Doctor Who: Enemy of the World (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros DO believe in miracles as they review this long-lost story...
"People spend all their time making nice things, and then other people come along and break them."
These words from Patrick Troughton in this story could very well be applied to the BBC during the sixties and seventies, as they systematically destroyed and/or wiped many Doctor Who stories during that period. Though Doctor Who faired better than many other BBC shows during that period in terms of episodes surviving, much damage was done and many episodes are still missing, but every so often, miracles can happen…
The TARDIS materialises in Australia in the year 2018 and The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) immediately find themselves under attack. The Doctor just happens to look like Mexican statesman, Salamander, who is in control of the United Zones Organisation. The TARDIS crew team up with a band of people who are determined to expose the would-be dictator Salamander for what he truly is before his grip on the planet tightens.
The history of missing Doctor Who stories has become almost the stuff of legend, almost as much as the missing episodes themselves; Doctor Who fans over a certain age have been in the privileged position of being able to say that they have seen many of the Doctor Who stories that are completely or partially missing from the BBC archives.
The wiping of large amounts of Doctor Who's stories began in 1967, with original videotapes of The Highlanders being the first to fall under the magnetiser only a couple of months after the story was transmitted. Others stories followed and it was only in the late seventies that the BBC released that they were committing cultural vandalism and efforts were made to try and locate copies of the missing episodes from the various countries where Doctor Who had been sold. The sterling efforts of Ian Levine ensured that many Doctor Who stories that were due to be junked were rescued from the edge of destruction (ahem!) and have since been - and will continue to be - enjoyed by grateful Doctor Who fans.
Rumours began circulating a while back that three previously lost Doctor Who stories had been found. For years, fans and collectors had been scouring every last known country and television station in those countries, but since 1992’s discovery of Tomb of the Cybermen in Hong Kong, no complete Doctor Who story had been returned to the BBC archives. Richard Morris, director of a company that specialises in preserving film and televisual heritage, had managed to track down a complete copy of Enemy of the World (along with an almost complete copy of The Web of Fear), gathering dust in a television relay station in Nigeria. It’s nothing short of a miracle that these two stories have resurfaced after the best part of half a century and we would personally like to thank Mr Morris for helping to make more of Patrick Troughton’s work on Doctor Who available to see. Oh, and if you are wondering what the third story that was rumoured to have been found a few months ago - Enemy of the World and Web of Fear were two of them - the third was William Hartnell’s Marco Polo. We’ll see if there is any truth in that rumour eventually…
Episode one sees the TARDIS landing on a beach and there are many wonderful little moments that were otherwise lost on the various reconstructions and audio releases, such as Pat Troughton jumping up and clicking his heels together as he wades into the sea, clad only in a pair of long-johns. There are many other wonderful little character moments - including some other moments of Troughton’s physical performance - that are subtle and add immensely to the flavour and charm of the story that simply haven’t been seen for well over four decades.
Though Enemy of the World is a broad, sweeping saga that was large in scale and ambition, it was a pity that for anyone not around to see the story when it was originally broadcast, the only surviving episode was a fairly dull affair that took place - as Toby Hadoke pointed out so amusingly - in a corridor, a caravan and a kitchen and was not representative of the story as a whole.
Salamander means to gain control of the world by using a group of scientists - effectively held captive deep underground - to create natural disasters that he can miraculously predict. The concept of a shady character coming to political prominence by claiming to predict cataclysmic seismic activities was later used in John Carpenter’s Escape From LA, where a self-righteous religious nutter is elected President of the United States after predicting that an earthquake would destroy Los Angeles; the stark difference between Enemy of the World and Escape From LA is that the former isn’t a piece of festering canine excrement.
Though this is a six-parter, there is little sign of the almost customary “middle-act-sag” that usually accompanies such lengthy stories, as a secondary story strand is introduced in episode four that has Salamander travelling deep down into the earth to visit a group of poor sods whom he has duped into thinking that a terrible war is raging on the surface and that he has been out to gather food and the like. The fact that he has managed to keep this pretence up for nearly five years proves two things - one, that Salamander really IS a heartless bastard; and two, that the people he has had imprisoned underground are a gullible bunch. There is also a McGuffin introduced in episode four that helps to provide a bit of urgency - a file that has enough information on Salamander’s dodgy dealings to bring him down, which adds a bit of tension and gives both Giles Kent’s side and Salamander’s forces higher stakes to play for.
