Spoilers for the episode
They get to the Oasis and find Tegana but Barbara doesn’t believe his story and it gets her into trouble. While Marco Polo has enough of the Doctor and attacks him. They save him by explaining condensation.
The water’s run out and Marco’s wondering where Tegana is because he sent him to the oasis to get water. He thinks Tegana’s got lost and they’ve managed to move the caravan forward a bit but this is probably it for them if they don’t get water soon.
Ian says it’ll be hot again soon and they should get started but Marco says they should stay where they are. Barbara notes that the Doctor and Susan are still in the TARDIS but Ian says to let them sleep.
The Doctor wakes up and realises condensation has gathered inside on the walls of the TARDIS. So he gets Susan to collect water from the walls.
The Doctor takes the water to Marco but he’s angry because he thinks the Doctor has been keeping water from them. I think he attacks the Doctor because a lot of shouting happens. Ian gets him to stop and they then explain condensation to him. He makes the Doctor drink the water first in case it’s poisoned.
They manage to reach the oasis because of the TARDIS water and they find Tegana. He says he had to wait for some bandits to leave and he heard they were going to the north.
Marco wants to leave the oasis because it’ll be dangerous to stay. Barbara walks off still suspicious of Tegana and Tegana tries to convince Marco he shouldn’t trust them because of their story with the water.
The doctor thinks he’ll have the TARDIS fixed soon but Marco’s making them move on and he doesn’t like all the rushing about.
Barbara doesn’t believe Tegana’s story of the bandits because it was so cold last night and it’s unlikely they’d want to be out in it. I think bandits would brave the cold for whatever they’ve got planned.
Ian decides to ask Tegana because he thinks he’s going to be truthful about betraying them apparently. He asks how many bandits there were and why didn’t they light a fire. Tegana doesn’t really answer.
Marco tells the Doctor when they leave the oasis the TARDIS will be locked and the key handed over to him. The Doctor tells him he doesn’t realise he’s talking to a man of superior intellect. Well if you’re so smart why haven’t you outsmarted him yet.
Then it’s back to Marco’s voice over telling us about the journey. They’re going to a temple.
They arrive at Tun-Huang and talk about the cave of five hundred eyes where a load of evil men lived. Susan wants to know more and Ping promises to tell her later.
The doctor hopes to get on with some work now that they’ve stopped. Ian points out he doesn’t have a key but the Doctor says he’s made another.
Barbara wants to talk to Ian about Tegana but he blows her off so he can listen to Ping’s story about Aladdin. She goes on for a while and it’s not very interesting. I’d prefer they get on with the plot instead of dragging it out like this.
Then Ian decides that what this episode needs is a vocabulary lesson and a bit of a history lesson because it wasn’t going slow enough as it was. Then the cave of five hundred eyes is mentioned again and I’m beginning to think we’re never going to get to this cave.
But then Tegana goes to the caves to visit a man called Malik to get news about their plan. He is taken to another man who tells him he failed at Lop to meet their man but the other part of the plan is going well. They’ve gathered an army and it’s marching to another city. He tells them about the TARDIS and they plan to capture it and kill every one. Malik has noticed a woman in the outer cave.
The woman is Barbara who has followed Tegana so of course she gets kidnapped.
Back at the caravan and Marco is angry that Barbara is gone and that she‘s allowed to wander alone. I’d call him sexist but she does get kidnapped every time she goes off on her own. He tells the Doctor to stay where he is and no one else is to move while he goes to look for her. I get the impression he’s regretting keeping them. All they’ve done is cause him trouble.
Back in the cave of five hundred eyes the men holding Barbara are gambling and laughing menacingly. Not sure why they needed to show us that. It’s not like we’ve forgotten Barbara has been captured.
Susan and Ping think they might know where Barbara is because she was very interested in the cave of five hundred eyes and try to convince the Doctor that’s where she’d go. They think she’d go by herself because Marco and Ian would probably try to stop her.
The doctor catches Chenchu listening to them so he asks the man where the cave is. Susan insists on going with him but he’s determined to go alone because he’d get so far by himself. He’d get distracted by something shiny and forget about Barbara or decide he doesn’t to rescue her after all. But he relents quite quickly and lets Susan and Ping come with him. Chenchu tells them they can’t go at night because they won’t come back alive but the Doctor ignores him.
At the cave and Susan is frightened of the eyes. The Doctor looks at the carvings and says it’s quartz. Susan reminds him he’s meant to be looking for Barbara and not admiring the carvings.
The man the Doctor questioned has gone off to Tegana and tells him he told the doctor where to go.
