Timestamp #8: The Reign of Terror

Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror
(6 episodes, s01e35-e40, 1964)

Timestamp 008 The Reign of Terror

This was a nice recovery from the drudgery of The Sensorites. I enjoyed that the Doctor was in left in peril, and the fire over the closing credits for the first episode was an especially nice touch. I also liked the location shooting and the use of an actual historical setting, building a beautiful kiss with history in this serial.

The incidental music was great as well. Bursts of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem I know best from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, helped set the mood. I also believe that I caught riffs of the main title theme in the Doctor’s whimsical walking music.

Addressing the story, it was good to see Hartnell’s duplicitous First Doctor being outwitted, crossed, and played by the people of the era. That makes a ton of sense to me, since the Doctor and his companions, for all their knowledge, are truly the aliens in every serial. It was also good to see that the Doctor and Ian made up after sharing this adventure and proving the relationship amongst this cast.

Episodes four and five are missing in this serial. The animated reconstructions are pretty good, but have a weird fascination with shots of eyes and lips. I won’t hold that against the serial in my final rating.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.


5 thoughts on “Timestamp #8: The Reign of Terror

  1. I have not seen the animated one the BBC has released, but rather “acquired” fan productions of the reconstructions so my opinion has always been that this story is a little confusing. I need to rectify this.

  2. Yeah, I found the animations a little strange. It’s great that they’re trying to recreate the story but they also seemed to be very overly elaborate on their depictions of the actors to a degree that seemed disturbing and a little grotesque. I usually just watch the loose canon reconstructions of episodes 4 and 5 as a result.

    I’m glad to see that you liked this one but a little surprised that it got a perfect score. I find it a tad on the boring side, but I do like how this is basically a spy thriller set in the late 18th century. There are some neat twists and turns to the plot and a little moral ambiguity that I think makes this one fairly interesting.

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