Friday, 17 October 2014

019 Marco Polo Episode 6: Mighty Kublai Khan

EPISODE: Marco Polo Episode 6: Mighty Kublai Khan
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 28 March 1964
WRITER: John Lucarotti
DIRECTOR: Waris Hussein
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 8.4 million viewers
FORMAT: CD Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1964-1965)

" A day of hard riding. We left Cheng-Ting at dawn, and by dusk had covered forty miles. As this is a densely populated area of Cathay, accommodation is not hard to find, and we have stopped for the night at an inn. Our baggage, including the Doctor's caravan, is following on with a trade caravan."


Tegana forces the crew from the TARDIS by threatening Susan then attacks the Doctor. They all then ride ahead of the Tardis and the baggage to Cathay. Ian tells Marco Polo the truth about the TARDIS and their origins in an attempt to get the Tardis back but Marco doesn't believe him. Marco Polo deduces Ping Cho stole the key and she sneaks away. Ian volunteers to go back and find her while Marco Polo pushes on to the Khan. Ping Cho has returned Cheng-Ting but is conned out of her money by Kuiju. When Ian arrives they discover the TARDIS has been stolen. There is argument amongst the travellers about whether Ping Cho should be made to marry someone old enough to be her Grandfather so Marco Polo dispatches Tegana to find Ian & Ping Cho. They are pursuing the TARDIS along a disused road. The travellers arrive at Shang-Tu and meet the great Kublai Khan, who elects that they will travel to Peking. The Doctor befriends the Khan on the mutual grounds of their advanced years. Ian & Ping Cho find the TARDIS with Kuiju, who robbed Ping Cho, and discover that he was paid by Tegana who then arrives and squares up to Ian.


Not a bad episode this one. More arguing about the Tardis to start with but then things move on. We've spent five and a bit episodes building up to meeting the Kahn, expecting a mighty warrior, so when it turns out he's a wizened old man and in his own words from episode 7 "the statistician and the administrator" it's a big surprise and a bit of a joke on the viewer. The Doctor and the Kahn immediately strike up a friendship based on their advanced years and the aches & pains that that brings. It's at this point that Hartnell starts to shine as he injects an element of comedy into the performance with the Doctor overstating his ailments. Having watched all of Hartnell's existing episodes it's these little bits of comedy that really seem to bring out the best in the lead actor.

Kublai Kahn is the second historical figure to appear in the show, after Marco Polo himself. The grandson of Genghis he was born on September 23, 1215. So by the time of this story, 1289, he'd have been 73/4. He died on February 18, 1294 aged 74. The following year Marco Polo returned to Venice.

Playing Marco Polo is Mark Eden. Although he never appeared in the series proper again he featured in "An Adventure in Space & Time", the drama on the early days of the series, where he played Donald Baverstock. Tegana is played by Derren Nesbitt who, like Eden, was a very familiar face to television viewers in the 1960s. They're joined this episode by Czech born actor Martin Miller, one of the rarer breed of Doctor Who actors born in the 19th century. Incredibly Doctor Who isn't the only time they acted together: all three feature in The Prisoner episode It's Your Funeral as respectively The New Number Two, Number One-Hundred and the Watchmaker.

Missing Episodes 6) Reconstructions

Of course if you have sound and pictures you can try to put them together. Several fan groups exist who have attempted this unofficially the most well known of which is Loose Cannon. The BBC have had a go themselves a few times: Tenth Planet 4 has been completely reconstructed for the Video release of that story and an abridged reconstruction of The Ice Warriors 2 & 3 is found on the VHS of that story. A complete reconstruction of all six episodes of The Power of the Daleks is found on a CD Rom while an 30 minute abridged version of Marco Polo is found on the Doctor Who: The Beginning DVD Boxset

The Invasion has had to take an alternative route. Episodes 1 & 4 of this eight part story no longer exist and no telesnaps were taken for this story. When the story was released on DVD these episodes were animated to add visuals to the existing soundtracks. This has become the preferred route for dealing with missing episodes on DVD, also being used for The Reign of Terror, which also has no telesnaps existing for it's missing episodes, and then for The Ice Warriors, The Tenth Planet and The Moonbase, which do. Personally, and this isn't a widely shared view, I prefer the telesnap reconstructions as I feel they're a step closer to the original episodes than the animations are. So when the recovered episodes of Web of Fear were released with the still missing episodes 3 reconstructed I was quite pleased.

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