The Doctor’s had enough of looking because he says he’s got enough work to do in the TARDIS. They find something of Barbara’s and all begin shouting for her. Susan then finds a statue and starts screaming because we didn’t have enough screaming this episode when Barbara got captured. It’s a bit of a weak cliffhanger compared to Tegana pouring away the water last episode.
This episode was way too slow with not a lot to keep me interested. Ping’s story dragged and there were lots of moments where nobody said anything but I’m sure they were doing something so it would have been better as the original video. This episode really felt like a history lesson. I know it’s meant to be educational but it’s so forced. The only bit they managed to make entertaining was when Marco attacked the Doctor for keeping water to himself and the only way to save him was to explain condensation.
The singing sands managed to hold up without the Doctor but this episode wouldn’t have. He’s the most entertaining part and he doesn’t get to be mean enough. I like that he gets distracted and has to be reminded of what they’re doing.
I continue to dislike Ian but he didn’t have enough to do this episode to be really annoying so that’s a plus. Barbara gets captured again but at least it’s because she’s active in the story (following Tegana to the cave and doing her own investigating) instead of just because she’s a woman.
I like Susan and Ping’s friendship. Susan’s a bit of a trouble maker and tries to scare Ping but she’s gotten wise to it by now.
I have a feeling this is going to really be dragged out and they’re going to tour all the educational places in the desert they can think of. It might not be so bad but half the time the audio is bad and I’m not sure what they’re saying.
This cliffhanger seems to be the weakest so far. Barbara has been captured but the immediate threat is Susan screaming and that’s the moment you’re left with. It’s not making me want to watch the next episode.
Previous Doctor Who: Singing Sands Next Doctor Who: The Wall of Lies
Spoilers for the episode
The caravan travels through the desert but a sandstorm stops Tegana from escaping and soon the water supplies run low.
It’s been three days since Marco polo has taken charge of the TARDIS. He’s enduring the Doctor who’s doing his best to be difficult and rude but we don’t get to see any of that just hear about it in Marco’s voice over.
They’re crossing the Gobi desert and Ian asks Marco about the water. Marco says they have enough but lots of people die crossing the Gobi desert because of lack of water.
Ian and Marco then play chess and in the past they’d use a word instead of checkmate that means the king is dead.
Elsewhere Barbara reassures Susan that they’ll get the TARDIS back. Susan wants to be among the stars and worries that the Doctor’s sulking but Barbara says he’s feeling defenseless because someone he considers a primitive has taken his advanced tech.
They talk about the Doctor knowing everything and Barbara mentions that then he’d be able to take them home. Susan doesn’t want to say goodbye to them and hopes it won’t be soon.
In her tent with Ping Susan comments on how it’s peaceful in the desert and she’s never seen the moon rise. So Ping promises to call her when it does.
Back in the other tent Barbara says the desert is very beautiful but Marco tell her not to be fooled because it’s still very dangerous.
Ping wakes Susan up and they go outside to look at the sky. They see Tegana and Susan wants to follow him for some reason. I guess the plot is calling her.
At the stables Marco comments on the horses being restless because they can sense there’s a sandstorm on the way. There’s the reason for Susan following Tegana so they can all get stuck in the storm.
Somewhere out in the desert Susan’s had enough of following Tegana and wants to go back but Ping doesn’t and asks Susan who’s afraid now. That’s the reasoning Susan used to get Ping to go follow Tegana with her.
It gets hot and they decide to go back but not before they get caught in the sandstorm. They argue about if they should stay where they are or try to get back to the caravan.
Barbara wakes up and Ian tells her what’s happening with the sandstorm. It’s very loud and it kind of sounds like laughing. Apparently people hear voices in the storm and that’s why it’s called the singing sands.
They notice Tegana’s gone but decide they can’t help him. Then they discover the girls are gone and Barbara wants to go outside to look for them but Ian and Marco stop her.
I think they sound an alarm or something so the girls can hear them but it’s really poor audio and I’m struggling to hear anything.
The storm stops and Marco says they won’t leave until they find the girls. Then the girls turn up with Tegana and they say they went for a walk. Marco’s angry they didn’t ask first.
Tegana found them and he says he was also on a walk but he told the guards he was going. Marco gets annoyed and says that the guards are to inform him if anyone else tries to leave the camp. So there goes Tegana’s plans for escaping before the poisoned water is found.
The doctor is still asleep and has managed to sleep through everything happening.
The next day and Marco’s worried because they had to stop for the day due to the storm and so they’ve wasted one days worth of water which could be fatal in the desert.
Back to Marco’s voice over and progress is going well.
