Doctor Who Television

Doctor Who Review: The Reign of Terror

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Source: BBC Doctor Who

The vast majority of the time, I write half from the episodes in question and half from memory. But for the first time, I haven’t actually seen this story before! All I knew was that it was set in Revolutionary France and the Doctor and his companions were very much as risk from Madame Guillotine. So what I did was write a lot of notes. Unfortunately these turned out to be mostly sarcastic comments.

Episode One
I’m not sure they live in the middle of a wood
On Earth. France
The doctor seems pleased with himself
Because you’re English in revolutionary France!!
And kiss??
🙁
Don’t wander off!!
Yep well done. You’ve broken into someone’s trunk
Yes. Yes he has
Dramatic saying the story name!!
Oh just steal the clothes!!!
Of course it’s his favourite
These French people have great English accents
WOW those soldiers crept up quietly
Shut up unless you want to die
Ian be careful!!
Nuuuuu!!! French dude!!
Only the doctor can save them?
“To Paris!! To the guillotine!!”
Nope. The doctor can’t save them. He’s on fire
I love the quiet hiss of the smoke machines
Go small peasant boy!!
And the doctor’s dead

Got to say, I loved the Stealth Soldiers. They made absolutely no sound and went completely unnoticed until they were right up against the window. Barbara, Susan and Ian are captured by the soldiers but the Doctor is still in the house when it is set alight. And the smoke machines are VERY audible.

Episode Two
And here we have Paris
And a guillotine
No. No you won’t be able to tell your story
Creepy!!
Yeah Barbara! You slap him!
Yay for small peasant boy!
The doctor is determined to save his friends
Jean Pierre
Nice walk across the fields
Very jaunty music
You can’t know he’s alright!
Sarcastic Susan
Barbara gets things done. I love her
Ian has a new friend
Who does Ian need to find?
James Stirling. Send him home
Jules Renan. That’s that most French they’ve sounded!
The grey dog?
Jaunty doctor walking!!
You hit those fake rocks with a pick axe
Hahahaha!! You tell him doctor
Okay so not the best plan. Now you must also hit fake rocks with a pick axe
Barbara and Susan are doing their best to break out of jail
Have you got a fake wall too Ian?
Get rid of the dead guy.
I am concerned as to what will happen to Ian
Rats have to have come in from somewhere
You’d rather be beheaded than shoo away some rats????
The doctor is plotting
So they’ve stolen and hidden money. And pretended to find it
I love how the doctor is the one to smack the guy over the head!!
The jaunty music is back!!!
Ian has been crossed off
Susan and Barbara gonna die

Apart from not wanting to shoo away a few rats (which is probably for the best) Barbara shows herself to be a strong woman. While Susan whines that it’s all hopeless, Barbara just starts digging away at the wall so that they may have a chance to escape.
The Doctor’s walk to Paris (of about 12km) is done accompanied by some very upbeat music which I love. Especially when it comes right after he’s beaten someone overseeing tax evaders round the head with a shovel.

Episode Three
The doctor has arrived!! Accompanied by his jaunty music!
Aha! So this is Jules!
Who’s ‘they’?
Surprise is worth three men?
Don’t leave your keys in the prison door you fool!!
He’s left the keys Ian! Run away!
Good thing Ian has really long arms. He’d be good at taking selfies!!
Ah sneaky. Just take your key rather than all of them
Now you can escape whenever you like
Well done jailer, you’ve executed enough people today
Susan appears to have already died
Susan stop being so pathetic
I love the guy in the background just listening to them
Yay rescue!!
Slightly more dramatic jaunty music this time
The doctor is looking at coats while trying to find information
He’s trying to trade his old coat off a new one?
I liked that old coat
Jules knows what he’s talking about
Susan and Barbara are to be smuggled out of France
Ian is going to make his great escape!
Sneaky sneaky Ian
Unconscious or dead?
Unconscious. Okay then
Barbara and Susan looking at maps with Jules
The safe house has been compromised!
So who’s the informant?
Susan has come over all weak
Someone at the door!
Leon! Are we supposed to trust you?
I presume it’s Ian he’s talking about
Creepy Leon
And the doctor has arrived at the prison. I presume he’s here to let the jailer know that Ian has escaped
I want his hat
Unfortunately the women were rescued
You lying hound!!
Though I’m sure Ian could beat the dude
Oh no….
Run?
Oh no. This isn’t going to go well is it…
I don’t think I like Leon
The ring is evidence?
Oh dear

A guy who has now died gave Ian a message to find Jules Renan and through him, an Englishman called James Stirling. Well we’ve now met Jules as he rescues Susan and Barbara from being executed but we’re no closer to knowing who Stirling is. And the Doctor has traded his clothes for those worn by a member of the French aristocracy so he can break into the prison. One of these items being an amazing hat.

