Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Myth Makers

Tell me, Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered far and wide after he had sacked Troy’s sacred city, and saw the towns of many men and knew their minds.
- Homer


Him:  “Temple of Doom”.

Me:  That’s The Aztecs.

Him:  You called it ‘Temple of Doom’.

Me:  I don’t think I did.  Shall we?

Him:  Yeah.

Shine like thunder/Rom pom pom/Cry like rain...
We do.

Him:  So, they don’t have any of this?

Me:  No.

There’s a fight going on between two annoyed chaps – Hector and Achilles.  Unnoticed, the TARDIS materializes behind them.

Him:  The writing baffles me.

Me:  It’s jumped straight in.  Oo – ‘Donald Cotton’.

Parp parp parp goes Humphrey Searle’s musical underlining of the fight.  It’s certainly entertaining.

Me:  It’s already better than Troy.

The Doctor, Vicki and Steven are watching the scrap on the TARDIS telly.  The Doctor isn’t sure where they are, but reckons he spies the handiwork of a Grecian tailor.  To Vicki’s surprise, the Doctor decides to go and ask the combatants for information.

The Doctor:  If you take notice of them, I think they’re doing more talking than they are fighting.

Me:  Ha!

Vicki’s ankle is still sore, so she stays.  Steven is left to guard her.  Hector and Achilles continue shouting at each other.  There’s a sudden rumble of thunder.  Zeus is called upon to intervene.  There’s another rumble of thunder as the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS.  This distracts Hector and Achilles, rather opportunistically, runs him through.

Me:  More blood on the Doctor’s hands.

The Doctor bellows his disappointment.  Achilles reveals himself to the Doctor (who he thinks is Zeus).

Me:  Is that not…?

It isn’t.  The recon has been pieced together with available shots, not all of them from this serial.  Ignore it, we’ll move on.  There’s banter up ahead.

Achilles:  If you had appeared to me in your true form, I would have been truly blinded by your radiance.  It is well known that when you come amongst us, you adopt many different forms.  To Europa you appeared as a wolf, to Leda as a swan, to me, in the guise of an old beggar.

Me:  Ha!  Lovely.

The Doctor decides to masquerade as Zeus.  Achilles takes the Doctor off to meet Agamemnon and have a chat about the last decade the Greeks have spent camped outside Troy.  Steven and Vicki watch this taking place, and suddenly there’s brief off-screen movement.  It doesn’t last long, and then we’re back to photos, starting with a handily-labelled postcard of Troy.  And then, we’re introduced to Odysseus. 

Him:  Haven’t I met him?

Me:  Well – that’s a picture of a Roman.

Him:  So Verity Lambert’s gone now?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Poor William Hartnell.

Me:  He had a tough third series.

Now that I‘m rewatching this through for the second time, to bash these notes into shape, I can safely say that this story is amazing.  It plays around with narrative in a clever and totally unfair way that almost demands a repeat viewing – which of course, it would never have had.  I think it’s a masterpiece.  But that’s just me.

Odysseus and Achilles indulge in non-playful banter.  Achilles introduces the Doctor as Zeus.  This amuses Odysseus so much he starts off on a four-week long laughing fit.  The Doctor is escorted/abducted to the nearby Greek camp.

Me:  Odysseus seems very cheerful.

Steven and Vicki are moving again, if only briefly.  Steven follows the Doctor.  Agamemnon is feasting with Menalaus.  Oddly, it turns out that Helen isn’t as missed as the siege would leave you to think.  It’s actually a thinly-veiled political opportunity.

Me:  Lovely banter.  Nice performances too.

Achilles enters the tent and explains what he’s been up to and who he’s been meeting.  The Doctor arrives shortly afterwards, led by Odysseus.  He’s not happy.

Me:  “Not Zeus.  Yetaxa.”

Him:  So this is still inside Barbara’s dream?

Me:  Yeah.1

Him:  That doesn’t make much sense: she’s not there.

Me:  She could be dreaming without appearing in her own dream.

Steven approaches the camp and is watched by Cyclops – a spy for Odysseus.  Following sign-language, which doesn’t translate well in an audio copy, Steven is captured.  The Doctor and Steven are reunited and the Doctor plans a miraculous escape.  And then he’s told that his ‘temple’ is missing.


Him:  That’s a long name.

Me:  It’s a joke.

