Doctor Who Story 008 – The Reign of Terror

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May I first say, it’s ridiculous I have to add a leading double zero because Doctor Who has hundreds of stories?

“The Reign of Terror” is the final story of the first season. We’ve been through 42 episodes, broken down into 8 serials. Until “The Reign of Terror” we’ve only had seven missing episodes. Those seven episodes make up the entirety of “Marco Polo.” “The Reign of Terror” is missing two episodes (“The Tyrant of France” and “A Bargain of Necessity”).

When I was a kid, I would record episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation on VHS, and then all other versions of Star Trek. It seems that British kids had a similar idea, and recorded episodes of Doctor Who with a reel to reel, capturing the audio. Also, there was no great way to create a demo reel if you work in television, so industry people would set up cameras to take shots of a TV every few seconds. Fans have combined the two together to create reconstructions.

If a story is incomplete and only available with reconstructions, I won’t be watching it. Most of the missing episodes are season three through six, but “Marco Polo” is available in this type of reconstruction, and I just find it SUPER BORING to watch those.

The BBC had a better idea, they commissioned an animation company to animate a few select episodes, and release those now complete stories on DVD. “The Reign of Terror” is the first (chronologically) of these animated episodes. They started with Troughton’s “The Invasion” and recently released Hartnell’s swan song “The Tenth Planet” with an animated final episode.

For the episodes that have been animated, I will watch them, hence the writing of this review.

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Synopsis: The Doctor and co. arrive in France during the Revolutionary War. They get taken prisoner.

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I don’t like the animation style, it’s as if they covered the cast in a layer of vaseline. It’s a Flash based animation where it’s slow moving an awkward. It just plainly doesn’t look very good. The audio quality varies throughout the episodes, and often it’s miserable. Oh well. At least it’s better than nothing.

The actual story is quite good. I don’t know a lot about the French Revolution, The Doctor never seems to visit Upper Canada, a history a know much better. Oh well. We have this story that seems to follow the structure of the revolution quite well, and puts our heroes and heroins into the middle of this historical time period.

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The characters are constantly being separated. They don’t know if their friends are living or dead. I’m not quite sure what side they’re fighting on. The republicans have gained power, and they’re fighting against it, but are they monarchists? I think the episode assumes a level of knowledge that I cannot bring to the story. I guess it’s a European-centric view that everyone knows their history, when I’m more interested in Canadian history.

Our destiny is in the stars, so let’s go and search for it.” – The Doctor

That wraps up season one. There was about a six week break between “The Reign of Terror” and the oh so horrible “Planet of Giants.” I won’t take that long, but I’m not looking forward to this upcoming three-part story.

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