Doctor Who: Looking Back At THE MYTH MAKERS - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Looking Back At THE MYTH MAKERS

Christopher Morley finds himself in the middle of the Trojan War.

Help is now at hand for anyone who flunked their Classical Civilisations exam. We're about to head off into season 3 of Who, which has already seen the four-part Galaxy 4 and a brief Mission To The Unknown, and now finds us at the start of an adventure set during one of the ancient world's most significant battles, and the Doctor once again losing an old friend & quickly gaining a new one.....

50 years ago today, on October 16th 1965, the First, Vicki & Stephen find that the TARDIS has deposited them slap bang in the middle of the Trojan War.

Two suitably attired combatants are having a bit of a go at each other- & they're rather important ones to boot. There's Achilles, the legendary Greek warrior, & Hector, the son of King Priam of Troy ( whose progeny also include Cassandra, Paris & Troilus).

So busy are they with the process of beating the proverbial seven bells out of each other that they don't even notice ' Sexy' pitching up right in their midst!

Engrossed in the fight, the Doctor & his companions watch a while- the man in the smoking jacket sticking a quick wager on with Steven that the Greek will have the Trojan on the floor in seconds flat. They shake on it, & so sports betting is born in the heat of battle.

Agreeing on a £10 payout for the winner, Taylor backing Hector, its a wonder neither of the pugilists hears the repeated cries of ' Go on, my son!' & ' Knock his block off!' etc. Either deciding enough is enough or wanting to cheat his young friend out of a crisp tenner, the Doctor decides to stage an intervention-forgetting to change into his boxing referee attire beforehand.

As he makes his way from the TARDIS, the First somehow manages to distract Hector from the rather more important business of duffing up Achilles. His opponent seizes on this & strikes him down. The Doctor is enraged at this underhanded win, & is on the brink of ordering a rematch. An easy £10 from a na├»ve companion is one thing, but ungentlemanly conduct is quite another, hmm? Achilles, though, is overjoyed- he thinks Zeus came down from Mount Olympus to help him!

Just to make him feel at least a little guilty at his breach of the ancient world's equivalent of the Queensbury Rules ( which the Time Lord helped draw up in time for publication in 1867), he plays along with the idea that he is indeed the God of Thunder just for fun before trying to make his way back to what he dubs his ' temple' so as not to confuse matters. But before he can even think of pegging it back to the police box, collecting his winnings from Steven & hot-footing it into space & time Achilles is begging him to stay & help them think up a means of defeating the Trojans...

While they're having their little chat about the offer, they're joined by Odysseus- King of Ithica. If you've read Homer's The Odyssey, you'll know his back-story in extensive detail. When told by the great warrior that Hector is brown-bread at his hands, with Achilles also keen to play up the part of ' Zeus' in the victory, the King is sceptical. He reckons it more likely that the Doctor is a spy, & so orders him marched back to the Greek encampment. That's the thanks you get when you set the fall of Troy in motion, eh?

His friends have been watching all this unfold on Sexy's view-screen, and after most likely falling about laughing at the thought that anyone could think the young codger a god, sets out to help the Doctor out of a bit of a tight squeeze. Things aren't much better at base, either. Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, & his brother Menelaus, King of Sparta- like Odysseus, have come to the aid of the country of their birth and are having a lively argument as to the cause of the ever-developing war. Perhaps hitting a nerve a bit too quickly, Agamemnon chastises his brother.

If he'd fought harder against Paris & kept more of an eye on his good lady wife Helen, all this mess would never have happened, is the basic gist of his argument. And a good one it is too! Before it can progress any further, everyone's back & talk soon turns to whether or not the Doctor really is Zeus. The First tries to prove it using his knowledge of the future, but is rebuffed & cast into imprisonment.

Unknown to him & indeed everyone else bar Cyclops, who is a one-eyed man ( sadly not the one from the X-Men, whose presence would have made this the first crossover story), Steven is well on the way to springing the Doctor out of his jail cell.

Cyclops is a spy for Odysseus, & quickly runs off to tell his paymaster of an intruder in their midst. Predictably Mr Taylor is quickly captured, & claims to be a simple traveller. Odysseus, though, rightly suspects he's got an affiliation to the Doctor & plans to use him to help unravel the mystery of just who the Doctor really is- good luck, pal, you might need it...