Patrick Troughton is his usual wonderful self in this story; as well as playing The Doctor, he also takes on the role of would-be world dominator, Salamander. As The Doctor, Troughton continues to invent little bits of unscripted comedic business that just add more to his character and make an audience love him more, but this story allows him to be slightly more serious, especially when he refuses to do Giles Kent’s dirty work and kill his doppelganger; “I’ll expose him, ruin him, have him arrested, but I won’t be his executioner”; this is captivating stuff - wonderfully written and sensitively delivered - and helps to dispel the incorrect notion that Troughton’s Doctor was a clown and little else. Troughton’s first appearance as The-Doctor-impersonating-Salamander at the end of the first episode is just amazing to watch, as The Doctor goes from someone desperately trying to plausibly impersonate a very famous person whist knowing very little about him, to embodying him is wonderful.
There have been some barbed comments about Troughton's portrayal of Salamander, most of which involved the slightly dodgy stereotypical Latino accent he chose for the part. There is an element of truth to this criticism, as it sounds exactly like the "stock" Mexican/Spanish accent that actors from that particular era were taught at drama school, but the fact that an adversary on Doctor Who spoken with an accent other than middle-class received pronunciation is to be commended.
Aside from his slightly questionable accent, one serious flaw that Salamander appears to have is his dubious ability in implicitly trusting people he has never met as his friends. Jamie and Victoria manage to worm their way into his inner circle purely by throwing an explosive device out of Salamander's way when they had only just met. The fact that one of his members of staff (Fariah) so obviously has him on her hit-list that she is practically dripping with venom when we first meet her. Would Salamander's maxim be “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? Or is he merely far too trusting for his own good?
The fourth instalment of this story sees both Jamie and Victoria out of the picture, having been exposed as threats to Salamander and locked up at the end of the previous story; the reality was that both Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling were on holiday during that week and were written out in a manner that is more effective than many attempts to paper over the brief departure of one of the leads during a story. There is more than enough characters and events unfolding in episode four to cover Hines and Watling absences and they are hardly missed at all.
It’s great to see another complete story featuring Deborah Watling, as she got a pretty raw deal on Doctor Who as far as existing episodes are concerned. Until this recent discovery, the only complete existing story with Watling in it was Tomb of the Cybermen. Whilst it’s great to have more of Deborah Watling’s work on Doctor Who back to enjoy, it serves to remind you just how much of her time on the show was spend whining; there seems to be a whiny voice that compliments her high quotient of screaming rather well. You could argue that Victoria’s quite frequent ineffectuality can be a product of her being a “historical” character, i.e., not from contemporary Earth, but this isn’t the case, particularly when she is paired with a Highlander from the battle of Culloden.
Jamie’s role in this story isn’t the strongest one - he pairs up with Astrid to infiltrate Salamander’s domain and has a short-lived role as a personal guard to “The Shopkeeper of the World” before being captured and locked up for an episode. Hines is always great as Jamie, but there is no doubt that The Enemy of the World is Patrick Troughton’s show through and through, so he was obviously prepared to stand back and let the leading man take centre-stage - and presumably breathe a sigh of relieve at not having to learn quite so many lines…
Mary Peach is Astrid; the South African born actress certainly gives a gutsy performance and verbally spars with The Doctor in a most impressive manner. Astrid is one of the stronger female roles in Doctor Who during the sixties and it’s great to see that she is steely and tough without having to be overly macho or beat the shit out of male characters to prove how strong she is. Peach was married to Hammer writer/director Jimmy Sangster and such a connection always pushes someone up a notch in our estimation. It’s also worth noting that another character named Astrid would eventually appear in New-Who, the main difference is that actress playing Astrid in this story can actually act…
A welcome addition to the guest cast comes in the form of Bill Kerr as Giles Kent. Kerr had been making regular appearances on film, radio and television, but had become a household name in Britain the previous decade when he was one of the ensemble cast of Hancock's Half Hour, but found himself surplus to requirement as Tony Hancock's ego begin to mushroom. Kerr gives Kent a steeliness that is in stark contrast to the borderline buffoon he played alongside Hancock, making him seem like a heartless bastard when it comes to shamelessly manipulating The Doctor into impersonating Salamander near the end of the first episode. The only thing off about Kerr in this story is his unfortunate tight polo-neck jumper that really doesn’t do him any favours and can be a little distracting at times.
