Which One : Aztec historical.
Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Susan : Carol Ann Ford
Ian : William Russell
Barbara : Jacqueline Hill
Autloc : Keith Pyott
Tlotoxl : John Ringham
Ixta : Ian Cullen
Cameca : Margot Van Der Burgh
Aztec Victim : Tom Booth
Aztec Captain : David Anderson
Tonila : Walter Randall
Written By : John Lucarotti
Produced By : Verity Lamb
First UK Broadcast : 23 May 13 – June 1964.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
1) “The Temple Of Evil”
2) “The Warriors Of Death”
3) “The Bride Of Sacrifice”
4) “The Day Of Darkness”
Plot : The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara travel back to the Aztec age. Where Barbara is mistaken for a reincarnated deity and worshipped by the Aztec’s.
Whats good : Solid Beeb costume piece. Has some nice dialogue, drama and action. Both Ian and Barbara have a good solid role in this.
Whats bad : Susan is yet again left out of much of the preceedings and is underdeveloped, compared to Barbara and Ian.
Review With Spoilers : Historically, the Who fanbase never particularly enjoyed the historical period dramas and ratings were generally lower than their sci-fi counterparts.
After William Hartnell’s era ended, most of the historical dramas in Who were phased out – in favour of more futuristic sci-fi concepts.
So what we are left with is a mixed bag of period adventures. The crushing boredom of something like The Romans, was in contrast to the drama and humour of The Crusade or to alesser degree; Reign Of Terror.
In terms of application; set design, costumes, acting – The Aztecs is easily one of lushiest productions of the early Who years. Helped in part, by the Beeb’s bottomless period department.
There is plenty for the Doctor and companions to contend with. Barbara is mistaken for a reincarnanted deity, Ian is forced to prove himself in combat and Susan is prepared to be married off; against her will. The Doctor even finds time to acquire an Aztec girlfriend (of sorts) and invents the first wheel.
“What’s the point of travelling through time and space if we can’t change anything? Nothing. Tlotoxl had to win!” Barbara
There is always an uneasy underlining feeling that the Aztec’s will work out that the Doctor and company are false prophets and sacrifice them. It kind of permeates the story and gives it some underlying tension.
Ian has a lot of fun in this, swordfighting, fist fighting and even knocking out an Aztec warrior; with a Vulcan deathgrip blow – to the back of the neck.
Meanwhile, Barbara is in her element; being a history teacher and an expert on Aztec culture. She does unsuccessfully attempt to get the Aztecs to see the folly of sacrificing people – just to make it rain. Despite the Doctors assertions that she should not meddle in their belief systems.
The Aztecs proves that Who can be educational and fun and that there is a place for the Who costume drama episode; if it is done right.