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< The Sensorites
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The Reign of Terror

Rating Votes
10
5%
5
9
3%
3
8
24%
23
7
34%
32
6
24%
23
5
5%
5
4
3%
3
3
0%
0
2
0%
0
1
0%
0
Average Rating
7.0
Votes
94
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 11/19/18 10:47 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

This pure historical adventure beginning with A Land of Fear and continuing for 6 episodes takes place in the French Revolution. It is an excellent and thoroughly entertaining story from writer Dennis Spooner.

It features William Hartnell in a wonderful double role showing his ability to act very differently from his normal performance as The Doctor. The story revolves around the characters being caught up with the revolution and shows the way Dennis Spooner would continue to write in the series mixing very serious drama with humour. This is one of his very best efforts as sometimes later on he got that balance wrong in my opinion.

There are scenes, mostly in episodes 2 and 3, that are not so great and Carole Ann Ford as Susan is annoying at times. She is a sad shadow of the promise of the character in 'An Unearthly Child', the writers did let the character generally diminish in strength after the initial promise. Apart from these minor flaws, though, the vast majority of this story is real top quality.

This finishes the first season in the same superbly high standard that it began. The writing of most of the first series is brilliant and the main credit for the series must go to script editor David Whitaker and producer Verity Lambert. The scripts and story here maintain that brilliance. William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian) and Jacqueline Hill (Barbara) also maintain their fantastic characterisation and acting quality. The Doctor himself is particularly tremendous in this story.

The final 3 episodes are particularly strong and thankfully there are good animated reconstructions available with the original audio to preserve episodes 4 and 5 for which the videos were sadly wiped.

Overall very high standard story.

My Ratings: Episodes 1, 4, 5 and 6 - 10/10, Episodes 2 & 3 - 8.5/10, overall average rating - 9.5/10

Average Rating for Season 1 - 8.95/10
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: GuiannosReview Date: 10/4/18 3:05 am
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Historians have had different impressions of Robespierre over the years. In this portrayal he comes off a bit flat, a bloodthirsty menace out to guillotine anyone who crossed him rather than an overzealous revolutionary struggling to seize and secure liberty at any cost. Maybe Doctor Who got it right, maybe not. Either way the story could have been a lot more had it explored the period and political conflicts more. Instead we get a one dimensional villain and a plot that centers around the catch and release of the TARDIS crew in what could be any period of history. Susan is especially useless and spends most of the story I'll or incarcerated off camera.

The tail end of the story does pick up so it's not all bad. It's more disappointing that the writers didn't take full advantage of the setting.

A side note about the animated reconstruction: the animation was more detailed than I expected and, while far from realistic, helped bridge the gap much better than the old telesnap recons. I hope they continue to use this method to recreate more missing episodes.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 2/9/17 10:42 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

One gorgeous serial - and a real gem that I was delighted to find I'd missed.

It's as another reviewer noted, a straight-forward traditional historical. The Doctor, Susan, Ian & Barbara find themselves in the Reign of Terror and gradually become embroiled in an exponential web of revolutionary turmoil. As the serial progresses we transition from comic scenes in rural France to ever violent and grandiose plot points - perfect storytelling! There's a genuine sense of things becoming ever more anarchic and claustrophobic and without hyperbole, I was finding myself recalling The Lives of Others. Maybe one day, my dream series of new who would dare to tackle a similair serial with regards to the Soviet Union!

It's certainly a valid critique that this leads to a relatively plot-less serial where our characters wander through events without much agency. That said, I particularly enjoy this in my Doctor Who - less huge pivotal moments (absurd given the 60's limitations) and more subtle atmosphere. I was reminded also of Big Finish's Other Lives, another comparison of praise! We meet a wide range of characters and explore various locales. One of my two gripes would be that in the fourth and fifth serial the dynamism tends to slow down and we rinse and repeat a few sets - but for the most part there's a great variety. From Doctor Who's first location work; seedy taverns; Parisian boudoirs; dingy prison cells and a middle-class sartorium, there's enough interesting locales to keep the viewer visually hooked.

It's also a real testament to the crew how well these sets work in 1964. Highlights including a horse-drawn cart and plenty of superb lighting, often with naked candle light. Very impressive for the era and certainly a step above the tail end of the Sensorites.

Of course, I mentioned gripes. In addition to a sag in episodes 4 and 5, Susan is woefully mistreated after a cracking step forward in the Sensorites. That acknowledged, there's plenty of character development that would put 2017's Who to shame. We tackle the issue of historical agency as with the Aztecs; Barbara's sexuality is allowed breathing space, with Susan engaging; there's delightfully subtle political commentary for those looking for it and of course, the coda - one of the most heart-warming, tear-inducing, 'why-I-love-Doctor-Who' moments the show has ever produced.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 9/1/16 1:46 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Reign of Terror is a very straightforward historical. It offers some keen insight into this volatile period and in many ways provides the sort of educational history program many expected of Doctor Who when it began. The Doctor has some great moments as he spends much of the story trying to put one over on a wide variety of people.

That said, the story is good but not indispensable. It lacks the grandeur of Marco Polo or the comic delight of the Myth Makers and is hindered by the fact that our heroes have a very limited impact on event.. Still, it's well done and enjoyable 1960s television.