Susan doesn’t believe that Tegana went for a walk but Ping thinks he’s telling the truth. I guess she’s more trusting.
In another tent Tegana asks about Marco’s journal and he says he writes it because it interests him.
They find out the water is poisoned and Marco blames the water on bandits. He’s never had it happen to him but other caravans have. They get weak from lack of water and the bandits attack.
They look at their options and Marco decides they’re going to an oasis that’s not nearby but it’s closer than the end of the desert. He’s worried that if they go back to Lop the bandits that he thinks poisoned the water will attack.
Tegana refuses to go with them. He’s going to return to Lop but Marco says he’s coming with them because he’s responsible for Tegana.
Later in his voice over Marco has started to doubt his decision. They’ve been making less and less progress each day because of lack of water.
The caravan has stopped because the heat of the day is too much with no water. Marco says now that the worst of the sun is over they’re going to start traveling again soon.
The doctor complains about lack of water and this is the first we’ve seen him this episode. They now have no more until they reach the oasis.
Tegana says he will go to the oasis and bring back water. He tells them to wait for him where they are but Marco says they will continue to push on towards the oasis.
The doctor collapses in the heat and Barbara asks if they can put him in the TARDIS so he’ll be more comfortable. Marco says yes and Susan can go with the Doctor but Ian and Barbara will stay with him. They have no water left and they’re counting on Tegana.
Meanwhile Tegana is at the oasis with water and taunting Marco about his lack of water by pouring the water he has away.
This episode actually managed to keep up the momentum of the last episode and not drag things out with endless talking. I didn’t expect them to get to the problem of the poisoned water so quickly.
The Doctor is noticeably absent and I’m assuming that’s more to do with William Hartnell needing rest or something than a choice by the writers. He only turns up at the end and quickly faints. I like the idea of him taking every opportunity to insult Marco Polo though and slow him down. I just wish I got to see it.
I’m not clear on why Susan wanted to follow Tegana (there were parts I couldn’t hear very well) but it just seems like a way to get her stranded out in the storm.
I like the ending of Tegana being their only hope and he’s pouring their water away. It’s another very good cliffhanger.
Previous Doctor Who: The Roof of the World Next Doctor Who: Five Hundred Eyes
Spoilers for the episode
The giant footprint turns out to be a giant let down because it was made by a normal guy but we get excitement in the form of the TARDIS breaking down and they get saved by Marco Polo who has a secret agenda.
The next few episodes are all lost episodes so I only have sound to go on.
They’re still in the Himalayas and looking at the giant footprint. Ian thinks the footprint might be perfectly ordinary and not giant. So there ends the mystery of the giant footprint.
The doctor’s feeling grumpy and says he can’t look at it without his glasses. They’re several thousand feet above sea level and he doesn’t like this place. So he goes back inside.
Ian and Barbara speculate on if they are really on Earth or not and where they could be. It turns out they’re in the Himalayas.
The doctor comes out of the TARDIS which has broken not surprising considering last episode. The lights have all gone out and so has the heating.
Ian decides to go find fuel. I’m not sure what he thinks the TARDIS runs on. I guess he wants wood to build a fire or something but he makes it sound like it’s fuel for the TARDIS and I like picturing him trying to use wood to fuel it. Barbara goes with him so she cna get into trouble and he has some one to save.
Susan stays to help the doctor and he’s in a really bad mood.
They don’t get far before Barbara’s out of breath so has a little sit down while Ian carries on. This is so she can be put in danger. She sees an animal and Ian comes running. He’s skeptical but she points out all the footprints.
The Doctor has found the faulty piece of the TARDIS and says it’ll take a long time to fix. They’ve got to get down to a lower altitude so they don’t freeze. But surely it’s got to be a bit warmer in the TARDIS and it is shelter from wind and snow and everything else.
Barbara says there are strange animals on the mountain. The doctor gets impatient and asks what she saw. Ian says the footprints looked like from a fur boot.
Susan spots a man dressed in fur watching them. He runs and they try to follow to see if he’ll help them or lead them to shelter.
They find him and Ian says they’re travelers who are lost and asks if they can give them shelter.
One man decides they are evil spirits that have take human form and they should be destroyed. Ian tries to reason with them.
Another man, who turns out to be Marco Polo, says he won’t let anyone hurt them on the authority of the Kublai Khan. He tells them to come down the mountain to his caravan and reveals the Doctor has mountain sickness.
They get to the tents and Ping Cho serves them tea. Barbara gives some exposition. Marco Polo is European and the Kublai Khan is a Mongol leader.
Marco introduces them to the warlord Tegana who you can already tell will be the villain for this serial.
