The Myth Makers
aka. "The Trojan War"
|Dates||Oct. 16, 1965 -
Nov. 6, 1965
With William Hartnell, Maureen O?Brien, Peter Purves, Adrienne Hill.
Written by Donald Cotten. Script-edited by Donald Tosh.
Directed by Michael Leeston-Smith. Produced by John Wiles.
Synopsis: The rage of Achilles, the Achean siege of Troy, the conflict that would inspire Homer the Blind Bard-- and you-know-Who lands smack in the middle of it, leaving him no choice but to impersonate Zeus the All-Powerful....
|Note: Loose Cannon Reconstructions offers a telesnap reconstruction of this story. Audio recordings of this story are available at Missing Doctor Who Reconstructions & Audios.|
Homer Who? by Daniel Callahan 2/2/98
There has never been a Doctor Who story quite like The Myth Makers before, and I'd lay odds that even if a new series starts tomorrow and lasts another twenty-odd years that The Myth Makers would remain unique.
It belongs to a long-gone era of Who, when dialogue and a good plot had to come first simply because there wasn?t the luxury of special effects, set design, extensive outside filming, etc. (This is also the reason that, barring the end of episode four, The Myth Makers goes over so well on audio).
The Myth Makers not only succeeds on that level, but the script also achieves a grand parody based on an even grander work of literature. As The Crusade models Shakespeare, The Myth Makers nobbles Homer.
Brilliant Achilles, who chases Hector around Illium?s walls three times in Homer?s version of the story, becomes the fleet-footed, gullible fop in Doctor Who. Likewise, the High King Agamemnon becomes a slithering politician, his noble brother Menelaus a drunk, Odysseus the worst kind of sailor, and Paris an blazing, cowardly imbecile. All of the roles are played to the hilt, especially Max Adrian (Priam) and Ivor Salter (Odysseus). The Gods, prevelent in Homer, are converted to off-stage propaganda, just as Odysseus? son Telemachus alters into a rotten school-kid. Thank God Helen never made it to the screen.
All of this detail is deftly acheived, without seeming as if the production was desperately trying to put over a few cliches on its audience (a fault not uncommon in The Romans). And the best part of the joke is: it?s still possible to enjoy The Myth Makers while still believing Homer to be Bart?s dad. The best parts of the joke are reserved the few, we happy few, who have had enough English lit. classes that the jokes reveal themselves like invisible ink between the lines.
But there is one joke to come. Much has been made out of Battlefield, when the Doctor learns he will become Merlin in a future incarnation. The implications of that revelation are nothing compared to one in The Myth Makers? final scenes. As the TARDIS dematerializes amidst the pillages and destruction of Troy, Odysseus watches in disbelief. Suddenly he remembers Achilles? claim that the old beggar was Zeus. Nervously, Odysseus chuckles to himself, although it brings him little comfort, and asks: "Were you really Zeus... after all?"
The Doctor, the inspiration for Homer?s Zeus, as well as the legends of Troy and Odysseus? journey home, and thereby the basis of Greek and Latin literature?
Myth maker indeed!
Deftly Humorous by Tom May 9/11/98
Katarina: "But this is not Troy; this is not even the world; this
is the journey through the beyond."
The Doctor: "No... yes, yes, yes -- as you wish child."
The Myth Makers's blend of humour and drama has more in common with The Romans and The Time Meddler than such stories as The Aztecs and Marco Polo. The Myth Makers is another in a considerably good line of 1st Doctor historicals and is very easy to follow and cleverly written. Donald Cotton's approach here is very rounded. The humour isn't excessive, and tends to concern historical and mythical perceptions of marriage and different historical figures. There are no larger than life characters and basically: it's written correctly and astutely.
Cotton's characterisation is good and is brought across excellently by a distinguished and well-chosen cast. Max Adrian is assured as King Priam, Barrie Ingham is amusing as Paris, Frances White is the vindictive Cassandra and Ivor Salter puts across a convincingly roguish Odysseus. Hartnell usually is more at home in a historical performance,and gives a very reasonable performance, mischeviously involving himself in the events. Vicki is probably at her best in this story, and this is partly because she takes an unusually large part in the proceedings and because it's her last story.
