After a little squabble, the Doctor wants to throw Ian and Barbara off the TARDIS. It is Earth but Revolutionary France, during Robespierre. The Doctor is seperated from the others when he is knocked out. The militia shoot the two people the companions meet and arrest Ian, Barbara and Susan so they can become guests of Madame Guillotine. The Doctor sets off for Paris to rescue them.
In prison, Ian meets a dying cell mate who implores him to find James Stirling and give him vital information. Ian manages to escape because the bumbling jailer forgets the key in the cell door. Susan and Barbara are rescued on their way to the guillotine by Jean and Jules, who are helping people out of France. Meanwhile, the Doctor masquerades as a Citizen from a regional office. At the prison, he meets the sinister Lemaitre and is later introduced to Robespierre. Ian is reunited with Barbara and Susan through Jean and Jules at Leon's house but is captured again because of Leon is a traitor, whilst the girls are arrested again when Susan falls ill. The Doctor bluffs Barbara's way out of the prison.
Lemaitre turns out to be James Stirling, and the vital information is about a secret meeting with Bonaparte and the overthrow of Robespierre
Two episodes (4 and 5) from the Reign of Terror remain lost.
The story has some nice incidental music and once again the period costumes are marvellous. Hartnell, already our dear though cantankerous, tetchy Doctor, simply sparkles in this story. There are a variety of comedic figures - like the jailer - and moments, and this is due to writer Dennis Spooner. He was to add a comedy element to the show in later episodes. (See "The Romans".)
There are lots of good points in this story, e.g. the characterisation, although I don't rank it as highly as Marco Polo or the Aztecs.
This was the last story of season 1 and it finishes with a starfield shot as the Doctor says: "Our destiny is in the stars, so let's go and search for it."
The first season is on the whole very good, with lots of strong stories.
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