Him:  Is it?

The credits chitter by.

Him:  “John Wiles”.

Me:  I’m saying nothing.

1. It isn’t.


We recap.  Once again, it turns out that the TARDIS has been nicked.

Me:  Zarbi, I reckon.

The tracks lead off in the direction of Troy.  Agamemnon is beginning to be swayed by Odysseus’ “They’re spies!” line of reasoning.  The Doctor and Steven decide to tell Odysseus the truth.  Meanwhile, in Troy, trumpets are trumping and we meet Paris and King Priam.

Me:  Played by Noel Fielding.

Paris shows Priam the TARDIS.  His sister, Cassandra, enters.

Him:  Lady Cassandra?

Me:  She’s a different Cassandra.

Him:  “Moisturise me!”

Paris wants to put the TARDIS in the temple.  No-one else thinks it’s a great idea.  Paris blusters.

Me:  He’s brilliant.  It’s a modern take on it.

Cassandra has had a dream that the Greeks had left a gift that spewed forth soldiers at night bringing the siege of Troy to an unsatisfactory conclusion for the Trojans.  The TARDIS doors can’t be opened.  There’s a sudden burst of movement as Vicki watches the Trojans plan to burn the TARDIS as a sacrifice.

Him:  I wonder where the scanner is.

Moving stuff.
The Doctor and Steven have just finished telling Odysseus about the last couple of years and the brief burst of movement ends.  Odysseus is very angry – he’s even stopped laughing.  It’s quite frightening.  He releases them and there’s a sudden burst of moving William Hartnell.  Odysseus gives the Doctor two days to end the siege of Troy.  The TARDIS barbecue preparation is coming along nicely.  Vicki leaves the TARDIS at the moment Cassandra asks the gods to show them a sign.  Vicki says she’s from the future.  Paris and Cassandra make a superb double-act.

Me:  Lovely.

Vicki walks to Priam who asks her name.  ‘Vicki’ sounds a bit weird, so he rechristens her Cressida.

Me:  Ah!  Troilus and Cressida.  Mix me a myth.

Cassandra:  She will bring nothing but doom, death and disaster.

Me:  Worryingly, Cassandra’s a natural.  How much of the history of this do you know?

Him:  None.

Me:  None? I thought we’d gone over Greek myths?

Him:  No.

Me:  I’m sure we did.  Oh well.  It’s probably better if you don’t know too much about – well…  Vicki’s from the future – and so’re we.  Stuff isn’t going to happen because it’s already happened.

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Does that make sense?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  It’s like – when you watch a film with a twist in it for the first time, the twist’s a surprise.  If you watch the film again though, then it’s a slightly different story because you know what’s going to happen and you bring that knowledge with you.  It gives you an advantage over the characters.  Does that make sense?

Him:  Uh-huh.

Me:  Vicki’s in a lot of trouble. It’s almost a comedy now but it’s going to get darker – it has to – and there’s no way anyone can really stop it.  Fixed points and all that.

Him:  Yup.

The Doctor and Steven are discussing their knotty problem.  The Doctor reveals he’s avoiding the idea of the wooden horse as it’s obviously a load of fictional nonsense.

Me:  God, that’s clever.

A messenger suddenly arrives.  He looks awful familiar.

Him:  It’s Rowan Atkinson! 

The messenger reveals that Paris has offered to scrap with a Greek.  Steven offers to become a prisoner of the Trojans and try and find where Vicki is and remove her from Troy before it gets raided.  As he leaves, the Doctor continues to offer suggestions.  A flying machine, perhaps?  Later, Paris confronts Steven – who introduces himself as Diomede.

Me:  Oh no.

Once again, there’s a lot of talking.  It’s magnificent.

Me:  He’s brilliant!  Paris is in a different show altogether.

Him:  It’s a comedy, remember?

Me:  Whatever programme Paris is in certainly is.  Something by Wodehouse, maybe?

The fight finishes.

Steven:  I yield

Paris:  Beg y’pardon?

Steven surrenders and I rewind this bit because it’s amazing.

Me:  Listen to this!

Paris:  Come, Dog!

Steven points the way.

Paris:  Oh, yes.

Already in Troy, Vicki eats peaches with King Priam.  Talk turns to horses, which the Trojans worship and Vicki becomes subdued.

Me:  See what I mean?

Him:  Uh huh.

