We have only the audio for this story. To be perfectly honest, this affected my opinion of this story in a very positive way. I absolutely love being read to!
Aside from the ridiculous accents and bits of racism, I found myself very intrigued. I wanted to be part of the adventure. (Mind you I will never get to go on an adventure with the Doctor, due to a forced promise I made to a certain *ahem* someone.) I most enjoyed the friendship between Susan and Peng-Cho. There are not many individuals with whom I have had experiences that have facilitated such quick, easy, and yet lasting friendships as the one that they instantly formed. But they are some of my most treasured friendships and I can appreciate the one portrayed between the young women.
Ian took quite the leadership role in this story. Wielding a sword, gallivanting off to save Peng-Cho, being a man of his word. I’d be swooning if the women’s roles had not been quite so depressingly helpless. At least Barbara and Susan attempt in some ways to be independent.
- Story Grade: B
Wait, so there was a famous dude by this name?! I thought it was just a fun game to play in the pool! I kid, I kid. Like I said on Twitter, I find it very fitting (almost so much so that it becomes ironic) that this story is the first to be lost to the grips of time, Marco is tough to find in the pool and even tougher to find at the BBC.
Below is an excerpt from my notes taken while watching the episode (yes, Jael and I both take notes using our iPhones, it’s cute to the point of being sad):
Doctor – Crabby from the get go, more so than previous episodes… especially coming off of his “I need you” speech to Barbara.No one believes in creature even though there are prints and possible sightings (Barbara). YOU’RE ON WHAT COULD BE AN ALIEN PLANET, TRAVELING IN A SPACESHIP THROUGH TIME AND SPACE!! I guess that only seeing can lead to believe.I forget that the British had a strong presence in Asia, especially China, both in the past and at the current time (1960s), makes sense why one of the first semi-historical stories is set there.The TARDIS ‘breaks down’ and therefore the crew is forced go along this adventure. Very loose if you ask me.The half a minute of The Doctor laughing in episode one sounds hilarious, if only we could see this.“Difficult and bad-tempered.” -Marco Polo on The Doctor.Oh no! A sandstorm! Who would have thought that a plot-twist like this could happen?!The first two episodes are running quite long for such a small amount actually happening.It’s not often that The Doctor’s adventures last numerous days without interruption or travel in the TARDIS.Wait, is The Doctor even in this story? He has a very limited number of lines.Logic tells me that Ian and The Doctor are all growing beards, as they would not waste rationed water for shaving. Maybe it was a REAL 1960s hippie trip.Episode 3: …And no one suspects Tegana yet. WOW!And the mention of hashish just reinforces my “REAL 1960s hippie trip” name.The racist Chinese accents are cringe-worthy, thank god we can’t see the taped-back eyes.I’m glad the Susan is making a friend with Peng-Cho. She is a character you root for, probably because she has been locked up with her cranky (and at times mean) grandfather, for reasons unknown.The Doctor in a sword fight?! Why can’t this be on film?!Marco Polo just will not trust Ian, it is too hard for him to comprehend time travel, though he says he can believe all else.The Doctor loses at backgammon, and so he loses his chance to win back the TARDIS.This story is just too long! The number of plot-extensions is ridiculous.
- Story Grade: D+
- The terrible stereotypes that are made by the actors portraying the Mongols and any other Asian people is just sad. Couple this cringe-worthy performance with an incredibly LONG story and you have a dud.
It is hard to think of a list of thank yous, especially after such a racist and bad story. I guess I have to thank the viewers for sticking with the show, even through a bad story like this. Also, thank you, civil rights movements around the world. The advancement, though not complete, makes for checks and balances to be put in place to ensure that an episode like this would not be made in earnest. I think we are to the point where the only way this could be made would be by highlighting how horribly stereotypical the acting is and doing so to be tongue-in-cheek in order to highlight how un-PC it is.