Wrapup – Marco Polo

Well, we’ve come to the end of our first reconstructed story, which, thanks to an apparent error on the part of the dubber, led to a bit of the bending of the rules here at the TARDIS project. Yes, we have officially missed an episode, but I assure you that, if I get my hands on a copy of the recon for “Mighty Kublai Khan,” we will watch it, write up a special post and I’ll link back to here. I’m hopeful that this will happen before the end of the Project!

“Marco Polo” (aka–incorrectly–“A Journey to Cathay”) was the first full-fledged Historical in the series. As such, it served as a testing ground for a good deal of the “educational” portion of the show’s remit. But it was much more than that; the story is huge and sweeping, covering a longer (continuous) period of time than just about any other story in the show’s history, a period of weeks, if not a month or two. Every episode is jam-packed with events, conversations, intrigue and (quite often) real excitement as well as educational mini-lessons in history and basic science. A careful reader might have gotten the idea by now that I pretty much loved this story. True, we were watching a reconstruction so, no matter how good the recon was (and it was pretty darn good, more about that below), we probably only felt about half to two thirds of the effect the original story might have had, but I think the entire crew enjoyed themselves thoroughly. John Lucarotti’s writing is fantastic, every one of the actors, from the regulars to the main guest cast all the way down to the bandits Tegana hires, give it their all, the sets and costumes are lavish and just beautiful.

Which is as good a place as any to segue to mentioning the Loose Canon reconstruction, which was great. As I think I might have mentioned, LC made this recon before the telesnaps for six of the episodes resurfaced (thanks, actually, to a member of the LC team), and they made the decision to take the existing colour photos as well as hand-colouring b&w photos, composites, etc. to make a full colour reconstruction, taking advantage of the beautiful sets and costumes (which have been the stuff of Doctor Who legend). The “Making of Marco Polo” feature on the LC site is interesting in and of itself and I’d recommend taking a look, especially for my fellow Project members! And for everyone else, I’d highly recommend ordering the recon for yourself. It’s a lot of fun, Doctor Who you’ve never seen and will only costs two videotapes and postage there and back. We had a lot of fun watching and I think you will too.

If you’re interested in the production of the story itself (as opposed to the recon) and want to continue to follow the story of the production of the series, here’s the “Brief History of Time (Travel)” page. And the official BBC guide to the episode is here. Enjoy!

Finally, to make things easier if you want to read all our episode posts one after another, here are the links!
“The Roof of the World”
“The Singing Sands”
“Five Hundred Eyes”
“The Wall of Lies”
“Rider From Shang-Tu”
“Mighty Kublai Khan” Not So Mighty (Included for the episode summary)
“Assassin at Peking”

And there we have it! Next, we return to a more science fictiony vein, to black and white and to moving images! Yes, it’s “The Keys of Marinus” time, starting this weekend! Until then, I remain


One Response to Wrapup – Marco Polo

  1. Avatar Alzarian
    Alzarian says:

    I’ve gushed for seven episodes straight… but why not gush some more. ‘Marco Polo’ is extremely well-regarded, and based on what survives from this story, it is easy to see why. It is also wonderful to discover that the common wisdom is accurate in this instance, at least in my opinion.

    Doctor Who shows that you can thrust the core characters into a true historical, with no sci-fi trappings, and get an adventure that is gripping.

    The use of a historical period allows the BBC to really invest in the look of the piece, from the costumes to the sets. It is also noteworthy that the time of Marco Polo is every bit as ‘alien’ as the planet Skaro.

    One of the best… if only it survived intact as moving images.