The Aztecs: Doctor Who: Season 1
The Aztecs SYNOPSIS:
Landing in Mexico in the 15th century, the Tardis is trapped in a tomb after the crew have left it. Thanks to Barbara wearing an artifact from the tomb she is mistaken for a female reincarnation of ancient high priest Yetaxa. She intends to use her new found position to put an end to Aztec human sacrifice by high priest Tlotoxl and influences the high priest of knowledge Autloc.
The Doctor is furious at Barbara's attempts to change history but she wants to try to change Aztec civilization so it won't be destroyed by the Spanish. Tlotoxl believes she is a false goddess for trying to ban sacrifice and sets elaborate games in motion to prove this to Autloc and the others in the temple. Ian is compelled into military service and must duel with Tlotoxl's man Ixta for the right to command the Aztec armies.
Susan is forced into breaking Aztec law by refusing to marry the prefect victim and is to be punished while the Doctor unknowing of Aztec customs becomes engaged to Cameca who assists him with finding a secret entrance back into the tomb and the Tardis. Barbara confesses that she is not Yetaxa to Tlotoxl when he tries to poison her but he intends to unmask her as false to the people when Susan is due to be punished on the day of sacrifice.
Ian must get into the tomb and open it before Tlotoxl exposes Barbara and has Ixta kill them all.
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The Aztecs CAST & CREW
William Hartnell (First Doctor)
Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)
William Russell (Ian Chesterton)
Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright)
Keith Pyott — Autloc
John Ringham — Tlotoxl
Ian Cullen — Ixta
Margot Van der Burgh — Cameca
Tom Booth — First Victim
David Anderson — Aztec Captain
Walter Randall — Tonila
André Boulay — Perfect Victim
Production Staff for Serial F:
Writer - John Lucarotti
Directors - John Crockett
Script editor - David Whitaker
Producer - Verity Lambert
Associate producer - Mervyn Pinfield
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The Aztecs REVIEWS
Was pleasantly surprised by the Aztecs. I normally can't stand the all historical stories, thus when this came out on video about an historical period I didn't even know about, was extremely skeptical. Even though Season 1 is slow it's easily the fastest moving story of the first series. They literally have only about six sets to work with but maybe it's the multitude of camera angles, it seems like more.
Makes me wonder if Marco Polo would have been really good. The regulars are back on form, really used to travelling together by now. Not only that they are each given there own significant plot thread throughout the story all of which revolves around Barbara who is mistaken by the high priests to be the re-incarnated Aztec god Yetaxa with her handmaiden, chancellor and champion accompanying her. Jacqueline Wright takes centre stage, while the Doctor is whisked off to a retirement home for his first ever and last ever on screen romance with the beautifully acted Cameca, an ageing Aztec woman who he mistakenly proposes to.
As Barbara settles into her new identity, the two high priests use her as the centre piece of a political game to influence their power among the people. While the Doctor has to convince Barbara just to get the natives to open the tomb the Tardis is trapped so they can escape rather than trying directly to change history as she becomes hell bent on trying to stop human sacrifice. All the supporting cast are great the only real let down being the slightly hammy Ixta. But the two priests are excellent, Autloc noble and questioning and Tlotoxol is perfectly slimy, calculating and scheming. Plus I think he goes down as the only ever villain in the Doctor's history to win and not get his just desserts. It's like watching a televised play...
…so the acting is still a bit theatrical for today's standards but was well realised. Even Ian's fight to the death with Ixta wasn't half bad. Reckon it's my favourite Hartnell next to the Daleks , multiple viewings of a Hartnell means it's gotta be good! 8/10
Meanwhile, the Doctor gets engaged to Cameca which is actually quite a nice touching scene. The other three guest characters; Autloc, Tlotoxl and Ixta don't do a lot for me and at times I was having trouble distinguishing one from the other in regards to their motivation and whose side they were on. The sets are pretty stunning though and there is some nice direction as well. In all, I can appreciate why some people like the episode but for me I was a bit "meh" with it. Having said that. the DVD copy is worth looking at just for the restoration itself. 5/10 for me.
PS: I kind of feel like I missed the point of an entire episode when, on saying that I couldn't find much to distinguish one lead character from another in The Aztecs, Goldby comes along and describes all three of them, their motivations and the context of them in the story!!!
If you are looking for the quintessential historical story, this might just be it. Lucarotti presents a simple story, giving each of our four main characters a nice little storyline (although Susan’s is rather small). Basically the gang of four are separated from the TARDIS, potter around a bit spending four 25 minute episodes trying to get back there. Barbara learns that you can’t change history, Ian challenges some dude to be General Smythe of the armies, Susan disagrees with most Aztec beliefs and the Doctor? Well, he has the most interesting and touching storyline of all. He falls in love. I think. It’s a little unclear. But it’s quite nice.
The limitations of the era and the studios are well apparent, the sets are good but few, and the cameras face some tricky maneuvering and go clunk here and there. But it’s a very solid four parter. The mains are great, and John Ringham, in his first of I believe 3 Doctor Who roles, is chilling as Ltoxel or however you spell the silly name. Thankfully only four parts, pace is better than average for the era. 7.0/10