Marco Polo

This is the fourth ever Doctor Who story, broadcast in 1964, and the earliest one to be lost conpletely from the archives. It was also the first purely historical Doctor Who story, telling simply of an encounter between the time travellers and Marco Polo (and eventually Kublai Khan) in the late thirteenth century.

I bought the soundtrack with linking narration from William Russell, who played Ian Chesterton in the original series. It’s generally pretty good though the fifth episode sound quality is rather lousy. I was also misled by one of the hidden extras – the first of the three CDs includes also all seven episodes as MP3s without narration, and since this is nowhere stated I ended up loading them by mistake.

Took me a while – first started this the week before last, and took a break from it while I was travelling. But it is in fact very good. Seven episodes is about right for a leisurely plot, with Susan bonding with the maiden Ping-Cho, and the others dealing with the treacherous warlord Tegana and with Marco Polo himself, who decides to seize the Tardis and offer it to the Khan as his ticket home to Venice. (Or, as Croatian lore would have it, Korcula.)

It builds to a satisfying conclusion with the Doctor playing the Great Khan at backgammon, with the Tardis as the stake. Marco Polo himself, weighing in the balance his honour, his liking and respect for Ian and the others, and his desire to get home, is an interesting character study.

A shame, but I guess understandable, that they stopped making stories like this one after a while.

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1 Response to Marco Polo

  1. niamh_sage says:

    Okay, I feel like a massive and naive dork for asking this, but the article doesn’t answer the question: what are they doing with this data? I mean, I know they’re selling it, but what are the people who buy it using for? Targeting advertising? Or are there more sinister purposes? I get that we’re supposed to be worrying about this, but I want to know to what extent I should be getting hysterical about locking my stuff down.

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