Doctor Who The Reign of Terror
We doctor who fans have to face up to something. Not
every episode of the series is great. Not that there aren’t great
episodes, when Doctor Who is good it can be amazing. Episodes like The
Daleks, Tomb of the Cybermen, Spearhead from space, The ark in space,
the talons of Weng Chiang, The pyramids of mars, the city of death,
The Caves of Androzani and so forth don’t just vie for
best doctor who stories, they vie for the best examples of genre
television ever. And the evolution of the format has meant that they all
vie for different reasons. The Daleks was groundbreaking as was Tomb of
the Cybermen. But as much as you might love these stories or have your
own favorites there are other stories that are harder to love. Time
flight always springs to mind when I think of those stories…. Reign of
terror might be one of these. In the early days Doctor Who seemed
determined to try to be all things to all people. Sci-fi, modern drama,
accurate historical (albeit with time travelers thrown in) everything
but a musical.
And yet it was to go on to prove
that with a little tweaking the Doctor Who historical could become
something great. The Time Meddler is an
excellent example of how the historical story could be a great backdrop
for a good solid sci-fi story.
Unfortunately The Reign of Terror is not one
of those times, a fairly pedestrian retelling of the French revolution
where our hero’s are dropped into it and neither the loyalists nor the
revolutionaries trust them. If you’re a big fan of the French Revolution
you will recognize some of the key players here. Robespierre makes an
appearance as does court intrigue and a sense of the upheaval of a
France torn in two by revolution. Provided you can suspend you disbelief
with the wobbly sets and limited studio space.
Making matters worse is the fact that episode’s 4 and
5 are missing from the archive and so not wanting to put out an
incomplete serial BBC worldwide have animated which is fine the second
Doctor’s story “The Invasion” showed that it can be done to great
effect. Once again not here.
The animation on show here is frankly terrible. It’s
simplistic and runs straight into the uncanny valley. Facial movements
are strange and the Doctor’s face kind of like the face made of hands
I realize that the animation studio that did the
Invasion wasn’t available (because Cosgrove Hall went under in 2009) but
surely there was a spare child with a full set of Derwents that could
have done a better job than this?
Adding insult to injury the sound in the animated
episodes is terrible.
Audio: Aside from the above mentioned issue sound is
fine, mono two channel.
Video: Video aside from the terrible animation is
surprisingly good from a program of this age.
Audio Commentary: Sure why not.
Making of documentary: I have the same problem that I
have with all recent first doctor releases and that is that most of the
major players have passed on and the remembrances of the second lighting
technician isn’t that interesting.