Doctor Who #106: Priest of Death

"Besides, the bears there are French. They may not like to be sold."TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 3 of The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve. It is missing from the archives. A reconstruction has thus been used (Part 1, Part 2). First aired Feb.19 1966.

IN THIS ONE... A failed assassination attempt on an Admiral leads to the execution of the Abbot of Amboise for incompetence. But is he the Doctor?

REVIEW: If the previous episode was high on historical politics and low on TARDISeers, this one is even worse. Steven gets hardly any scenes, and the Doctor is once again absent. That Hartnell plays the Abbot of Amboise only means that it feels like you're watching a period drama that also happens to feature William Hartnell. When he's on screen (which is very little anyway), we're STILL watching that period drama and not Who. Steven continues to believe the Abbot is the Doctor, and fandom continues to commend Hartnell for creating a wholly different character, but neither are correct. When the Abbot is murdered at the end of the story, we know it can't be the Doctor, and I'm afraid it means the Abbot hasn't been featured enough to call it much of a character. He had, what, two brief scenes in the entire story?

The Abbot's role is mirrored in that of the Queen Mother. From the existing pictures, Joan Young's Catherine de Medici is a powerful presence, and yet she doesn't say a single word in her first scene. Everyone else is speaking for her. She eventually gets a brief scene, and it's a good one. She's the overbearing mother disappointed in her royal child. But again, that all feels like it's from another production entirely. If the protagonists have any impact on the story - does Steven prevent the Admiral's death? Is history reasserting itself when his presence sparks a riot over the Abbot's body? - the audience can't tell because these events are from well-known or iconic. And the one element that seemed to drive the story for the series regulars, the double of the Doctor, is done away here without explanation (see Theories).

THEORIES: What is it with the Whoniverse and doubles? Obviously, in a long-running series, actors are bound to be reused, but Doctor Who goes out of its way to make the Doctor or his companions meet physical doubles of themselves elsewhere in spacetime. The first Doctor has the Abbot; the 2nd, Salamander; the 6th, Maxil; Romana looks just like the princess of Tara and then chooses the form of Astra for her second incarnation. Is the matrix involved in regeneration/looming and does is it, in part, hold a universal gene bank? Or is, as is explored in the Faction Paradox books, Gallifrey a template for the rest of the universe, and Time Lord forms echoed across the universe? However, this isn't solely a Time Lord phenomenon. Barbara and Lexa, Nyssa and Ann Talbot, Amy Pond and a Roman soothsayer (only Nyssa is noticed as a "double"). It's a big universe, especially when the 4th dimension is taken into account, and there seems to be a wide but limited number of body types. It's also possible that people who have bonded with the TARDIS lead the ship to times and places where similar genetics exist.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - If the main characters were involved more, I'd concede a higher rating. As is, it feels like a complete diversion from the program I want to watch.



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