Season 2, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #12) | Previous - Next | Index
|Pertwee's Doctor wasn't the only one with some hand-to-hand combat skill.|
And, well, not so much. The Doctor, Vicki, and Barbara's part of the story owes as much to the stage production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (which hadn't yet been made into a movie) as it does to actual history, though the bawdiness was toned down for the family tea-time viewership. Not completely though. Nero's pursuit of Barbara seems to delight in the same sexist creepery, but there's only a mild level of attempted sexual assault and the murders are bloodless, even played for laughs so it's all still within our tolerances for family viewing. Well, if we have Addams Family viewing habits, I suppose. Occasionally the humor worked, probably more for me than for the kids, though they got a few chuckles out of it.
|Nero has a new favorite slave in Barbara.|
Vicki is charming and, if we're blunt, a vast improvement over Susan. Barbara and Ian have some charming moments in this one. And, of course, Barbara is kidnapped and stalwart Ian is doggedly heroic in going to rescue her.
Nero's casual cruelty, Barbara's enslavement, the stabbings and poisonings don't quite ruin this one ... but, there were two moments where this had me grinding my teeth. There's a cross-stroking scene where the kind conspirator, Tavius, who hired the man the Doctor ended up impersonating to come to Rome to kill Caesar Nero, fingers his Christian jewelry as he watches Ian and Barbara escaping. Yes, yes, the good Christian saves the day. One imagines the intent was to have kids doing an arts and crafts project about the wicked pagans and the noble Christians of 1st century Rome in Sunday School the day after the conclusion of the story was broadcast. Gack.
Worse still was the Doctor's self-satisfied cackling as he watched Rome burn and took delight in Vicki wanting him to get credit for inspiring Nero to have it done. How many people died and how many more lost their homes in the Great Fire? Hundreds? Thousands? In any event, more than zero on both counts. You have to forget the history, not easy since you're watching a historical, and imagine the Great Fire of Rome in the Doctor Who universe was a harmless conflagration in order to not find the Doctor a repellent sociopath in that scene.
|Look at those Romans burning alive. It's lovely that I had a part in that, isn't it, my child? Hmm?|