Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Doctor Who: 022 The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve

After the death, destruction, and mayhem of The Daleks' Master Plan, we move to 16th century France for The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve (aka The Massacre). This is the last of 3 serials for which not a single second of surviving footage exists and since the producer, John Wiles, chose not to have telesnaps made, there is very little visual record of this episode.

Again, we turn to the Loose Cannon reconstruction. Due to the lack of visual material, they again had to work miracles to give us a flavor of this serial. I'll have to admit that I'm not very familiar with this period of history, so I was glad of the inclusion of historical material on the Loose Cannon reconstruction.

This is not one of my favorite historicals. Perhaps it would be better with all of the original visuals. William Hartnell played a double role in this serial, but it was never clarified if the other person just looked like the Doctor or if it actually was the Doctor pretending to be the other person, although the latter was strongly hinted multiple times throughout the story.

I've heard that John Wiles wanted to make the series darker and that he was frustrated that he was unable to do many of the things that he wanted to do... (such as get rid of William Hartnell) The subject matter of this serial is one of the darkest to date, especially for a historical. I know the Reign of Terror, and The Crusade also dealt with darker periods in history, but I didn't feel that the darkness spilled over in the Doctor's adventures quite as much as in this story. Again, not one of my favorites...

This story is the first introduction of new companion, Dodo Chaplet, who appears at the end of episode 4 when she mistakes the TARDIS for a Police Box (imagine that) and enters it shortly before it dematerializes (very similar to what happens with Tegan later). After seeing this scene, I now understand her disbelief when they step out of the TARDIS in The Ark.

The complete loss of the 4 episodes of this story brings the total number of missing episodes in season 3 to a whopping 21 and we're not done yet... :(

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