Classic Doctor Who: Reign of Terror, Part 2

Classic Doctor Who (Classic Who episode list here, previous entry here, next entry here.)

Season 1, Story 8

Reign of Terror (Part 1, Episodes 4-6)


Carrying on from the first half of this serial, will our friends escape from their various predicaments? Will Susan escape the curse of horrendous characterization??

Anyway, the next episode, The Tyrant of France, is a lost one, but it’s been animated over the original audio. Well, it’s weird, but sure.

Everyone looks scarier animated.

First up, LeMaitre has taken the Doctor to see Robespierre. Seriously, is the Doctor trying to convince Robespierre to lay off on executing people? A) This isn’t going to work, and B) Did we not learn anything from The Aztecs? And also C) This is a great way to get yourself arrested.

But, oddly enough, he successfully gets through to Robespierre and gets away safely. I’m hearing 12, “What comes after your glorious revolution?” Robespierre actually looks fairly despondent, and says that he didn’t want all the carnage. Um…you should have thought of that. And you’re…um…still planning to continue the carnage.

Back with the non-revolutionaries, Susan is looking even worse; Leon is still looking shady. Actually everyone is looking shady. Don’t drink the wine!

So that’s a no on better characterization. Got it.

“We could call a physician.” Ha, what you need is a Doctor! Seriously, though, Susan is an alien. An 18th-century French doctor isn’t going to be able to help her much.

Hmm, as if things weren’t shady enough, now we have two dudes sneaking in the window with someone else in a hood! This house is hopping tonight!

Oh wait, it’s just the two guys from earlier. Is that Ian wearing the hood? The animation is making the reveal much less certain.

Back to the prison. Seriously, has the jailer gotten more injuries? And what happened to the tailor and the ring? Ah, here he is. LeMaitre makes sure the tailor’s story is kept secret, interestingly.

Ok, Ian and Barbara are reunited. Yay, a companion-companion hug, even if it is just animated!


Aww, poor Ian thought that Barbara and Susan were dead. The whole Webster/Stirling intrigue is finally getting explained, maybe. I definitely don’t trust Jean. Well, they’re right that Leon is a good candidate to be Stirling.

Uh-oh, the Doctor seems to be sneaking out. I can’t imagine that will go well. Nope! Also, shot of animated dust motes in a sunbeam. Aagghh! Vashta Nerada! Well, no. But anyway.

Visiting a…doctor…who doesn’t have any clue what to do for Susan, but is inconveniently getting suspicious of how she got sick. Oh, for heaven’s sake, leeches. Did they still use leeches in the late 1700s? Well, probably. Of course he locks them in. Susan and Barbara, not the leeches. Are there no windows, seriously? …And they’re caught. Again.

Meanwhile, Ian’s being told to “go alone” to meet Leon at some random destination. What could possibly go wrong?

Susan and Barbara, back in prison. Asshole jailer is happy, of course. Susan is freaking out at being separated from Barbara, which, ok, is understandable. Barbara is “wanted for questioning”—ha, by the Doctor! Um, shut up, guys, before someone hears you. Well, pretty sure LeMaitre heard that.

Ian’s meeting Leon at a spooky deserted church. Couldn’t possibly be a trap! Totally a trap. Aaand credits!


On to “A Bargain of Necessity.”

Well, called it that Leon was shady. Uh-oh, Ian’s getting chained to the ceiling. Um, are they planning on torturing him? Yikes!

What, Susan’s better now? So the illness was just a plot device so they’d end up at the shady doctor’s?? That’s cheap.

Hmm, Susan’s locked up and not allowed to have her door opened. What the heck is up with LeMaitre? Because that’s an oddly specific order.

The Doctor is very easily conning the jailer.

Ian doesn’t look too beat up yet. If this were new Who… Anyway, Leon seems very passionate about the Revolution. I do like how the characters are portrayed in shades of grey here. The Revolutionaries really do believe in their cause.

Not sure about the striped-pajama look, though.

Geez, Ian, just tell him you were supposed to meet Stirling at the Grey Cat or something instead of the Grey Dog.

Ok, Ian’s telling the ACTUAL truth. “I flew here with three friends in a box.” Ha!

Oh good, it’s Jules! And Ian pulls a nice action hero move! And again with all the killing.

Gardez votre derriere, dude.

Finally the Doctor and Susan see each other, so can she finally stop blue-screening? Now Robespierre is freaking out about the other leaders who might betray him. Oh right, he gets guillotined himself at some point. 1794, says the Google, although I don’t know how long that is from this episode’s time period.

Oh. Unless Robespierre gives today’s exact date. Yep, that’s tomorrow. Well, bye then. LeMaitre is supposed to be helping Robespierre, but now HE’S looking shady. Well, he’s been kinda shady all along.

