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DOCTOR WHO: THE AZTECS - Oh, the sacrifices we make!

Jan 7, 2008 (Updated Mar 18, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:They dont make stories like this anymore

Cons:Some closed minded idiots may not like their TV shows in B&W

The Bottom Line: If you're a fan of the show, get this; it's got loads of features and the restored video quality is superb.


The Aztecs has to be one of my favorite episodes from the first Doctor's era, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see it get a DVD release. Oh, before I get into that, let me quickly educate the folks who clicked on this review by accident exactly what I'm taking about. . . .

From 1963 to 1989 (and a couple of false starts thereafter) the BBC ran an immensely popular family program called Doctor Who. The main character is called The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels the universe in the TARDIS, a wondrous spaceship that can go anywhere in time and space - provided that the Doctor can steer it correctly. During his adventures, he and his companion (usually a young human female with weak ankles and good lungs) combat evil and injustice wherever they find it. Key to the longevity of the series - Doctor Who can do what the James Bond movies have done several times. When fatally injured, Time Lords have the ability to regenerate, totally changing their faces and personalities, allowing the ability to swap out the lead roll when the actor wants to leave the series. So there have been several Doctors with different faces (ten, so far), but all of them the same character.

Oh, and the name of the show is Doctor Who. The main character is simply called The Doctor.

The first Doctor (the old one with white hair) lands the TARDIS in Mexico sometime during the 15th century, in the tomb of a revered Aztec long since dead. Barbara is mistaken by the Aztec priests as the reincarnation of Yetaxa, one of their gods, when she emerges from the tomb wearing a sacred bracelet she picked up along the way.

Realizing what a golden opportunity this is, Barbara sets about to change history and save the Aztec race by diverting them from being a sacrifice based religion to something more begin so they won't be wiped out when Cortez and his Spanish good squad arrives. The Doctor tries to explain to her that she can’t interfere with the course of history, but she persists, making enemies of Tlotoxl, the High Priest of Sacrifice in the process.

Meanwhile Susan is manipulated into an arranged marriage with ‘the Perfect Victim’ - the next in the Sun God's sacrificial dance card, and, Ian is appointed Chief of the Aztec Warriors and thus has to do battle with his rival Ixta. The Doctor, searching for a way back into the tomb and back to the TARDIS, becomes engaged to the lady Cameca, widow of the tomb engineer.

Pardon me while I take a moment: hah! In your face new series haters. The Doctor CAN be romantic! While he may not have been in love with Cameca like he was with Rose, how can you watch that very last scene of the story and tell me that there wasn’t some kind of feelings for her? Sorry, I digress.

The story is a small one, less having to save the world and more just trying to escape back to the TARDIS, a common theme early on in the shows run. Yet despite it's simplicity, it unwinds in such an intricate yet organic manner. The doctor has to find a way into the tomb where the TARDIS is, so he has to get information from Ixta, who's father built them years ago. In exchange for the information, Ixta requires a foolproof method for beating his opponent, so he can command the Aztec armies. The Doctor helps him with a poisoned thorn, not knowing that Ixta's foe is really Ian, who had been placed in that position by Tlotoxl to try and damage the false goddesses reputation and expose her for the fraud she is. Meanwhile, Susan - well, you get the idea.

Writer John Lucarotti also has a wonderful way with dialogue - both in evidence here with The Aztecs and the unfortunately missing from the archives Marco Polo. The elegance and rhythm of the lines almost flow like a kind of poetry. John Ringham as Tlotoxl puts more sinister in his delivery than a dozen Daleks and Keith Pyott as Autloc the High Priest of Knowledge does humble yet questioning very well. The two have a dynamic that plays off each other very well. And of course the main cast acquits themselves in fine form as always.

In the end, the monsters would win out over the purely historical adventures. We'd only get a couple more from this point on - The Reign of Terror later in the season, the Highlanders with Doctor Two, Black Orchid with Doctor Five and the excellent Big Finish audio The Fires of Vulcan with Doctor Seven and Mel. And that's a damn shame, since the format is so flexible and versatile, it seems that they should get away from the Alien of the Week from time to time.

THE DVD -
You know, I'm really starting to sound like a broken record here. Yet again we get nearly pristine picture and sound. Apparently episode one suffered from looking soft, grainy and overall in poor condition (2,000 scratches in this episode alone were cleaned up), and episode three and four suffered from overall picture instability. The end result of all this effort? The Aztecs looks downright amazing, like it was shot yesterday.

Even better, this is the first release to receive the VidFire treatment - a long and complicated process that restores the video look to film recordings. While it may use big words to explain itself, the end result is utterly gorgeous.

THE EXTRAS -
We're now enjoying the typical bounty of bonus features that pretty much comes standard with the Doctor Who range these days. We get a short segment from the children's show Blue Peter with an Aztec bent, a documentary with the cast and crew, episode four dubbed with an Arabic soundtrack (cute for a novelty, but not something I listened to all the way through, despite the alternate incidental music), six randomly selected introductory voiceovers by Tlotoxl, Tonila and Ixta (with the actual actors reprising their rolls), a short animated segment about how to make Cocoa hosted by Tlotoxl and Tonila (with Ringham and Randall again), a lively commentary with producer Verity Lambert, Carole Ann Ford and William Russell. We also get another TARDIS-Cam, a photo gallery and the subtitle text production note track.

A very complete package indeed.

THE BOTTOM LINE -
This day we honor the great Yetaxa's name with an offering on DVD, in hopes that she will give us the blessings for the coming year.

OTHER DOCTOR WHO EPISODES ON DVD:

DOCTOR ONE -
* The Beginning * Doctor Who and the Daleks * The Aztecs * The Dalek Invasion of Earth * Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. * The Web Planet * The Lost in Time Collection *

DOCTOR TWO -
* Tomb of the Cybermen * The Seeds of Death * The Mind Robber * The Invasion *

DOCTOR THREE -
* Spearhead From Space * Doctor Who and the Silurians * The Sea Devils * The Three Doctors * Carnival of Monsters*

DOCTOR FOUR -
* The Ark in Space * Genesis of the Daleks * The Pyramids of Mars * The Robots of Death * The Talons of Weng-Chiang *
Destiny of the Daleks *


DOCTOR FIVE -
* Earthshock * Time-Flight * The Five Doctors * Warriors of the Deep * Resurrection of the Daleks * The Caves of Androzani*

DOCTOR SIX -
* Vengeance on Varos * Timelash * Revelation of the Daleks *

DOCTOR SEVEN -
* Rememberance of the Daleks * The Television Movie*

THE NEW SERIES -
* Doctor Who - Series One * Doctor Who - Series Two * Torchwood - Series One * Doctor Who - Series Three * The Infinite Quest*


Recommend this product? Yes


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