Saturday, February 27, 2010

"The Zarbi"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, with many apologies for the lateness of this post. Since we'd decided to review this episode in our somewhat silly transcript format, I haven't actually started writing the summary until today. Again, apologies and thanks to our loyal readers! (With a special thanks to reader Richard! We love comments!)

A couple of notes before we get to the summary. We still haven't quite solved the technical "we only want to hide the summary" problem. Again, if anyone has any ideas, feel free to let us know. Also, a word about the "transcript;" things got pretty crazy for a bit, so poor typing Ketina had a hard time. Thus, things might be a bit more paraphrased than exact this time. But she did an admirable job of getting the gist!

Now, with all of that out of the way, on to the summary!

Friday, February 19, 2010

"The Web Planet"

Hello, the Historian here, back with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and Spoo for this very strange second season story. I'm also trying to get an idea of how the "create a jump" thing in Blogger works, to put the summary behind a cut, but I'm not having a lot of luck so far. It seems I can start a jump, but cannot come back from the idea of hiding only the summary might not work. If anyone has any idea of how I can achieve this goal, please feel free to leave a comment. Until then, we'll give this a try and get to the summary!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The Romans" wrapup

Hello everyone, the Historian here with, as promised, the wrapup post for this tonally different historical story. Over the past few weeks, I've thought of many things to say, so I'll have to martial my thoughts and work them into something coherent. (Let me apologize in advance, in case I fail in that last task.) As always, bear with me.

Let's get one thing out of the way: as "the Historian," I ought to dislike this story. It's ahistorical to an extreme, and (apparently) intentionally so, meaning to invoke the "myth" of Nero, rather than the reality. Still, I ought to excoriate the inaccuracies....but, as a Doctor Who fan, I love this story, from the humor of the Doctor and Vicki's plot to the pathos of Ian and Barbara's. This is one of those stories that has, at most, a few bare moments that don't work perfectly (such as Tavius' odd stare into the camera in episode four).

The guest cast is excellent; Derek Francis is a wonderfully over-the-top Emperor Nero with Kay Patrick as a cool and cruel Empress Poppaea. And then there's Tuskin Raider-to-be Peter Diamond as Delos and Barry Jackson, making his first of several appearances on the program, as the mute assassin Ascarius. There are others, who I might get to, but my point is there isn't a dud among them.

Moving on to the story, again, there's a lot to talk about. Famously, this was an experiment initiated by producer Verity Lambert, who wanted to see if injecting significant comedy (as opposed to the small moments of humor in previous stories) would work for the program. Opinion at the time was a bit divided (the BBC got quite a bit of negative feedback during the story's run), but in retrospect I think I can say with some surety that it did work. Of course, as many have pointed out, the comedy probably worked as well as it did because it was in direct contrast with the very serious plight that half the cast found themselves in. As Barbara observes in the second episode, being a slave in Imperial Rome could be a terrible fate. Although Barbara doesn't fall prey to the worst of it--thanks to Tavius noticing and responding to her compassion--Ian's story is certainly a bit harrowing--within the context of watching "BBC Costume Drama Rome," as I kept referring to it. From chained slave, to galley slave nearly killed in a storm, to gladiator forced to kill or be's not funny stuff. All of which, as I said, make the light moments and broad comedy--especially in the farcical third episode--that much more of a relief. It is the balance between these two, humor and pathos, that is the key to the success of "The Romans." Excellent writing by Dennis Spooner, wonderful direction by Who stalwart Christopher Barry.

