Friday, 25 September 2009

Doctor Who: The Myth Makers 3, Death of a Spy

Apologies if this post sounds even grumpier and snarkier in tone than usual - I have had very little sleep lately and have less than a week to finish the thesis, but I wanted to get something up before the weekend! There may be a slight delay before the next update...

This is the third episode of the lost William Hartnell adventure 'The Myth Makers': I've already covered episodes 1 and 2. A lot of the story follows the Chaucerian/Shakespearian story of Troilus and Cressida, which is very confusing for me, as I'm most familiar with the Homeric and, to a lesser extent, Virgilian versions!

Paris saves Stephen and Vicki from immediate death (yelling at Cassandra for ‘religious mania’ in the process) but Priam demands that Vicki either tell him how to win the war or find a magical way to win it for him. Vicki hints that the Greeks might win, but is largely ignored.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is busy making paper aeroplanes and telling Odysseus how to build a cannon, in a desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable and come up with some way for the Greeks to win other than the Trojan Horse.

Vicki is not impressed at Stephen’s attempt to rescue her and insists that she can take care of herself (you can tell her days as a 60s Doctor Who companion are limited). Stephen is also most unsympathetic to Vicki’s crush on Troilus, somewhat heartlessly pointing out his city is about to burn. At this point, Odysseus’ logically but pointlessly named one-eyed servant Cyclops turns up to laugh at them, but he disappears again in time for Troilus and Vicki to flirt.

The Doctor is running out of time and still trying to avoid either recommending the Trojan Horse or risking trying out a flying machine himself. He finally bows to the inevitable and gives Odysseus the Horse idea. Troilus and Vicki are still flirting, bonding over a shared fondness for ‘adventure’ (presumably meaning ‘unnecessarily getting into ridiculously dangerous situations’).

The plan of the Trojan Horse is the familiar longish thinnish model – but I don’t know whether it’s from Doctor Who or from something else. The Doctor seems to be suggesting that the Trojans will see the horse as a god – perhaps referring to various theories about Indo-European horses. (Edited to add: see the comment below re: the model).

Troilus promises to try to persuade the others to let Vicki and Stephen out, having been reassured that Stephen is not Vicki’s ‘special’ friend. Stephen is distinctly unimpressed, until she gives him some food.

Cyclops gets shot just outside the walls, while the Doctor and Odysseus admire the (very quickly built) Trojan Horse (except the fetlocks, which the Doctor is not so happy with).

Stephen tries unsuccessfully to escape – which I’m sure was quite exciting when there was action to see, and not just slightly suspicious sounding grunting. The Doctor and Odysseus make small talk, during which Odysseus mentions orgies – because, in popular culture, all ancient civilizations spend their whole time having orgies.

Troilus wakes Vicki to tell her that the Greeks have gone and the war is over, and that she can come out, as Priam thinks it’s all her doing (Stephen is still stuck in jail though). Vicki obviously doesn’t remember the myth very well, since she doesn’t seem to have twigged to what’s going on, and poor Cassandra is still insisting that it’s not true to no avail. Vicki finally cottons on as the horse appears over the horizon, and Paris says he has given instructions to have it brought into the city.

This was probably the first episode where I really started to wish this serial had survived. I have to confess, it hasn’t exactly grabbed me, but I suspect that the sequences involving the horse looked rather exciting. I think Hartnell’s Doctor may be part of the problem – I haven’t seen many episodes of his, but I think he needs strong characters like Ian and Barbara to support him – alone, he just seems a bit doddery and unable to make up his mind. I did find his desperate attempts to avoid resorting to the Trojan Horse idea very funny though (after all, you know how I feel about the Trojan Horse). I alternate between feeling sorry for Cassandra and wanting large pieces of masonry to fall on her because her constant screeching and her jealous attempts to have Vicki killed are driving me round the bend. I think that’s a shame, as poor Cassandra is one of the most completely tragic and victimised characters in ancient myth, whereas here she’s a shrieking harridan. The full details of the Cassandra myth couldn’t be shown to children at tea time though, so maybe that’s for the best.


The more usual view of Cassandra, finally being done in by Clytemnestra

2 comments:

  1. Two points of info:

    1 Ian Ogilvy's image is used for Troilus in the reconstruction, but he did not play Troilus in the original episode. That was played by James Lynn. I presume the reconstruction team could not find any suitable shots of Lynn, and, since they were using I Claudius anyway for shots of Frances White/Cassandra, picked a heroic figure from there.

    2 The Wooden Horse used is the model constructed for Doctor Who. There is one shot from the episode that shows it, but also, as detailed here, the reconstruction team got permission to film the original model, which still exists. So all the shots of the model moving are original material, and I suspect the shot of the plan is original as well (I should revisit my copy of this).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, I did wonder about the model! I liked the shots they managed to get of it.

    ReplyDelete

Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...