While Vicki seems more mature in the story, her naivety does amusingly come to the fore once or twice. Vicki's large involvement, and a love affair with Trolius, makes it a pretty good send-off for a very badly written (in general) companion. Steven dosen't really do much, yet his rapport with Vicki and the Doctor is brought across well.
The story is structured in a very competent, leisurely fashion, and fairly trots along. Episode four, for example, uses the famous Trojan Horse events well to create an interesting (if predictable) finale. One rather abject and pointless aspect would have to be the late introduction of Katarina, who really isn't characterised at all, and her entrance to the TARDIS seems a little unlikely.
So, The Myth Makers is certainly a worthy, deftly humorous story, which would be very entertaining to watch if intact. Otherwise, I would highly recommend Rick Brindell's innovative reconstruction of the story. 7/10
Small Hope, Big Return by Tim Roll-Pickering 30/11/98
Even when the telesnap reconstructions began, many people seriously doubted that we'd ever seeThe Myth Makers due to the precious few photos that existed (only five, though three more have recently surfaced). However, Rick Brindell has recently pulled off the seemingly impossible, and allowing others the opportunity to see this intriguing story.
The Myth Makers is a difficult adventure to judge, given its decisively humorous slant, making it either a hit or miss. The humour is wonderfully crafted, with lines like:
"Then woe to Troy! Woe the house of Priam!"
"I think it's a bit late to say 'woe' to the horse!"
naturally flowing out, supported by wonderful performances all round, yet the story still manages to convey a serious message. Perhaps the best comparison is with Blackadder Goes Forth--if you enjoyed that then you're bound to enjoy The Myth Makers.
The portrayal of the various historical characters may come as something of a surprise, such as Menelaus the indifferent husband, Agamemnon the scheming politician, Odysseus the barbaric pirate, Paris the warrior (I always thought he was a cowardly archer) and Cassandra the spiteful priestess. Donald Cotton has also taken several liberties with the legends, such as having Troilus, rather than Paris, kill Achilles, when legend states the reverse happened. However, the story works well.
For her final story, Vicki actually gets something to do, trying to prove her integrity in the Trojan court and outthink the Doctor, as well as her growing bond with Troilus, which comes across as a logical progression. The Doctor also gets some good scenes, as he is forced to come up with a scheme to get into Troy, believing the Trojan Horse to be only a literary invention of Homer's, but then having to 'invent' it himself.
However, Steven's role in the story is far more minor, providing little more than comic relief in most scenes. Katarina is shoehorned into the last episode, but does little to distinguish herself before she enters the TARDIS, and it is easy to see why the production team quickly aborted her character.
The visual side of the story is a bit difficult to comment on, but the Trojan Horse prop looks wonderful, as do the few costumes shown in the surviving photos. Michael Leeston-Smith's direction sounds good, with few scenes lingering, whilst Humphrey Searle's score is wonderful, perfectly complementing the scenes between Troilus and Cressida (Vicki). 9/10
For the reconstruction, Rick Brindell has used many different sources to get images of all the main characters, and also used some new footage of the horse prop. Most of the costumes look authentic enough, and nothing substantial is left without visual reference. A sterling effort on one of the hardest stories to reconstruct. 10/10
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 3/5/99
In order to enjoy and appreciate The Myth Makers, a sense of humour is a definite must. The story tells of the Trojan War ,in a lively fashion, akin to the tales told by Homer. What The Myth Makers really does, though, is what Doctor Who was always intended to do: educate and entertain. That said, the lines that are meant to be educational don`t come across as such, and this is what makes the tale one of the better historicals.
It certainly has more in common with The Time Meddler than Marco Polo and still manages to deilver the goods.This is due largely to writer Donald Cotton`s excellent characterisation, which brings the whole thing alive. The acting is of a high standard, with Frances White as the spiteful Cassandra, Max Adrian as Priam and Ivor Salter in particular as Odysseus (complete with mood swings) deserving praise. In this, her last story, Vicki is really brought alive,as she is forced to outthink The Doctor, and her romance with Troilus is a logical reason for her to leave.
The Doctor himself is on fine form here, and William Hartnell is never better than when he is mischeviously conjuring up an idea, such as a wooden horse. Steven only provides the comic relief here, and a reason for Katarina, (who isn`t given enough time to establish herself) to board the TARDIS. Together with excellent scripts, a fine musical score, a good send off for a second rate companion and great acting all round, The Myth Makers is a must for any fan of the historical tales and of the Hartnell era.
