C008 The Reign of Terror

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The Doctor & Co accidentally land in the French Revolution and bludgeon a whole bunch of people

The Doctor still holds a grudge after Ian’s sarcastic remark at the end of The Sensorites, and is consequently fully intent on dropping off him and Barbara at their next stop. Thus, he expertly maneuvers the TARDIS to present-day England, but misses it slightly and arrives just outside of Paris during the French Revolution instead. Well done, Doc.

It transpires, however, that this is The Doctor’s favourite point in mankind’s history, so naturally the troupe goes exploring and – yeah, you guessed it – they’re split up, captured, rescued, captured, rescued and so on.

This is not only the end of Series 1, but also a gem of a story, and one that is available from the BBC with two of its hitherto missing episodes recreated in animated form.

That said, here are just a few of the humorous tidbits to look forward to in this story:

  • frequent bludgeoning
  • Ian accidentally grabbing Susan’s breast
  • The Doctor stumbling over lines
  • Susan getting a lengthy migraine
  • and so on…
  • and so forth…

Big Thanks to @GinaGuerrero1, @mariuskane, @Twistr360 and Davis (Got a Twitter account, buddy? If so, let us know and we’ll pop it in here…), whose thoughts and mini-reviews are included in this episode. And thanks to Fabiola (Ditto Twitter) for letting us know there was an animated version to begin with!

The Ratings & Reviews section of this podcast episode starts at the 1h27m34s mark.


#DoctorWho #DrWho #ClassicWho

3 Responses to “C008 The Reign of Terror”

  1. John David (jD) / @mariuskane

    The Reign of Terror

    Susan, after reading the book on the topic in An Unearthly Child, may be regetting her decision to leave the book on the table as we find out in Rememberance of the Daleks many many years later as it may have come in handy in this episode.

    It’s another Hartnell Historical which up until this point have been the good Marco Polo and the excellent Aztecs and Ian seems to have borrowed Hartnell’s travel agent and gone on holiday for a couple of weeks as he hardly appears in the first half of the story.

    But we get an answer about why the TARDIS is permanantly off course, when the Doctor who is a scientist manages to translate 12 kms into 100 miles which really manages to explain how the TARDIS never lands where he wants it to.

    In our now classic historical trope, the TARDIS team get captured, escape, get captured, escape and get captured for six episodes but it’s without the glamour of the Aztecs, and since Marco Polo is sadly lost to us in visual form, we only have our imaginations to go by… in comparison ‘Reign’ is grotty and dirty in comparison. It’s a disapointment (not like the Sensorites which started good and ended apocalytpically bad) but grotty, bland and forgetful – and that’s damnning when you have the rest of Season 1 giving such strong opinions one way or the other (you know… like the Edge of Destruction)

    The Good – End of Episode 1, The Doctor trapped unconscious in a burning barn, in the days before regeneration and while Ian is the hero of the story – could this be the end….

    The Good – Barbara once more steals the show basically telling Ian that he’s wrong and the normal people of the Revolution were hero’s and he should shut up and go back in his box… While the show is transitioning to the Doctor being the main character, I’m still in favour of “Barbara Who” at this point where Jacqueline Hill goes around saving the universe in a sensible jumper and comfortable shoes.

    The Bad – Susan has no point, and indeed frankly is a hinderance to the safe survival of the time travellers during the episode, screaming every five minutes and being generally irritating the rest of the time – bring back An Unearthly Child (Part 1) Susan … sadly with only two stories of Susan left, it will only get better five minutes before she goes.

    Score – 3.0 (Sadly it’s my least favourite of the historicals so far)

  2. Gina Guerrero


    I thoroughly enjoyed The Reign of Terror. The sets and the costumes were beautiful and detailed and the story was good, for being a historical/educational drama. The fact that the supporting cast appeared to be more than 5 people helped to give the story enough scope to fully represent the early days of the French Revolution. I was pleased that the animated reconstructions flowed well and didn’t take me out of the story. It felt like a full and complete story to me because it actually had a beginning, middle and end with fully formed characters. I actually enjoyed the Doctor in this story being manipulative with people other than Ian and Barbara. This story let the Doctor display his wit and intelligence. Even with the Doctor’s “Haven’t you heard the ners…news”. On the other hand, what was up with Ian slowing adding more clothing as the story went along, first the frilly shirt, then the vest, then the jacket, the hat and the coat. Jus saying. I almost feel that the writers have given up trying to further Susan’s character arc so they just give her illnesses or stick her in jail to deal with her uselessness. And her screaming “Grandfather” literally makes my skin crawl. Lastly, I found it interesting that once again Barbra appears to be the intended victim of another rapey guy, you know what never-mind, I mean who wouldn’t want to hit that. Anyway, I would rate this story (4.1) due to my personal preference of the sci-fi episodes. Thanks guys again!!

  3. Peter Zunitch

    My third viewing. I enjoyed virtually every minute of this series. From the cockey French patrol at the start to the revisit of the long lost beautiful countryside at the end. There’s so much to talk about I think the only way to get through this without an essay is a bullet list of good times.

    Remember the moment when…
    – we cold open on two immediately interesting characters, who aren’t even major characters in the story, yet we care when they die?
    – Barbra and Susan throw themselves into period costumes using conviently placed chests of clothing?
    – they are all discovered, and the dr is knocked out?
    – the house burns and there is no one there who can help him?
    – somehow a kid helps him?
    – the dr is a jolly wanderer I’m the countryside?
    – the long road and the work detail (amazing scene)?
    – the moody prison set and the amazing jailor?
    – the clothing shop becomes a chess game?
    – the jail becomes a bigger chess game?
    – the women who taunt as a distraction to the equivalent of a French revolution drive-by shooting?
    – the street chases?
    – the safehouse and that constant want of ‘is it reallly safe and is everyone in it really on the same side’?
    – the wonderful Robespierre and..oh what’s his name citizen who meets with him, give such a stage presence you forget you’re watching a TV show?
    – the escapes lead to betrayals that lead to escapes that lead to other rabbit holes?
    – the dr is I’m Command and 4 steps ahead of all the intrigue, at every turn?
    – we cared for even the most minor characters?
    – The political maneuvering took center stage?
    – there was a bar that had a hole into the back room?
    – Barbra and Ian somehow bought said bar for the day?
    – we saw the origins of history in the making?
    – the revolution began?

    Oh the list goes on and on. But…

    I wish we could forget when…
    – we whined over achy hands and rats after only 10 seconds of digging.
    – there was little going on in the safe house but talk and the only footage the recon had was a door opening and closing.
    – someone was shot in the mouth and there wasn’t a drop of blood on the man walking away of his own volition.
    – Ian fails to see the betrayal that we are com7ng from a mile away.

    Overall minor quivels for a stunning episode. This and Marco Polo are truly what historicals should be. Not only will I rewatch this story any time, I’ll watch the recon any time.


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