Before this: Mission to the Unknown
Season 3, Episode 2: The Myth Makers
The Myth Makers is the completely missing second serial of the third season of Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four parts. The story is set in Homeric Troy, based on Iliad by Homer. In this story we say goodbye to Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) and hello to Katarina (Adrienne Hill). No episodes of this serial are known to have survived.
Historical episodes tend to make me cringe slightly, and The Myth Makers was no exception. It would have worked much better had it been something similar to the Second Doctor story The Mind Robber – a story set in a fairytale world. Instead, we received historically inaccurate, slightly dull story, involving ambitious Greeks, war-weary Trojans, poor old Cassandra (she does draw a short straw in life), and a variety of small plots which weren’t that exciting.
That is not to say it was an awful episode. It was quite light at times, such as Paris and his father’s playful banter, or the Doctor getting himself into trouble with the dangerous Odysseus. The allusions to the Trojan Horse, and the Doctor’s eventual suggesting of the idea counter to his protests against it being real, were all very amusing as well. The dialogue was witty and the story wasn’t in of itself bad – merely not the most exciting. Steven was actually quite enjoyable in this story, managing to keep the Doctor grounded for a little bit, and taking the initiative to go and save Vicki, and even managing to flatter Paris somewhat (another amusing dialogue scene). However, despite these amusing and fun parts, the story still wasn’t that engaging. Perhaps again it was from the lack of moving images, or perhaps because my inner historian always scoffs at these stories.
It was also our last time with Vicki unfortunately. She was a spunky companion, bringing with her an optimistic naivety that was both adorable and heartening. It’s not something that is often seen in many heroes or heroines today: if a character had a traumatic back-story as Vicki, they would be all manner of down and angry (and rightfully so). However, Vicki was fun and enjoyable, and we have been left with Katarina, who we know nothing about, and Steven, who is very rough around the edges and more confrontational than Ian was. Vicki’s love story was a little predictable and sudden – Stockholm Syndrome perhaps? But it was a fitting ending for Vicki as a companion who was light hearted and optimistic.
Conclusion? Not really a fan, but f you’re watching all the missing episodes, there have been worse stories. And now onto the Dalek’s Master Plan!
Maybe it’s just because I’m super cool and exciting, but I usually really enjoy the historical episodes of early Doctor Who. With some fun “historical” digs and amusing depictions of historical figures, The Myth Makers was another such episode. Set near the end of the siege of Troy, this episode has the Doctor, Vicki and Steven getting caught up in the terrible conflict between Troy and Greece, all caused by that peskily attractive Helen of Troy (who we don’t even get to see!) Although this episode varies greatly from the Greek myth, unlike Aidan, I quite enjoyed it – of course, I’m not a historian and so little references to the myth that play out differently were amusing to me rather than cringeworthy.
As with all of the missing episodes that have no moving visuals, the Myth Makers could get a little tiring, but at only four parts, it was much easier to stomach than most. Certainly the fact that early Doctor Who is much heavier on exposition than it is now helps, and this episode had a familiar enough backdrop and story that I didn’t mind so much that there weren’t a lot of visuals. We get to meet all our old favourites: Hector, Achilles, Paris (who’s a bit of a wimp), Cassandra (who is cursed with knowing the truth but never being believed), and Cressida – actually Vicki.
The story revolves around the end of the war: the Doctor is mistaken for, and then pretends to be Zeus to the Greeks, who then ask him to help them win the war, while Vicki is taken to Troy and admired and renamed Cressida (King Priam’s son Troilus is quite taken with her). Steven, who is so far my least favourite companion of the lot, goes after the Doctor, uselessly wanders about and gets captured on purpose by Paris and imprisoned by the Trojans. As with many older Doctor Who stories, I can’t help feeling that reducing the runtime of the stories and fitting the plot into a smaller timeframe would do wonders for audiences’ attention span, but this is still a story I rather liked.
The only part I didn’t like so much was Vicki’s choice to stay with Troilus, who up until then seemed to have been flirting with Vicki in a mostly one-sided manner. Maybe I’m just not a romantic, but given the choice between flying around space and time or being stuck in ancient post-war Troy, I know which one I would choose, and I’d also be 2000 years in the future on one of Jupiter’s moons.