A Decent Myth-Representation by Peter Niemeyer 26/9/01
My general reaction to The Myth Makers is positive. It didn't astound or inspire me on any fundamental level, but it did a decent job of entertaining me, and it avoided the flaws that most lesser historicals suffer from. (And forgive the titular pun, but I couldn't resist.)
Much has been written about the clever juxtaposition of the myths surrounding certain figures and the actual people encountered in Troy, such as heroic Paris being portrayed as a coward. I hate to say it, but Homer isn't one of my strong suits, so most of this was lost on me. I do think it would have been funny if they had shown Helen on screen and had her be less than the beauty she is proported to be. 'Face that launched a thousand ships' indeed.
The Doctor fares well in this story. I like the idea that the Doctor believes the Trojan Horse to be a myth. This makes his suggestion of the horse more believeable. After all, he has a self-professed desire to not alter history, so how else could you get the Doctor to suggest the horse unless he thought the suggestion wouldn't be taken seriously. I also enjoyed his exchanges with Agamemnon. It is perhaps a tad unbelieveable that Agamemnon would force a stranger to find a way into Troy upon pain of death, but I was entertained enough that I could forgive this.
At first, Vicki isn't given a whole lot to do, as she spends all of part one hanging out in the TARDIS. Once she exits in Troy, though, her part increases. Doctor Who has done so many historicals with mistaken identities and members of the TARDIS crew pretending to be something they're not, so I thought it was sort of refreshing that Vicki denied that she was a witch or a prophet.
On the down side, I was less convinced by her relationship with Troilus. Vicki and Susan are so similar that one can't help but compare Vicki/Troilus to Susan/David. Susan/David was very believeable. He offered her things that we know Susan yearned for, and their relationship grew more slowly over six episodes. Vicki and Troilus had barely three, and given that there is nothing in Troy that she had longed for other than Troilus, her desire to stay in Troy seemed rather abrupt.
Steven had a fair amount of screen time, but his role in the story was less pivotal. The way in which he got Paris to capture him by playing up on Paris's ego was amusing.
One Thing I'd Do Differently: I'd have shown Vicki saying goodbye to the Doctor on screen. For some reason, I've always felt that the introduction and departure of a companion to be a significant event, and this one being off screen made me feel a little bit cheated. Besides, an on-screen goodbye might have helped to explain a bit more why Vicki decided to leave.
One Thing I Wouldn't Touch: The Doctor's comment at the end of episode 4 where he hopes Vicki will be okay. Like Susan, Barbara, and Ian, there is clear indication that the Doctor will miss Vicki's presence. Interestingly enough, we don't get to see this sort of bittersweet goodbye again until five companions later with Ben and Polly in The Faceless Ones.
Would I Like To Watch This Serial Again?: Yes
A Review by Michael Hickerson 30/1/04
As most of us know, Doctor Who was originally intended to be an educational program, aimed at children. However, the early success of The Daleks led to the early years of the show adopting (for the most part) an alternating pattern of far-future sci-fi centered stories with the more educational, historical stories. And while it's some of the more sci-fi centered stories that tend to dominate the perception of the era -- mainly any story featuring the Daleks -- the historical stories are also an integral part of the early history of Doctor Who. And like the sci-fi driven stories, they are of varying quality. For every classic like The Aztecs or The Crusades, there is a Gunfighters or The Myth Makers.
Honestly, by the third season of Doctor Who, the historical stories were beginning to wear a bit thin. And The Myth Makers comes along at a time when, for the most part, the historical stories have become rather tired and routine, unlike the early excitment and drama of The Aztecs. I think part of the reason is that the central dilemma of The Aztecs is gone -- we can't change history. Also, The Aztecs was content to put us into the day to day life of the people it was focusing on and not have us meet "big" historical figures -- such as we see in The Romans or here. (Part of the reason The Crusades can do this and get away with it is simply the strength of the actors).
