037 – Guests of Madame Guillotine (The Reign of Terror Part 2)

Ian, Barbara, and Susan are sentenced to execution and thrown in jail.  The Doctor walks to Paris.

As we can see, Doctor Who has a long history of filming on location. It has not, however, had a long history of taking the lead actor for said filming.

“Don‘t make so much noise.  You‘ll give the place a bad name.”

Ian, Barbara, and Susan are thrown into prison to await execution.  Barbara meets a lecherous jailer who graciously offers to “leave a few doors unlocked” for her if they become “friends”.  Barbara makes her feelings known to him with a firm slap to his face.  As Barbara and Susan reminisce about being imprisoned by the cave men (for some reason this is what they think of), we see that The Doctor survived the burning farm house.  The young boy from the previous episode saved him.  We are then treated to a montage of location shots where an actor dressed as The Doctor walks through the French countryside toward Paris.

Ian, meanwhile, shares a cell with an Englishman named Webster, who tells Ian about an English spy named James Stirling.  Ian promises to find Stirling and tell him to return to England with a message from Webster.  A man named Lemaitre arrives several hours after Webster’s death.  He asks Ian if Webster said anything before he died.  Ian says no.  Lemaitre removes Ian’s name from the execution list and stares into space, lost in his thoughts.

The episode closes with Barbara and Susan being marched out of the jail, their appointment with the guillotine imminent.

Watching this episode again caused me to realize that not much happened.  I wouldn’t say the episode was padding.  We have two mysteries that are set up: why did Lemaitre pardon Ian?  Who is John Stirling?  We are also introduced to the jailer, who we will see quite a bit before this story is over.  But the entirety of this episode is Barbara, Susan, and Ian being in jail while The Doctor travels to Paris.  Apart from a misadventure with a cruel foreman conducting road repairs, even the latter subplot is merely shots of French countryside.  Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bad episode.  I liked it and it moves along at a decent pace, there just isn’t much to talk about.  This has been something I’ve wondered about when I decided to do episode review and not story reviews.  By reviewing an entire story, I can look at the piece as a whole and if there is a weak episode then a stronger one could provide plenty of material to cover for it.  However, Doctor Who was written in episodic form, and I prefer to view it from that perspective for this blog.  Indeed, I have found some stories to be more enjoyable when viewed episodically instead of viewed in a single sitting.  Sadly, this episode doesn’t provide as much material for me to comment upon.  Interestingly, that didn’t stop me from writing a page of material anyway.  We’ll see if more happens in part three.


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