Vicki and Troilus are introduced to each other.  Paris and Steven enter - Cassandra lurks in the background.  The plans are all coming together when…

Vicki:  Steven!
Steven:  Vicki!

Me:  Oh no – oh no!

Cassandra:  What more proof do you need that’s she a spy?  Guards!  Kill her!  Kill both of them!


Me:  Wow.

Him:  So – Katarina’s from the past then?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Is she from this story, or is she from The Daleks’ Master Plan?

Me:  This one.

Him:  Oh.

Me:  Am I more into this one than you are?

Him:  Very much so.  I can’t even hear what they’re saying.

Me:  “ChiswICK!  Fresh horSES!”

Him:  “WIBBSEY!”

Me:  This is really good.  I had no idea it was this good.

Him:  Did you not?

Me:  No.


We recap.  Paris interferes and Cassandra kicks off.  There’s a discussion about Paris’ new prisoner, Diomede.

Him:  ‘Dyoni’?  Wasn’t that the name of the tree lady?

Me:  I’m impressed.

Steven continues bluffing.  Vicki offers to explain, but the two of our heroes are in a very tricky position.  They are taken away to the dungeons.  Elsewhere, the Doctor and Odysseus are in conflab.  The Doctor suggests an aeroplane.  Odysseus points out that his son makes parchment darts.  The Doctor attempts to persuade Odysseus to build catapaults.  Odysseus suggests this sounds more like a vulgar oath.  The Doctor asks Odysseus what happens when strips of ox-hide are dried.

Odysseus:  It begins to smell.

Me:  Ha!  This script’s beautiful.

Vicki and Steven are chatting in the dungeons.

Him:  That’s an amazing picture of Vicki.

The whole scale of the problem they’ve landed in is beginning to dawn on them.  Stones are thrown at the window – it’s Cyclops.  Steven fills him in on what’s going on.  At this point Troilus enters with food – and also a minstrel, apparently.  Vicki offers Troilus some food, but he’s already eaten.

Him:  “Your friend was carrying a panda.  It was delicious.”

The Doctor and Odysseus have met a problem, namely that the catapault doesn’t work.  Desperate, the Doctor suggests a forty-foot horse…

Me:  Tampering.

Him:  “Where do we find a forty-foot horse?”

Me:  “And how do we build it without making any noise?”

Vicki and Troilus are affecting Steven’s appetite.  The minstrel’s still there.

Me:  Did you hear how old Vicki was?

Him:  She must be fifteen or sixteen.

Me:  Mystery solved.

Him:  Twelve.  She could be twelve.

Me:  She’s not twelve.

Him:  How do you know?

Me:  I read it.

Him:  Tch.

Vicki:  You shouldn’t be killing people at your age.

Him:  Shouldn’t really be killing people at any age.

The Doctor and Odysseus are showing horse plans to Menalaus.

Me:  Oh.

Menalaus:  But…  Horses don’t grow as big as that.

We laugh.

Him:  Is this where all the comedy from The Space Museum went?

The Him spots canny labelling.

Him:  ‘Plan B.  Trojan Horse.’

Odysseus is pleased with the plan, and decides that the Doctor’s going with them as well.  Vicki and Troilus have finished their musical repast – we’re both rapt at this point - Steven admonishes Vicki.  Outside, the message Steven has given Cyclops is slightly scuppered by an arrow.  The Doctor and Odysseus, having wasted no time at all, are admiring the horse.

Me:  Oh!  Footage!

Lord alone knows where it’s from.  There’s a pan around the horse.

Me:  Wow…

Steven and Vicki are still stuck and time’s ticking away.  In the horse, the Doctor spots something – they seem to be moving.

Me:  They’ve built it very fast.

Him:  They built it really fast in real-life.

Me:  How much of the story did you say you knew already?

Him:  I did the Greeks in primary.

Me:  Fair enough.  So Achilles and Odysseus and Priam and that are already familiar?

Vicki is woken by Troilus who’s delighted. The Greeks have gone and the war’s over.  Priam believes it’s all down to ‘Cressida’.  Cassandra’s furious.

Me:  Oh dear.  This isn’t good.

In the horse, everyone’s being quiet.

Him:  Here comes the horse/The horse/The horse

More movement as the horse is pulled on toward Troy.  Vicki is taken to see Priam.

Me:  Oh, God.  This is going to end in tears.

