Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Forty-Six: The World Lies Dead at Your Feet (Farewell Great Macedon, Episode Four)
There's some elaborate titles in this story, aren't there? I've been working from a list proposed by Moris Farhi, but you have to wonder if these would be the titles had the episodes actually made it to screen. An alternative to the title for Episode Two was The Wrath of the Greatest Grecian of Them All!, which seems very elaborate by the standards I've gotten used to throughout Season One!
The further into this story we get, the more it reminds me of Marco Polo - which isn't such a bad thing! Alexander is a rather complex character, a kind we've not really seen much of outside the scripts by Lucarotti so far. There's a scene early on where he orders the Doctor and his friends to be put under guard, but advises that they shouldn't be harmed. This is exactly the kind of relationship that they had with Polo.
Equally, he turns on them in the blink of an eye when the evil member of his party suggests that they're behind some foul deed. Perhaps it's because I'm familiar with the way that Doctor Who works, or perhaps it's because I've been watching through in this way, so that the similarities to earlier stories are apparent, but it seemed clear to me the second Hephaeston left his torture that our regulars would be accused of involvement in his pain (and subsequent death).
The pacing of the story bears similarities with Marco Polo, too, with the Doctor and co getting back to the TARDIS a good few episodes before the end of the story, only to have their freedom snatched away from them during the cliffhanger. I've said it before, but I'd really love to see someone undertaking this 'episode-a-day' marathon who doesn't know the format of these early stories. I'd love to see if this could really hold up as a potential 'end of the story', or if it's clear to everyone that there's more to come.
On the whole, this episode has seen something of an improvement from the last. It's still conforming to the same format - one of Alexander's friends is killed, Barbara complains about the fate of history etc - but it seems to add in a decent amount of other action. Something I am enjoying is how easy it is to picture all of this in the style of a 1964 episode. There's a moment when Barbara turns way from the group with a pained expression - and I can visualise the shots perfectly. The audio is doing a really good job of capturing just the right feel…
Next Episode: In the Arena