And that brings to mind another point I was going to make, something that came up in conversation after the last episode that both Ketina (who was paraphrasing/summarizing something I said) and Spoo alluded to in the episode post. They both commented on how...cold blooded Vicki seemed to be, watching Rome burn. It was like she was watching something in a movie, I think Spoo said...and, well, he's right. A good deal of it goes back to the nature of the differing experiences of the two groups. Ian and Barbara, taken as slaves, get involved with people. They make friends, they make enemies, they become a part of things. For Ian and Barbara, the people of Rome are real. The Doctor and Vicki, on the other hand, remain aloof and apart. Above and beyond the "don't mess with history," this is necessitated by the Doctor's masquerade; both he and Vicki must keep their distance from Nero, et al, to make sure they are not found out. Because of this, Vicki doesn't make a real connection with the people of Rome, not even with Locusta who she looks at more as a curiosity than anything else. And so, to her, the burning of Rome is not a personal tragedy, it's an event, a historical event that she's excited about seeing. Her experiences were not...interactions (for want of a better word), they were adventures, which is what she said she wanted, back in episode one. Because she has no real connection, she can see things from a detached, amused, interested perspective that Ian and Barbara, who might actually know people who died (and who had an honest-to-goodness enemy in Sevcheria), wouldn't be able to share. As for the Doctor's reaction, well, there's a similar argument to be made, but we have to remember that the Doctor is different, he is other. So it can be difficult to judge his reactions at times.

I feel I should say something more about Vicki, as this is her first story as a full companion. As I mentioned in "The Rescue" wrapup, she makes a good contrast to Susan. Although Susan was highly intelligent, Vicki seems to have a quicker wit. She's also much more interested in adventure and fun, rather than "protecting" the Doctor and seems less fragile than her predecessor. At least so far; we'll have to see how things develop in the weeks ahead! Maureen O'Brien is quite good, though, and injects a real sense of fun into things. She works very well with the other regulars as well, fitting in almost seamlessly.

Right, this has been a long one, so let me cut myself short and provide the episode post links:

"The Slave Traders"
"All Roads Lead to Rome"

As always, if you want fascinating behind-the-scenes info, Shannon Sullivan's page is the place to go. And, for a more official take (including the Audience Approval info alluded to above), there's always the official episode guide.

Next, we'll be tackling probably the oddest story of the '60s, if not the oddest Doctor Who story ever! Until then, I remain


This post is dedicated to the memory of Derek Francis, who played Nero in this story, and who passed away last Sunday, 14 February 2010. Rest in Peace, Mr. Francis.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Hello, everyone, the Historian here. With me are Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm and, for the first time in about a year, the triumphant return of Mr. Spoo! (Well, it was nice for us to see him.) Before we get down to things, I wanted to talk about my question from last week, regarding the summaries. Thanks to those of you who commented. Ketina and I think we have a plan. Basically, starting next week (we didn't want to change things in the middle of a stories), we're going to try to figure out Blogger's jump-cut feature. From then on, behind the cut, I'll write the summary. And yes, it will be just as complete, and yes, I will use paragraph breaks. The main reason I hadn't before was that it would have made each entry a mile long; with the jump-cut feature (which I think I've figured out), that won't be an issue. It'll also be easier if you want to completely skip the summary. (Unfortunately for those of you reading this via an RSS/LJ feed, they don't recognize the jump-cut. So either you'll have a very long entry to wade through or you might want to consider reading here at the blog. If I can figure out a good way around that, I will.)

