Customer Review

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carry On Doctor, Don't Lose Your Head, 26 Jan 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror [DVD] (DVD)
Broadcast in August/September 1964, The Reign of Terror brought the first season of Doctor Who to a close. Landing in Revolutionary France, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in danger as soon as they step from the safety of the TARDIS. Ian, Barbara and Susan are captured and taken to Paris where they are thrown into the Conciergerie prison. All they have to look forward to is a visit to the guillotine.

The Doctor, meantime, makes his own way to Paris and decides that the best way to effect the release of his friends is to pose as an important local official. This he does, but he's under suspicion almost straight away, and there are many dangers to overcome before the four time-travellers can escape this land of fear ....

Dennis Spooner's six part story is a deft mixture of historical colour with the odd comic touch. It anticipates the lighter tone that Spooner would take with his two historical stories in the second season, The Romans and The Time Meddler, although The Reign of Terror is a tad more serious than both of those. Hartnell is on fine form, as by all accounts he preferred the historical stories as this gave him a chance to bounce off other actors, rather than monsters or aliens. If you want to see Hartnell somewhat adrift in a land of strange creatures then pick up The Web Planet. But don't blame me ....

Although most of the first season of Doctor Who exists in the BBC archives, episodes four and five of this story are missing. This is a shame, as they contain the heart of the story. The VHS release contained the four existing episodes with a brief summary of the two missing episodes, but the DVD has something considerably better - four and five are animated, synchronized with the original audio soundtrack.

Although there has been some criticism of the animation, it looks pretty good to me. There's some nice visual touches, and overall the two episodes are certainly better than the static fan-produced recons that have been produced in the past. There are some jarring quick cuts, and the characters don't always look the same when viewed at different angles, but on the whole it's a good effort. There's room for improvement though, so hopefully the style can be refined for future releases.

Features wise, there's an entertaining documentary with some amusing and interesting anecdotes from the likes of Timothy Coombe and Carol Ann Ford. And there's the usual good-quality commentary track with a mixture of contributors swapping stories of a production that happened almost half a century ago.

Although it's taken a long time to appear on DVD, it's been worth the wait, as the story - thanks to the two animated episodes - is now as complete as it can be. Supplemented by a good package of features this is a fine example of early Doctor Who and a great showcase for the man who nearly fifty years ago started it all - William Hartnell.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Jan 2013 18:31:32 GMT
Whovian says:
Excellent review with a well deserved nod to William Hartnell. Thank you.

Posted on 28 Jan 2013 22:09:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Jan 2013 22:10:37 GMT
I was very impressed with the two animated episodes. The animation style was certainly a step up from that used on the "Invasion" DVD.

I'm definitely now looking forward to the third of the three Doctor Who animations that 2Entertain commissioned (as BBC recons already exist for "Tenth Planet" and "Ice Warriors" my monies on it being "The Moonbase")

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2013 17:21:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Jan 2013 17:29:34 GMT
Thanks for the kind words, Whovian. Yes, if Billy hadn't kept the audience's interest and attention then the show wouldn't have lasted very long. Sure, he wasn't always word perfect, but his quality always shone through, from his first story to his last.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2013 17:28:49 GMT
It's interesting, Mike Love 666, that these animated episodes really seem to be a "marmite" issue. There are some people that really don't like them at all, citing some of the quick cuts that are a little out of place.

As for what's to come, it seems that "The Underwater Menace" is due to have the animation treatment as well as "The Tenth Planet" and "The Ice Warriors".

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2013 17:11:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jan 2013 17:18:09 GMT
"The Underwater Menace"? Not heard that but I suppose as it's a better story it'd be a better choice than "The Moonbase" to animate.

I guess that means the "Moonbase" commentary track was recorded for a new edition of "Lost In Time" after all. Shame really as other than remastering the image quality on certain episodes I don't think there's any real need for one and, like all the other special editions/revisitations ("Vengeance On Varos" and the forthcoming "The Aztecs" exempted*), I won't be buying it.

Personally I want them to animate the missing "Abominable Snowmen" episodes but that'd probably cost to much.

* and it won't be just to get "Airlock" (though I know exactly what the first I'll be watching when I get home from work on March 11th will be...) No, it's because out of all the original DVDs I thought that was the one story that desperately needed a new remastered edition.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2013 18:47:29 GMT
Time will tell as to what stories actually end up with animations as there's plenty of rumours but few facts. The latest rumour is that The Ice Warriors won't be animated, which is a shame if true.

As for The Aztecs, I was quite happy with the original, although the opening of ep 1 was pretty ropey so it'll be interesting to see how much of an improvement there will be.

I'd be up for a re-release of The Sea Devils though, as the 525 line episodes are pretty jagged and not easy to watch. Surprising that it and The Silurians haven't had revisits whilst other stories have.

Guess it'll happen eventually though, as BBCWW will try to wring every last penny out of the series!
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Mr. D. K. Smith
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Location: South Wales, UK

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