February 14: "Small Prophet, Quick Return" / "Death of a Spy"

(The Myth Makers episodes 2 & 3)

Seriously, though.  How did Donald Cotton get away with a title like "Small Prophet, Quick Return"?  Especially given that his original title for "Death of a Spy" was nixed...17

A Trojan goddess emerges from the shrine.  ("Small
Prophet, Quick Return", from 8mm off-air footage) ©BBC
But anyway. Last time our attention was focused mainly on the Greek encampment.  This time we get a lot in Troy, which is generally portrayed as something less out of Homer and more out of a P.G. Wodehouse novel.  Paris behaves like a member of the Drones Club, frightfully polite and not really into this whole fighting business at all, but he's being forced into it by his father King Priam, taking the "rich uncle" role, albeit a slightly bloodthirsty one.  ("I should think not indeed, bringing back blessed shrines," Priam remarks after Paris announces he's captured a shrine for the temple.  "Go back and bring Achilles' body, if you want to do something useful.")  And Cassandra is the sister who no one listens to because all she prophesies is doom and destruction ("Don't pay any attention to Cassandra," Paris tells Vicki, "she takes the gloomiest view.  I suspect it's a kind of insurance, so that if things do go wrong she can always say, 'I told you so.'").  It's into this that Vicki is thrust, but she never tells anyone anything other than the truth: that she's from the future.  Cassandra seems to dislike her, but everyone else is quite taken with Vicki.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is forced to admit he's not Zeus, and consequently Odysseus gives him two days to win the Trojan War.  Steven, meanwhile, decides to go rescue Vicki from the Trojans, so he plans to be taken prisoner by Paris.  That whole conversation leading up to the duel is quite a delight:
PARIS: It's Achilles I seek.
STEVEN: And must my Lord Achilles be roused to undertake your death, adulterer?
PARIS: Yes, well, I'm prepared to overlook that for the moment.  I assure you I have no quarrel with you.
STEVEN: I'm Greek, you're Trojan.  Is not that quarrel enough?
PARIS: Yes, well, personally, I think this whole business has been carried just a little bit too far. I mean, that Helen thing was just a misunderstanding.
It's also great how quickly Steven turns to flattery after "losing" the duel, which leads to Paris willing to take him back to Troy just so he can tell the Trojans how great the Greeks think Paris is!  Of course, that backfires slightly when Vicki recognizes Steven, leading Cassandra to declare them both Greek spies.  Next Episode: "Death of a Spy"...

"Death of a Spy" isn't quite as witty as the last two episodes, but that's probably because Steven and Vicki spend the majority of the episode locked up in a Trojan cell.  This does give Vicki (who's been rechristened Cressida) a chance to chat happily with Troilus, and let a little bit of romance blossoms -- complemented by a rather sweet, understated guitar piece from composer Humphrey Searle (one of the more distinguished composers to ever work on the series).

There's some humor in the Greek camp, though.  The Doctor's first thought for defeating the Trojans is to be catapulted over the walls in giant paper airplanes, but he rather goes off the idea when Odysseus informs him that he'll be the first to fly.  Finally, somewhat defeatedly, he gives the Greeks the idea for the Trojan Horse, which Odysseus seizes on eagerly and presents to Agamemnon and Menelaus.  There are a couple jokes here: for instance, when the Doctor describes how they'll build the horse and the Greeks will sail away, Menelaus perks up, until the Doctor informs him that the Greeks will, of course, return: "Why is there always a catch in it?"  And it's quite clear that the Doctor, who is forced to be inside the Trojan Horse, would really rather be somewhere else, as he keeps fidgeting and making noise until Odysseus has to basically threaten him to get him to stop.

The cliffhanger to this episode is interesting.  Paris announces he's having the Horse brought into Troy, and the credits roll.  It's the first time that the cliffhanger has relied on the viewers having prior knowledge of history/myth (delete according to preference), rather than on some obvious danger apparent on screen.  It's worrying not because we think the Doctor and his friends might not get out of their predicament, but rather because we know what's going to happen next.

17 It was going to be called "Is There a Doctor in the Horse?", but this was apparently too much for the production team.