Hello Dwellers & Welcome To The Basement! This Is Tales From The TARDIS!
This week, we’re beginning our look of the four part serial, The Aztecs which first began airing on May 23, 1964… which means if I actually started doing Tale From The TARDIS on the week of November 23 last year, we actually would be concluding the Aztecs today, But I digress (which is something I do a lot, ha-HA!)
Anyway, The Aztecs more often than not, tends to be the one complete story from the First Doctor era that ends up on most streaming services. It was on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix at one point or another within the past few years… not to mention it was picked to represent the era as part BBC America’s specials of Doctor Who during the 50th Anniversary several. While it’s a good story, it’s not one I would think best represented the first season of Doctor Who as well as say The Daleks or even The Sensorites, which of course we’ll get talk about in the near future (probably around the second week of July if I’m doing my math right).
Anyway, let’s get started with part 1, The Temple of Evil… also known as the campaign headquarters for the Republican and Democratic political parties (Can’t you just tell I’ve had it up to here with both groups).
The TARDIS lands in 15th century Mexico, within a hidden chamber in an Aztec tomb, and Barbara & Susan are the first ones out to begin exploring. Right off the bat we see this spot is of great interest to Barbara, who has expert knowledge on the Aztecs… and we see her pick up a bracelet and put it on… followed by her going through a door Susan finds, only to be trapped out on the other side. As Susan goes back to get the Doctor and Ian, Barbara encounters a man who thinks she’s a trespasser, but because of the bracelet she put on, he has an instantly different view of her. The man is Autloc, the High Priest of Knowledge, and that title isn’t without merit, as he will certainly show why he has the role over the course of the story.
Anyway, The Doctor and Ian come through the hidden door in the temple, only to find Barbara gone and have a sudden realization… that the door is designed to let people out of the chamber, but not to let anyone in! It’s a panic room for the Gods! Autloc returns and says that a ‘Yetaxa’ wishes to speak with them, and so of course they go to meet him… and along the way they meet our villain of the story, Tlotoxl, The High Priest of Sacrifice. Just by looking at him you know he’s going to be trouble, but we’ll get back to him.
Our heroes reach Yetaxa, and you probably realize it’s Barbara if you haven’t already watched this serial before. You see, she is wearing Yetaxa’s bracelent and the Aztecs belive her to be a reincarnated version of a deceased high priest, and thus making her a god! See, even Barbara knows that when asked if you’re a God you say YES! How come Ray Stantz didn’t know that?
Barbara, in her role as Yetaxa, gets The Doctor and Ian free run of area, but Tlotoxl has his own ideas… saying that Ian should be the leader of their army and The Doctor should be placed in the Garden of Peace, where the elderly are basically kept. The Doctor meets Cameca, a wise woman who he becomes quite fond of because of her wisdom… and for really the first time, we see The Doctor smooth-talk his way into getting something he wants, in this case a meeting with the son of the man who designed the temple. However… the best is yet to come as it relates to the Doctor.
And now we come to the bit of Doctor Who that will forever be engraved into canon (until at least 2005…).
Barbara believes that if she stops the human sacrifices and The Aztecs see that things happen naturally, they will not become extinct and become an even greater civilization… to which the Doctor replies.
“You can’t rewrite history… NOT ONE LINE!”
However Barbara’s mind is set, and she puts a stop to it, ticking off a number of folks, including the guy who was willing to sacrifice himself… and does so by throwing himself from off the tomb under the encouragement of Tlotoxl… and the rain comes…
This is where our main conflict of the story comes in, Tlotoxl, being the high priest of Sacrifice stating that the sacrifices are necessary, and Barbara, knowing that’s not quite the case, saying otherwise and decreeing that no more will take place… which leads Tlotoxl to vow that he will expose her as a fraud, not so much over her decree, but Susan who burst in on the ceremony
Now the thing about this serial (without getting too much into the remaining chapters), seems to establish two things instantly, one the ‘History can’t be re-written’ aspect of Doctor Who which obviously became cannon, and other is that it seems like ‘Time will heal itself’, something seen in other time travel franchises, with ‘history’ still happening even with interference, as shown with Barbara wanting to stop a sacrifice and it still happens regardless.
Anyway, that will wrap things up for this week, next week is part two, ‘The Warriors of Death!’
Catch ya then!