All that being said, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 6 February 1965. As Delos' sword is poised above Ian's neck, Nero shouts out, "Cut off his head!" Instead, after a tense moment, Delos leaps onto the dais and attacks Nero himself! The emperor hides behind Barbara, as Ian and Delos fight soldiers who have run in. Barbara tries to pull away to run to Ian, but Nero has close hold on her. Ian yells that he'll come back for her, and he and Delos escape. Nero calls his guards back and tells Sevcheria (who had been commanding them) to set a strong guard on the palace that night. That way, when Ian returns to Barbara, he'll catch them all! Back at the palace, Poppaea commands Tavius to get rid of her new slave (Barbara) immediately. If not, Poppaea will get rid of her. Tavius leaves, very worried, and meets Barbara outside. She tells him of Ian's coming rescue that night and he promises to help her as much as he can. She also asks him if he knows Maximum Pettulian and mentions Nero's plans to set the lions on the musician when he plays in the arena. Meanwhile Sevcheria posts guards around the palace to trap Ian. In the streets of Rome, Ian and Delos hide in plain sight. They have no real plan; Ian has decided to follow the Doctor's example and dive in, hoping to figure things out as he goes. Back in the palace, the Doctor, wearing his spectacles, is examining Nero's plans for Nova Roma. The Doctor explains to Vicki that Nero wishes to rebuild Rome...and realizes that they are in 64AD! Soon, Nero will burn Rome to the ground to rebuild it! Even Vicki (from the far future) has heard of the Great Fire of Rome. Just then, they hear a hissing. It is Tavius, once again working to surreptitiously get "Maximus'" attention. He tells the Doctor of Nero's plans for his...concert in the arena and suggests the Doctor leave before this would take place...but after going through with his plan to murder Nero! The Doctor is momentarily taken aback, but realizes that this is the conspiracy he had tried to uncover and understand before. Pettulian had contacted sympathizers at court, sending word he would kill Nero. But the centurion had got word of the plot and sent out an assassin. But when Maximus had shown up, his "friends" at court had taken heart. Now, Tavius says, is the time to put your plan into effect! He leaves, and the Doctor and Vicki try to take the whole thing in. The Doctor announces that they must leave Rome at nightfall. Just then, Nero arrives. The Doctor, not wanting the emperor to see, hides his spectacles behind his back, as Nero tries to surprise him with an announcement. But the Doctor already knows about the arena concert (though he claims to have guessed), angering the emperor. As the Doctor makes more jokes alluding to the lions, Nero gets more and more upset...but, behind the Doctor's back, the sun has caught the glass of his spectacles, refracting the light onto Nero's city plans...and setting them on fire! Nero is incensed, calling for guards, until, looking at the burning of the "city," he gets a marvelous idea. If the Senate won't vote to use his ideas to rebuild Rome, he'll burn down the city; then they'd have to let him rebuild it! He runs out, telling the Doctor he'll make him rich for that idea, rich! This allows the Doctor and Vicki to brush off the guards who are trying to arrest them. Nero, still holding the burning map, meets Poppaea, who asks why guards are surrounding the palace. He tells her of his plans to trap Ian, Delos and Barbara and leaves, muttering. Poppaea, however, is smiling. Later, Nero and Tavius await his "torchbearers." Tavius sends a guard outside to look for them. The "torchbearers" are a rabble of men. As they make their way into the palace, Ian and Delos manage to join the line without Sevcheria seeing them. Inside, Nero scatters coins to the rabble and begins to give them orders to set certain buildings in the city on fire, promising more money to all. Tavius, meanwhile, sidles up to Ian and tells him that he is a friend of Barbara's. The two leave as the torchbearers start to exit and Nero muses to himself about naming his new city "Neropolis." In the corridor, Ian asks Tavius how he knew Ian would be there. It's what I would have done, answers Tavius. He reunites Ian and Barbara, who are overjoyed to see each other. Then Tavius gives Barbara a cloak to disguise her and they start to get ready to escape. Outside, Sevcheria hears a rustling in the bushes and sends a man to see whether it is Ian, Barbara and Delos. But it is Vicki and the Doctor, who fobs the guard off by saying, "It's only us." The guard leaves...and so do the Doctor and Vicki, away from the palace! In the confusion of the torchbearer's rush out of the palace, Ian, Barbara and Delos encounter Sevcheria. Delos thrusts his burning torch in the slaver's face and the three flee North, Ian and Barbara to the villa in Assessium and Delos to his home near there. Back in the palace, Tavius watches through a window as they flee. He wishes them good luck as he fingers a once-hidden wooden cross. Just outside the city, the Doctor and Vicki stop to look back at burning Rome. Vicki is amazed to really be seeing History, to realize that she's seeing something that will be talked about for thousands of years. Of course, she says, the books got it wrong: it's the Doctor himself who gave Nero the idea to burn Rome! The Doctor protests; Nero would have gotten the idea some other way, surely. But, as Vicki moves down the road, the Doctor looks back and laughs, tickled by the idea that he might be responsible. Inside the palace, Nero, too, is laughing as he plays his lyre, watching the city burn around him. Sometime later, Ian and Barbara arrive back at the villa to find things unchanged since they left--the shards of the pot Barbara accidentally hit Ian with are even still on the floor. Obviously, the Doctor and Vicki had not been there. After some horsing around, they decide to get cleaned up before their friends arrive. Later, the Doctor and Vicki do arrive, finding Ian and Barbara much as they'd left them: sleeping on couches in the villa. Believing that Ian and Barbara have been "idling away their days," the Doctor makes fun of the two, while Vicki tries to tell them of her adventures. The Doctor suggests they make their way back to the TARDIS and he and the girl leave. Ian and Barbara give each other a wry smile and follow, but not before Ian picks up a goblet and amphora of wine as a souvenir. Back in the TARDIS, Vicki refuses to believe that even the Doctor doesn't know where they'll go next. As she and Barbara leave to change, Ian leans over to see what the Doctor is doing at the console. The Doctor is worried; they have materialized and been caught by some unknown force and the TARDIS cannot break free. And the strange force is dragging them downwards. But to what....?

