13 January 2013

Manufacturer: BBC Worldwide Consumer Products

Written By: Dennis Spooner

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 28th January 2013

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 13th January 2013

When The Doctor lands the TARDIS back on Earth with the express intention of putting Barbara and Ian off the Ship, the original crew find themselves caught up in the tail end of the infamously bloody and grisly French Revolution. In 1794 Paris, crawling with ne'er-do-wells, jumped up "citizens" and people who'd sell their own grandmother, the time travellers must not only reach the safety of the TARDIS once more, they must avoid losing their own heads to the guillotine. Separated from each other, stranded in a different time, and heading for the chop, things are looking bleak for the team...

Episodes Four and Five of The Reign of Terror are missing from the archive; however using the same ingenuity previously shown in The Invasion release with Patrick Troughton, the missing episodes have been animated, and then matched to the extant soundtrack to complete the story for release. The animated instalments may not have the polish of the Cosgrove Hall episodes from the Troughton release, but the work here is top notch, intricately detailed, and doesn't detract at all from the story being told. The artwork for the characters and sets is beautiful - and showcased later in the DVD.

So without any further ado, let's Carry On...

Don't Lose Your Head - The de rigeur "making of" featurette. Carol Ann Ford, still with that mischievous twinkle in her eye, and William Russell lead the talking heads discussing green directors, walking to France, buckets to catch rain in, and the curse of Lime Grove studios.

The documentary touches on some less than happy subjects - such as nervous breakdowns on set - and it's sadly here where the featurette gets bogged down and somewhat less than glowing in review. Thankfully, however, eventually it all has a happy ending; mostly down to TV Centre, and people recovering from illness. An honest look back, warts and all, as it were.

Robespierre's Domain Set Tour - An animated extra, no less!  It's basically a look around the set design of the Prison from the story, set to lots of really annoyingly echo and reverbed sound bites.

It's all beautifully done, and very short; and if you can tune out the mucked-around-with sound, a stunning, brief look at what's basically some lovely artwork.

Commentary - Toby Hadoke chairs the discussion once more; in attendance are Tim Combe (Production Assistant), Carol Ann Ford (Susan), and various guest cast members take the third seat in each episode. Toby and guests have a lot more issues when it comes to talking about the animated episodes; they hadn't been done when the commentary was recorded, so full marks to them from trooping bravely onwards! Lots of gentle behind the scenes nattering with nothing new or earth-shattering to impart, but it's nice to hear anecdotes from people who filmed this story nearly fifty years ago, and are still happy to talk about the time they spent on Doctor Who.

Photo Gallery/Animation Gallery - Yup, there's two of 'em! The first is the usual stills gallery of publicity and behind the scenes shots; with some rather nice candid snaps in there. The second gallery however is much more interesting, showing the design schematics for animating the main cast members - and they look superb. From William Hartnell and his walking stick and ring, to an incredible shot of Barbara going from photo to artwork, this is a little gem of a library.

Info Text - Four episodes only of the fun facts and trivial tales this time. From the historic first time the full sized TARDIS prop had been filmed landing onwards, the usual array of information and career information on the stars meanders happily on until we reach the end of episode three, at which point it states it will return in episode six. There's no info text for the two animated episodes at all.

Coming Soon Trailer - It's another special edition release: Tom Baker's second story gets another look in, as The Ark In Space gets a makeover edition. It's Time Lord versus Wirrn, and an amazing story to boot. One thing though: if the adult Wirrn have six legs, why do they all shuffle/hop about on their bum?

With the usual Subtitles and Audio Navigation available, and the PDF Radio Times clippings should you view the DVD on your computer, The Reign Of Terror is a wonderful treat for fans who never thought they'd see this story released. The quality and sound are optimal as always, and the animation is sublime. The extras  aren't huge in quantity, but are certainly of outstanding quality. A real treat of a DVD, with a strong story, Hartnell on perfect form, and a rare quality historical piece that all too quickly vanished from Doctor Who.

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