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1-The Roof of the World
Oh my goodness, look ! A time travel show! That goes into the past and uses a historical figure AND takes its time to build a world!
This is ...well, fantastic. It is how Doctor Who should be more often. The Loose Cannon reconstruction is almost like watching the show and Mark Eden does an opening telling us that of all the wiped stories, this one should not have been wiped and I agree. He also does, in character as Marco, a diary entry putting us into the story but don't worry, nothing is missing here: we get the opening credits and the full story, not the terrible 30 minute thing on the BEGINNING dvd set. AND almost all of this is in color, colored, I think, by hand! And there are photos of the whole story pretty much.
There are no monsters. Let's say...THERE ARE NO MONSTERS! Okay, granted they set up the idea that there is some kind of big footed monster or snowman (just wait a few years, okay) on the mountain but it is really just a Mongol in furs, thank goodness. The entire thing, given the circumstances, is beliveable because it takes its time and we get the reactions of everyone and including the funny Doctor. He's aggravated because, "Oh dear oh dear, we're always in trouble. It follows us whereever we go." TARDIS has broken down and again we hear it stated as THE Tardis, the standard of saying TARDIS uses the THE more often than not. Despite what others might say.
We also get a one story companion in Ping Cho played by the same woman who married or almost married Sarah Jane Smith in THE WEDDING OF SARAH JANE and oddly enough her character here, Ping Cho, is to be married to a 75 year old man and she is 16. Susan tells us she is 16. This could mean she's in her first regeneration or that she's only 16 in her current regeneration or that she's not even a TIme Lord or even a Gallefrean. Pick your choice. In hindsight THATS' all very interesting. But not needed to enjoy the whole story.
Tegana (no, not the air hostess person) is the villain but even he has reasons and depth and is played well. Not as just a villain. Oh and the sets, acting, and costumes are...rather grand and special. Here, Doctor Who takes its time as it travels from place to place, outside of the TARDIS, which is being dragged along with it from the top of the roof of the world to a place called Lop. In fact, I would have to check but I think this story spans many weeks, even a few months in total. THEY WOULD NEVER DO THAT TODAY!!! Imagine a story that spans the entire trip of LEWIS AND CLARK or the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
I must admit, that at times, later on, I long for a historical, a pure one, not the promise of one like in BLACK ORCHID which in hindsight is NOT a historical. One which has no monsters (HORROR OF FANG ROCK, TALONS OF WENG CHIANG and eh, IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL, even though that last one is supposed to take place in the present of that time in the 1977 era I think it is more like a past setting, and while all three are good, great even, they are not really pure historicals) and no sci fi other than time travel. Of course, DW did thse well at first as shown by this but later on....and THE TIME TUNNEL had the reverse problem: showing only stories that were historicals and whenever, later on, they did alien stories, they were hopelessly poor.
Still, if you look at ABOUT TIME 1, the way this story is presented as history...may be off. This may not even be MARCO POLO but someone impersonating him for his own reasons. I forgot the logic behind that idea but it makes sense in the book ABOUT TIME 1 so read it, it's very interesting. Even if you buy that idea, this ep and this entire story is just great. The atmosphere, the characters, the travelogue. and the visuals are all 10/10 or 5/5 or more!
Enjoy this because DW will never be like this again, an adventure in the past a true adventure in time. Everyone likes to say that DW can go anywhere and do anything and be anything but in the near future of this story it will discard a lot of that idea and all of the past history of Earth to go into space and the future more than ever with mixed results, dealing with Rills and blowing up planets etc and while all of that has its place in DW, discarding the pure historicals was, I feel needed to keep viewers (MAYBE but maybe that's a fallacy or rumor of fandom) but was, a mistake quality wise. It broke up the future/space stories if the Doc could encounter Richard the Lion Hearted (loin hearted?) and/or Cossacks (which he never does), Vikings (he was to, in an unmade script, encounter, I believe Eric the Red), and more. There were plenty of planned stories to this effect but most never made it to even script stage.
What more can I say? Nothing. IMARCO POLO is great.