Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Wheel of Fortune"

Hello everyone, the Historian here, feeling much better this week thank you! I'm here along with Ketina, Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo and introducing our newest member, Mr. Mother! It's tired and I'm late, so let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 10 April 1965. Barbara ducks into a dark alcove, but a hand appears from behind her and covers her mouth before she can scream. The man signals to her to be silent and then takes care of the two guards who are chasing her. He introduces himself as Haroun ed-Din and tells her that if el Akir hates her, she is his friend. He tells her he will take her to a place of safety.

Back at Richard's palace, the Doctor is being fitted out in a new cloak by the merchant, Ben Daheer. The Doctor suggests that the merchant also provide new clothes for his "boy," "Victor." (Meaning Vicki, of course.) Ben Daheer is effusive in his praise at the idea and sees himself out. Joanna appears just as Vicki is complaining to the Doctor about having to masquerade as a boy. Joanna coldly demands to know why the Doctor has been deceiving them, but he answers that he feared for her safety in this strange land. When Vicki defends her friend, Joanna is amused and mollified and Joanna declares that Vicki shall be under her protection. She then takes the Doctor aside and asks him whether he might discover what her brother's plans are, as she is no longer in his confidence. The Doctor agrees he will do what he can. The chamberlain enters and, to his mystification, Joanna orders dressmakers for Vicki, who reveals that she is a girl. When the Doctor and Vicki are left alone again, he tells her that being under the princesses protection will help to keep her out of trouble if he is forced to get into court intrigue. She gets upset, wondering if she is just a problem to him, but he reassures her.

Haroun and Barbara enters his house where he introduces her to his daughter, Safiya. While she is getting them food, he tells Barbara that he had been a wealthy man with a large family until el Akir came. While Haroun and Safiya were away, the Emir destroyed everything and killed his other children, so Haroun has sworn to kill him. He tells Barbara he will go off and see if the guards have left so she can escape. Before he goes, he gives Barbara his knife, telling her that should the guards discover them, she must kill Safiya, then herself. Barbara is horrified. After he leaves, the girl enters with two bowls of food. She's surprised that her father has left his knife behind, but believes he has gone to search for the rest of the family, who has disappeared. Barbara is saddened to realize that the girl just does not know what happened to her mother, brother and sister.

Elsewhere in the city, Haroun comes upon a guard, reaches for his absent knife and is quickly overcome. El Akir appears and, although he finds Haroun's face familiar, cannot place it. He tells his guards to search the slum area of the city more carefully.

At Richard's court, the king tells his nobles and the Doctor (with Joanna absent) of his plan to betroth his sister to Saphadin in exchange for peace. One in particular, Leicester, is incensed at this idea, believing they are there to wrest the Holy Land from the infidel by sword, not marriage. The Doctor, supporting the king, insults the noble. It almost comes to blows before Richard stops the argument. He has made up his mind. If this plan fails, then arms might prevail, but they will try this first.

In Ramlah, Saphadin and Saladin are discussing Richard's letter. Saphadin is very interested, being obviously infatuated with the idea of Joanna--and her lands--and Saladin teases him a bit before agreeing to see where this idea goes. However, he also tells Saphadin they must have their army ready as well--the Franks have not come all this way simply for a wedding. "Hold one hand out in friendship, but keep your other on your sword." As for Ian's mission, they will hold on to Sir William for a while yet, but Ian has had Saladin's blessing to search the land for Barbara...

Back in Haroun's house, the searching soldiers are coming ever closer. Barbara and Safiya retreat to a hidden room in the house as two soldiers enter and begin to search. One runs into the kitchen, where the fire is still smoking, and grabs some food, emerging to tell his commander that no one is there. The commander, however, notices the food bowls on the table, which are still warm. There is only one exit, so someone must be here! He sends his compatriot off for a torch to smoke the hidden out. In the hiding place, Barbara tells Safiya to get under a blanket in the corner and gives her the knife. Barbara slips out the door and begins to tiptoe around the house, avoiding the commander. Just then the man with the torch arrives and catches her! She refuses to tell them anything, claiming she had come here herself and they take her away, leaving Safiya in safety.

In the desert, Ian sleeps, his sword at his side. A bandit creeps up on him, attempting to steal his sword, but Ian awakes and there is a struggle. Ian is getting the better of his opponent when he is struck from behind! He blacks out...

Back at court, the Doctor presents Vicki, in her new court finery, to Joanna who is talking with Leicester. When the princess takes the Doctor aside, he tells her that he has no news for her. Although he has conferred with the king, it had all been in confidence and he feels sure Richard will want to tell her of his plans himself. Furious, she turns away and begins talking with Leicester. Vicki is surprised that the Doctor won't tell Joanna that Richard wants to marry her off. He replies that he does not want to make an enemy of the king, but she counters that they're in danger of making an enemy of Joanna! Just then, Richard enters and Joanna rounds on him, furious about the marriage plans (which she has obviously learned of from Leicester). The two storm out and have a furious exchange in an adjoining room. She refuses to marry an infidel and is deaf to Richard's arguments of peace. When he tries to command her, she threatens to go to the Pope, who will never countenance the match. If he forces her to it, she threatens, she will make the world his enemy! She storms off and Richard rounds on the Doctor, who he believes must have told Joanna of his plans. Despite the Doctor's protests, Richard tells him to get out of his sight. The Doctor is definitely out of favor.

In el Akir's palace, Barbara is forced to her knees in front of the Emir. He tells her that, for defying him, the only pleasure remaining to her is death. And that pleasure will be long in coming....


