DVD Extras include:
Like many fans, I don't typically look forward to the purely historical stories, yet in the show's first two years these seem to be better done in the dramatic sense than their futuristic science fiction counter-parts. This is certainly the case with "The Romans".
The main characters become involved in the story for all the right reasons, and in a very humorous and unusual way as well. A clever method is used, giving us a few scenes of friendly, humorous banter between the four main characters which not only does an excellent job of introducing them to any casual viewer, but also gives them time and space to relax between adventures and allow them to age at the same rate as the audience. (A lot of stories stretch two days of adventure over six or seven weeks of transmission, and then thrust the main characters immediately into their next two day adventure, which often makes me wonder when the Doctor had time to gain several hundred years of age throughout the show's history.)
Finally, the Doctor and Vicki's curiosity overflows, and exploration is swiftly underway. Good! This is what the show is all about. Where "Planet of Giants" (story no. 9) has the four characters explore as practically one character, all with interchangeable lines, "The Romans" clearly defines four separate characters with a very enjoyable and humorous interaction.
The Doctor and Vicki set themselves a goal for this time-space location: they want to meet Nero. Excellent way to arouse the audience's curiosity and anticipation for the rest of the story as well. Ian and Barbara's involvement is less original, but it is all particularly well done this time around, with humorous twists aplenty, so entertainment value is still high.
Raymond Jones turns in an exceptional score containing a separate well-done track for each of a palette of different moods, but it is a pity that there was only one for suspenseful creeping about, as this one gets a tad overused near the beginning of the story.
The cliffhangers are okay in this story, but nothing too spectacular or memorable.
So, you think the first Doctor is a helpless old man, do you? Always in need of Ian Chesterton, Steven Taylor, or Ben Jackson to do his physical fighting for him, eh? Not so, as this story amply proves the Doctor can still hold his own at this point in his first incarnation, and enjoy himself at it to boot. The directing during this action is very believable as well - indicating a lot of pre-planning and an on-the-mark execution. "The Romans" thus begins to show us a Doctor with heroic traits, embroiling himself in the thick of things, and being able to handle it for once as well. Ian, for all his greater dexterity and physical strength, cannot perform as believably in his fights in this story. You'll never hit your opponent if you continually aim for his sword. Thumbs down. The Doctor is your man of action in this one, and it's about time.
At this point, I'll have to refrain from discussing further details and possible spoilers, which you can enjoy in the In-depth Analysis version of this review after you've seen the story. Suffice it to say that there is plenty for the Doctor to do, as intrigue and mysteries combine with humour to continue to make the tale enjoyable. And the story has a climactic event for its conclusion that satisfies on many levels and fuels healthy character growth.
This story has become available on DVD and VHS video.
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