Episode Four
First episode in animation
The doctor has an important meeting
I love the animation style. The eyes are gorgeous and expressive
That’s a lot of executions
“Well meet again Barbara. And soon” will you though?
Barbara isn’t allowed to like Leon when she has such obvious chemistry with Ian
Jules who have you kidnapped?
Ian?
Probably
The dramatic reveal doesn’t do much when we haven’t seen the character in animation before
This isn’t going to go well. The guy has the doctors ring
Run away doctor
Ian!!
Jules doesn’t know Stirling?
Yay more alcohol!
Nuuuuu Susan!
The doctor emerges from the shadows! And immediately complains
I am concerned. This guy knows the doctor isn’t real
Hmmmmmmmmm
Stop questioning things, doctor. Go get your leeches
And of course the doctor turns them in
Nuuuu! The soldiers! They’ve been captured again
Ian is to meet someone alone in an abandoned place
Barbara is taken to see The Doctor
And that’s not going to make people suspicious…..
Creeeeeepy church
I knew Leon was a traitor!!!

Far too proud of myself for figuring out that Leon was a traitor. Though I still haven’t worked out who Stirling is. The animation for the missing episodes is brilliant, it really fits in with the tone of the stories and the time it was originally recorded.

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Source: wilybadger.wordpress.com

Episode Five
Stop yelling “you’ll talk” at Ian
Susan’s magic recovery?
Barbara stop telling them everything!!
Just do as the doctor says
“You know my plans always work perfectly” I presume by always you mean never
Yes, make it seem like it’s the jailers plan
Ah yes great plan. This is totally not going to go wrong
Jules has discovered Ian is gone
Leon just appeared from behind Ian!!
Literally all Ian knows is a name
Nope. Webster was dying and met him in jail
Tell him the truth Ian. See what happens!!
“I flew here with three friends in a small box. When I left England it was 1963”
Jules!! Yay!
Aaaaand Leon’s dead
Back to the hideout!
This is going too well so far
This plan is going so weirdly well. I love it
I presume it’s already a date for history as you said it entirely
“He’s dressed up as if he’s running the revolution” he probably is
You make a point there Barbara. But Leon was going to kill your true love
I do love how they talk about history in these
Play dead Susan!
The doctor likes bashing people around the head
Yeah he knows you’re a traitor
“I need friends even if they’re enemies”
I wonder what mad plan the doctor is going to come up with now
Don’t be sorry. She loves you really
I really like Jules
Someone at the door?
Ah….

Ian has been kidnapped and when told to tell the truth about where he came from, he does. Unsurprisingly, no one actually believes his story. Susan and Barbara have been captured again and the Doctor comes up with a plan to use his new fake position of power to free them. And it works shockingly well!

Episode Six
Lemaitre comes as a friend?
He’s James Stirling!!
Doctor let him explain please
Ian finally passed on his message
Ian you must remember!
Barrass, meeting, sinking ship. Perfect!
I doubt he knows the doctor! He’s literally just wandering around
Yep. Go to the meeting Ian
This is the last episode. We don’t have time for any more dramatic reveals so I presume this is just tying up all the loose ends
Barbara does not seem pleased
This guy looks important
Ian’s fake accent is amazing
I wonder who the guest is
He’s wearing a scarf. It must be a secret
Napoleon! Of course it is!
So Barrass wants to work alongside Napoleon in order to take over France
Napoleon in charge is terrifying
Stirling has a plan!
Barbara finds this very funny
“The events will happen just as they’re written. I’m afraid so and we can’t stem the tide. But at least we can stop being carried away with the flood”
That guy appears to be looking for something
Oh! Robespierre
They will succeed
Did they shoot him in the mouth??
You’ve got about 10 minutes doctor
Haha! Go doctor! Accuse him of being Lemaitre’s accomplice
Nice doctor. Use the fact there will be more people coming to get Susan out
Run before Robespierre arrives!
Yes Jules. Remember the name of Napoleon
“I get the impression they don’t know where they’re heading for. Come to that, do any of us?”
Back in the TARDIS
You can’t change things.

We finally meet Stirling! And he’s the guy who has been conveniently distracting the Jailer at various moments to allow our heroes to escape. In hindsight, I really should have seen that coming!  Ian, Barbara and Jules take over an inn so they can eavesdrop on a conversation about the plot to take down Robespierre. And we have a brief cameo from Napoleon Bonaparte. Because no historical story about revolutionary France would be complete without one!

And my favourite part of this episode? The final lines between Ian and the Doctor, heard as they fly away and we’re left with just the backdrop of the night sky.

“Our lives are important at least to us. But as we see, so we learn”
“Why are we going to see and learn next Doctor?”
“Well, unlike the old adage, my boy, our destiny is in the stars, so let’s go and search for it”

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