2.12 The Romans Pt. 1 - The Slave Traders Written by Dennis Spooner, Directed by Christopher Barry
The Doctor and his friends enjoy a relaxing stay in a Roman villa.
Not a lot happens in this episode, but it's a good watch nevertheless. Having the four travellers relaxing gives us some nice character moments, with the established crew enjoying their break, and Vicki complaining that it's boring.
There's some nice comedy between Ian and Barbara, and the Doctor gets himself caught up in things when he realises he has a chance to meet Nero, dragging Vicki in with him. The story turns a little more serious towards the end, as it should for the cliffhanger. As episodes go, it's actually rather a fun watch.
"Nero pays well when better musicians than he are put out of the way, and you failed you fool!" - Dennis Edwards (Centurian)
2.13 The Romans Pt. 2 - All Roads Lead to Rome Written by Dennis Spooner, Directed by Christopher Barry
The Doctor arrives at Nero's court. Meanwhile Barbara is sold and Ian is made a galley slave.
This episode chuffs along at a fair old pace. Hartnell again carries the humour with O'Brien, while Hill and Russell carry the drama. In some ways not too much happens, but it's setting things in place nicely for the next couple of episodes.
Watching the Doctor deal with the assassin is a joy.
"You know I am so constantly outwitting the opposition, I tend to forget the delights and satisfaction of the arts - the gentle art of fisticuffs!" - William Hartnell (Doctor Who)
2.14 The Romans Pt. 3 - Conspiracy Written by Dennis Spooner, Directed by Christopher Barry
While the Doctor and Vicki get caught up in the intrigue of Nero's court, Barbara meets the Emperor, and Ian must fight for his life!
An enjoyable romp of an episode, by far the most comedic to date, only turning serious towards the end in time for the cliffhanger. Derek Francis is having a ball with the part if Nero, chasing slave girls and generally acting like a school kid. It gains an extra point for the fight at the end - short but well done.
"He's alright, but he's not all that good." - Derek Francis (Nero) - on the Doctor's lyre playing abilities.
2.15 The Romans Pt. 4 - Inferno Written by Dennis Spooner, Directed by Christopher Barry
The travellers must escape Rome before Nero sets his plans in motion.
Good finish to the story, with the various plotlines more or less reaching natural conclusions. The mix of drama and humour is still well handled, and the stories' closing minutes are quite enjoyable.
"...I've got a friend who specialises in trouble. He dives in and usually finds a way. I think I'll take a leaf out of his book for once. - William Russell (Ian Chesterton)
7.5/10 The Romans
The first story with overt comedy elements is rather well done. It doesn't let the comedy overwhelm what should be dramatic moments and the various threads progress easily and fluidly. Using the fact that all the characters end up at Nero's court separately as a further opportunity to expand the comedy was realised enjoyably.
Hartnell really gets the chance to show his comedic abilities, and obviously enjoys the chance. Vicki doesn't get a huge amount to do, which is unfortunate for the new companion, while the characters of Ian and Barbara get some solid storylines to follow.
Derek Francis as Nero is worth a special mention. He plays the buffoon well, and moves fluidly between Nero the fool, and Nero the dangerous fool.