One of the lost stories, the original video of this was tragically destroyed, either to make room in the store rooms, or during a fire. Fortunately the wonderful people over at Loose Cannon Productions have recreated a number of the missing Doctor Who serials, using original audio recordings, photographs, and newly recorded introductions and prefaces.

 The recreation is introduced by Mark Eden, the actor who played Marco Polo back in the 60s. He talks about it, the show begins with the classic WHO intro, and then a newly recorded introductory scene, showing an older Marco Polo (played again by Eden), writing his memoirs, and writing of the four strangers he ran into thirty-five years earlier.

 The travelers from the TARDIS quickly encounter Marco Polo and his band of travelers. Barbara deduces who Marco Polo is, The Doctor is cautious telling them too much, and makes introductions. He gets Ian’s last name wrong (a regular joke, used at least once each story so far) and they bed down for the night.

 Apparently, Marco Polo was the most photographed of the original adventures, and the people at Loose Cannon combined color photography with hand-colored black and white photography for this recreation. It really is an amazing production, and I’m really impressed.

 Marco Polo’s companions suspect The Doctor and company of sorcery and warn Marco Polo of it. Polo is suspicious as the TARDIS does not have wheels or is big enough for them to fit.

 The TARDIS is “broken”, so Polo arranges for it to be put on a sledge and moved to the camp. Polo informs them that they must travel with him, and cannot enter the TARDIS during the journey, as the Mongols with him are suspicious and there would be problems.

 Marco Polo plans to offer the TARDIS to Kublai Khan, hoping to buy permission to return to Venice, as Khan has forbidden him to leave. Polo expects that The Doctor and his companions can return to Venice with him, and that The Doctor can build another “flying caravan”.

 One of Polo’s retinue, Tegana, plans evil, acquiring a vial of… something. He plans to steal the TARDIS, and will use to to bring “the mightly Kublai Khan to his knees.” That’s how the first episode ends… this is another long one, seven episodes long.

They travel, with some voice-over narrative (I suspect newly recorded for the recreation) from Marco Polo, and scenes illustrating the tensions among the travelers – The Doctor refuses to eat, staying away from the others. Susan and one of the girls in the retinue follow Tegana, presumably on the night he leaves to rejoin his co-conspirators, following behind.

 Ian and Marco play chess, and note that a sand storm must be approaching, based on the horses’ discontent. Susan and Ping-Cho get caught in the storm. When the companions realise that Susan is out there, Barbara tries to run out in the storm, but Polo and Ian stop her.

 Tegana finds the girls and bring them back to the camp. Marco has a lot of gratitude for Tegana’s help bringing the girls back, but Susan remains suspicious.

 Tegana cuts open the water gourds; originally, he had poison, so why he did this, I’m not sure. The next morning, they discover it and Marco suspects bandits. They agree not to turn back (as that’s what “bandits” would have them do) and head to a nearby oasis. Tegana leaves to “ride ahead” to the oasis. The Doctor collapses; Polo allows he and Susan to rest within in the TARDIS.

 “Without water… our fate rests with Tegana.” – Marco Polo.

 When The Doctor wakens, he discovers that condensation within the TARDIS has produced enough water to drink. They bring it out to the others, but Polo thinks they were lying about having water.

 Later, they arrive at the oasis, and Tegana claims that he just arrived the night before but had to wait until the bandits left. Barbara doesn’t seem to buy Tegana’s story.

 Animated maps, Indiana-Jones style, and narration (again, I believe to be new, recorded by Eden for this recreation) allow for segue from one scene to another.

 Ping-Cho puts on a production telling a story about the Cave of Five Hundred Eyes. Ian (why he and not Barbara, I’m not sure) informs Susan that the cult of Hashashins’ legacy lives on in the word ‘assassin’ in the English language. Tegana meets Malik in the cave, and meets with other conspirators. Barbara has followed him and is captured.

 Everyone goes searching for Barbara. Susan and The Doctor find the cave and Susan screams for some reason. She does this a lot. It’s really annoying. I can’t wait till she goes away, I believe it’s Season Two she leaves.

 Episode four “The Wall of Lies” begins with The Doctor and Susan encountering Tegana in the cave. (Susan screamed because she thought one of the eyes painted on the wall move.) Apparently the cave is just minutes from town, as Marco and Ian, who we saw back in town/the temple/whatever, show up suddenly.