And now, it's time for Ketina's transcript/paraphrase of our discussion! Take it away, Ketina!

MM=Mr. Mother

R: The writing was excellent in this episode. One moment was funny at the beginning when they dropped the torch and everyone scrambled not to light the set on fire. It’s not real stone.

S: There was only one moment of judo chop.

MM: There were a couple of instances of cartoon violence.

H: Let’s welcome our new member, Mr. Mother, to the TARDIS Project.

S: The dialogue flowed, as usual

H: David Whitaker! I’m amazed that in 1965 this was a children’s program. Kids from 6 to 14 were the target audience.

MS: I’m 6 years old!

H: Did you like it?

MS: Yeah.

H: Did you like anything in particular?

MS: I liked every part.

K: British kids who are apparently used to watching Shakespere.

MM: Iambic Pentameter was wonderful.

H: Julian Glover and Jean March playing off each other. Two not yet great actors working so well together.

S: Not a tooth mark on the scenery to be found. That kind of acting can go off the rails very easily

MM: It was Shakespearian. They used that form to achieve it, giving you the control of going over the top, but in a controlled way.

H: I think a lot of that is down to the direction, which was also excellent. Both with the actors and the scenes. Barbara and the girl hiding from the guards was really well done.

R: But I thought the scene of the merchant talking to the Doctor was really funny. “I’m afraid I have to go, I’m late for my unctuousness classes.”

H: He’s meant to be a comic character.

MM: Again, Shakespeare. Always a clown to lighten up the scene.

H: It’s usually the Doctor’s position. Or maybe Vicki.

MM: It’s still grounded in stage acting, but you can see the conceits for the camera working into the stories. The last Hartnell I’ve seen was from the early first season and there's definitely a difference.

Sc: The argument between the king and his sister was really good. Their eyes couldn’t bug out anymore. The antagonism was done really well, Best scene of the episode.

H: They're Plantagenets, ho!

R: “Well there’s no one I could go to, huh? What about the Pope, how about him?”

S: Bishop takes king!

K: Pope takes king.

H: The scenes with Haroun and Safiya, and hiding what he was doing from his daughter, was very well done. Goes back to being stage actors instead of primarily TV actors.

S: And the light touch in the writing.

R: The guy showing up and saying el Akir doesn’t like you, that’s reason enough to be your friend.

H: And a good cliff hanger?

MM: What was up with only 12 seconds of screen time for Ian?

H: The actors took vacations. That scene wasn’t filmed in the studio, it was filmed at Ealing, so it was likely filmed at a different time and inserted it later.

S: Victor / Victoria?

H: She is Vicki actually, not Victoria. We get a Victoria later!

S: She’s not homely. I don’t get “page boy hair cut – boy! Pill box hat – girl!”

MM: And the merchant was almost cupping her breast.

K: Yeah!

H: Both in the conceit of costume drama and the middle ages, clothes really did make the man. She was dressed as a boy, and she’s a teenager, so she was taken as a boy.

S: Doesn’t say very much for their taste in women…

H: Saladin continues to be awesome. Hand of peace and hand on sword. Saphadin didn’t get any of the brains, did he?

R: Saphadin is just in love. His brother is all “I’m the emperor, not you!” and Saphadin is just like “I just want the girl! You can be emperor, I don’t care.”

H: Their portrayal of both Saladin and Richard are well done.

Sc: We all agree that the acting was well done.

MM: Interesting how eagerly the Doctor was all over interfering with history

S: And he was all, “oh no, let’s not get into politics”.

H: He does know the history of the thing. I’m sure he knows that the marriage isn’t going to happen.

Sc: But he’s not all “we can’t change history” like in previous episodes

S: He’s distracted by his clothes!

H: He’s gone from stealing clothes to stealing money from Richard’s purse for clothes in this episode.

Sc: We’re from the future. We need your pants!

H: “Excuse me, is there an Aztec tomb around here? We’d like to desecrate it.”

R: They have such a beautiful culture. And such pretty jewelry!


S: Ketina, what did you think?

K: No screams. And the hair is still a character.

H: But we love Barbara!

K: Yes we do!

S: But we’ll be thinking of Vicki.

R: But Barbara was just like – gotta protect the girl.

H: I’m not sure what she was trying to do with the guard.

K: She was sneaking out of the room, backing away from the guard, hoping that the hiding girl wouldn’t get found. And trying to avoid backing into a vase. Before she gets out she gets caught by the other guard. Ha! I explained something to you for once!

H: The guard in the kitchen eating the cooking food was hilarious. He goes into the kitchen, sees the fire's still smoking and stuffs some hot food in his mouth. Then he’s actually surprised, or pretends to be surprised, when his partner finds the bowls and is like “someone was here, these bowls are still warm.” And the guard is still eating, like yup, guess so.

S: Clearly, only one neuron to fire between the two of them.

H: It’s not very historical, but I like it a lot. I think everybody in the Project is really enjoying it.


Hi everyone, the Historian again and yes, that was a pretty decent (if occasionally simplified--she types as fast as she can, folks) representation of the discussion! I'm really stepping in to say that today is the anniversary of a sad event: thirty-five years ago today, William Hartnell, the First Doctor (as if everyone reading this didn't know) passed away. So we dedicate tonight's post to his memory. Not that most of these posts aren't ultimately dedicated as memorials to him, as well as Jacqueline Hill. Still. Thanks Mr. Hartnell. Without you, well, we wouldn't be here having fun 45 years later!

Until next week, I remain



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