Saturday 5 March 2011

103 The Massacre Part 1: War of God

EPISODE: The Massacre Part 1: War of God
TRANSMITTED: 05 February 1966
WRITER: John Lucarotti
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
PRODUCER: John Wiles
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Collection: (1965-1966) No. 2

The Tardis materialises in Paris, 1572. The Doctor wishes to see an apothecary called named Preslin who was way ahead of his time. They overhear much talk of tension between Catholics and Protestants. The Doctor goes to seek Preslin leaving Steven in a tavern where he promptly gets into trouble and is befriended by Nicholas Muss. The Doctor arrives at Preslin's shop and meets the man himself who is wary of the Doctor. Steven speaks with people in the Inn, telling them he's been in Egypt, taking directions from them. As he leaves he nearly runs into a servant girl, Anne Chaplet, a protestant Huguenot being hunted by Catholic guards. She is hidden in the pub and Steven returns to speak with her. Preslin tells The Doctor that he is frightened of the Abbot of Amboise. Anne has overheard a Catholic plot to slaughter Huguenots: the recent marriage of Protestant Prince Henri of Navarre to Catholic Princess Marguerite de Valois, the sister of the King, has heightened tensions and it has been decided to assassinate Henri of Navarre . They decide to hide Anne in the kitchens of Admiral de Coligny, the innkeeper's master. Simon Duval returns and questions the Inn Keeper. Nicholas, one of the people Steven's been talking to, convinces Steven to stay the night at Admiral de Coligny's house. Simon Duval reports to his master the Abbot of Amboise, a double of the Doctor!

Struggled with this one. It's hard to keep track of who is who and which of the factions they are allied to. Without the visuals the show's climatic reveal is lost, spoiled as it is by the passage of time and the knowledge that it's a double and not the Doctor himself.

We're back in Paris for this story, which seems to be one of the Doctor's favourite places to visit - see The Reign of Terror. It's not the first place the Tardis has visited twice - That's London in An Unearthly Child, in the future in Dalek Invasion of Earth and again to contemporary London, at the cricket match in Dalek Masterplan. In fact he's not landed in Paris twice yet: The Tardis materialises at least 14 kilometres outside Paris in Reign of Terror. They've not even landed in a similar time, like with London or even closer chronologically the two trips to Kembel in Dalek's Masterplan, with the caveat that the second one was guided by stolen technology. We can date the Doctor's visits to Paris very accurately: Robespierre was arrested 27th July 1794, an event seen in Reign of Terror part 6 while the Massacre of this stories title took place on 24th August 1572, 222 years earlier.

And while we're at it: The story title. For years it was The Massacre, and then scholars switched to the longer The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, which is a little long. I'll stick to the Massacre: 1) That's the title I grew up with. 2) That's the title on the book (neither compelling arguments I'll admit) 3) The historical event is known as The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre!

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