Hello everyone, the Historian here, along with Ronelyn, Schmallturm, Spoo, MiniSpoo, Photobug and an unfortunately ill Ketina. This week, we leave the planet Kembel and travel somewhere completely different, seeing where the Doctor, Steven and Vicki went instead, once again thanks to the work of Loose Cannon Productions. I will warn you that there's a lot of humor in this episode (and story) which I will not be able to convey...but still. Let's get to the summary!
Episode summary: First aired 16 October 1965. On the plains of Troy, Hector and Achilles fight. Well, actually they talk considerably more than they fight. Realizing he is momentarily outmatched, Achilles takes to his heels, running across the plain, pursued by his foe. Neither of them notice the blue box appearing near them when they stop to fight again.
Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor, Steven and Vicki watch the two on the scanner. The Doctor, after noting they are wearing "Grecian costumes," decides to go out and ask the men where they've landed, despite Vicki's protests. He tells her to stay inside and take care of her ankle (hurt in "The Exploding Planet") and adds that Steven should stay and look after her.
On the plain, Hector continues to taunt Achilles and blasphemes against Zeus, enraging the Myrmidon leader. Suddenly, a thunderclap turns their attention to the TARDIS, just as the Doctor emerges. Both men mistake him for Zeus; Hector begs for forgiveness, but Achilles seizes the advantage and runs the Trojan through. He even moves to kick the body, but stops when he is chastised by "Zeus!" Through conversation, the Doctor establishes both who he is talking to and where he is. The Doctor attempts to return to his "temple," but Achilles stops him, begging for "Zeus'" help. He leads the Doctor to a ridge to look over the city.
Inside the control room, Steven and Vicki don't know what to make of all of this. Steven decides to go change into more suitable clothes.
The Doctor and Achilles look at the walls of Troy in the distance and, again, Achilles begs help. Just then, Odysseus and a troop of soldiers appear. When Achilles tells Odysseus of his slaying of Hector, the other is dubious (and amused, as he believes Achilles to be a bit of a lightweight), and only grows more dubious when Achilles introduces "Zeus." Turning, Odysseus sees the TARDIS and begins to approach it.
Inside, Vicki is slightly panicked. Steven wants to go outside, but she suggests he take a heavy spanner and wait behind the door in case Odysseus comes in.
Odysseus clearly does not believe that the box is the "Temple of Zeus," although the Doctor tries to pass it off as his portable "travelling" temple. If there's one thing both Achilles and Odysseus agree about, it's that the Doctor should not reenter his Temple and leave; he must come back with them to the Greek camp. Achilles believes he will be an honored helper, but Odysseus thinks he is a fraud and a Trojan spy. Odysseus takes the Doctor and Hector's body back to the camp while Achilles goes a different, presumably faster way.
Inside, Steven has decided to go after the Doctor. Vicki muses, romatically, about meeting Greek heroes, but Steven tells her to remain behind. How far would she get on that bad ankle? He tells her to wait until he and the Doctor return and not to open the doors for anyone else! He leaves.
It is night in the Greek camp. In the tent of Agamemnon, he and his brother, Menelaus, are eating. Agamemnon abuses Menelaus for his supposed cowardice, but Menelaus counters that he's sick of the war and he doesn't even particularly want Helen back. He suggests that she's really just a pretext for Agamemnon to grab the Bosphorus trade routes, which Agamemnon denies. He suggests Menelaus challenge Hector to single combat to end this, which a frightened Menelaus refers to as suicide. But the Mycenean king declares he will send the challenge in for his brother in the morning...just as Achilles bursts into the tent to bring the news that Hector is dead. Disappointed that a good idea has been wasted, Agamemnon is astounded by the news that Zeus aided Achilles' victory. Achilles further talks about Odysseus' blasphemy and Agamemnon is furious. After all, you never know, it really could be Zeus...
On the plain, a Trojan soldier leaves a plaque with the sign of a horse painted on it in front of the TARDIS.
