Viewing posts tagged french revolution

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What can I do but cheat?

Three moments, not in chronological order.


1

Barbara Wright is in a junkyard.  She walks into a Police Box.  She's in a large, brightly lit control room.

This can happen on screen because of the cut.  The material conditions of TV production, manifested as a splicing together of two recorded moments into the appearance of one fluid event, makes this possible.  We have "discovered television".  We can put huge buildings inside small boxes.  We can put Narnia inside the wardrobe; Wonderland inside the rabbit hole.  The quintessential trait of British fantastic literature for kids - the eccentric relationship of impossible spaces - can be made visual.

Doctor Who's very nature as storytelling is utterly bound up with the limits of the material conditions of television production.  So much so that living on that limit became its raison d'etre.  Its development has always been inextricably connected with what can materially be done, and how it is done.  And what it has done has always developed what it wants to be able to do next.  As I've said elsewhere, 'The Space Museum' pushes ...

Jack watches 'The Reign of Terror', Part 1

You can probably already guess where this one is going, Constant Reader.

Oh look, there's a guillotine on the cover.  It's a story about the French Revolution.  Hence, a guillotine.  I mean, of course.

The blurb on the back informs me that the French Revolution was "a time of great upheaval, bloodshed and terror".  Technically true, of course... if slanted.  The inside blurb informs me that the Revolution was "bloodthirsty".  Inside the box, we have clearly abandoned all pretence of objectivity.  Which is just as well, because any pretence of objectivity would be utterly hypocritical when talking about the Doctor Who story called 'The Reign of Terror'.

Okay, onto the programme itself.  As noted, the story is called 'The Reign of Terror'.  Just to hammer the point home, the first episde is called 'A Land of Fear'.  Because everyone in France was afraid. 

There's some rather charming interaction between the regulars at the start.  The Doctor is in a huff and, convinced that he has finally brought Ian and Barbara home, attempts to haul them unceremoniously off his ship.  They manage to charm him ...

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