søndag den 15. marts 2009

Who Review #23 - the Massacre

None of the episodes exist for this four parter by John Lucarotti (Marco Polo, the Aztecs).

The TARDIS arrives in France. The Doctor pays a visit to Preslin (and he is followed) whilst Steven befriends some Huguenots (Nicholas and Gaston) in a tavern. He is given directions by Nicholas, because he wants to see who has followed the Doctor. On his way out a servant girl called Anne rushes in to the tavern. Steven and the Huguenots defend her from pursuing guards. She has run away from her master because she has overheard people discuss something being like Vassey again. The Huguenots are convinced it is a plot to murder Henry of Navarre, who has just married the King's sister in order to heal the deep sectarian wounds between Protestants and Catholics in France, that started with the massacre of protestants in Vassey in 1562. Steven waits for the Doctor, but the curfew comes around and Nicholas lets Steven stay the night at Admiral de Coligny's house, where Anne has already found refuge. All this is learnt of by Simon, who is hiding in the tavern. He reports this news; the person he reports to is...the Doctor!

In the morning, Roger (who followed the Doctor) goes to the de Coligny house to enquire about Anne. The Huguenots laugh that the Abbot of Amboise himself has come. Steven stares in disbelief - it's the Doctor! This casts suspicion on Steven. Even more so when Steven and Nicholas discover Preslin's shop is boarded up, and Steven - convinced the Doctor must be masquerading as the Abbot - makes a dash for it.

Steven overhears the Marshall Tavannes , Simon and Roger plotting the assassination of "the Sea Beggar". The order for the assassination of this mystery man has been given by Catharine de Medici, the Queen Mother. Steven returns to de Caligny's house in order to warn them. But Gaston will not hear him out. He is forced to leave, where he is followed by Anne. de Coligny relates to Nicholas that the King might agree to his proposal that France support Holland's war with Spain; the King remarked he will go down in history as the Sea Beggar.

Steven and Anne go to the Abbot of Amboise's house to try and warn the Doctor of the assassination. Tavannes enters. Realising what is happening, Steven and Anne rush out and warn the Huguenots. de Caligny is shot but survives the attempt on his life. Back at the Huguenot house, word reaches them that the Abbot has been killed (on Tavannes orders). Steven runs out, worried about the Doctor. The King has called a council; in the meantime he argues with de Medici who says de Coligny is a dangerous enemy and the Huguenots are not to be trusted. Parisians are angered at the murder of the Abbot, who is left lying in the street. Steven bends over the body but must flee for his life as Roger blames him and the Huguenots. The crowd bay for blood.

At Preslin's shop, Steven and Anne search for the Doctor's clothes. He must find the TARDIS key. But he is surprised to hear a familiar voice - it is the Doctor. The Abbot was a spitting image. They discover that it is St.Bartholomew's Eve, 1572. The Doctor orders Anne to a place of safety and to remain indoors; turning to Steven, he says they must get out of Paris at once. de Medici has the signed order for the massacre of the Huguenots. Henry of Navarre is to be spared and escorted from Paris by Simon. The TARDIS leaves as the Catholics begin the massacre of the Protestants.

Steven is furious at the Doctor about what happened and wants to get off at the next stop. the TARDIS lands on Wimbledon Common in the 1960s. The Doctor contemplates Steven's departure, in another quotable Hartnell moment:

Steven... Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him to take some precautions; he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they're all gone. All gone. None of them could understand. Not even my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton - Chesterton - they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can't... I can't...

As he sits there pondering, a young girl runs into the TARDIS. Steven follows shortly after. And the ship dematerialises with a new companion. Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane).

The Hartnell quote above could sit quite easily in the New Series! It could fit in well at the end of the season four finale "Journey's End", when he says goodbye to Rose, Martha, Donna. Mickey, Jack, Sarah, K9 and Jackie.

The Massacre is hard to find fault with. (Damn BBC for losing it.) Peter Purves steals the show because he is centre stage with Hartnell making few appearances. The other actors give pretty solid performances in this gritty historical drama.

The original remit of Dr.Who, as mentioned before, was to have an educational aspect. When I first heard this story I had no idea what it was about really; I had to google the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre and the other historical references. It could be argued that this historical refers to events which people might not know about, therefore some of the plot is lost on the listener; but it's hardly that big a minus, if it is a minus at all. This great historical came at a time when the production crew were beginning to phase that story type out of the show.

Without a doubt, a gem of a story.

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