Trash Culture’s Dr. Who Reviews: Marco Polo (1964)

By Chad Denton

“Marco Polo” is the first of the many “Doctor Who” serials (and the only one of the first season) to be hobbled by missing episodes, lost when the BBC purged their archives to make room. In fact, not a single frame of any of the seven episodes of “Marco Polo” survive, although fans have reconstructed the episodes using telesnaps (off-screen photographs of broadcasts), the scripts, and most importantly the soundtracks. Even with clever editing and a complete recording of the actors’ dialogue, it’s still miles away from having the original episodes, but I’ve decided that, for the lost serials, if I can get a good fan reconstruction, I’ll do a write-up. If not, in the future I may just link to a summary somewhere and move on to the next complete serial.

Susan, Ian, and Barbara examine a giant footprint in the snow. The Doctor knows he’s on Earth and on a mountain high above sea level, but nothing else. An agitated Doctor tells his companions that a circuit in the TARDIS has burnt out, making them unable to travel and depriving them of heat and water. Ian and Barbara volunteer to look for fuel for heating while the Doctor raves about how they’ll all die from the cold. On their way down Barbara sees something, but isn’t sure what it was, and Ian discovers footprints caused by a boot. The party is found by a man named Tegana and a group of Mongolian soldiers, who are convinced that the Doctor and his companions are evil spirits disguised as humans. A man of European ancestry appears and orders the soldiers to stop menacing the Doctor and the others “in the name of Kublai Khan.” The man notices that the Doctor is becoming sick and volunteers to take them to the nearest town for food and shelter.

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