TV Club: Marco Polo

Heads over to the ‘ick’ thread…

(and to stress, I mean the idea of a ‘ship’ name - not the relationship itself :face_with_diagonal_mouth: )


The weird thing for me, with Marco Polo, is I really want to like it and every time it comes up in discussion and I express my dislike for it and everyone else raves about it, I almost feel bad about my opinion. I almost always want to go away and give it another go. My thing with Doctor Who is that I want to like every story and I will always revisit stories I don’t particularly like and look for things I do enjoy within them.

And Ping-Cho and Susan are just friends - it is possible to just be platonic friends you know people :wink: - and the age gap between them is probably more than between Ping-Cho and her arranged husband!


Have you read the novelization? Maybe that would work better for you then telesnaps. I haven’t read it so I can’t say one way or another.

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I’ve done the telesnaps, the audio soundtrack, the colour recon and the cut-down recon.

I was toying with listening to the audiobook read by Zienia Merton though.

I know next time I’ll find something to enjoy - not least the excellent performances throughout - and this isn’t even one of my 0.5 stories so it’s got a fighting chance.

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I experienced it first via the novelization. Maybe that’s why I like it.

@deltaandthebannermen Please never feel ashamed of an opinion, especially not here! I’ve spotted more people here who are indifferent or dislike Marco, than its cheerleaders, anyway. I love it here because we can disagree with a little civility.


The problem with Marco Polo is that by the time I get done with re-watching it, we’ll have moved onto Keys of Marinus and my opinions will no longer be fresh and hot.

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Oh I don’t really feel ashamed. I think it’s more that I can see I should like it but just can’t get past my issues.

I’m not afraid of killing the sacred cows - Genesis of the Daleks is hugely overrated and there’s a lot of Capaldi that doesn’t even begin to deserve the praise it has heaped on it (The Doctor Falls, I’m looking at you).


Personally, I’d say the key thing is that different people will like or dislike different things, and that’s okay! Different people will focus on different things in an episode, and something that just mildly bugs one person may be a dealbreaker for another.

I do think Genesis is a good serial. I’d rather watch it then the Power of Kroll, or Timelash, or, say, Daleks in Manhattan. I’d rather watch Remembrance of the Daleks, City of Death, The Greatest Show In the Galaxy, or The Happiness Patrol, though. (Okay, maybe I really like 7…)


Okay, I may not have watched the full serial, but I watched the condensed 30 minute version. It does make me wonder if I should rate the whole serial based on that on not. I’ll have to think about that.

Generally, it was good. Ping-Cho was a standout, and I can see why people would ship her with Susan. Rather liked the Doctor playing backgammon with Kubla Khan, too.

Do rather feel like I was missing things, with one seventh the runtime of the full thing, but who knows, maybe I’ll watch the full thing eventually…

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Yeah age gap relationships have never been a part of Doctor Who :wink:


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The Doctor’s not always going out with younger women, though…


Still he is probably a good 3-400 years older than Cameca :wink:


True, though it’s less of a gap than most.

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So, I watched the 30-minute version and read my old review of this story to refresh my memory. The short version is surprisingly well edited and maintains a key aspect of the story. That points to the single biggest issue Marco Polo suffers from (apart from it being completely missing, of course): it’s a bit too long. Sitting through seven episodes of telesnaps and production stills is a bit much, especially as several sequences in this story would benefit greatly from having a visual element to them.

Despite its length, I still greatly admire this story. It’s a historical epic with a great cast (Mark Eden is wonderful as Marco, and Derek Nesbitt is the first memorable Doctor Who villain as the scheming Tegana, who meets a surprisingly grim end) and impressive production design (from what we can tell, the costumes and sets look amazing). The travel diary narrative style is lovely, and I like how the script incorporates history and science into the dialogue very casually to maintain its educational intent.

Sure, the Doctor takes the backseat in this one, but he isn’t the star of the show yet at this point (he’s still finding his footing; he only turned a bit mellower at the end of The Daleks), so it’s not a big deal. And he has that lively backgammon game with Kublai Khan! Susan is bearable for a while here, and she finds a good friend in Ping-Cho.

Another element I’m less fond of is some of the racist stereotyping that takes place at the tail end of the story. It hasn’t aged very well.

This is the best story of Season 1 so far, though there’s a better historical coming up :wink: I give this an 8/10.


This is most likely my favorite classic doctor who story. Here’s my review of it from a few months back.

I think that Marco Polo and Tegana are two of the most well written characters in Doctor Who, at least for me. I loved the anti-hero vibes that Marco Polo gave off and the looming threat of Tegana was fun watching through the whole story. There were some segments that dragged on and I think Barbara could have been used better but in total, its an amazing story. The sets were also something that impressed me. They were really well made for the time and it seemed like there was so many of them. The yellowface is pretty obvious but it was normal for the time so im not gonna rant on about it that much.

To end, I just think this story is amazing. It really is one of the greatest Doctor Who stories in my eyes and the best outing for this Tardis team. I will be so happy when this serial is animated (or maybe possibly found?). I give it a 9.6/10!


Everything you ever wanted to know about Marco Polo:

I highly recommend Toby Hadoke’s interview with Acomat actor, Philip Voss

And Josh Snares video about the story:


I love Marco Polo! It has its faults, mostly due to the time in which it was made, but I find the story compelling. I read the Target book when it first came out and have subsequently enjoyed the audio and several different versions of the reconstruction. I still hold out hope that one day some, or all of it will resurface. I know that that possibility gets less and less likely as time goes by, but there were so many copies struck that it seems bizarre that all of them were destroyed when so many of its contemporaries survived.

We can at least hope it will get the animation treatment eventually.

For me some of the faults aren’t really to do with when it was made but more the rather repetitive structure and the fact that, for seven episodes, the main character of the show is suddenly Marco Polo rather than the Doctor. The obvious villainy of Tegana being ignored by everyone except Barbara really grates on me and the fact the TARDIS crew play no part whatsoever in his defeat rankles.

But next time I’m in the mood for a Hartnell historical, I will no doubt give it a whirl and may find it works for me a little more. I’m a big advocate of revisiting stories even if you think you don’t like them because very often you notice things, or your different mood, allows you to appreciate it in a different way.

Absolutely. Your mood when you watch definitely affects your enjoyment. I love the historicals and I wish that they’d made more of them, even though I know that they weren’t popular. You’re right that the regulars don’t affect the plot all that much, but they are engaged in the quest to get the TARDIS back and to get away, which was enough involvement to keep my attention. I probably give it a pass because I loved the novelisation so much, but I still think that it’s an engaging story.

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