, but while Ian and Barbara comment on it, neither does anything.

We also see our enemy: a strange-looking alien creature, which really looks quite a bit like a man in a mask. Remember that.

Our alien pal soon menaces Ian and Barbara; the latter to the point where she tumbles off a cliff. He then somehow causes a cave-in. Well, then. After that he goes to annoy and frighten Vicki.

The less said about the strange creature the Doctor and Ian find in the cave, the better. So that’s all I’ll say about it.

Next time: “Desperate Measures”