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"Doctor Who" The Tyrant of France (1964)

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The Reign of Terror: Episode 4 - Excellent French Revolution Adventure

10/10
Author: Christopher Evans from South Wales, UK
5 July 2014

Review for all 6 episodes:

This pure historical adventure beginning with A Land of Fear and continuing for 6 episodes takes place in the French Revolution. It is an excellent and thoroughly entertaining story from writer Dennis Spooner.

It features William Hartnell in a wonderful double role showing his ability to act very differently from his normal performance as The Doctor. The story revolves around the characters being caught up with the revolution and shows the way Dennis Spooner would continue to write in the series mixing very serious drama with humour. This is one of his very best efforts as sometimes later on he got that balance wrong.

There are scenes, mostly in episodes 2 and 3, that are not so great and Carole Ann Ford as Susan is annoying at times. She is a sad shadow of the promise of the character in 'An Unearthly Child', the writers did let the character generally diminish in strength after the initial promise. Apart from these minor flaws, though, the vast majority of this story is real top quality.

This finishes the first season in the same superbly high standard that it began. The writing of most of the first series is brilliant and the main credit for the series must go to script editor David Whitaker and producer Verity Lambert. The scripts and story here maintain that brilliance. William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian) and Jacqueline Hill (Barbara) also maintain their fantastic characterisation and acting quality. The Doctor himself is particularly tremendous in this story.

The final 3 episodes are particularly strong and thankfully there are good animated reconstructions available with the original audio to preserve episodes 4 and 5 for which the videos were sadly wiped.

Overall very high standard story.

My Ratings: Episodes 1, 4, 5 and 6 - 10/10, Episodes 2 & 3 - 8.5/10, overall average rating - 9.5/10

Average Rating for Season 1 - 8.95/10

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