Odysseus is incensed at being summoned to Agamemnon's tent. Still, he presents the Doctor, who has decided to play at being Zeus as best he can. He attempts to prove his divinity by telling Agamemnon that his wife is unfaithful, but the king is...less than pleased. There is some argument, with Achilles offering to defend "Zeus" with his life, and Odysseus storms out. The Doctor wins Agamemnon over by predicting that the war will end soon, but the king is still unsure whether the Doctor is a god or a spy. He decides to hedge his bets by keeping the Doctor under "reverent" arrest, not allowing the Doctor to leave, but treating him with all honor. The Doctor, who wishes to return to his "temple," is less than pleased, but accepts the invitation to sit down and join the feast.
Steven makes his way across the plain, avoiding Greek sentries, but he is seen by a small man with a patch over one eye.
Odysseus approaches Agamemnon's tent where he is met by the small, one-eyed man, his servant, Cyclops. Although Cyclops is mute, he conveys through hand signs that he has seen another stranger emerge from the temple and enter the camp. Odysseus sends Cyclops back to the "temple" and sees Steven creeping around. He stops Steven, who claims to be a simple traveller (not a god), though the other jokes that he must be Apollo to have walked invisibly past the sentries. He takes out his sword, but Steven protests he is a friend. Ah, but a friend to who? Odysseus counters. A friend to that spy, who claims to be a god? I don't know him, Steven replies, but Odysseus does not believe him. He pushes Steven into Agamemnon's tent.
Inside the tent, there is uproar. Again, Steven claims to be a traveller and denies being a spy. The Doctor, picking up on the "we don't know each other" affects disdain, suggesting it might be safer to do away with the "spy," just in case, but stops things when it looks like Odysseus might do it then and there. Would you sully your commander's tent? he asks, and suggests a better way. He claims the spy as a sacrifice to Olympus. Bring Steven to his temple at sunrise, he says, and "I will show you a miracle." Suddenly, there is commotion outside and Cyclops enters, gesturing furiously to Odysseus. Odysseus laughs. Thunder and miracles at the "temple" tomorrow? he asks. Yes, says the Doctor testily. Odysseus replies, "Our weather is so unpredictable. If there is no thunder on the plain, I have a sword will serve for two as well as one. Your 'temple', as you call it, has disappeared!" The Doctor is shocked!
And, on the plain, where the TARDIS stood, only the Trojan plaque remains....
As I said above, there's no way I can convey the humor and banter in this episode in a summary, so here's a link to an episode transcript. I really recommend giving it a look!
Due to Ketina's illness, Schmallturm had to take over transcript duties. Things got a lot more paraphrasy than usual, but I've tried to edit a few things in that got said.
On the ringing plains of windy Troy…
H: Obviously after last week we can now say “and now for something completely different.”
R: Meanwhile in ancient Greece...
S: Attack of the warbly soundtrack!
H: I don’t know what that was...
S: Reel to reel tape. It's distortion from very old tape.
H: So they restored the voices, but couldn't do much with the music, you think?
S: Yeah. And the opening soundtrack was hilarious. Dueling bassoons.
H: One thing about the fight is that it subverts expectation when Achilles runs away. And I liked the line that they did more talking than fighting.
S: the script was genuinely funny.
H: The actor who plays Agamemnon is really good. [Francis de Wolff, who I've also had the pleasure of listening to recently in old episodes of "The Embassy Lark." --H]
S: And Hector was fabulous...
H: and then dead. Menelaus was great too...
Sc: I thought Odysseus was chewing the scenery
H: Ketina said it’s funny he was cast as the villain. But in the Iliad he is a devious son of a...gun.
R: “We need to convince someone to do something. Get Odysseus.”
S: The Doctor’s ok with blasphemy.
Sc: When someone asks you if you’re a god, you say yes!
[Someone--Schmallturm didn't get it down--asked if the Doctor or anyone had impersonated a god before this.]
H: Barbara impersonated a deity. Remember he never said at the beginning that he was Zeus. He just went along with it.
H: one of the cool things about the recon was seeing the snippets of footage. That came from someone pointing a 16mm camera at the tv. And they matched the soundtrack to the film.
S: They did some nice looped footage for the fight, and the scanner screen, and Stephen avoiding the patrols.
H: That [Steven's slapstick avoiding patrols] was probably funny at that time.
