Tuesday, September 06, 2005

'The Aztecs'

4 episodes

Cracking little historical story, this - the earliest it is still possible to view. It benefits from fine costume and sets, as period drama has always been a strong suit of the BBC's, certainly ahead of futuristic sci-fi... The supporting players get some strong characterisation, with the powerplay between High Priests Autloc and Tlotoxl (the latter deliciously essayed by John Ringham) particularly fascinating. The message of not tampering with established history is reinforced strongly via the Doctor's berating of Barbara when she first decides to stop the Aztecs' human sacrifice, and indeed the end is somewhat downbeat as the traditional - yet doomed - practices go on unhindered. The roles the regulars slip into are a refreshing change from the norm and each get to drive sections of the plot forward, with Barbara acting the part of goddess, Ian a warrior, Susan a handmaiden - while the Doctor gets to enjoy a touchingly brief romance with Aztec lady Cameca. Special commendation to the scene where the Doctor casually slips mention of his fiancee into the conversation, totally off-hand, leading Ian to respond "I see... your what??" with a priceless double-take! All in all, very enjoyable.

This is the firat story in Survival I've watched on DVD format, and the difference in picture quality is remarkable compared with the poor state of the previous couple of stories - crisp, clear and devoid of fuzz and static. There is also on the DVD an interesting extra feature that covers the amazingly complex clean-up process necessary to restore these episodes to their original glory - quite the transformation...


Episodes watched: 23
Episodes still to watch: 699

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