Wednesday, April 22, 2009

H1 - A Land of Fear

The first question I have to ask about The Reign of Terror is why is this period in Earth's history (France's eponymous Reign of Terror) a particular favourite era for The Doctor? It was full of blood and gore! Is there something he's not telling us...?

Anyway, Dennis Spooner's first contribution to Doctor Who has slightly more whimsical feel to it, even if it isn't a comedy, per se. (We'll see more of that in a couple weeks, I shouldn't wonder). In this episode, the crew, after landing on Earth so The Doctor can drop off an apparent discontent Ian (yeah, like that was going to happen), discover an old house, investigate, find perfectly fitting clothes in a trunk, get captured by soldiers of the French army, and then, finally, The Doctor gets trapped in a burning house in a cliffhanger that is milked for about 2-3 minutes at the end of the episode.

The clean split of Doctor and companions is a bit of a welcome change, and (apart from The Keys of Marinus where the separation was necessitated by William Hartnell's holiday) something that the show had never really seen before.

There's also some curious dialogue in which Barbara explains to the French rebels that they are English. But did she speak in French while saying that? Or are the rebels speaking English? The TARDIS telepathic circuits of the new series are a long way away from here, and it's surprising that the programme never really attempted to delve into the language issue during its original run.

This first episode was enjoyable enough, though. Roll on Part Two!


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