So, here we come to The Myth Makers, which is Dr. Who's look at the Trojan war. The problem is that the whole story feels like reheated leftovers of some of the strong points of the earlier historical stories. From The Aztecs, you have characters being mistaken for gods, from The Crusades you a hint of palace intrigue and leaders facing turmoil and from The Romans you get a bit of the tongue in cheek humor that affected so much of episode three. Add it all up and you get a story that is pretty much less than the sum of its parts, though the dilemma of whether or not the Trojan Horse is real or myth and the Doctor being forced to use it to escape the situation is a rather nice one. Too bad it's not really explored in any great detail.
All that said, there are some small bits that do work. The relationship between Vicki and Troilius is well realized and actually has the seeds sewn for a companion departing early in the story instead of coming out of left field. (I think the Hartnell years, on the whole, handled the transition of companions leaving fairly well in that it set up reasonable situations for them to leave). Also, there's the Doctor's initial attempts to get back to the TARDIS after he's been mistaken for Zues.
Of course, the only way we can experience the story these days is by the magic of telesnaps and the nicely done BBC release of the audio. In listening to the story, I can't help but wonder if we're missing something. Certainly seeing a Trojan Horse on Who's budget would be interesting and I wonder if there are some sight gags I'm missing that just don't come across well in the translation. Because of this, I find it difficult to be too hard or soft on the story. Instead, I chalk it up to being a story I'd love to actually see on my screen but not one that I'd put on my wish list of Who I'd like to see returned to the Beeb in the near future. Instead, it lands somewhere out there as a decent enough story, but not much more than that.
A Review by Brian Phelan 5/7/04
The Myth Makers may be the most clever and the most witty of the early historicals, beating out gems such as The Aztecs and The Romans. This may be partially due to the source material, namely Homer's Iliad; writing a satire featuring pseudo-historical and mythological figures rather than real life figures may give a writer, in this case Donald Cotton, a bit more flexibility in his or her characterizations. I would suggest that Cotton draws not just on Homer but also on Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, one of the Bard's lesser known but never the less intriguing plays. Shakespeare's influence can be discerned in the opening scene, when Achilles takes advantage of Hector's Doctor-induced distraction to slay the Trojan warrior in less than heroic fashion. Believing the Doctor to be a manifestation of the God Zeus, the credulous and somewhat thick Achilles becomes the first of many fine and well-drawn characterizations in the story. Among the Greeks there is the craven and bombastic Odysseus, the commanding but war-weary Agamemnon, and the pusillanimous Menelaus, who has lost his wife to the Trojan Paris but after ten years of warfare seems largely resigned to her absence from his life. Paris himself, in over his head and something of a coward, with the physical appearance of a dashing warrior, makes for a good comedic foil on the Trojan side of things; his half-hearted search for Achilles so as to avenge his brother Hector's death is highly amusing. Paris's sister Cassandra, on the other hand, is a menacing and intense presence, but for all her fire and brimstone bluster there is something poignant about her plight, for her foretelling of Troy's downfall is ignored by the rest of the royal family. Rounding out the Trojans is the avuncular King Priam, an aging but vital character not unlike Kublai Khan in Marco Polo.
The regulars, the Doctor, Vicki, and Steven, move effortlessly amidst these figures, playing off of them well. This is especially true for William Hartnell's Doctor, who gets to play a god for the awestruck Achilles and later, under the gun (or sword) to devise a way to defeat the Trojans, tries to convince Odysseus that the Trojans can be defeated by a series of rudimentary airplanes launched by catapults.
The plot of the Trojans is dictated by the events of The Iliad, more specifically the events from Hector's death to the fall of Troy. Within this context the Doctor and his companions go through the usual travails of our time travelers, including repeated captures, threats of execution, and hobnobbing with the historical elite. Vicki's storyline is perhaps the most prominent, as it is Maureen O'Brien's last outing for the program. Vicki's ultimate fate, the changing of her name to Cressida and sailing into the sunset with Troilus on their way to help found Rome, is just one example of the multiple instances in the story (as in many other Who tales) in which the Doctor and his companions are responsible, at least in part, for the events of history (or pseudo-history) that the general public is now familiar with. The most prominent example of this in The Myth Makers is the Doctor's devising of the Trojan horse gambit following the failure of his airplane scheme, although earlier he dismissed the idea as a Homeric fabrication. The audience, of course, must ignore the obvious paradox of the Doctor getting the idea from Homer's description of the Doctor's idea... but I digress.