Of course when questioned the First denies it, but ' knows' he is indeed a wanderer & offers to 'kill' him within the sacred walls of his ' temple' ( which has conveniently gone walkies). All the relevant parties go off in an attempt to find it but discover only tracks leading into Troy where it once stood-which is taken as final proof that the Doctor & his pal are spying on behalf of the Trojans.

Exasperated, the Doctor is forced to confess that he & Taylor know each other & indeed are both travellers of a sort. Which plays right into Odysseus's hands- things really are starting to look a bit hairy. Worse still, Paris has Sexy..and he's taken her into Troy! His dad's not too impressed, mind. Sonny-boy should be finding out who killed Hector & ensuring he meets the same fate, in his eyes.

The TARDIS does count as among the biggest spoils of any war, though- ask your nearest historian. Hold the celebrations, though, citizens of Troy- Cassandra, who fancies herself as a bit of a prophetess ( the Doctor will encounter similar, shadier types at Pompeii in his Tenth incarnation) has had premonitions of the seizure of their city by the Greeks. Just how do they do it? By hiding themselves inside a vessel disguised as a gift to their enemies- she might be onto something there.

Of course history records that she was, and so the Doctor must ensure that it happens. So far, so good. But then its decided that the TARDIS must be burnt as a sacrifice to the gods, just in case they were thinking of favouring the other side. One small problem- Vicki's still inside & just might be starting to wet herself in fright. Time to hop across to the other side of this rather large divide for a second now...

Steven & the Doctor have by now finished recounting the tale of how they got to Greece in the first place- with Odysseus deciding that while the whole thing is easily the most bizarre story he's heard in a long while, they wouldn't dare make it up. Commendable logic. He wants them to use their acquired knowledge of days yet to come to help him & his chums take Troy! Realising they have no choice given their situation, they reluctantly agree. Vicki might not be around to see them in, though.

A sacrificial altar's been placed around Sexy ready for its date with destiny, but Paris gets cold feet & starts to wonder if the gods wouldn't mind him having it a little longer. Seeking a sign from Zeus & friends that this is the case, they get one when Vicki makes an appearance, telling them she's from the future-Cassandra's a little annoyed that someone else is attempting to muscle in on her prophetess territory, mind. Priam likes her, which helps- giving her the name Cressida ( any Shakespeare fans will be delighted from this point on. Think of a certain 1602 play of Bill's & you'll be able to guess the rest).

Troilus does indeed like her a lot, as does Paris. But before the brothers can get into a fight over the lovely lady, Priam sends Paris off to fight Achilles & gain revenge for the death of his brother. Its all getting a bit heated! From a Greek perspective plans are well under way for the intended siege, with the Doctor demanding that Vicki not be harmed once Odysseus & his men are within city walls.

Stephen will dress as a Greek soldier, allow himself to be caught & then sneak Ms Pallister out safely. How will they do this? Despite a promising discussion as to whether or not they'd considered using flying machines ( they haven't, as it turns out), a plan is hatched during which history will follow its established course- the Trojan horse. Foolproof, as the equines are part of the enemy cavalry & are said to have a degree of religious significance. And what of Katarina, the handmaiden who'll soon be joining Gallifrey's oldest youngster on his travels?

She's introduced after Cassandra sends her on an important errand to bring Cressida back to the Trojan palace ( she's slipped out to get Steven out of jail in more ways than one). It's the day of the siege- the Greeks will slip out later & sack the place for all its worth. Achilles finally gets his comeuppance when he's killed by Troilus, & as their home turns to ruins Cassandra gives them the mother of all ' I told you so' speeches when what she prophesied turns out to be true. They've no time to react, though- they're soon not in a fit state to thanks to the sword of Odysseus.

Oh dear. Katarina's on the side of 'Zeus' & friends by now though, & after bringing a wounded Steven back as the start of the final act of this saga- Vicki deciding to stay & rebuild Troy with Troilus ( the Doctor no doubt noting that his old friend Shakespeare will be delighted)- she enters the TARDIS. 

Believing she's somehow died & ended up on Mount Olympus itself, a state of events expanded upon in the Short Trips- The Muses anthology story Katarina In The Underworld ( set after her literal death in The Daleks Master Plan).

Unluckily for her that's exactly where she, the Doctor & Steven are headed next.....

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