DVD review: Doctor Who - The Enemy of the World

23:42, Dec 10 2013
Doctor Who - The Enemy of the World
Doctor Who - The Enemy of the World

Doctor Who - The Enemy of the World
(BBC/Roadshow Entertainment, PG)

For 45 years The Enemy of the World was lost, but thanks to a bit of television archaeology by Phillip Morris it was found gathering dust in a store room at a television relay station in Nigeria.

"I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words 'Doctor Who'," said Morris of this six part black and white Doctor Who story originally broadcast in December 1967 and January 1968. "When I read the story code I realised I'd found something pretty special."

The TARDIS lands on an Australian beach in the 21st Century, but this is no seaside holiday. Within minutes, the Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) are under attack. They soon discover that the Doctor bears a startling resemblance to leader Salamander, a would-be dictator intent on world domination. Before long, the Doctor and his companions are plunged into a dangerous game of espionage, intrigue and deceit as they face off against the enemy of the world.

The Enemy of the World, written by David Whitaker, produced by Innes Lloyd and directed by Barry Letts, feels far more like a James Bond story than Doctor Who.

First the science fiction element of the story is restricted to the opening frames of episode 1, when the TARDIS delivers the Doctor and his companions to the beach, and the closing frames of episode 6, when they leave for their next adventure. And what at adventure it is.

Second, this is a political thriller full of agents and double agents, heads of security and secret police. Anyone who thinks Doctor Who is, or was, a kids show should take a look at this.

Patrick Troughton, half way through his tenure as the Doctor, showed what a great actor he was. His Doctor was a cosmic hobo who was ignored anywhere he went until he wanted to be noticed. His Salamander, with a Mexican accent, fills any room he is in and steals the air from it. There wasn't one moment, in these 2 hours and 24 minutes, when the audience didn't know which of the characters was on screen. Other characters were confused but never the audience.

Younger viewers might find this high concept story confusing, thanks to a clever twist in the last third of the story, but this story decision confirmed it was put together by a sophisticated production crew.

What a treat for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary. But what a shame this release comes with no DVD extras. Sure some of the cast and crew behind this release are long dead, but wouldn't it have been great to hear the survivors mix it up with current show runner Steven Moffat as he shared his thoughts on this story as well as current Doctor Matt Smith?He did, after all, base his Doctor on Troughton's.

More likely the lack of extras is down to the rush to release on DVD.