Pacing-wise, the story holds the interest of the viewer (or in my case, the listener) very well; the usual "third epsisode slump" is averted by the Doctor's aforementioned explication of his catapulted airplane idea. The earlier episodes provide the comedic character interaction and the fourth the climactic battle, along with Vicki's farewell to the series, that makes the story as a whole rather satisfying. I recommend the audio recording of the story to fans of the Hartnell era as well as enthusiasts of the comic historicals in particular. Newcomers to Doctor Who may also enjoy this story as a great introduction to the tone and flavor of the Doctor's early years. 9/10
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 4/8/04
It never ceases to amaze me just how diverse DW could be, especially in its early years. It continually experimented with different modes of story-telling. Many became staple ingredients that ensured the success of the show, but others were dropped, just standing now as unusual yet interesting footnotes in the history of the programme.
The Myth Makers squarely falls into the latter category. Like The Romans the season before it is an historical comedy. What the original viewers thought of it at the time I can only guess, but following the promise of Daleks (Mission to the Unknown) they were probably disappointed. They found themselves instead in the middle of a Greek epic!
The script by Donald Cotton is the most wonderful aspect of the story. He combines the historical and mythical and merges them together in a Shakespearean way. He also combines drama and humour producing one of the most theatrical scripts of the whole series. There are times you fell you are hearing a dense historical recreation, and others when it becomes a farce with a knowing wink at the audience.
The siege of Troy provides the backdrop on which the Doctor and his Companions are put, and the Greek and Trojan Characters are brought alive with elaborate ease. Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, Priam, Paris, Troilus and Cassandra are all involved. The actors and actresses on show here revel in the fruity dialogue they have. Rarely has Doctor Who been so verbacious, rarely has it been so witty.
The leads are up to the task too. William Hartnell shows his skill in comedic situations, giving one of his best performances as the Doctor. His rapport with Odysseus is a constant source of enjoyment. The Doctor too is at his most mischevious. When they arrive he is mistaken for Zeus, and he goes along with this. He even comes up with the wooden horse idea - so much for non-interference. This is the childlike Doctor, even building paper planes.
Steven is the hero, charging in to rescue Vicki, even taking on a Greek dashing name - Diomede. Vicki's farewell is nicely mapped out too. When she becomes Cressida, and Troilus emerges her fate is sealed. Their courtship is predictable, but nice all the same. All the characters have their place in the story, none are superfluous.
The story is a simple yet fascinating one. The Greeks want to rescue Helen from the Trojans. The Doctor and Steven want to rescue Vicki and the TARDIS from the Trojans. It borrows Homer's story, and makes it something better. To give the story its full due read the Target novelization by Donald Cotton - it is one of the best, and certainly the funniest, of them all.
The Myth Makers always entertaining. I wish they had used that "Is there a Doctor in the Horse" episode title though. 8/10
"I Suppose I'll Have To Drive You Like A Grecian Cur Into The City... Come, Dog!" by Neil Clarke 6/3/08
The Myth Makers is one of those stories which, despite knowing what it's about, I've never really heard much about. So it was a bit of a delight to find it's a total gem.
I'm an enormous fan of Hartnell's years, but I find that I can still be swayed by the general view that the stories were "a bit shoddy", "too slow", etc (despite the fact that I think, at its best, this period's production values were at an all-time high compared to the majority of the later years, relatively speaking), so it almost came as a (pleasant) surprise just how snappy this story is! Oh ye (me) of little faith.
It was wonderful to hear a "comedy" Doctor Who story that is genuinely funny; I love The Romans, but I wouldn't describe it as pant-wettingly funny, as it is often portrayed. I don't want to just list quotes, but, er, I think I'm going to. Paris is particularly good value for money: I love the re-imagining of a Trojan warrior as an inept Carry On imbecile; he reminded me of Hugo in The Vicar of Dibley, actually, crossed with David Hemmings' Dildano in Barbarella ("I'll put it round your secret neck"). I particularly like Paris' "Now I suppose I'll have to drive you like a Grecian cur into the city, won't I? Come, dog!"
All the derogatory stuff about Cassandra was entertaining too ("Oh, go and feed the sacred snakes or something"). Her, "You're not putting THAT in my temple!" of the TARDIS tickled me too. Also: the comment about "galloping religious mania"; "It seems there's a man lurking behind that flaccid exterior after all!"; "Catapults? Sounds like a vulgar oath to me."
