The BEST Episodes of Marco Polo
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Nov 2, 2020
A 10-hour re-creation of 13th-century splendors and intrigues, chronicling the perilous trek to the Orient of the Venetian trader's son, depicted here as a guileless charmer with a taste for wanderlust. An Emmy winner for Outstanding Limited Series, it featured an all-star supporting cast and was handsomely photographed in locales including China, Venice, Morocco and Mongolia.
#1 - Episode 8
Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Jan 23, 1983
War has come again, and even though Jia Sidao nearly was a casualty before the fighting even began, all his nefarious plotting paid off: he’s arranged exactly the war that he wanted, exactly when he wanted, and exactly where he wanted it to occur. Riled up to defend his wife’s honor, Kublai Khan has taken the bait and marched his troops to Xiangyang, the Chinese walled-city stronghold that has eluded the Mongols for 80 years. For Kublai, the spirit is willing when it comes to battle but the flesh is weak—or at least flabby. Just months after dispatching his treasonous brother, but still recovering from an assassination attempt, Kublai is not in fighting shape. (He insists to his wife that his battle armor has shrunk.) And an adversary as skilled and cunning as Jia requires someone whose personal battlefield strategy is more daring and ambitious than just surrounding himself with brave soldiers willing to absorb enemy arrows.
#2 - Episode 3
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Dec 19, 1982
Marco's friendship with the Khan's son grows amid ministerial jealousies and plans for war with Japan. Marco: Ken Marshall. Kublai Khan: Ying Ruocheng. Achmet: Leonard Nimoy. Chinkin: Junichi Ishida. Phags-Pa: James Hong. Niccolo: Denholm Elliott.
#3 - Episode 7
Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Jan 16, 1983
Jia Sidao is one twisted bastard. The outgoing Song chancellor “crawled up and into the Imperial Court through the wet spot” in his sister’s bed. He used her seductive charms to assassinate rivals, then banished her to Cambulac once he felt ready to seize total control and take on the Mongols. He crippled his niece by binding her feet—and we learn in “The Scholar’s Pen” how his nickname for her, Sunflower, underscores the warped relationship he has with women.
#4 - Episode 5
Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Jan 2, 1983
In “The Fourth Step,” the Polo family reunion in Kublai’s city was less than joyous, with Marco’s uncle sneering at the cultural assimilation that his brother’s son had embraced. While their time together was bitter and brief, no one even bothered to raise the subject of whether Marco would leave Kublai’s court with them, rejoining them in the family merchant business. But subsequent events—beginning with the Polos’ arrest for smuggling—proved that Marco was even more “Oriental” then uncle had claimed.
#5 - Episode 2
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Dec 12, 1982
Freed by renegade Saracens, Marco Polo (Ken Marshall) survives plague in Persia and an avalanche in Tibet to arrive at a Mongol camp in northern China. Kublai Khan: Ying Ruocheng. Niccolo: Denholm Elliott. Matteo: Tony Vogel.
#6 - Episode 4
Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 26, 1982
Marco (Ken Marshall) is appointed as an emissary to southern China, and falls in love with an orphaned Westerner (Kathryn Dowling). Achmet: Leonard Nimoy. Chinkin: Junichi Ishida. Niccolo: Denholm Elliott. Kublai Khan: Ying Ruocheng.
#7 - Episode 6
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Jan 9, 1983
Who hired the assassins that nearly murdered Kublai? The clock is ticking for Marco and Byamba to find the traitor before the Mongolian New Year’s celebration of Tsagaan Sar, or White Moon. They have a strong lead—Marco recognized the handwriting on the Hashshashin murder map as belonging to his first friend in the Imperial city of Cambulac, the now-dead tax collector, Sanga. So Marco and Byamba set out to investigate, like two odd-couple beat cops following the crumbs to piece together their case. I almost expected to hear the Law & Order chung-chung sound as they interviewed a multitude of suspects.
#8 - Episode 1
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Dec 5, 1982
The splendor and intrigue of the 13th century are seen through the eyes of the Venetian Marco Polo (Ken Marshall), who arrives with her father and uncle on a trip to the Far East. Niccolo: Denholm Elliott. Theobald: Burt Lancaster. Doge: John Gielgud. Matthew: Tony Vogel.