Doctor Who: The Aztecs (Story #6)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Continues to explore the Doctor as a character and the concepts of the show

Cheapness of the old production could turn off some viewers


Oh Barbara…foolish, foolish Barbara…

The Doctor (William Hartnell), his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), and Ian (William Russell) have traveled to Mexico during the 15th Century where they find the Aztec civilization thriving.  When the Doctor and his companions are separated from the TARDIS by an elaborate tomb system, the Doctor must find a way to reopen the tomb to allow escape.  When Barbara is mistaken for the reincarnation of high priestess Yetaxa, the Doctor uses her to stall for time.  Barbara however decides the ways of the Aztecs must be changed and the Doctor, Ian, and Susan could become targets of Tlotoxl (John Ringham) and his follower Ixta (Ian Cullen).

Doctor Who:  The Aztecs aired during the first season of the long running British series Doctor Who.  The story aired in four parts from May 23, 1964 to June 13, 1964.  Each part of the serial has its own title with Part 1 “The Temple of Evil”, Part 2 “The Warriors of Death”, Part 3 “The Bride of Sacrifice”, and Part 4 “The Day of Darkness”.  Following Doctor Who:  The Keys of Marinus, the series has been collected in The William Hartnell Years as Story #6.


What ever you do, don’t fall off the set!

This adventure of the Doctor does some exploration on the “changing of fixed history” which has become a common theme in Doctor Who over the decades.  Barbara doesn’t like the pagan ways of the Aztecs and tries to change their desires for sacrifice and bloodletting to appease gods.  Though the course of the story, she tries to sway the beliefs of the Aztecs including Autloc (Keith Pyott) who is the Priest of Knowledge.  Despite her efforts, the Aztecs keep their course.

The story is getting a better read on the Doctor who of course is new at this point.  There is a bit of a romance in this story with the Doctor and Cameca (Margot Van der Burgh) who aids the Doctor and his companions throughout the story.  It is rather interesting to see the Doctor in an early romantic situation (especially since Hartnell was a rather stodgy Doctor).


All the women want a piece of me…you barely rank, lady!

Visually the old episodes are fun because they are quite cheesy.  It is obvious that most of the Aztec “empire” is simply a painted backdrop, and the show also suffers from focus issues and jittery camera work at points.  Old TV like this is fun to see and to see imperfections is a break from today’s TV which is clean and perfect.  Portions of this serial were colorized and used for flashback scenes in Doctor Who—Season 7 “The Name of the Doctor”.

I think older episodes of Doctor Who actually hold up a bit better than those made in the ’80s.  I wish more of Hartnell and Patrick Troughton episodes existed so you could get a better feel for the Doctor and his companions during this period of the storied show.  Doctor Who:  The Aztecs was followed by Doctor Who:  The Sensorites.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Keys of Marinus (Story #5)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Sensorites (Story #7)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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