Today, we look at “Reign of Terror,” a Doctor Who story that sees the TARDIS team travel to revolutionary France. Will they lose their heads? Will we lose ours? Will we confidently discuss French politics despite not knowing anything much about it? (Yes. Yes we will.)
Daleks Aren’t Robots!? is a podcast in which two Whovian friends take two non-Whovians on a deep dive through the show from the very beginning.
Theme: Garage – Monplaisir
Podcast Contents Include
Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though. – Kari
THE GUEST STARS
- There are only humans in this one, and they’re all French, except for one English spy. They are the most British French people since Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- I had a hard time telling some of the characters apart sometimes, and it was harder during the animated parts–this is another one where we’re missing some episodes. In this case the BBC commissioned the missing episodes to be made as cartoons. The animation is good but a little uncanny at times.
- I feel like the historicals where they don’t have to work with any specific people might be better so far, because that way they don’t have to work around reality. For example, Robespierre is in this and he had to end up executed, yes, but before that he also had to be badly wounded in the jaw, which was actually significantly gorier than this episode showed, and I can do without that kind of historical accuracy.
- There are some important French guys. Jules kinda looks like Miles O’Brien on Star Trek and he is working to rescue aristocrats from the guillotine. One, Leon, is a guy who hits on Barbara and turns out to be a super obvious traitor, meaning he believes in the Revolution. And one, LeMaitre, is an important official with the revolution who seems to be the main antagonist at first but then turns out to be an English spy. His other name, and I am not kidding, is JIM STEPHANIE F***ING STERLING SON. (Editor’s Note: Jim Stephanie came out as nonbinary just after this episode was recorded but before it was released; I’ve edited these notes accordingly but we did not re-record the podcast episode.)
- The Doctor has a LOT of cool moments in this one, as he’s split off from the rest of the team for a lot of it. He finally gets to murder someone, although the guy starts snoring afterwards as if we’re dumb enough to think that people knocked unconscious with a high-velocity shovel would be a. alive afterward, b. snoring and c. totally fine when he wakes up, guys.
- The Doctor gets into trouble due to his ego, but then gets out of it with trickery and also a shovel.
- The Doctor also gets to pull a con and trick a bunch of people into thinking he’s an important official in the French revolutionary government. This involves wearing an absolutely incredible hat as well as some pretty awesome clothes.
- Susan is useless again in this episode, and that is sad. She gets to wear a cute dress, but then she gets sick and doesn’t do much the rest of the time.
- Barbara figures out a way to escape a French prison, she gets flirted with by a bad guy, and she’s pretty awesome throughout. Her dress isn’t as cool as it should be and certainly does not measure up to the Doctor’s hat.
- Ian meets an English spy and then helps him; he also gets tied up and tortured for a while, which is nice. He does some action stuff. At one point he and Barbara apologize to each other.
- The show really takes a side here against the Revolutionaries, which… I’m not saying that they don’t have a good point, because they beheaded a lot of people and by the time we look in on the story we’re to the point where they’ve started purging their own ranks with the guillotine.
- At the same time, we get a lot of nefariousness from the rebels without any recognition of the cause of the revolution–a massive increase in population and unemployed people, plus a massive increase in food prices due to bad harvests. The cost of living increased 62% in just 44 years. Peasants were 80% of the population but owned 35% of the land. Meanwhile, the Crown was having a debt crisis, partly caused by helping the Americans during their revolution.
- Like, there was a lot going on and if you starve people to death don’t expect them to be sweet and kind and nice and good when you sit in a massive castle eating fancy food all day.
- There’s some dispute that the “traitor” was a bad person, mind you, but it seemed really token to me.
- At one point when Susan gets sick they go to a doctor, and the doctor indicates he’s going to bleed her. Fortunately they get arrested again first, but shouldn’t they ALL know not to go to a doctor of this era??
- The women’s hair is terrible for the era and no one ever comments on it or suggests they cover up the mess with a hat or a wig.
- I think this one gets bogged down a little bit in its details. If you think about it, it gets hard to remember what happened when and why, meaning that even though things are continually happening it gets fuzzy about why.
- It’s also super hard to care about the NPCs, since starving the peasants is wrong and bad, and chopping heads off is also wrong and bad.
I know you guys reviewed Revolution of the Daleks and no spoilers but I have to know: Do the Daleks get a hat like the Doctor’s?