After the sparseness of Galaxy Four and then the ever-so-serious Dalek adventure last week, this comes as a double shock. The script is so dense, packed from the first scene with banter, rapid-fire dialogue, traded insults and gags – some laugh-out-loud (such as Achilles describing the Doctor as Zeus ‘in the guise of an old beggar’). It’s also probably the wordiest to date, which I don’t expect did much to endear it to Hartnell.
The humour also feels a bit more edgy than previous comedy episodes. While Nero might have rushed around after Barbara, I don’t remember anything quite as on the nose as here, when the Doctor tells Agamemnon that his wife is unfaithful to him (despite previously avowing he will not participate in ‘any kind of vulgar bawdry’). If this is incoming producer John Wiles’ first stab at ‘seeing how far we could take the format’ it works.
Like most British historical comedies (e.g. the Carry On films, Blackadder), a lot of the humour is derived from making famous personages act and talk in modern idioms about period concerns – hence the long banter between Agamemnon and Menelaus that both fills in the background to the Trojan War for anyone who doesn’t know their classics, and is highly amusing for everyone.
While the Doctor and Steven fall into the hands of the Greeks, Vicki remains inside the TARDIS as she has twisted her ankle. This seems to be a disturbing sign of Susan-ness, as is her uncharacteristic girlish excitement at the thought of meeting the heroes. I hope she snaps out of it soon.
Next episode: Small Prophet, Quick Return
Temple of Secrets no longer exists. Not in any of its regenerations. This review is courtesy of the excellent Loose Cannon reconstruction