|(Doctor Who Story No. 12, starring William Hartnell)
- written by Dennis Spooner
- directed by Christopher Barry
- produced by Verity Lambert
- music by Raymond Jones
- 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each:
- The Slave Traders
- All Roads Lead to Rome
Story: After a month of decadent lounging
in an abandoned Roman Empire mansion, the Doctor
and Vicki decide to enter Rome itself in hopes of
meeting Emperor Nero. While they become embroiled in a
web of courtly mischief, Ian and Barbara find themselves
in a more deadly predicament.... Will the two parties be able
to find each other and help each other out in the ensuing comedy
DVD Extras include:
- Audio commentary by
actors William Russell (Ian Chesterton),
Barry Jackson (Ascaris),
Nick Evans (Didius),
director Christopher Barry,
designer Raymond Cusick (episode 4 only),
and moderator Toby Hadoke.
- Reality/Fantasy making-of featurette (34 min.) with
Russell, Jackson, Barry, Cusick,
Kay Patrick (Poppaea), and
future writer James Moran.
- Featurette on writer Dennis Spooner (18 min.)
- "Roma Parva" featurette (2.5 min.) demonstrating camera blocking
and planning using a model of the studio set
- Featurette on 1960's Doctor Who girls (18 min.) with
Carole Ann Ford (Susan),
Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom),
Anneke Wills (Polly),
Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield),
Honor Blackman (Professor Laskey),
plus William Russell, Chris Barry,
Peter Purves (Steven),
Frazer Hines (Jamie), and
future script editor Donald Tosh.
- Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
- Photo Gallery
- Blue Peter Roman Banquet (7 min.)
- bundled with the previous story:
In-Depth Analysis Review
by Martin Izsak
WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended
for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the
Buyers' Guide version instead.
Christopher Barry remains in the director's chair, and turns
out four more of the season's best episode offerings. Yet another
Dennis Spooner script weighs in heavily on the humorous side,
and why not? It makes great entertainment. Inspired by
"Carry On Cleo", was it? Well I happen to like "Carry On Cleo"
a lot (it even features a
Jon Pertwee cameo), and this story
is definitely very different from "Cleo" and original.
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".
Contrary to the novelization's practical abandonment of
the Doctor's time-space vehicle, the TARDIS is handled very
satisfactorily in this
story, and some new insight is gained into its abilities and
vulnerabilities - a planet's gravity can affect both the exterior
AND THE INTERIOR of the TARDIS. Remember that when
"The Curse of Peladon" (story no. 61),
"Castrovalva" (story no. 117)
"Frontios" (story no. 133)
have their turn.
The main characters become involved in the story for all the
right reasons, and in a very humorous and unusual way as well.
They move into an abandoned house and live the Roman lifestyle for
a month before the story really gets underway - a nice method
of 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 they
set off to visit Rome. "This will be your first exploration...."
the Doctor tells Vicki excitedly. 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, relying on
the older capture/escape/rescue routines, 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
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 episode two 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 fight as a gladiator later on
in the story. You'll never hit your opponent if you continually aim
for his sword. Thumbs down, according to Nero. The Doctor is your
man of action in this one, and it's about time.
Once in Nero's court, the Doctor continues to have plenty
to do, using all his wits to support his false identity and sort
out the court intrigue and mysteries - the continued humour making
this enjoyable all the while.
The story has a climactic event for its conclusion, and for all
the Doctor's pretense of non-interference, Vicki argues that he was
instrumental in creating it and won't be swayed from her position.
The Doctor is secretly swayed, however, and amused. Yes, admit it
you old codger, you like interfering with the destinies of
developing planets, don't you? There must be no tears, no regrets,
no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and bust into
the heroic persona that lies dormant in your two hearts. Another
lesson from humanity sinks into the Doctor here.
Once again, the TARDIS is very well demonstrated during its
departure, and the story ends on a cliffhanger note, asking
sci-fi mystery questions that will be answered in the next story....
"The Romans" is a fine wine of a Doctor Who story, to be sipped
slowly, savoured, and relished for the fun romp that it is.
This story has become available on DVD and VHS video.
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for pricing and availability:
|DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
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|DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
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Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact
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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story:
"The Web Planet"