"Doctor Who", Marco Polo: Marco Polo Audio CD – Audiobook, Nov 3 2003
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Marco Polo is the earliest of these missing adventures. This was the fourth story broadcast, and it's a damn good one. Although there are no aliens, it is a thrilling journey in 13th century China. I do enjoy the historical stories (The Aztecs being one of my favorite stories so far). This story had me on the edge of my seat, wondering what will happen next. This story has plenty of intrigue, political and otherwise. I always felt that the best Doctor Who stories deal with how humans interact with each other, the camaraderie and tension we build. In fact, that is at the heart of all great drama. This story is wonderful, everybody doing a terrific job at portraying their characters. The only part that made me cringe was the role of the hotel owner. It was such a blatant Chinese stereotype. I know I shouldn't judge it by today's standards, but it still made me shake my head. Either than that, this is an essential listen for fans of the First Doctor, and of Doctor Who in general. Happy Listenings.
The sound is good on this collection, not "scratchy" at all and is very clear. On my 5.1 surround sound system, "most" of the sound comes out of the right front speaker, but due to the clarity of sound and the fact we are dealing with an almost 50 year old sound track, that is not an issue with me. The narration is a plus as at least you can keep track of what is happening, especially when people do not speak for a while.
One thing the other reviews do not mention (maybe they didn't realize) is that CD 1 is actually a data disc--plays the episodes in your CD player, but on your laptop/PC, you can also get a copy of the audio script and a pdf map of the route taken during the couse of these episodes.
The audio is narrated by William Russell (who played Chesterton in the series) who shares bits of action that the soundtrack can't pick up. These bits are minor. In some ways, being in an audio format helps this series as the setting is quite ambitious with luscious and ornate Oriental settings.
This serial also seemed reminiscent in its slower pacing of radio serials I've listened from the 1940s and '50s which often had more deliberate pacing overall with cliffhangers built in to keep the audience's attention.
The character of Marco Polo makes this story unique from many early serials. While in other programs like "The Aztecs, " characters like Tegana scheme and turn initial allies of the TARDIS crew into enemies, this is a lot more complex as Polo is enlightened. He isn't superstitious, bloodthirsty, and works to save the crew despite requests to kill them. His broad experiences have made him willing to consider anything including their claim that the TARDIS is a flying caravan, which is why he stole it. He feels bad about it too. Polo's moral struggle really does create some solid dramatic tension.
Less interesting is the overused trope of the girl about to enter into an arranged marriage that doesn't want to do it, and the convenient plot device used to resolve it, though they did do a decent job making the character likable and someone you care about.
This is a fun historical adventure serial. It works well with the audio format and for now, it's the only way to encounter the classic Marco Polo story line unless you want to read the novelization.
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