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10 February 2013
 Day Forty-One: A Bargain of Necessity (The Reign of Terror, Episode Five)

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day Forty-One: A Bargain of Necessity (The Reign of Terror, Episode Five)

Dear diary,

Perhaps the greatest praise I can give the animation on the DVD release of The Reign of Terror is that by five or six minutes into this episode, I'd sort-of forgotten about it. It still looks as lovely as it did in the last episode, and there's still plenty to marvel at, but it just becomes a very good way of telling the story.

Once you're used to the style of it, and the way that the direction has been handled, it soon becomes apparent that this is much easier to follow than a tele-snap recon. Despite there being some fantastic examples of those out there, I'm a little sorry that I won't get any more animated episodes for months and months (right the way through until The Invasion, unless rumours of others on the way shortly hold true…)

The one gripe that I did have with the animation in this episode; it didn't hold still for the title! It's become something I enjoy about the series through to this point that while the episode title (and usually for the writer's credit, too) is on screen, everyone pauses and hold their position for a bit. Yesterday's episode held true to this convention, with the Doctor and co standing still for a few seconds while the captions played out, but today's title is placed over quite a bit of movement. It's only a little thing, but it's still a bit of a shame.

As for the story… well… I'm sorry to say that I'm still not quite as into it as I'd like to be. There's been more to entertain me in today's episode; the Doctor trying to outwit the jailer is a particular highpoint, and it's a partnership that I've been enjoying right the way through the story. It's nice to see it still in motion here.

I'm also rather liking that character's keep asking the Doctor how he managed to escape from the burning farmhouse - first Barbara in yesterday's episode, then today Ian asks for the information from her, and Susan makes it her first question to her grandfather. It seems like quite a little thing, but it's a nice touch. The cliffhanger with the burning house was several days ago, and on original transmission, it would have been more than a month before this point, so it's good to see it being brought in.

It's also a lovely moment when Barbara confides in Ian that she's so 'sick and tired of death', but that she 'never seems to be able to get away from it'. I mused the other day how these two had taken to traveling and the adventures, but they've been through quite a lot. The recap at the start of The Sensorites made it all sound like something of a jolly romp, but they've seen a fair few harrowing things over the last few stories.

Another beautiful thing between the two schoolteachers is the debate over sides in the Revolution. I have to confess that I've rather struggled to keep up with who's on what side during all of this - especially in regards to Jules (it's nice that he explains his position here; he's on neither side, really, just acting for 'the middle' to ensure the best for France.)

It's nice to see that the character's are able to express their own voices, and that the programme isn't taking one specific side over another. I don't know if it's going to remain so flexible into the final part - will one side be seen to win? Or will we just leave with the Doctor and his companions slipping away to leave the revolution in full swing?

Next Episode: Prisoners of the Conciergerie

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