Timestamp #4: Marco Polo

Doctor Who: Marco Polo
(7 episodes, s01e14-e20, 1964)

Timestamp 004 Marco Polo

I watched the Loose Cannon reconstruct for this serial since all of the episodes are currently lost. It is a great story that ran a little long, but did have a decent ending. I particularly loved how the companions drove the story, even though it forced the Doctor into a much smaller role. It was also quite nice to remove the TARDIS from the characters so they couldn’t just jump in and fly away, although the ship does seem to be malfunctioning quite often. In An Unearthly Child, Susan points out that the chameleon circuit isn’t working. In The Daleks, we find out that the fluid link may possibly be a single point of failure for the ship. In The Edge of Destruction, a broken spring in a single switch causes an overload of the power source, nearly destroying the TARDIS. The fallout from that casualty drops the ship into Marco Polo without power, light, or heat. If I didn’t have the background from the Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith years, I’d be worried about how long the TARDIS can hold out.

Is the Doctor incompetent at operating the ship despite the adventures alluded to before the series began? Is the TARDIS intentionally causing some of these problems? Was it just a simple writing crutch in the beginning of the series?

I give Clara one thing: It does make for a more exciting journey.


Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus



The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

5 thoughts on “Timestamp #4: Marco Polo

  1. There’s two schools of thought on this. First, the Doctor claims that something in the TARDIS broke just before they landed on Earth in 1963 and he and Susan had stayed there for a longer than normal period because he was trying to fix it. Ian and Barbara coming in forced him to leave before he could finish fixing it so the Ship remains in poor repair and travels randomly.
    The other school of thought is that the Doctor’s talk of ever knowing what the TARDIS does is just bluster as he shows on a variety of other subjects. He never knew how to operate the ship completely and is just messing around and sometimes causes trouble. It isn’t until his third incarnation when he actually starts to really learn what’s what (or possibly season 6B, more on that later).

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