Paris comes in.  He thinks he’s found the Great Horse of Asia.  They move to the balcony to see the horse in the distance.  Cassandra’s getting desperate and furious.  I’d imagine the bottom’s just dropped out of Vicki’s world.

Me:  Cassandra’s right.

Cassandra:  Woe to the House of Priam!  Woe to the Trojans! 

Paris:  I’m afraid you’re a bit late to say ‘whoah’ to the horse.  I’ve just given instructions to have it brought into the city.

Me:  That’s superb.



Me:  Before we finish this one off, there’re a couple of things I wanted to run by you, if that’s okay?

Him:  Uh-huh.

Me:  Right.  We had a conversation a while back where we were listing companion surnames and we decided that Vicki didn’t have one.

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Well, I looked her up on the Tardis Wikia and found out some interesting things.  I’m not convinced that any of this really counts, because I’m sticking with ‘if it’s not in the TV show then it didn’t happen’.  Which is going to make Shada tricky.  Anyway, have a look at this.

Him:  ‘Vicki Pallister’?


Him:  ‘Byzantium’?

Me:  It’s a book rather than the ship. And it doesn’t endure.

He reaches the bit about Jenny.

Him:  Ah – because there was a definite thing going with Jenny.  ‘Doctor Who and Tanni’?

Me:  I’m gad they didn’t stick with that as a name.  Steven was almost called ‘Bruck’.

Him:  But, that’s a rubbish name.

Me:  Hence, ‘almost’.

Him:  I like Steven.  I didn’t in The Chase.  Actually, I prefer Hi-Fi.  Are you sure that you’re spelling ‘Hi-Fi’ correctly?

Me:  It’s about the only thing I’m spelling right with any consistency.  I need to go back and proof-read the whole blog.  I found ‘Moffat’ with a double ‘t’ and some really dodgy grammar, but I’m tempted to wait until we finish Mr Bill and do it all in one go.

The Him sighs.

Him:  You’re only saying that because you can’t go back and do it now because you’re out of internet.

Me:  Yup.  That’s the problem with set-menu options versus ‘all you can eat’.

Him:  Ok.  Press play now.  Do we only have the fourth part left?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  And then we’re done with Vicki?

Me:  Yeah.  Adrienne Hill’s already shot her final scene and she hasn’t even been introduced yet.

Him:  So she knew that she wasn’t going to be staying?

Me:  The signs were pretty unambiguous.  After Katarina was written and cast, Wiles and Tosh realised that any story taking place later than BC would result either in: a) lots of explanations as to what was going on to the ‘primitive’ handmaiden, or b) her backing into a corner and going full-on screaming insane.  Neither options were likely to help the series.

Him:  Is that what happened?

Me:  No.  They wrote her out instead.

Him:  I thought Kembel was a country, which is why when it was mentioned in Mission to the Unknown, I thought it was hilarious.

Me:  Let’s go!

We go – starting with a recap.  Giant doors are open and a giant horse is pulled into Troy.

Me:  Wow!  That must be from something else.

The House of Priam are milling about a little.  And then we meet one of Cassandra’s handmaidens.

Me:  There she is.

The Him starts singing.

Him:  Kataaaarinaaaaa…

Me:  Is that to the tune of ‘Severina’ by any chance?

Him:  No.  It was to the tune of the song ‘Caterina’, because it’s a song called ‘Caterina’ that goes: Cataaaarenaaaaa…

Me:  Hmmmm.  Are you sure it’s not ‘Marina’ or ‘Aqua Marina’ or whatever it was called, from Stingray?

Him:  It’s ‘Caterina’!  It’s a song from, like, the fifties.

Me:  Ok.  I’ll believe you.

Him:  No, you don’t.

Me:  I do.

Him:  Well, if you did then you’d have put a link to it by now.

Me:  Not necessarily.  We’re getting a bit meta here.

Other than the crunching of biscuits, there’s no reply.   

Meanwhile, back in Troy, Steven and Vicki are getting a bit flustered, understandably.  In the horse the Doctor and Odysseus are bemoaning the lack of shock absorbers.

Me:  Arf!

Odysseus:  We wait, Doctor.

Paris is still clucking over his success.  Cassandra is cementing her precognitive reputation rather nicely.  Crowds swirl around the base of the horse.  Vicki and Steven observe.  There’s more horse footage from somewhere.

