This is a fun episode. I think it's one of the better 1st Doctor stories. This one never takes itself seriously, and it just feels like everyone is having a good time (even when bad things are happening). I swear William Hartnell seemed drunk in some parts. He was goofy and laughing, and he flubbed his lines more than usual. (In the very old episodes, they couldn't always waste time and money to reshoot, so sometimes they'd leave in when they messed up. Hartnell would say the wrong thing and immediately say the correct line, and the scene would move on.)
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki are squatting in a villa in ancient Rome. The owner is away, so they're making themselves comfortable. The running joke of the Doctor calling Ian by the wrong last name continues. The Doctor and Vicki decide to take a trip to the city of Rome and leave Ian and Barbara behind.
|Ah, Ian. Let me comb your hair.|
Barbara takes this opportunity to comb Ian's hair to make him look more Roman. This is just the first time in this serial that screams Ian and Barbara really do have a thing for each other. Alas! Ian and Barbara are captured by slavers. Barbara gets sent to Rome, and Ian gets put on a ship. The ship gets wrecked, and he heads to Rome.
|the Doctor and Vicki|
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Vicki have made it to Rome, where the Doctor is pretending to be a famous lyre player who has been called to play for Nero. Unfortunately, people keep trying to kill this famous lyre player. The 1st Doctor gets into a fight! He doesn't take it seriously. He's laughing the entire time he's beating up the assassin.
|Nero is kind of nutty.|
Barbara ends up in Nero's palace, but never runs into the Doctor or Vicki. That's something very interesting about this serial. Barbara and Ian's story runs parallel to the Doctor and Vicki's. They don't intersect except at the villa. The Doctor and Vicki return to the villa thinking that Barbara and Ian never left.
|Oh, no! Ian!|
Nero has a thing for Barbara, and he makes her watch a gladiator fight. One of the fighters happens to be Ian. Of course it is. To make a long story short, everyone escapes. Barbara and Ian get back to the villa before the Doctor and Vicki, and as I mentioned above, the other two never know that Barbara and Ian left. This leaves them just enough time to flirt more.
|Oh, Ian. Oh, Barbara. Happy sigh.|
The Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn down Rome before heading back to the villa with Vicki.
|Excellent special effects! That's Rome burning.|
Once they're all together again, they head back to the TARDIS, which is still sitting where it landed after falling off a cliff at the end of the previous serial. The Doctor reassured them earlier that the TARDIS could take off from any angle.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable episode. I like it a lot. Watching it for the Whoathon wasn't the first time I'd seen it, and I'll watch it again. I think it would be a good episode for someone who hasn't seen any 1st Doctor episodes.
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Episode: #12, "The Romans," four parts- 'The Slave Traders,' 'All Roads Lead to Rome,' 'Conspiracy,' 'Inferno'
Adversary: Slave traders, Nero (sometimes)
Classic Lines: Vicki: "Well, it's alright living here, but it's boring. No wonder he gets irritable." Ian: "Heh! That's got nothing to do with living here, believe me."; the Doctor, to Ian: "I don't know that I was under any obligation to report my movements to you, Chesterfield." Barbara: "ChesterTON." the Doctor, to Ian: "Oh, Barbara is calling you."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn Rome.
Next Up: "The Web Planet"