The Massacre of St. Bartholemew's Eve: Part 3 - Another superb historical adventure
Review for all 4 parts:
The Massacre of St. Bartholemew's Eve is a 4 part historical adventure beginning with War of God. It surrounds the build up to the true historical event of the title where a huge amount of Protestants in 16th Century France were massacred by the Catholic rulers of the time.
Such a horrific true event gives this story a very dark but very interesting feel and provides tremendous drama, particularly surrounding Steven's anger at the Doctor's insistence that they cannot interfere with the course of known history.
The writing, Paddy Russell's direction, acting by the regulars and the extremely impressive guest cast is of the highest possible quality and it is no surprise that the story comes from John Lucarotti who provided two of the earlier classic historical adventures. However, the script was actually heavily re-written by script editor Donald Tosh which has only served to further enhance it. Along with producer John Wiles, Tosh oversaw consistently high quality stories before they both resigned (after their wish to replace William Hartnell was overturned) with Tosh leaving part way through this production.
It is such a shame that the pure historical adventures, which in my view were often among the best stories, were disliked by Tosh and Wiles successors Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis so the likes of Lucarotti's all time classic stories would tail off to nothing within a year. I feel that these pure historicals with no sci-fi elements, along with rare pseudo historicals where aliens are attacking in a historical setting, provide the variety of story which makes it easier to sustain interest and quality over a whole series. I genuinely think that if the weaker sci-fi stories throughout all the later series were replaced by occasional pure historical adventures and more of the pseudo-historicals (which were always few and far between) it would have made the series even stronger and certainly in the 6th and 7th Doctor's era could have brought greater success and critical acclaim preventing the decline the show suffered. Anyway it did not happen and the 21st Century series when it eventually returned was re- energised and re-introduced numerous pseudo historical stories if not pure historicals.
This story is a real classic, with top standards in all respects.