Steven:  That’s some horse.

Katarina is spotted by Vicki.  Vicki’s getting a bit touchy about Troilus.  Steven suggests warning him.  Paris and Priam are informed by Troilus that Steven’s missing.  Cassandra enters a new level of agitation.

Me:  The whole thing’s changing direction.  It’s very clever.  There’s a real sense of foreboding.

Vicki and Katarina are to remain together.  Again – the horse.

Me:  Where have they got that footage from?

Odysseus and the Doctor talk.  The ships are returning and the Doctor will be accompanying them as Odysseus will not let him leave.  The Doctor realises - far, far too late - that Odysseus' laughter has been masking someone truly dangerous.

Me:  A ‘naked lunch’ moment as the scales fall…

Vicki warns Troilus.  The Greek fleet returns.  Night in Troy.  The horse is opened and the soldiers emerge.  Achilles and Troilus fight – the music’s back to the parp parp parp of the first episode at this point.  Troilus wins - Achilles comes second and dead.  Troy’s gates are opened.  Odysseus is by now truly chilling.  The Doctor manages to escape.  Vicki and the Doctor are reunited.  Katarina joins the group.

Him:  Nearly done with Vicki…

Steven is wounded in a fight.

Him:  Is the one after The Daleks’ Master Plan, The Massacre?

Me:  It is.

Katarina leads Steven to the TARDIS.  The rout of Troy continues.  Priam and Paris are killed.  Cassandra meets Odysseus, prophesizes his later appearance in world literature and is dragged away.  The Doctor and Steven are reunited – Steven’s shoulder is in a bad way.  Our heroes dive into the TARDIS.  Odysseus arrives – preparing to claim the TARDIS as another spoil of war.  The Doctor jumps in and the TARDIS leaves, Odysseus shouting his fury at the suddenly empty air.

Odysseus:  Zeus?  I wonder.  Were you really Zeus after all?

Beyond the walls, Troilus watches Troy burn.  Vicki walks up to him from the darkness.

Me:  Any second now, the TARDIS translator function’ll cut out and then she’s in trouble.

Him:  She got her medical degree at age twelve, I think she can speak other languages.

Vicki gets a poignant farewell.

Him:  So now she’s Cressida?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Well, at least the Doctor came back to visit her when he was David Tennant.

In the TARDIS, Steven isn’t well at all.  Vicki’s gone, replaced by Katarina – who believes herself to be on a final spiritual journey through the afterlife, with the TARDIS being Limbo.  Cassandra had foretold this.

Katarina:  That I was to die.

Katarina has no fear of death, believing that she has already embarked on the final journey and that the Doctor is a god.  I’d never thought this before, but it’s possible she’s been driven insane.  Without the footage, it’s hard to tell how Adrienne Hill’s pitched her performance but with all that’s happened, and all that’s about to happen, it wouldn’t surprise me.  We’re entering dark days.  But before that – a wonderful moment of movement.

The Doctor:  And remember, Katarina, you must call me ‘Doctor’.  I am not a doc… I am not a god. Oh my dear Vicki, I hope you’ll be alright.


Me:  Wow.  Thoughts?

Him:  Vicki’s gone.  I liked Vicki.

Me:  Yeah, Maureen O’Brien was really good.  The tone of that story changes utterly in the last episode.  I found it quite shocking actually.

Him:  Yes, but I was paying more attention to Vicki leaving.  When the TARDIS took off, I didn’t hear Vicki saying she wanted to stay and I just thought that the Doctor had forgotten her.  Again.

Me:  He had to go though.  Odysseus was there and they couldn’t wait.

Him:  But he didn’t forget her.  She said at some point that she wanted to stay.

Me:  Maybe it was when Steven was being kebabed.

Him:  Maybe.  And Katarina’s not in it for long – how many episodes of The Daleks’ Master Plan until she dies her tragic airlock death?

Me:  The bit they showed on Blue Peter

Him:  Yes!

Me:  Do you want me to tell you, or would you rather it came as a surprise?

Him:  Well, it’s not going to come as that much of a surprise is it?  Episode two?

Me:  No.

Him:  Episode one?

Me:  No.

Him:  The Myth Makers episode four?

Me:  No.

Him:  An Unearthly Child?

Me:  Yup.

Him:  Really?

Me:  No.

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