Whew. Next week, paragraph breaks! (We'll see how that goes.)

A great ending to a great story, this episode manages to wrap up and bring together all four plotlines successfully. We all had a blast, even Spoo (who'd only read/been told about the other three episodes). That being said, there were plenty of points where things that might not have been intended to be funny...were. For example, there's this small scene where Tavius just stops and stares blankly towards the camera, which caused me to almost involuntarily invoke Mystery Science Theatre's version of "Bride of the Monster" by saying, "Tor hungry." (Um, if you've never seen either this episode or a Tor Johnson movie, that...won't make much sense. Sorry.) And then, as the map began to smoke and burn with a small ring of fire burning in the middle of it, my mind immediately leapt to the opening titles of "Bonanza." Thankfully, I kept that one to myself. Still, for the most part, the humor was intentional (Schmallturm's invoking of another MST quote "I hate it when the women wear longer skirts than the men" aside).

And, honestly, there was a lot to like here, from Nero's scenery chewing to Tavius' wonderfully understated faith. Man, I loved that bit at the end. It was a perfect explanation for a lot of his character's motivations and made him, if anything, one of the most human of the guest cast. It's hard to find fault with this episode, or this story as a whole; one of the things I plan to talk about in the story wrapup is the contrast between the Ian/Barbara and Doctor/Vicki plotlines and how those differences inform the characters' reactions as the story ended. Really, really well-written, I think. Ronelyn loved, for example, Nero's wonderfully insane rant about punishing the Doctor for burning his plans (especially the alligators)...before doing an about-face and praising him to the skies. Just well-written, well structured and, I'd argue, well acted. Yes, Derek Francis chews enough scenery to build another Rome in his performance as Nero, but it's perfectly pitched in a portrayal of an off-his-rocker emperor. And yeah, the "fiddling while Rome burned" is a myth, and the "Nero orchestrated the burning" an ahistorical slander, but what the hey, it's wonderfully fun! Spoo, coming back to the Project after his long absence, absolutely loved the Doctor, and his "old coot crazy dodderiness," I believe was the quote. (Feel free to correct me in the comments, Spoo.) We do see a Doctor who is able to manipulate those around him nicely, improvising like mad and succeeding to a surprising extent, possibly because he does appear to be slightly senile. Again, I hope to be talking more about the regulars in the wrapup, so I'll leave that point here for now.

And, in fact, I think I'd better leave all my points for now. The wrapup should be coming sometime in the next week. Until then, I remain



Ketina here,

The silly continues this week with the finale of the Romans. Nero continues to be at his best, Ian reclaims his status as "action man", and Barbara's hair continues to take center stage.

The episode starts off with Ian getting the thumbs down from Nero, and his dueling partner jumps the emperor only to get attacked by the guards. The good choreography from last week appeared to be missing this week, as everyone clang clanged swords again. Delos proceeded to "kill" a guard by sliding a sword somewhat near him, but Nero's fantastic kick knocking the guard off the dais made up a bit for that lameness. All of Ian's fight training verses Aztecs, Cavemen, Voord, Mongols, assassins and other ne'er-do-wells has apparently paid off, as he and Delos managed to fight off about five guards (at least I think so, again fight scene very hard to follow) and escape.