R: It was like a ½ long animated gif.
H: Everytime I see footage like that in a recon it evokes something in me, the feeling that "this is how it felt to watch at the time," as well as real appreciation for crazy fans with film cameras.
[[Ketina is sick and lying down]]
F: Ketina wanted to know who sat on the oboe. [i.e. the warbly soundtrack.] Also she commented on the photoshopped pictures.
H: they had to do that ["composite pictures," where they stick the actors' faces/ heads on bodies, etc.] because so little footage and photos survived.
H: I was worried about the slapstick not be conveyed through the recon, and I was worried the humor would date. But I think it was successful.
S: The script was going for a Shakespeare comedy feel, and I think the actors were doing that too. So it worked and there was some modestly clever wordplay and posturing.
H: There were some Billy fluffs there.
R: He’s not the only one. Agamaememgnenmdan was happening. [People seemed to have problems pronouncing the king's name; it was generally rendered as "Agamemmon" from what we could hear.]
H: Do we want to talk about MiniSpoo's theories for next week? [He talked for a while after the episode ended.] MiniSpoo, want to come in and talk about what you think will happen next week?
MS: … if Vicki was in there alone, and it was gone, then Vicki might have done it or one of the other guys must have forced her to do it.
S: You mean move the TARDIS?
H: You think Viki might have flown off in the TARDIS?
MS: Or maybe they just used a crane and picked it up with a magnet attached to the crane and Vicki would have to go like this [door] open, close, aaaaargh!
[Please remember, MiniSpoo is almost seven and this was pretty adorable.]
P: I didn’t realize the soundtrack was aged, I thought it was just bad.
H: I think Spoo is right because they credited the conductor so the music was intended to be a prestige thing, rather than...well, bad.
Sc: I wonder about that because it was the sixties. They did some weird things with music then. The mixing was off for sure but this was the time of the bwamp, bwamp soundtrack.
S: It did have a little eof the 60s spy sitcom feel.
P: It seemed improbable to me that the Doctor would go out in the middle of the sword fight.
S: How did Vicki twist here ankle?
H: End of "Galaxy 4", running for the TARDIS.
S: Ah, continuity.
R: The Doctor can be kind of a cocky old bird.
various impersonations of the of the Doctor impersonating a god
H: I thought it was funny Agamemnon offered him ham, given how wonderfully hammy that whole scene was.
S: “I see you’ve run out of scenery to chew, have some ham.”
Sc: I thought it was interesting that they assumed a knowledge of not just the basics but stuff like what happens to Agamemenon when he goes home.
S: British schoolchildren in the 60s were assumed to know a lot more than we do now. The banter about Helen was awesome.
H: [Quoting Menelaus]"it’s not like this is the first time she was 'abducted'..."
Sc: When did she run off before?
R: With Menelaus for one thing.
S: We could look it up...
H: So I had read the novelization decades ago, but I didn’t know what to expect. This was pretty fun.
Sc: I’m noticing a pattern, that the historicals are better written that the SF ones.
H: Oddly, they were seen as less popular and were phased out.
Sc: I didn’t say that they were popular, but I think they are better written.
S: They don’t need to establish a background, but can dive right in.
Sc: Also the typical BBC writer was more familiar with historical than SF.
H: The writer of galaxy 4 had experience writing SF...
Sc: A possible reason for historicals being less popular is that the average british schoolchildren didn’t know so much about history and wanted Daleks with laser beams.
H: There are people who say that the perception the historicals were less popular was the perception of the production team and not reality.
H: People were surprised and unhappy that the cliffhanger did not continue from "Mission to the Unknown."
MS: Where did the other people [the Greeks and Trojans] come from?
H: [[ explains the origin of the Trojan War in 50 words or less, not too successfully for MiniSpoo's comprehension]]
H: I think we’ve come to the end of the discussion.
And the end of Schmallturm's paraphrasical transcript. Hopefully, you got a sense of the discussion--definitely not as complete as last week, but what could be? As you can probably tell, we really enjoyed this episode and are very much looking forward to next week. Until then, I remain
NEXT WEEK: "SMALL PROPHET, QUICK RETURN"