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29 January 2013
 Day Twenty-Nine: The Bride of Sacrifice (The Aztecs, Episode Three)

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day Twenty-Nine: The Bride of Sacrifice (The Aztecs, Episode Three)

Dear diary,

There's some fabulously elaborate hats in this story, aren't there? Barbara's, Tlotoxl's, even Autloc's. If you're something of a hat fan, this really is the story for you.

But actually, the design of this story on the whole is really rather good. I spent a lot of time during the last story praising the design and the thought that had gone into the world, especially during the later episodes. A similar praise can be given to this story, as well. The temple, in particular, is a wonderful design, and there's a lot of great detail involved - occasionally, the camera follows characters as they roam from the inside to the out, and you can see the 3D effect on the patterns carved into the surface - it's all really effective.

Less attractive is the school they've got Susan shut away in. During the last episode I wondered why they'd shot Carole Ann Ford's scenes on film, when there were no fights or stunts involved. It was only today that I realised she must be on a holiday (and a quick check confirms that, yes, she was away for these two weeks, her scenes in the school being filmed alongside Episode Five of The Keys of Marinus), and so only just involved in the plot.

It's to the story's credit that I've never noticed this before. Just as the Doctor's absence was successfully explained away in the last story, they've managed to keep disruption to a minimum here. This feels much more like the 'Doctor-lite' episodes of the 21st century incarnation of the show - I'm thinking in particular of Midnight, in which Donna appears for a couple of minutes at the top and tail of the story, but you never realise she's not there.

What surprised me, when we cut to a pre-filmed insert of Susan during this episode was that I actually smiled to myself. I was pleased to see her! I stated a few weeks ago that I wasn't the biggest fan of Susan, and that I'd likely spend a lot of time complaining about her, but actually, she's nowhere near as bad as I recall. Oh, sure, there's a few moments of over-reaction and one or two instances where I'm less-than-keen, but I've warmed to her more than I'd expected. I like that.

The downside to all this, though, is that while I was glad to see her, I hadn't actively missed her from the plot. If you'd asked me before her scene what was missing from the story, 'Susan' wouldn't have been my first thought. I sung praises yesterday for Ian and Barbara as characters, and the pair of them with the Doctor is more than enough to keep me satisfied.

Speaking of which, we've another one of those moments where I praise how far the character of the Doctor has come! Oh, I know, I do it every few days, it seems, but we keep on getting these moments! I'll stop doing it at some point. Promise. Here, as he tells Ian of the secret tunnel into the tomb;

IAN

Where did you get hold of this?

THE DOCTOR

My fiancée.

IAN

I see. (beat. He realises.) Your What!?!

It's a great little moment, and it's beautifully played by both men. I couldn't let it pass without a mention…

Next Episode: The Day of Darkness

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