Monday, 25 March 2013

The Myth Makers

I have thoroughly entered the ‘missing years’ now it seems. A story with no episodes in existence, I did find an excellent reconstruction of this story on the Tube of You. Here we find the Doctor, Vicki and Stephen, back from their one week absence, arriving near Troy during the time of the Greek mission to take the city from the Trojans.  The ancient story of Odysseus and Agamemnon is somewhat brought to black and white life here in a good little four episode story.
The problem is, for the viewer watching in order, I imagine, is that they were expecting more Daleks! But no, we have to wait and extra four weeks (well back in the 60s we would have) to find out what happens after the events of ‘Mission to the Unknown’. A daring move perhaps by the production team.
‘The Myth Makers’, as its own entity though, is a rather good story. It’s filled with both violence and action, balanced with a fair bit of humour too. William Hartnell has a particularly good time of it. The first episode, ‘The Temple of Secrets’, features some sword play, the Doctor being mistaken for Zeus, and poor Vicki not even leaving the TARDIS. It’s not a fast moving story at first, but features witty dialogue and even the odd pun. We only see the desert and the camp of the Greeks in this episode, so locations are well presented on the design team’s behalf, but limited.

The second episode is hilariously entitled ‘Small Prophet, Quick Return’. Vicki finds herself inside Troy – Paris (excellent played by   ) has taken the TARDIS to Troy as a trophy. There she exits, smartly dressed in an appropriate robe. She clashes with Cassandra, a priestess, who thinks she is a bad omen. However, the others of Troy, defend her. They rename her Cressida. Vicki’s story is interesting, slowly falling in love with Troilus.
Fans of the bard will of course know of the play ‘Troilus and Cressida’, it seems Doctor Who has rewritten the truth or otherwise of that story. It’s a nice exit for Vicki, but in the final episode ‘The Horse of Destruction’, a lot goes unsaid. Vicki falls in love with Troilus, a Trojan, perhaps rather quickly and at the end the Doctor seems somewhat happy enough to leave her in ancient Troy which is a little odd and rushed. The Katarina helps Steven to the TARDIS and goes off with him, although she only features in the fourth episode, ‘Horse of Destruction’.

The Doctor has promised to come up with a way for the Greeks to take Troy. Naturally in the end he comes up with the idea of a giant empty wooden horse! Donald Cotton’s first Doctor Who script is very clever and uses a historical setting very effectively to tell and entertaining story.

The guest cast is fantastic, with Barrie Ingham as the clueless Paris. Jack Melford as Menelaus also gives a good performance of a weak and ineffective leader, whilst Frances White is excellent casting as Cassandra. It is Frances de Wolff as Agamemnon and Ivor Salter as Odysseus who steal the show with fantastic ‘larger-than-life’ performances of these amazing characters. Despite the humour and action of the piece, it is essentially a story where the acting stands out, with not a foot being put wrong casting-wise by director Michael Leeston-Smith.
I enjoyed this story quite a bit, considering it was purely a reconstruction.


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