Not being particularly action-packed (although, thanks to the wordplay, it never drags either; if anything, four episodes felt too short), the story transfers wonderfully to audio, which is particularly nice as it emphasised the links between this and Marc Platt's grown-up-Vicki Frostfire audio. I'm not particularly sold on the idea of the audio adventures, so I've never become very involved with Big Finish. Well, I say "very"; Frostfire is the only one I've actually listened to. (Audio just seems like a slightly clumsy medium to me; compared to novels and televised stories, it has the worst of both worlds. But I digress.) I could really feel the links between young Vicki leaving the TARDIS here, and the older Vicki/Lady Cressida in the catacombs in the Companions Chronicle story. Maureen O'Brien even sounded exactly the same. Having listened to the audio first, there was a nice sense of continuity (not in the fan sense) between the two stories.
It's also amazing how far Vicki has come since The Rescue. It's often said that there's little character development in the companions, so it's wonderful that even one with relatively little status within fandom like Vicki really has matured by now - and she's completely charming. Even her romance with Troilus is sweet and well played, and doesn't become trite. Also a nice ending for her; I wasn't convinced at first (it just seems as if she's been forgotten), but her telling the Doctor that she has decided to leave off-screen is really effective; it fits with the frantic events of the Greek attack, and is slightly less 'literal' than the thinking that these scenes always need to be shown.
Whilst on the topic of companions: Katarina - what the hell?! I've previously listened to The Daleks' Master Plan (ooh, I love a Doctor Who with honest-to-god grammar in the title...); I wasn't expecting miracles from her debut (in fact, I'd forgotten about her until she randomly showed up), but I thought she might at least have some part to play here. Ah, well... she'll soon be a space popsicle.
The other main thing that strikes me: Hartnell, wonderful as ever - but why has no-one ever really picked up more on the whole "the Doctor is responsible for the fall of Troy" element?! I know he regrets giving the Greeks the idea for the horse once he's actually in it, but it sounds like it's motivated more by self-preservation than guilt at instigating a massacre! Very strange how sometimes the Doctor will emote for ages about one little character (or whatever; can't think of an example off the top of my head; erm, Lytton), and then doesn't trouble himself about causing the fall of an entire city! Not to mention The Aztecs' patented "messing around with history" thing.
All in all, The Myth Makers is deeply underrated; it feels very effortless, loads of fun, but with a pleasingly dramatic ending, which stops it feeling too inconsequential. (I've got The Massacre primed to go next; ooh, expectations are sky-high!)
"Your kind of sarcasm" by Jason A. Miller 2/11/10
Most estimates place the fall of Troy in the year 1184 BCE. A ruse involving a horse was involved and Odysseus took a long time to get home afterwards. About this, everyone can agree. Every single other fact involving the Trojan War seems to be up for dispute. No two books on the subject portray the same story about what "really" happened; one book even argues (half convincingly) that the eht Trojan War wasn't even waged by the Greeks in Asia Minor but rather took place in England when an alliance of Europeans liberated a tin mine from the Celts. When Wolfgang Petersen directed his visually sumptuous but lifeless retelling of the tale a few years ago (a film doomed when Brad Pitt was cast to play Achilles as a moody Huntington Beach surfer brah, and once you realized that Julian Glover was only going to be in just the one scene), he rewrote history by killing off Agamemnon and Menelaus with the war still in progress.
You can do that kind of thing with the Trojan War. The principal events, to the extent they happened at all, occurred about 3,200 years ago. You can re-tell the story with any sort of poetic license you prefer (just don't pull a Wolfgang Petersen and make it deathly dull). Fortunately The Myth Makers opts for a high-energy comic portrayal, sticking to popular perceptions of the tale (with some heavy nods to Shakespeare's Troilus & Cressida), and making the first three episodes laugh-out-loud funny. While the proper cliffhanger to the third part is footage of the Horse being rolled towards Troy -- history in motion, a great episode ending -- the last words actually spoken involve a pun on the words "Woe" and "Whoa!".
