Doctor Who (William Hartnell) – The Aztecs

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Another historical tale, that also sees Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) trying to change the past and The Doctor (Hartnell) developing a bit of a romantic relationship with one of the locals that goes as far as an engagement in this four episode story. The Doctor is becoming increasingly likeable as well.

This story aired from the 23 May to 13 June, 1964.

Written by John Lucarotti, the story has our heroes landing the TARDIS inside an Aztec tomb, allowing Barbara to demonstrate her knowledge of the culture as she chats with Susan (Carole Ann Ford) while doing some exploring. When she passes through a one-way door, Barbara encounters Autloc (Keith Pyott), the high priest of knowledge who believes Barbara to be a god reincarnated.

Barbara sees this as an opportunity to change the course of Aztec history by doing away with the brutality of the sacrifices, overseen by Tlotoxl (John Ringham). While she has a sympathetic ear in Autloc, the rest of the society doesn’t agree with her, and the Doctor berates her for attempting to alter the course of history based on her own beliefs.

From there the Doctor meets Cameca (Margot Van der Burgh), and it’s nice to see a playful and romantic relationship develop until the Doctor realizes how far he’s gotten himself into things!

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Meanwhile Tlotoxl is hoping to be rid of all the interlopers through battle and sacrifice and punishment. He pits Ian (William Russell) against the strongest warrior of the tribe, when Susan refuses to be married off proclaiming her independence and she`ll choose who and if she`ll ever get married, they are both maneuvered into perilous positions, that Barbara tries to avert.

The Doctor in further conversations points out that the society isn`t ready to change, and nor does it want to. She can`t change everyone, but she did change one man`s opinion, and the Doctor points out that it`s a start.

Using backdrops to show sweeping landscapes, this story tries to give itself an epic feel, and while it may have succeeded at that time, it doesn`t neccessatily work today, but simply adds to the story`s charm. I continue to like the look of the series, right from the get go, especially knowing where we end up with the level of effects and designs the series has now.

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I also like the historical aspects of the story, because they do attempt to be as faithful to historical record as they can, and are occasionally a bit educational.

Hartnell`s Doctor is slowly becoming more fun, and not loosening up, but at least becoming more accessible and open, he`s not quite as irascible as he was, and when he gets mad now, he gets mad for a reason, and I love his fights with Barbara in this one, they fight regularly it seems, but you can tell there is a healthy respect on both sides.

The first season of Doctor Who is coming to a close with only two more stories left to view, The Sensorites and Reign of Terror. Happily Hartnell`s Doctor will be around for another two full seasons until his regeneration during Season 4.

My journies in the TARDIS are just beginning!

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