May 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Doctor Who “A Land Of Fear”

The First Doctor. "The Reign of Terror," Episode One.

Well, here I am back with the First Doctor as he tries once again to get Ian and Barbara back to their own time and place…and fails miserably.

Yes, it looks like once again the Doctor thinks he’s gotten Ian and Barbara back to 1960s London.  However, the last time he did that, the group met Marco Polo in another serial I haven’t seen, so despite the Doctor’s (and Susan’s) belief that it worked this time, Ian and Barbara aren’t sure and have to talk the Doctor (and Susan) into coming out of the TARDIS to check.  That mostly comes from suggesting the Doctor might want to spend a little more time with his new friends before he takes off again.

It’s a good thing the Doctor did get out.  Ian finds a boy hanging around nearby.  It turns out they’re in France.  And about two hundred or so years in the past.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t look around.  The kid ran off, but the foursome find an old farm house, abandoned, but there’s a really fancy candlestick in there and some documents signed by Robespierre.  Yes, the Doctor may have gone to look around upstairs, and the other three found period-appropriate clothes to, let’s say “borrow,” but it takes the science teacher Ian to point out to history teacher Barbara that they’re in the middle of the French Revolution.  Barbara adds that it’s the Reign of Terror.

To prove that point, two men pop out and take the three captive, after one had knocked the Doctor out upstairs.  These guys wanna know who the three strangers are and what side they’re on.

But then some soldiers come along and do…more than that.  The two guys who took the show’s protagonists hostage are killed, but the soldiers include a guy with a Napoleon hat and another with an eyepatch, so you know they can’t be good.  I mean, the fact that they take three of the TARDIS crew away in chains and set the house on fire is a good sign.

It’s kinda amazing what they came up with on a limited budget, mostly because the budget was a lot less limited back then.  Apparently, the BBC kept the budget more or less consistent without increasing the money the show got to keep pace with inflation.  So, really, the low budget got lower without there being less money or something along those lines.  And since this is black-and-white, it looked more impressive.  Yeah, the farmhouse on fire is probably a model, but it looked pretty darn good for classic-era Doctor Who.

Oh, wait.  That farmhouse is on fire, the Doctor is locked in a room upstairs, and he can’t get out.

See, that would be bad.