Now Barbara’s flipping out a bit about Jules killing Leon. “To you he was a traitor; to his side, he was a patriot.” True, but torturing Ian was an asshole move no matter what his side. Barbara’s trying to apply hindsight to the Revolution. Didn’t SHE learn anything from The Aztecs?

On the other hand, “You check your history books, Ian, before you decide what people deserve,” is a heck of a line.

Back at the prison, Susan, stop arguing and do what the Doctor says! He’s not even asking anything difficult! Wow, the Doctor’s knocking yet another dude over the head. Geez. Not that it worked to get them away. Uh…LeMaitre is blackmailing the Doctor? And holding Susan hostage? Jerk.

Barbara, Ian, and Jules are getting over their argument about who’s right and wrong. Jules is giving a nice monologue about ruling with reason vs. ruling with fear…aaand the Doctor comes in with LeMaitre. That should be interesting. Credits!


Thank goodness, live action again for “Prisoners of the…Conciergererererie or something like that.” This was the final episode of the first season, so I’m interested to see how they end it.

Good to see you again, real Ian and real Barbara!

Even if you are a bit blurry.

“Your friend has betrayed us!” …and then everyone politely stands around to wait for the episode title to disappear.

LeMaitre is Stirling! …ok, full disclosure, I got spoiled on this several episodes ago when I Googled James Stirling. I think, if I WEREN’T spoiled, I’d be suspicious that he’s lying. On the other hand, he’s giving some pretty good proofs here.

Ian’s trying to deliver Webster’s messages to Stirling. Oh, for goodness sake, why can’t you remember the other things, Ian?? You had one job!

Ok, everything’s remembered, and now Ian and Barbara are off on yet another dangerous task. A secret meeting! In a thunderstorm! Ha, Barbara’s disguised as a serving maid! Yet another very long tradition for companions. And…what the heck is Ian wearing?

She pulls it off well, BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE DOES.
Seriously, what even is that hat?

HA!! The secret meeting is with Napoleon!! …Is that at all realistic? I have no idea if he was active yet at that time. This Barras guy is playing with fire here…possibly he realizes that. [Ok, a quick check of the Internets (after finishing, just in case there are more spoilers, sheesh) shows that this is actually quite realistic. Barras was real, worked with Napoleon, and helped bring down Robespierre. And lived to have a nice retirement, apparently. I like the historical accuracy we’re getting in these historical episodes!]

Now they’re back at Jules’ house the next day, and Stirling explaining (accurately) what Napoleon might do is pretty funny, since he’s telling it to people from the future. They’re doing a good job of not reacting. Well, except Barbara. The Doctor’s casual “save your breath, my dear” is quite well done.

Sigh, they’re splitting up again. Since that always goes SO well.

Well, Barbara SAYS she learned from the Aztecs. Hmph.

Robespierre is hiding in his office, but not for long before soldiers break in. Poor Robespierre. I mean not really, but still. That’s apparently ALWAYS been what happens when you don’t let the Doctor make you better!

Oh no, you did NOT just touch my hair!

Also, that door broke open REALLY easily. Pretty sure they built things fairly solidly back in the 1700s. But not TV stage sets in the 1960s.

Back to the Doctor, infiltrating the prison with nothing but sheer nerve. Pretty awesome, really. Ooh, and getting the jerk jailer arrested into the bargain! …Or not. Just using him because he’s conveniently dumb.

Robespierre…yesterday’s tyrant in jail today.

We’re not sorry for you. But thanks for keeping your face covered to save a bit on the makeup budget.

It would look like an anvilicious morality lesson, except that it actually happened. It would also be one of those things where we look back and wonder how people in the past were so scary and stupid, except that it’s pretty much the same as stuff happening now. Humans. Ugh.

Everyone fancies Barbara! And keeps getting conveniently interrupted when trying to figure out where she’s from. Currently Stirling’s turn. To be fair, she is pretty awesome. Do we ever get one where everyone fancies Ian? Because I would.

Carriage ride…and finally back in the TARDIS!

Discussion about how time CAN’T be rewritten…SURE it can’t. Well, maybe Napoleon was a fixed point.

Nice voiceover from the Doctor, really, to end the first season.

“Our lives are important, at least to us. …Our destiny is in the stars. So let’s go and search for it.”

Our destiny is in the next season. I mean stars.

So I guess he doesn’t have any actual intent of taking Ian and Barbara back home anytime soon?


So, I’ve seen this serial described as dull, but I really kind of liked it. Sure, there was padding, and a lot of back and forth from the prison (ok…really a lot), but the political intrigue was done well, and the action does move forward to a fairly clear goal. Plus, most of the historical characters had depth, and we see some good character growth and dynamics among our regulars (except Susan). And I love the historical accuracy! I actually learned stuff! Doctor Who as ACTUAL education!


On to Season 2! (Next entry here.)


2 thoughts on “Classic Doctor Who: Reign of Terror, Part 2

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