Security Chief Donald Bruce is portrayed with all of the necessary officious bluster by Colin Douglas (who would later go on to appear alongside Tom Baker in The Horror of Fang Rock); Douglas has that actorly huff-and-puff deliver that is symptomatic of either age, excessive weight, chronic smoking or a combination of all three. It’s a tricky thing to play a character that is initially has fascist leanings, but allows enough of a chink in the armour to be able to recognise a generally decent person underneath; Bruce is able to nail this part so convincingly that you are almost cheering him on toward the end of the story.
Milton Johns adds his customary sliminess to the proceedings as Benik, Salamander's odious right-hand man. Johns could always be relied upon to bring a thoroughly unlikeable aspect to a role - the sort of performance that needs a clipboard tucked under his arm - and he doesn't disappoint, as his very distinctive brand of sneering menace has the ability to get under the skin, even during the very campy scene where he attempts to intimidate Giles Kent into moving on by breaking the crockery in his caravan. Johns’ nastiness comes to the fore in episode four, when the he ramps up into full-on bastard mode as he sneers over a dying character and even threatens to shoot her in the head at point blank range just to get a sense of self-satisfaction by killing her himself. His full-on bastard persona is ramped up in episode five, when he smiles sadistically as he threatens Jamie and Victoria. The best description of Benik is that of a large, thin reptile with a smile on it’s face. Johns’ leering, repellent performance obviously made an impression on someone, as he would return to Doctor Who in The Android Invasion and The Invasion of Time.
Future Desmond’s actor Carmen Munroe appears in several episodes as Fariah, someone who as soon as you see and hear her, you know exactly what her intentions are and you really hopes that she succeeds in them. Munroe brings an iciness to her performance that really grabs your attention and when she opens her mouth, she has you practically hanging on her every word, such is the power of her delivery. Munroe has the look, the poise and the delivery of a jazz singer and she’s all the more wonderful because of this - she‘s extremely attractive, too. Munroe’s outfit is simply fabulous and although the story is set in the early 21st century, her costume was pretty much as ultra-modern and as cutting edge as was humanly possibly when this story was made; she sports black and white PVC, including a plastic miniskirt with boots that show off a fabulous pair of pins.
The climax of this story had become the stuff of legend over the years, with The Doctor and Salamander coming face-to-face with each other in the TARDIS; seeing as up until VERY recently, most fans though they would never see this, fervent images rampaged through the imaginations of die-hard aficionados in a manner that would have made what was originally seen impossible to live up to - or would it?
It is certainly a gas to finally get to see protagonist and antagonist practically nose-to-nose as the story races toward it's conclusion and the use of split-screen is pretty impressive. The editing of the climax is surprisingly - and appropriately - punchy, as The Doctor and The Dictator fighting and the convincing use of doubles really helps to sell the believability of Patrick Troughton playing both characters on-screen at the same time. We'll not reveal the fate of Salamander, but we will say that what they managed to achieve on a standard Doctor Who budget is most impressive.
This story saw the directorial debut of former actor, Barry Letts, fresh from the director's course he had taken at the BBC; the sense of scale shown during the first episode is pretty impressive and sets up the rest of the story perfectly. The first ten minutes of episode one are almost completely (apart from a couple of quick shots) shot on film, freeing the director of the restrictions that would have come with shooting in the studio. Letts certainly uses this to his advantage, using quick cuts and plenty of camera set-ups, not to mention the wondrous advantages that having the use of a helicopter has, both in terms of production values in front of the camera and sticking the camera inside and filming from the air; there is a magnificent shot taken from the helicopters point-of-view as it takes off and the gun-toting adversaries disappear into the distance and the chopper pulls away. It seems to go on forever and becomes more wondrous as it goes on; there are those who are critical of Letts’ abilities as a director, with some calling his stuff “bland” or “workmanlike”, but his first directorial assignment shows a wonderful amount of flair and imagination when freed from the three-camera approach that comes with shooting in a studio.
