February 27, 2014

Doctor Who: The Aztecs

I feel like I’m already falling behind on the Whoathon. This time I watched “The Aztecs.” This story suffers from coming immediately after “The Keys of Marinus.” I like it, but it doesn’t compare to the previous one. It’s only four episodes long. I’m glad it wasn’t any longer. It already didn’t have enough plot for the four episodes. However, it has an interesting premise that elevates the story above mediocrity- if you have a time machine, can you change history? 

The four travelers arrive in a tomb. Barbara and Susan bound out of the TARDIS. Barbara identifies it as Aztec. (Remember, she is a history teacher.) She then does something that I thought was weird. She takes a bracelet and puts it on! Her grave robbing ends up being the action that drives the story, but it still seems strange that a historian would take jewelry from a tomb and wear it. She and Susan leave the tomb and are captured by Aztecs. Lo and behold, the Aztecs see the bracelet and think she is the reincarnation of the god Yetaxa. All is well. Otherwise, the Aztecs were going to kill them. That’s convenient. Ian and the Doctor eventually leave the TARDIS and discover the situation. Barbara claims they are all her servants, so the Aztecs won’t kill them, either. 

Incidentally, the tomb door closed behind them, so they are stuck there until they can find a way inside. Here lies the main problem with the episode. There is no menace. There is no sense of urgency. The villain of the piece, Tlotoxl, is ridiculous. He ineptly keeps trying to expose Barbara as a false god. The only real trouble they face is that they can’t get back to the TARDIS. Come on. The viewer knows that they are definitely going to get back to the TARDIS at the end. 

As mentioned above, the interesting issue raised by this story is the ability to change history. Barbara admires the advanced aspects of Aztec culture while abhorring the human sacrifices. She believes that she can use her influence as a reincarnated god to stop the human sacrifices and in turn, help the good facets of Aztec culture survive through Cortez’s conquest. Ian and the Doctor both try to convince her that she is wrong. The Doctor yells at her to the point of making her cry. That’s typical 1st Doctor. 

I’ve never seen the upcoming episode, “The Sensorites.” I don’t know anything about it. I’m looking forward to going into one of these serials completely blind. There aren’t many existing episodes of Doctor Who I’ve never seen. Once I get past the 1st Doctor, I think I will have seen them all at least once.


Doctor: First
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Episode: #6, "The Aztecs," four parts- 'The Temple of Evil,' 'The Warriors of Death,' 'The Bride of Sacrifice,' 'The Day of Darkness'
Adversary: Tlotoxl
Classic Lines: the Doctor, to Barbara: "You can't rewrite history! Not one line!"
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Doctor accidentally gets engaged to one of the Aztecs when they share some hot chocolate.
Next Up: "The Sensorites"

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