The TARDIS arrives near Paris during
the period known as the Reign of Terror that was part of the French Revolution in 1794.
The Doctor intends to drop Barbara and Ian off, but they convince him to check everything out to make sure he landed
the TARDIS in the right place and time. Barbara, Ian and Susan (the Doctor’s
granddaughter) are taken prisoner by the French militia and on their way to the guillotine while the Doctor is trapped inside
a burning farmhouse. The Doctor survives and he is off to Paris
to rescue everyone as he poses as a traveler and a French official. Ian
is caught up in a game to contact a British spy while Barbara and Susan are rescue by the French rebels. Can the Doctor save everyone or are his companions doomed to be victims of the Reign of Terror?
THE REIGN OF TERROR is one of the early
DOCTOR WHO stories from the First Doctor era. Only four of the six episodes exist
on film and audio was recorded for all six episodes by Doctor Who fans in the days before VHS and DVD. The BBC made the error to junk many of the early DOCTOR WHO
stories and they managed to retrieve four of the six episodes only to have episodes 4 and 5 believed to be lost forever (among
109 missing episodes of the original series). The BBC commissioned an animation
company to animated episodes 4 and 5 so they could present the story in complete form.
Episodes 1, 2, 3, and 6 were cleaned up by the Doctor Who Restoration Team while episodes 4 and 5 are a mixed bag when
it comes to the animation (I like color anime sample the studio did of Doctor Who which you can find on YouTube).
THE REIGN OF TERROR is a good look at a
period of time many might not know about, but please be aware it does take a few liberties like Napoleon showing up in one
scene where he was actually elsewhere at that moment in time. This story marks
the first use of location filming even if it is just someone doubling for William Hartnell as the Doctor. The sets and costume look good and I wish they were able to shoot this in color (because the sets and costumes
look great in color from the few color production stills included in the photo gallery on this disc). The Doctor manages to boss people around in disguise which is a joy to see while the rest of the
story splits the time between Ian and Barbara and Susan (William Russell managed to take a holiday when they shot some his
sequences on film). The First Doctor era had a good amount of historical adventures
to discover where I kinda of wish the new series had a historical adventure or two and I can’t wait to see next month’s
Special Edition of THE AZTECS on DVD.
Audio commentary (episodes 1, 2, 3, and
6) with Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Neville Smith (D’Argenson), Jeffry Wickham (Webster), Caroline Hunt (Danielle), Patrivk
Marley (Soldier) and production assistant Time Combe
Audio commentary (episodes 4) with actor
Ronald Pickup (Physician)
Audio commentary (episode 5) with missing
episode hunters Phillip Morris and Paul Vanezis
Production notes subtitle track for episodes
1, 2, 3, and 6 which gives a few details about the production and behind-the-scenes events that would decide the future of
the show (as the rest would be history).
DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD- A making-of documentary on THE REIGN OF TERROR that features interviews with William Russell (Ian), Carole
Ann Ford (Susan) and Tim Combe.
Also on the disc are a virtual set tour
of the sets created for the animated episodes and an Animation Design Gallery.
The Photo Gallery is a slide show of color and black & white production photos.
PDF Material (via DVD-ROM) has Radio Times listings. Then there
is coming soon trailer for the ARK IN SPACE Special Edition DVD.
The only extra missing on this set
is the extra included on the VHS which had linking narration by Carole Ann Ford covering missing episodes 4 and 5.
FINAL ANALYSIS: THE REIGN OF TERROR is one of the classic historical adventures from the First Doctor era. The surviving four episodes are presented in a clean presentation while the animated episodes are a mixed
bag. The making-of documentary and the episode audio commentary for episode
five are worth checking out if you want to know more about the behind-the-scenes history of Doctor Who.
This DVD review is (c)2-19-2013 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org