The doctor thanks Marco for saving their lives and asks when and where they are.
Marco wants to know how long they’ve been traveling if they don’t know that. The year is 1289 and they are on the roof of the world (Himalayas).
Later in Ping’s tent she asks Susan where she’s from but Susan doesn’t know how to describe it. Use describing words like shapes and colours. She’s not that stupid I’m sure she’ll get an idea. Susan probably can’t describe it because the writers haven’t come up with it yet. So she asks about Ping.
Ping’s going to Shang-tu to get married to an important 75 year old man. Ping’s sixteen which is the same age as Susan so she’s horrified.
In another tent Tegana tells Marco he should have killed the travelers because they’re different. They have a carriage that has no wheels and is not large enough to carry four people but he saw them exit it.
Marco Polo takes them back up the mountain to visit the TARDIS. Marco asks about how the TARDIS moves and Ian says it flies through the air.
Tegana takes this as a sign of their evilness but Marco says he’s seen Buddhists make things fly through the air and asks if they are Buddhists. He wants to see inside but only the Doctor has a key and Marco Didn’t let him come. Ian also says only the Doctor can fly it.
Marco makes a plan to use sleds to get it down the mountain.
Ping is making the Doctor food when they all come back. She explains that Tegana is an emissary for an Enemy of the Kublai Khan. They have decided to make peace.
The Doctor’s happy Marco is bringing the TARDIS down the mountain because then he can get to work fixing it as soon as possible. He doesn’t want to hold them up.
Marco says he can’t let them inside because it would upset the Mongols who still believe them to be evil spirits. And that the Doctor is a sorcerer who is harmless outside of the TARDIS.
The doctor has a reasonable moment and agrees that none of them will enter the TARDIS until Lop where the caravan will be stopping for a few days. They are in an area where they need to travel fast because it’s not safe.
Later Marco narrates over a map of their journey. He says his plan has worked and he wants to see their reaction to something he’s going to do.
They’re in Lop and filling up on supplies to travel across the Gobi dessert. Marco has a seal that gets him anything he wants from places that the Kublai Khan controls.
Ian comes in to tell the Doctor that the TARDIS is set up in the courtyard so the Doctor gets up to go do work but the guards stop him. The doctor’s not happy. Barbara says they should hear Marco out.
Marco starts talking about his life. He was young when he arrived at the Khan’s court. He’s traveled a lot but the Khan’s refused to let him go home. So he’s going to offer the TARDIS in exchange for his freedom.
This sets the doctor off. Marco says he’ll take care of them and get them back to Venice where the Doctor can build another TARDIS.
Ian tries to explain that Venice doesn’t have what they need. Marco then says they’ll see their home again it might just take a bit longer. They can go by sea instead of flying. But Marco wants to see his home again and that trumps anything else.
The Doctor says it’s not his problem and Marco says he’s making it his problem. In amongst all this Barbara says she can guarantee Marco he’ll see his home again so I’m assuming it’s historical record he does. I don’t know much about Marco Polo.
Ian says they won’t be able to use the TARDIS without the Doctor but Marco says the Buddhists will be able to figure it out. He has a lot of faith in the Buddhists. They must ahve really impressed him.
The Doctor starts laughing and keeps muttering ‘go by sea’. Susan asks what he’s going to do but the Doctor has no idea. I really like this scene because the Doctor is so up and down.
Somewhere outside Tegana has just brought poison and plans to put it in Marco’s water stores. The caravan will set out across the Gobi dessert and when they are all dead he’ll steal the thing of magic and it’ll take down the Kublai Khan.
This is quite a good starting episode. It sets up all the characters and the conflicts nicely. There’s enough here for a good few episodes but I have a feeling it’s all going to get stretched out until it becomes tedious like with the Daleks. I’m skeptical that they can keep it interesting for as many episodes as they have dedicated to it.
I like Marco Polo and that he doesn’t care that he’s screwing over other people. He’s presented as a nice guy and he saves them but then betrays them.
They’ve brought Barbara down to new levels of stupid. She thinks she’s seeing an animal standing on two feet when it’s just a man dressed in furs. She’s redeemed a bit by knowing about Marco Polo’s history but it’s not enough.
The Doctor was almost too annoying to be entertaining. He spends most of the episode being grumpy for no reason ( I guess he just doesn’t like mountains) and then all of a sudden being happy. It’s tough to keep up with his mood shifts.
I hope the momentum of this episode keeps up and everyone gets poisoned soon.
Previous Doctor Who: The Brink of Disaster Next Doctor Who: The Singing Sands