Marco Polo

The first of the missing serials, which exist solely as a reconstructions. The ones I watched were made by the Loose Cannon team. It’s a shame the footage was lost, as my general impression from the photos is that it was one of the more extravagant serials in terms of sets and costumes, etc. Colour photos exist (and others have been digitally coloured) to produce this particular reconstruction, although strictly speaking, I should have watched it in black and white for authenticity. I was surprised by how photos there were, basically taken from the actual scenes (I believe these were called ‘telesnaps’). You do get a bit sick of seeing them reused again and again but it’s enough to show what’s happening, and captions at the bottom fill in the gaps. It’s done well, all things considered!

The Doctor meets Marco Polo, who won't give back his Tardis.

The Doctor meets Marco Polo, who won’t give back his Tardis.

Onto the story itself. Again, the plot is pretty slow-going. I reckon some clever editor type could easily squash these multi-part eps into one single 45 minute episode without losing the crux of the story. Release them as a compilation, Classic Doctor Who’s Best Bits or something. It’s way too long and torturous as it stands. I can’t imagine what it was like waiting a week for each new part of the story!

They think it's some sort of 'caravan', and Marco Polo wants to present it as a gift.

They think it’s some sort of ‘caravan’, and Marco Polo wants to present it as a gift.

Hartnell plays a different sort of character from what I’m used to. He’s just a grumpy old man, and often isn’t even the main character in the story, or even a particularly nice person. The ‘companions’ do a lot of the heroics. I’m not used to this, but it makes an interesting change. I also like how he stumbles his lines so often. Nowadays they’d just do another take, but not here – they just go with it.

This sneaky man is untrustworthy, it turns out.

This sneaky man is untrustworthy, it turns out.

I wasn’t a big fan of the story. There’s no sci-fi element to it that I like. I’m used to modern Who where they arrive somewhere in history and conveniently stop an alien invasion or something, so it takes some getting used to just watching what is basically a historical drama that happens to feature some people from the future. It drags on, simply because the Doctor isn’t allowed his Tardis back. I suspect this will become something of a theme.

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