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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Purves' best Dr Who story, 29 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Massacre (Audio CD)
The enjoyment of this audio release of a "lost" Dr Who story is greatly enhanced by having Peter Purves as narrator, as this is one of the stories in which he also appears in the show as a companion of the Doctor.
As well as doing all the linking narration he also gets to shine in the show itself, because the Doctor is missing for almost the entire story. William Hartnell has to play the role of the Abbot in the story, as well as playing the Doctor, and the restrictions of early 1960s television mean he therefore is not able to appear as the Doctor for entire episodes at a time.
The plot is driven by his disappearance, and by the attempts of Stephen - played by Peter Purves - to discover whether the Abbot (who is an exact likeness of the missing Doctor) is really the Doctor or not, against a background of terror and sudden death in the religious wars of the 16th century.
The exact details of who is doing what to whom, and why, do not really seem to matter. In his search for the Doctor Stephen is forced to accept help where he can, and his obvious ignorance of the politics of the age into which he's been catapulted tends to work in his favour, as for the most part no one is really disposed to treat him as an enemy.
The historical background is carefully woven, with regular appearances by the famous Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici. A detailed account of the religious wars then dividing her country emerges from her confrontations with the other players, including the King, her son. She is planning a massacre of all the Protestants in the city, and Stephen realises that unless he can find the Doctor before the deadline they will both perish.
This is an unusual Dr Who story, in that events are not controlled by the Doctor, who is mostly absent. Stephen drives the story, but is helpless in the face of the historical events that unfold, over which he has no control. Fatally, the Doctor is not aware which year they've landed in, so has not realised their danger. Thus the tension mounts, episode by episode.
This is a superb story, and Peter Purves does an excellent job of holding the show together. He also makes a very appropriate and helpful guide, as narrator, filling in for the missing pictures whenever the soundtrack doesn't fully convey what is taking place.
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