Loved Nero's scene with the Doctor and the burning map. Spoo was especially amused by Nero running around with this big burning rolled up paper, waving it close to the matte painting, the Roman curtains, and the drapey costumes. Was the look of horror on the Empress's face due to fear of Nero, or of fear of being set on fire?

Ronelyn suggested a silly moment during the mob scene, as Nero shouted "Quiet! Okay, now, everyone riot and burn the city!" Like, everyone calm down so you can go crazy.

Less than impressive was the forward-rewind-forward-rewind of the burning Rome set. Spoo's comment was that it looked like the city was breathing. On fire. The full city burning on the horizon looked pretty good, though.

And I loved the bits as everyone returned to the villa. Especially Barbara and Ian's banter over cleaning things up. I nearly expected them to kiss, but there was no tension between them. Their relationship, while mildly romantic, is also very relaxed, which does make it enjoyable to watch.

Not much from Vicki this week, other than to act as a sounding board for the Doctor's antics. Although her gleeful comment about watching history was especially disturbing, given the tragedy of the number of lives being lost in that fire. But then again, she's also the one who was willing to kill Nero the week before. She's very detached in this story.

Not looking forward to the return of Barbara's helmet hair next week. Keep the Roman 'do!

Until next week,


Friday, February 5, 2010


Hello all, the Historian here. Along with Ketina, Ronelyn and Schmallturm, we return to the year 64. I'll warn you, there was a lot of physical comedy this week that simply won't translate into the summary at all. I'd urge you all to get a copy of "The Romans" DVD (packaged with "The Rescue") and watch it for yourself! That being said, let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 30 January 1965. Ian looks out the barred window of his cell, seeing the lions who he and Delos may be condemned to fight...In the palace, Nero wanders down a corridor with a lyre, followed by his slave, Tigilinus and others. As they move off, the Doctor appears and meets Vicki. They are attracted by a hissing Tavius, who tells them that he's gotten rid of the body, but leaves before answering any questions. The Doctor decides he must carefully sound out Nero to try to get to the bottom of this mystery, since he seems to be involved somehow. Vicki plans to explore the palace, but the Doctor warns her that she must not interfere with history! In Poppaea's bedchamber, the empress and Nero recline. Poppaea suggests that Nero hold a banquet in honor of "Maximum Pettulian" at which the guest of honor will play. Tavius enters to present Barbara as a new attendant to Poppaea...and Nero is absolutely captivated by her beauty, a fact that the empress is quick to notice. After Nero has left, Poppaea warns Barbara to stay away from Nero; she likes being empress and will not have anyone supplant her. Barbara, of course, agrees. She begins to clean up and takes some dishes out into the hallway...where a playful Nero has been waiting for her. She runs and he begins to chase her...and runs right into Vicki, who has been exploring and who just misses seeing Barbara run away. Trying to maintain his dignity, Nero backs away and falls. Vicki, stifling a laugh, enters another room as Nero continues the chase. The room Vicki has entered belongs to an imperious looking woman, Locusta. Meanwhile, Nero just misses Barbara and runs into the Doctor (who has also not seen his friend). The Doctor tries to talk to the emperor, but Nero has no time, they will talk later. He runs off, leaving a bemused Doctor behind him. Back in Locusta's room, Vicki has discovered that her new friend is the official court poisoner! Locusta explains that she merely prepares her potions, she has no say or care as to how they are used. People do not take revenge on her, but on the ones who she works for. Vicki watches, wide-eyed, as Locusta mixes up another poison. Nero has, meanwhile, cornered Barbara. Just as he catches her, however, Poppaea walks in and catches him. As Barbara flees, Nero tells his wife that the strange slave had been chasing him around all morning! In the cells, the old woman hears Delos call Ian by name. She asks him if he was supposed to meet a woman called Barbara. When he excitedly asks the woman where Barbara is, he is crushed to hear that