Doctor Who: The Aztecs
(4 episodes, s01e25-e28, 1964)
How delightful! This serial was great, with our heroes having to transition from being reactive to being proactive within the span of four episodes and unpredictable rapid-fire twists and turns. The TARDIS crew shows up, accidentally gets separated from the ship, and gets mistaken for a god and her assistants. As the main villain, Tlotoxl, the High Priest of Sacrifice, keeps throwing every twist and turn he can at the time-travellers in order to usurp the power mistakenly given to them by the other Aztecs.
The beauty of the serial is how the group is forced to shift from dodging Tlotoxl’s efforts to countering his machinations before he even makes a move. The smaller moments (the Doctor gets betrothed, Susan refuses to get married, and Ian fights warriors and discovers the path back to the ship) only add to the delicious point-counterpoint between Barbara and Tlotoxl.
Most importantly, this serial really starts to emphasize the points that I’m familiar with in the Doctor Who mythos. No matter what happens, the timeline must remain intact and certain fixed parts of history cannot be changed. The sacrifices must continue despite Barbara and Susan’s protests, and, amazingly enough, the story ends with a win-win for both the heroes and the villain.
This serial was an elegant dance. I had seen it once before, but within the context of the show, this time I actually experienced it.
Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Sensorites