Season 2 – Episode 4 – (1965)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Verity Lambert, the producer of the time, had a thought. Doctor Who had become a success – season 2 had been granted more budget. You can see the series flirts with more interesting effects and more elaborate ideas – you see – the series was a success and people loved it. You have the formula that turns out to be good and as a producer, what’s your thought? Isolate the formula! So begins the series’s first experiment in tone. From now on the series is going to be pitched as more of a comedy. It’s not a detriment really it’s just a notable change that sometimes raises its head. I consider this the mark of good writing, in that it’s clearly not the case that someone is saying “how can we make this funny?” I’d say rather, sometimes, comedy happens – sometimes the feel is different… Anyway!
Yes the TARDIS landed on a cliff and fell off – and now we’re in ancient Rome. Skip ahead a few weeks (the series does) and we see our group living in the lap of luxury. The Doctor wants to leave to visit Rome and Vicki wants to join so they head out leaving Ian and Barbara… to be captured…. Sigh well actually this turns into a comedy of errors somewhat. The Doctor finds a a murdered musician and is mistaken for the man – adopting his legendary lyre skills.
What follows is an adventure of selling Barbara to slave traders, Ian is sent to the wars and escapes (naturally). While Vicki and the doctor pose in the court of the emperor of Rome, one chap called Nero. Of course the doctor convinces everyone he is the fabled musician by claiming he will play a piece so delicate that only the most atuned can hear it – read – the Emperors New Clothes…
Everything is also a little cheeky and some of the story plays like a carry-on movie. Should we be surprised? After all Bill Hartnell played the Sergeant in Carry On Sergeant… Well Barbara is sold around Rome and Ian escapes to Rome and everyone misses everyone else until finally the final conflict with the Doctor standing up to Nero and setting fire to a map accidentally with a magnifying glass. This inspires Nero to set light to Rome and we all understand how it happened!
Actually this story is pretty good and is the first post Susan story that I would say is a diving in point. It’s not too long, remembering that I said that four episodes tended to be best at this stage and it delivers a nice show.
Well this is a good story – a bit of a change of pace but if you like a farce – this story is for you
- The Doctor: Alright? Of course I’m alright, my child. You know, I am so constantly outwitting the opposition, I tend to forget the delights and satisfaction of the gentle art of fisticuffs.
Next time: Oh this is the one… the biggy – the one that everyone winces and cowers at. Its the one with people dressed as such unbelievable aliens. Ant based creatures with boots… Oh you’ll enjoy this one!