she was taken to the auction and sold. Back in the palace, the Doctor and Nero are relaxing in a sauna. After some business with a slave and hot water, the two are left alone again and the Doctor takes the opportunity to ask Nero whether any intrigue is going on at court. Nero, however, knows nothing--though the Doctor covers up the emperor's dangerous embarrassment with flattery. Nero tells "Maximus" of the banquet in his honor that night--his first concert! The Doctor, who, of course, cannot play at all, is a bit nonplussed. Poppaea, meanwhile, has given Locusta instructions. She is to prepare two goblets, one of which will be given to the emperor and a poisoned one for the new slave. Hiding under the poisoner's desk, Vicki listens carefully. After they leave, she emerges and looks at the two goblets. As Barbara and other slaves prepare the banquet hall, Poppaea points her victim out to Locusta. The Doctor and Nero, leaving the sauna (fully dressed), meet Poppaea. She sends Nero to examine the banquet hall to make sure everything is perfect--and to set up her assassination of Barbara! The Doctor, meanwhile, meets Vicki, telling her about the coming feast and the entertainment he must provide! Far from being fearful, he seems amused. Meanwhile, Nero has sidled up to Barbara and given her a gold bracelet. As Nero is expecting a kiss in thanks, Barbara is relieved to see two goblets being brought towards them. She proposes a toast to thank the emperor and gulps her wine down! Vicki confesses that she might just have poisoned Nero by switching the glasses! The Doctor, horrified that she'd be changing history by killing an emperor to save an (apparently) inconsequential slave, rushes her off. Barbara, seeing a furious Poppaea (who is angry that her slave has not died!), rushes off before Nero can drink any of his cup. Just then, the Doctor and Vicki rush in, the Doctor yelling not to drink, that the wine is poisoned! After being thanked, they both leave, the Doctor saying he must practice for the evening. Nero decides to test the story and gives the wine to Tigilinus, who takes one sip and keels over. Back in the cells, Ian is trying to make plans to look for Barbara "when they get out of here," but Delos reminds him that he should be worrying about himself, not his friend! A furious Poppaea, meanwhile, has Locusta dragged away, her destination the arena! That night at the banquet, Tavius approaches the Doctor, saying things were "set for tomorrow." Maddeningly, he again leaves before the Doctor can ask anything. Poppaea catches Nero looking around for Barbara, which he denies and then calls for Maximus to perform. The Doctor tells his audience that his new composition is so subtle that only the most perceptive will be able to distinguish the music. He then mimes playing the lyre for a few minutes, to an appreciative audience. They applaud, not wanting to be thought unperceptive. A smiling Doctor tells Vicki that it was he who gave Hans Christian Andersen the idea for "The Emperor's New Clothes," after all! Nero, leaving, is furious; no one but he should get that much applause for playing! He enters Poppaea's chamber and finds Barbara cleaning. Nero grabs her and tells her they're going to see a fight--he wants to see someone get hurt. In the cells, Ian and Delos are handed equipment; they are to fight for the emperor's pleasure. Ian wants to refuse, but Delos reminds him that it's a chance for one of them to survive. He promises Ian that if he wins, Ian's death will be quick. Meanwhile, Nero, Barbara at his side, is telling Sevcheria (who is in charge of the gladiators) that he wants to arrange an appearance for Maximus Pettulian in the arena--with the lions released at the end of his performance! For now, though, he is content to see two men fight to the death. Ian and Delos appear. He and Barbara see each other, but there is nothing they can do--they fight is on! At first, Ian has the upper hand, but he refuses to kill his friend when he has the chance, to Nero's disgust. Then Delos gets the drop on Ian. Delos' sword is about to descend, cutting off Ian's head....

Whew! A question for those who have read this far: Ketina has told me that these are less summaries than retellings. She has a bit of a point; what do you guys think? Do I give too much information, especially for the episodes that are readily available? Or do you like the point-by-point? Let us know in the comments!

