Episode 040 – “The Tyrant of France”

So in today’s episode, we meet Robespierre, and experience animated Doctor Who.


A word or two about this. See, back in the day, as you probably know, the BBC junked a great many episode of this series, as well as others. Many of those have been recovered over the years, but some are likely lost forever.

Fortunately, nerds are nerds, even fifty years ago, and diligent fans put audio tape microphones next to their speakers to record the soundtracks. As a result, audio recordings actually exist for every episode. Not bad.

Those recordings enabled the BBC and 2|Entertain to create animated versions of some of the missing episodes on DVD. The first to be released was “The Invasion”, but the first we encounter is right here.

The animation, it must be said, is not good. Everyone’s eyebrows seem to be trying to escape from their faces, and each tiny gesture is overly expressed. It’s not good, and doesn’t really work.

On the other hand…it’s much better than not having it at all, so in the spirit of, “Well, this is better than watching/listening to ‘Marco Polo’ again,” let’s just go with this.

In today’s actual plot, the Doctor meets with Citizen Robespierre, who was quite the piece of work. They have a fairly tense conversation, where the Doctor learns way more than Robesy. Then we cut over to Barbara and Susan, still hiding out in what is a borderline luxury resort.

The content of this scene is fine, but I’m really struggling to get past the animation. There’s a lot of overly-animated close-up work, which is just distracting as hell. I can’t help but remember “The Invasion”, where the animation added to the story, and seemed to fit well with the era and the content.

That said, it is interesting that even at this point in the series, the writers still seem to want Ian and Barbara to remain in the friend zone. It’s clear she’s got the hots for their host; even Susan notices it. I’m ok with that, but given what became later, it’s kind of interesting to see.

It is kind of amusing that the Doctor basically charms his way into a jail cell for the night. I do love it when his plans backfire. Watching the souse of a tailor get some sous of his own was also interesting. Ok, not that interesting, really, but I wanted an excuse to say “souse” and “sous”.

Ian, it seems, was dragged to the same house Barbara is in, because of course he was. We also get to see Susan being visited by a physician. Oddly, during his questioning, it never crosses his mind to say, “Have you been visiting alien planets, or the distant past, where you could have caught who knows what?”

On a final note, damn, Babs and the Doctor need to learn how to be a bit more discrete!

Next time: “A Bargain of Necessity”


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