Monday 3 January 2011

042 The Reign of Terror Part 6: Prisoners of Conciergerie

EPISODE: The Reign of Terror Part 6: Prisoners of Conciergerie
TRANSMITTED: 12 September 1964
WRITER: Dennis Spooner
DIRECTOR: Henric Hirsch
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - The Reign Of Terror

LeMaitre tells Jules & the Tardis travellers that he arranged Ian's release: he is James Stirling. He promises no harm will come to Susan but wants their assistance. Ian passes the message from Webster on to him and tells him to return to England. Robespierre has ordered Lemaitre/Stirling to follow a Paul Barras: Ian recognises the name: Webster had mentioned the name in conjunction with a meeting at the Sinking Ship, which is an Inn on the Calais road. Ian & Barbara, along with Jules, agree to attend the meeting for Stirling and obtain the information. They lock the Inn Keeper in the cellar and substitute for him. Barras arrives, wondering where the Inn Keeper is but Ian tells him that he's sick. He is expecting one guest for the meeting. The guest arrives after the inn empties, he and Barras meet in the back room. The guest is General Napoleon Bonaparte. They discuss arresting Robespierre at the meeting the next day and using Bonaparte as a leader. Bonaparte accepts Barras' plan. Ian & Barbara pass the information to an astonished Stirling and The Doctor & Barbara go to rescue Ian while Stirling & Ian go to warn Robespierre. Soldiers have come to arrest Robespierre who is shot & wounded trying to escape: Ian & Stirling have arrived too late and history takes its course as The Doctor & Barbara knew it would. The Doctor confronts the perpetually intoxicated jailer spinning him a story which he falls for, again, claiming that LeMaitre was shot in the removal of Robespierre and was in league with the Jailer He has the jailer seized by his own guards and coerces him into releasing Susan to him. The Doctor sees Robespierre being delivered to the prison. Ian tells Jules that Bonaparte will be the next ruler of France. The travellers escape Paris together, leaving Stirling & Jules speculating where they are bound for. They return to the TARDIS and depart Earth. The Doctor tells Ian that he feels their destiny is in the stars as the picture fades to a starry sky.

Another cracking episode this, neatly rounding off the story and resolving all the outstanding plot points. Dennis Spooner's experience & talent in writing for Television is obvious here, and Hartnell has obviously risen to the script and the opportunity for comedy presented to him with the chain gang master and the drunkard jailer. An Unearthly Child remains my favourite episode this season but I think Reign of Terror may be my favourite story.

Reign of Terror marks the close of Doctor Who's first season. 33 of it's 42 episodes still exist for us to watch. By the time the series ended it was an obvious success. But the Doctor Who team didn't stop filming here, two more stories were filmed for the start of to the next series. One was an idea that had been on the table since day 1 of the series, and indeed had originally been intended to launch Doctor Who. The other would bring back a favourite villain from the first year of Doctor Who and in the process change the show forever.

I had it in my head that the first season was the longest in Doctor Who's history: It isn't:

Series 1: 42 Episodes 9 Missing 33 remaining
Series 2: 39 Episodes 2 Missing 37 remaining
Series 3: 45 Episodes 29 Missing 16 remaining
Series 4: 43 Episodes 34 Missing 9 remaining
Series 5: 40 Episodes 27 Missing 13 remaining
Series 6: 44 Episodes 7 Missing 37 remaining

It's the fourth longest behind Series 3, 6 & 4.

Season 7 onwards has a drastic reduction in the number of episodes. It's also the point where the series starts to be made in colour and from where we have all the episodes.

On the missing episodes front, Season 1 is missing just 9 episodes, behind the 7 of Season 6 and just 2 of series 2.

Episode 6 of the Reign of Terror was missing from the archives but was recovered from a film collector by Ian Levine & collector Bruce Campbell in May 1982. Some years later a second copy of episode 6, along with the then missing episodes 1-3, was recovered from a TV station in Cyprus... following which the film collector made contact again because he was now in possession of episode three. So although six episodes of the Reign of Terror have been returned to the BBC, sadly two of these are duplicates and two episodes - four and five - remain missing to this day.

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