This episode was a lot of fun--and very, very funny! We've left the wit of the first episode behind and have entered into full-on ridiculous farce. The "near-misses" have gone from funny to out-and-out ridiculous, especially in the chase scene. And we loved it! I think that the silly never quite overwhelmed the fun, although Derek Francis' mugging as Nero certainly came close. It really was hard to convey the humor in simple text; I hope you got some of the gist.

I'd been waiting for this episode, which I remembered chiefly for Nero's pursuit of Barbara. Of course, not everything is fun and games; the fate of Locusta (fyi, there wasn't actually an official Court Poisoner at Nero's court, although Locusta was a real person, per Apuleius) is actually a little disturbing. Vicki may not have poisoned Nero, but she certainly did cause her new friend's condemnation. While it's true that poisoning people isn't pleasant, it's not like she was doing it maliciously. Her arrest is just an accidental consequence. And then there's the other at least semi-serious thread: Just what is Tavius up to, and what was Maximus Pettulian's part in the plot? Leaving aside the humor, there was enough of this plot to keep our attention and pique our curiosity for next week.

Of course, there were a few unintentionally funny moments; the boom gets into shot for a moment early in the episode, William Hartnell badly Billy-fluffs a line ("We must not interfere with the course of progress. Or try to’s achievement’s or progress.")...and then there's the slow pan up Nero's legs in the sauna scene. Ok, that might have been intentional, but certainly Ronelyn's reaction of "no, no, make sure he has his robe pulled down, please...!" amused the hell out of us! I'm sure there was a lot more, but I can't recall it at the moment. Hopefully, Ketina will remember.

Speaking of whom, I think I'll turn things over to her. Until our final visit to Nero's Rome next week, I remain



Ketina here,

Well, the Historian seems to have left me with a bit more of the commentary responsibility this week. Let's go back to an older format for this:

The Good: um...

The Bad: er...

The Silly: There we go! How about nearly the entire episode. Seriously, I think this one was about as silly as things ever get on Doctor Who. You've got the crazy of Nero, the trouble making Doctor, more near-miss encounter's than in a Shakespearean Comedy, and Barbara and Nero's run through the hallway was funny enough to leave nearly anyone in stitches. This was just an overall very fun, goofy episode.

You want details?
- Let's see, it leads with another stock footage shot of those lions, thankfully much shorter this time.
- That long shot of Nero in the sauna starts at his feet. His toes, actually. Which I swear had toenail polish on them!
- The fantastic toying with the sword between Nero and the Doctor in the sauna. The Doctor's just casually gesturing with the sword, narrowly missing poking Nero with it several times. Then he cradles the blade in his arms as Nero leans forward towards him conspiratorially, then almost getting poked again. Nero nudges the sword away time and again only to narrowly get poked with it again and again as he moves around the room.
- There was the memorable and fantastic scene that I referred to as "the Emperor's New Clothes" gambit. I think the director of episode deliberately had the mics turned off for most of the scene, making the Doctor's "magical" musical yet soundless performance all the more bizarre and comical.
- Early in the episode we see what appears to be very poorly choreographed fighting between two gladiators -- probably my second biggest laugh out loud moment during the episode. But then, at the end of the episode, there's a fantastic scene when Ian and Delos battle. I was like "where was the guy who choreographed this scene during the first one?" The Historian did point out that the gladiators shown earlier were probably just supposed to be practicing, but I've seen better practice done by 6-year olds in the back yard with sticks.
- And the funniest moment, by far, was Nero chasing Barbara all around the palace (and nearly right into the background matte painting several times). Sure, they tended to rerun over the same territory, but the scenes were still incredibly well done, despite the tiny set. Nero's lechery combined with Barbara's franticness was wonderfully performed. In particular was a scene where they were separated by just a bed, with Nero all grabby hands. Awesome stuff.

The high moments definitely outweighed the low points this week.

Screams: While there was nothing exactly scream worthy, there were shrieks and yipes aplenty, and a significant cry at the cliffhanger. I guess Barbara was resting her voice.

Until next week!