The Donald Cotton script is still, even after 45 years, brilliant. As a 12 year-old I was disappointed in the novelization, which was narrated in the first person by Homer; I had seen in the Programme Guide that Homer didn't appear in the TV story so that meant the novelization could not have been an accurate representation. However, come to find out, all the dialogue in the novelization is taken direct from TV; it was funny in print and it's even better when delivered by a bunch of (mostly) talented actors. Without a huge budget for action sequences and massive crowds, the story has to propel itself verbally; the comic bickering among both the Greeks and Trojans more than keeps the story breathing until the big finish.
Not all of the heroes get equal screen time, of course. Achilles gets off to a promising start, dominating the first episode by vanquishing Hector in a sword fight and hailing the Doctor as Zeus; however, after that he vanishes for the rest of the story, save a brief death scene in the final episode. Agamemnon (played by Barbara's would-be rapist from The Keys of Marinus) and Menelaus drift in and out of the first and third parts; the Trojans don't show up until the second episode and then never interact with the Doctor at all (and you can select whichever version of the William Hartnell-hates-Max Adrian rumor you prefer, but evidently the story was always plotted that way).
As a result, the main guest star is Odysseus. At first I thought this was gonna be trouble: Odysseus is played by Ivor Salter, an actor cloaked in the whiff of failure, having so recently appeared in The Space Museum. Fortunately, he's given a thousand ships' worth of great lines, from his effortless put-downs of Achilles in the opener ("So you found him, you say, as he lay dying?"), through his comic bullying of the Doctor over the rest of the story ("Catapults to you, my Lord!"). He even gets to employ a one-eyed spy named Cyclops, an interesting twist on the actual Cyclops-Odysseus relationship.
Speaking of which, Cyclops is played by actor Tutte Lemkow, and the third episode (Death of a Spy) is named after his character even though he doesn't say a word in the piece. Match that up with the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, in which Lemkow also played the title character and didn't have a line of dialogue, and you've got yourself a guy who had one interesting career.
The last episode shifts the tone; as the Achaeans sack Troy and the body count surges, the story gets markedly less jokey. Steven is badly wounded, leaving the story to end on a rare regular-character-in-danger cliffhanger. Vicki's slow final exit from the TARDIS, footage that still survives, looks genuinely emotional; it's just a pity that her actually delivering the news to the Doctor happened off screen. Katarina's entrance, on the other hand, is muted and unimpressive; according to the Loose Cannon featurette, Adrienne Hill actually filmed her death scene from The Daleks' Master Plan before the taping of her lone episode of The Myth Makers. Having known the character wasn't going to be around long, filming her last scene before recording her first, it seems the production team didn't make much of an effort to seamlessly integrate her into the cast.
I watched The Myth Makers via the Loose Cannon reconstruction, which goes to heroic efforts to revive a story of which only a few seconds of flickering home-movie screen grabs survive. Some of the Photoshop choices are unfortunate, but evidently there are no telesnaps for the story so without the LC team's creativity we wouldn't have a whole lot to look at.
The end result is a historical that gets to improvise with the facts and use liberal amounts of humor and violence to get its points across. This is a very secular view of the ancient world, with the Achaeans capitalizing on the Trojan's worshipping a horse and with Odysseus being brazenly secular (until, perhaps, he watches the TARDIS dematerialize). As such, the world view of The Myth Makers has aged very well, which may be the highest compliment I can pay it.
A Review by Jacob Licklider 25/12/14
The Myth Makers is an often overlooked serial due to its placement in between Mission to the Unknown and The Daleks' Master Plan. This is unfortunate due to the story being a very good comedic piece as well as staying faithful to the story of the Trojan War in The Iliad. This is done by integrating the realistic portions of the story with the mythical aspects of the poem. It also helps that the performances of the Greeks and Trojans begin over the top but become extremely serious in Part Four with the sack of the city.
Hartnell especially is on top form, providing some of my personal favorite moments of the story. Through it all but the early portions of Part One (most likely due to the switch over from Verity Lambert to John Wiles as Producer) he is on top form. Maureen O'Brien as Vicki gives an amazing final performance as well. I really can't see why fans call Vicki falling in love with Troilus as forced. The two make it just as convincing as Susan and David's relationship in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
The biggest problem with the story is the introduction of Katarina, who is rushed into the scripts at the last minute. The recons aren't the best, due to John Wiles not hiring John Cura to take telesnaps of any of his stories.
All in all, The Myth Makers receives 85/100