The Aztecs part 2

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    Craig @craig

    The second episode is “The Warriors of Death” and it picks up where we left off, with Tlotoxl’s threat to destroy Barbara for being a false god. He begins to put his plans in place and things start to go badly pretty quickly for team TARDIS.

    Tlotoxl has Barbara separated from the others so that Autloc may question her to see if she has the knowledge of a god. He also sets up a combat challenge between Ian and Ixta.

    The Doctor is keen to find a way back into the tomb but his investigations back-fire and his actions soon put both Barbara and Ian in danger. Not a very clever or lucky Doctor!

    Once again, for the best viewing experience this story is available to buy. You can get it from Amazon for less than 7 of our British pounds – other retailers are also available. It may also be on your Netflix, Prime or Hulu, or whatever else you subscribe to.

    Remember, we’re discussing this story one episode per week, as it was originally broadcast. If you’ve seen it before, for the convenience of anyone approaching this for the first time, NO SPOILERS for subsequent episodes please.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Wow! Just…wow! It was like being 13 again! Why do I think this is such a great Who story? The main thing to keep in mind when answering that question is to appreciate it in context. It was not made for 13 year-olds (or 63 year-olds) in 2018. It was made for 13 year-olds in 1964.  To be a 13 year-old in 1964 was to have been someone who watched movies like “The Vikings” with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis at a Saturday afternoon matinee at the local cinema. It was to watch William Russell fight nobly just as he did as Sir Lancelot on the TV serial “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot” a few years earlier.

    To watch it as that 13 year-old in 1964, it was to have the history classes that you had at school brought to life,and in a way that was not condescending, but in a way where you understood a different culture, where people were both good and bad, wise and foolish (just like the one you were growing up in). It was to see the adults (like Barbara and like the Doctor) as both wise and foolish. It was to be shown that figures of authority (like the Doctor) were not infallible, but were still awe-inspiring.

    And to watch it in 2018, one could be awe-struck by the degree to which William Hartnell could actually carry off his dialogue really quite well in the early years of the show!

    OK, now I will stop running around the sofa, and try and calm  down and wait the long wait for next week’s episode!

    janetteB @janetteb

    @blenkinsopthebrave I first watched Aztecs when I was in my forties and had a history degree “under my belt” and so no doubt was not “woowed” by the episode as a 12 year old would be but I still enjoyed it. It is one of the better of the extant First Doctor series in my view. It raises the moral question of what to do when confronted with cultural practices that are abhorrent to us. Despite the glaring cultural differences the Aztecs are essentially “people like us”. But enough of general comments. I can’t really comment on the individual episodes unfortunately without another rewatch as I suggested watching this last week on our new (2nd hand) projector and the family not being inclined to wait a week between episodes binge watched.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Bit late in watching this one: it’s full of derring do, excitement, and the Doctor getting things wrong. 🙂
    Given that the scriptwriters had an ‘educational’ remit, they’ve done really well in portraying the Aztecs as ‘people like us’. Good, bad, nosy, wise, foolish. Set in their ways, and open to new thoughts.

    Susan learning the ‘Good Housewife Guide To Aztec Life’ is very funny, and also hints at the later fate of her character. She’ll choose her own husband, thanks. Barbara is skating on thin ice as Tlotoxl increasingly doubts her divinity. Ian is facing an ambitious warrior – fortunately, he’s from 1963 and clearly either fought in WW2 (which I think William Russell did) or did National Service. Either way, he’s just as much a trained warrior as Ixta, and his fighting techniques have the advantage of five hundred years of development.

    He wouldn’t have any problem throwing Ixta round the room, if it wasn’t for the Doctor showing that manipulative, too-clever-for-his-own-good side he’s got.

    The fight isn’t very well directed – both actors obviously do know how to do stage fights (as @blenkinsopthebrave says, William Russell had already played Sir Lancelot), but it seems to be suffering from either lack of rehearsal time, or lack of fight direction. Lots of judo style throws and grappling.

    The costumes continue to be amazing; making up for the slightly limited sets. John Ringham has really got his teeth into his ‘Richard III Tlotoxl, and is portraying a seriously high speed schemer. Get rid of Barbara, have Ian killed in a second fight after the first one didn’t work, arrest the Doctor for entering Barbara’s presence after deliberately not telling him he shouldn’t… it’s all go for Tlotoxl. He’s really NOT someone you want as an enemy; something doesn’t work, he just thinks up another way to kill you.

    There’s an air of tragedy about this: Barbara’s ‘prophecy’ – which is her remembering history – tells us what’s going to happen. And we, the audience, know that she can’t possibly succeed in changing that history. It’s a bit like Fires of Pompeii – the history is that this culture will die. And the good will die along with the bad.

    Whisht @whisht

    ah – a bit late in commenting on this one (saw it last week) but wanted to echo a lot of @bluesqueakpip

    I was also really impressed with the costumes and wondered if there’d been a recent Aztec-era play that they’d been nabbed from (especially that puma/ jaguar mask).

    As for John Ringham – he’s got his teeth into it (and maybe the set) but I loved-out-loud his “Destroy him!” and “I will destroy her” lines.

    As for Ian’s judo, I wonder if the Doctor had shown him any Venusian Aikdo…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    The Audio Commentary: Verity Lambert, William Russell, Carole Ann Ford.

    General agreement that John Ringham is terrifying in the opening scene, especially for kids. ‘He means it’ is one comment. Bill Hartnell’s Doctor was always at odds with everyone he met – and William Russell remembers Bill was always looking for comic bits. You never knew what his Doctor would do, or how he’d react. This may have been what kids liked about him – his Doctor was deeply ‘anti-authoritarian’. And they all agree; the kids loved Bill Hartnell’s Doctor. For that matter, I get the distinct impression that they loved Hartnell’s Doctor.

    Sidney Newman, apparently, wanted the Doctor to be a loose cannon, because that meant if things were getting boring at any time, the Doctor could be used to liven things up – as here, when the Doctor decides to help exactly the wrong person. So Hartnell is playing the character Newman wanted.

    Apparently Episodes 2 and 3 were allowed into the ‘hallowed portals’ of BBC TV Centre to film. They had more room, a sprinkler system that didn’t go off for overheated cameras and a lighting console.

    Filming: supper break at 6pm, Line run at 7pm, start filming at 7.30pm, be finished by 10pm. Or they’d turn everything off. No casting directors in those days; even the background artists had to be hand picked – Verity thinks the PA cast the background artists. That explains why, in previous episodes, the entire cast appeared to be mates of the director. 🙂

    Verity Lambert remembers that they weren’t allowed to use anything that could be picked up and used for violence at home – hence the fuss about the scissors in Edge of Destruction.

    Some wondering why the Perfect Victim is ‘perfect’. John Lucarotti, the writer, was apparently very good at research (he also wrote Marco Polo). There’s also some comments about how sad it is that the Aztec civilisation was destroyed: the ‘educational’ remit certainly seemed to work for cast and crew.

    winston @winston

    I am late in commenting but better late than never I guess, except anything I would have said has been said better above. @whisht I agree that the costumes are really good in these episodes and thanks to  @bluesqueakpip for the info from the audio commentary. I learn something new from you all every time I check in.

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