Sunday, July 23, 2006

"MARCO......" "POLO!"

Last night, Sci-Fi presented "Dragon Dynasty", a fantasy about Marco Polo bringing back dragons from China unknowingly. It was a ploy by a Chinese wizard to prevent the West from venturing back into his country, which he considered to be bad for China's future.

As Marco Polo was portrayed by Federico Castelluccio, it's tempting to employ the "Theory of Relateeveety" and say that he was the ancestor to Furio on 'The Sopranos'. However, Castelluccio was not the first actor to play Marco Polo on the small screen, and the basic rule is that the first actor to play a role gets to be that character in Toobworld.

It can and has been a rule broken in the past, but I see no reason why it should be done in this case.

The first Marco Polo on TV was seen in the United Kingdom, back in 1936! He was played by Griffith Jones in an adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's satirical play "Marco Millions". Just because it was from so long ago, and probably hasn't been seen in decades (if a copy exists at all!), that doesn't exclude it from consideration to be THE version of Marco Polo's life in the main Toobworld of Earth Prime-Time.

In 1982, Ken Marshall played Marco Polo (and Alexander Picolo portrayed him as a child) in a mini-series. This version could be shunted off to another TV dimension, such as the "evil mirror universe".

Marco Polo has been visited by time travellers from the main Toobworld, but it's likely these voyagers crossed over to relative dimensions in space as well as go back in Time.

The first incarnation of the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as The Doctor met Marco Polo in 1289. At that time the explorer tried to deliver the TARDIS to Kublai Khan in order to win his passage home to Venice. But after he helped the Doctor in foiling Tegana's attempt to kill the Khan, his double-cross was no longer necessary.

There were two other time travellers named Tony Newman and Doug Phillips, Americans who were unstuck in time due to an accident with the experimental 'Time Tunnel'. They met up with Marco Polo as well and were able to help him defeat the evil Batu, who also hoped to overthrow Kublai Khan.

The control team back home at Operation Tic-Toc did even more serious damage to the timeline by finding a way to transport blasting caps back through the Time Tunnel to Tony and Doug so that they could ignite the black powder which Marco Polo had with him.

Let's say there was no crossing the dimensional veil by these various time travellers, and that they all did meet the original Marco Polo of Earth Prime-Time. The difference in his appearance, which was due to casting here in the Real World, could be attributed to Marco Polo's long incarceration against his will in China; and that the Doctor met with the Venetian at a different point in time than did Doug and Tony.

But because all of them interfered with the normal course of events, (Doug may even have impregnated Sahib, the daughter of the Khan!), they created new timelines and thus new dimensions for Toobworld.

And as the mighty Kublai Khan in his stately pleasure-dome would decree, you ain't seen nothin' yet. There will be another mini-series next year with Ian Somerhalder playing the Italian explorer. It amuses me to stick his version into the same TV dimension in which we would find 'The West Wing'.

I don't know if it will have the same earnest intensity as did the Sorkin drama, nor do I know if they will walk and talk through Xanadu just as quickly as the Oval Office occupants.

I just like the idea that this Marco Polo and Sam Seaborn are from the same world......


"You do have style.
And that's one thing a Venetian can appreciate
Marco Polo
'The Time Tunnel'

Mark Eden (I) (Marco Polo)
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {Assassin at Peking (#1.20)} TV Series
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {Five Hundred Eyes (#1.16)} TV Series
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {Mighty Kublai Khan (#1.19)} TV Series
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {Rider from Shang-Tu (#1.18)} TV Series
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {The Roof of the World (#1.14)} TV Series
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {The Singing Sands (#1.15)} TV Series
. . . "Doctor Who" (1963) {The Wall of Lies (#1.17)} TV Series

Griffith Jones (Marco Polo)
. . . Marco Millions (1939) (TV)

Ken Marshall (I) (Marco Polo)
. . . "Marco Polo" (1982) (mini) TV Series

Alexander Picolo (Marco Polo as Child)
. . . "Marco Polo" (1982) (mini) TV Series

John Saxon (Marco Polo)
. . . "Time Tunnel, The" (1966) {Attack of the Barbarians (#1.26)} TV Series

Ian Somerhalder (Marco Polo)
. . . "Marco Polo" (2006) (mini) TV Series

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