Say Something Nice – Doctor Who: The Romans

In an effort to find something quick that can be written as part of Daily Doctor Who, we are continuing with Say Something Nice, where I look back at each of the Doctor Who stories and pull out one or two cool things about it.

(Daily Doctor Who #90)

Read the previous entry here. Today, we continue with the second season’s fourth story…

The Romans

Featuring the same cast as last time: William Hartnell as the Doctor, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright, and Maureen O’Brien as Vicki. Written by Dennis Spooner (who had recently taken over as script editor for the show) and directed by Christopher Barry (the same as last time, because the two serials were produced as part of the same production block).

Individual episodes are called The Slave Traders, All Roads Lead to Rome, Conspiracy and Inferno.

Say Something Nice…

(Named for Missy–aka the Master–and her catchphrase from her first full appearance in Dark Water).

The Romans is the first Doctor Who story to be played largely for comedy. Is this a good or a bad thing? Your mileage may vary, but I’m listing it here because it shows the versatility of the show’s format. It’s impressive that a series can be about a single concept–a time traveling alien who fights against tyranny and injustice–but that it can bring such variety to its delivery, in terms of story length, setting, tone, and dramatic format. I also like the idea of the travelers having lived in Rome for a month before the story really begins–that’s the sort of thing that I’d imagine would be normal for people in their situation. Plus there is a really funny scene of the First Doctor beating up a would-be assassin.

But because we’re equal-opportunity fans here, we’re not going to only be sycophantically complimentary.

You craven-hearted spineless poltroon!

(Another cry from the Master, but not exactly a catch-phrase, this time from The Deadly Assassin)

The comedic tone and the gimmick of the two groups of travelers never meeting each other in the course of their adventure gives the whole thing a sense of irrelevancy.

Catch you next time!

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