 The eyes did move (apparently it was a peep-hole) and they end up finding Barbara. Tegana plays Marco against the companions. (I’m glossing over a lot of drama and dialogue, obviously.) More animated mappage.

 More drama, more suspicions. Tegana seems to be a master manipulator, or at least The Doctor and companions are foolish and keep making it easy for Tegana to play Polo. After one such event, Polo has had enough with their going against his words/behind his back, and he has them all arrested.

 “Marco… are you now convinced which of us makes trouble?” – Tegana.

 The ‘bandits’ finally attack, but because the heroes were escaping, they are free to help prepare for the attack. Tegana helps fight the bandits off. The travelers are allowed to be free if they promise not to try to escape again. A courier arrives and they are summoned to Kublai Khan at Shang-Tu.

 The pacing of these episodes are a LOT slower than in the 1970s. And the Third and Fourth Doctors’ stories are much slower than today’s Doctors. It’s interesting noting the differences in storytelling. Again, I’m not inherently opposed to a slower-paced story, but seven episodes seems a bit too much.

 Ching-Po gets the key from Marco, but again, Tegana and Marco stop them. They continue onward to the Summer Palace at Shang-Tu, where Kublai Khan awaits, and Marco promises they will never see the TARDIS again after that.

 Ian tries to get the key from Marco, even telling him the truth of why they need the TARDIS to return home, but he does not believe him. Ping-Cho runs away in the middle of the night. Marco cannot chase her and meet with Kublai Khan, so Ian arranges to go find her. He does, but they look for the TARDIS, as well – Polo, suspicious, sends Tegana to find out.

 Meanwhile, the others meet with Kublai Khan, and The Doctor cannot (will not?) get down to his hands and knees because of his back. Kublai asks if The Doctor is a physician, and The Doctor responds, “I am not a doctor of medicine!”, which is a common exchange in the early serials – this is already the second or third time it has transpired in the first four serials.

 The Doctor and Kublai Khan bond in their aches and pains and old age. Barbara laughs, finding the ornery old man as the mighty Kublai Khan an amusing sentiment. Polo, who still has a stick up his ass, finds no amusement.

 The Doctor plays backgammon with Kublai Khan, and ends up winning half of Asia. He challenges one more game, and if he wins, he’ll give Kublai all back for the TARDIS. Polo hears of this and is unhappy. The Doctor loses all.

 Ian is held for charge of trying to steal the Khan’s property, and they manage an escape, but Polo stops them. Tegana is with the Khan, and the heroes have deduced that he will try to kill the Khan. He tries, but kills the Vizier instead. Marco Polo and others arrive, and there’s a sword fight between Tegana and Polo. (Can I throw in a joke here about waiting for Tegana to be blinded, and calls out “Marco!” and he replies, “Polo!”?) Polo disarms Tegana, but Tegana impales himself on a sword rather than be arrested.

 There’s a hasty departure, Polo gives them the key, Susan and Ching-Po say goodbye, and they dash in, and the TARDIS dematerliazes. Khan is seemingly not upset.

 “It is true… a flying cabinet? There is something to tell your friends in Venice.” “No, my Lord, they would not believe half the things I have seen in Cathay.”

 After the final episode, there’s a newly filmed scene, older Marco again, finishing his writing, musing on the companions and wondering where they are, and writing his final journal entry. “If only they knew… I didn’t tell half of what I saw, because… nobody would believe me.” He closes the book, sighing deeply, and the video ends.

 The costumes and sets are amazing, a huge disparity from the sets of the first three serials – perhaps they had budgeted more for this one and had to cut corners on the others.

 Again, seven episodes seems a bit long, sitting and watching consecutively. Of course, the show was meant to be seen one episode a week. I’d like to get ahead of myself (I’d originally planned to start watching the serials during the latter half of December, but didn’t and now I’m paying for it) and get to where I can spread them out a bit more. 

 But, that’s it for the first week. 1/52nd of the way done. Again, major props to the fans working to reconstruct the lost episodes. I strongly advise checking out Loose Cannon productions’ products – they’re done for free, you just have to send them VHS tapes.  

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