There are small details dotted throughout the story that serve to anchor the thing in a plausible futuristic reality, with the an authentic-looking licence inside the helicopter displaying that it is valid until 2018 really being the best example of it, as it is just seen in the background, with little attention being drawn to it. The use of video calls between characters is impressive, as they appear to be done “live”, allowing the actors to properly interact with each other and tailor their responses, rather than have one act try and time their responses between the gaps of the recording. The film sequence of Salamander travelling down in a one-man capsule through tunnels down into the earth are pretty damn impressive; they are clearly achieved with miniatures, but they are very well done and there is even a panning shot that really sells the scale of the scene.
There is only one distracting misstep in Letts’ direction, but it could be argued that it is an editorial error; it comes during episode three when Deborah Watling is being chased down a corridor (or should that be THE corridor in episode three?) and she is immediately captured, but before the camera has even had time to come to rest from panning, it immediately cuts to the next scene where Victoria is looking distinctly sorry foe herself. The cut is jarring and really pulls you out of the story - this could have been avoided by just having an extra second or two at the end of the previous scene to allow the viewer to properly process the visual information. There is a similarly abrupt edit in episode five, when Troughton makes his entrance to the interrogation room, but it’s not nearly as distracting as the other instance. There maybe a very good reason why this happened, but it seems to be more by accident than design. Oh, this may be the most appropriate point to mention that in episode four, the budgetary limitations begin to show when a couple of brick walls that appear in the background are quite clearly rolls of wallpaper that have brickwork designs printed on them - we remember this wallpaper back in the seventies and it was one hell of a yanking flashback to see it again so many years later.
The Enemy of the World stands apart in season five of Doctor Who, as it is the only story that doesn’t conform to the “base-under-siege” formula to some degree and comes as a welcome break from such a tried and trusted format. Episode six has enough twists and turns to satisfy most viewers and ends with enough of a bang to keep everyone happy and wishing for more of the same. It would be quite some time before Doctor Who would have a story as sweeping and epic as this one.
Episode three already existed in the BBC archives, having been earmarked for preservation as an example of that particular season, which is odd, really, as Enemy of the World as a story was atypical for this season and episode three is atypical of this story. This episode was previously available on the Lost in Time DVD set and had already been spruced-up by the guys at the Doctor Who Restoration Team, the end results were spectacular, looking almost as fresh as it must have done on original transmission.
The recently recovered episodes have had the Restoration Team treatment (there were rumours that they had to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements before working on them); the results are pretty impressive, with the studio sequences coming off best, as usual. There is a curious shifting moiré-like pattern on the screen now and again, it’s subtle but noticeable, particularly during the film sequences of episode one and on plain backgrounds, this might be down to compression issues (having six episodes on a DVD-9 could possibly be stretching things a little). It’s certainly not enough to put you off, but it’s something we haven’t really seen before on a Doctor Who DVD release. The RT’s Steve Roberts informed us that the film sequences of episode one were “pretty terrible” and needed a lot of restoration work on them. If you have ever looked at any clips of un-restored Doctor Who titles, you can appreciate them amount of work that is put in to present them in the best way possible.
The other episodes are up to the usual wonderful standard, with the ViDFIREd studio material looking particularly amazing. There are some vertical tramlines that appear faintly during episode five, but considering that this story was effectively buried for over four decades, it looks pretty damn remarkable.
No problems to report here; we would imagine that the Restoration Team (presumably headed up by Mark Ayres on the audio front) have cleaned up the soundtracks to present them in their best possible form. Things sound fine and there are no clarity issues to report.
Coming Soon Trailer: This is the only thing on this disc. It just happens to be advertising the eventual release of the other story to have been recently discovered, The Web of Fear. It's a cool little teaser that has plenty of Yeti action and ends with the eerie beeping sound that they make.
It's nothing short of a bloody miracle that this six-part story has been returned to the BBC - and to Doctor Who fans. It's broad in scope and Patrick Troughton gets a chance to stretch by playing two roles.
The lack of extras is rather disappointing, but if it is the price to pay for getting this story out onto DVD so quickly after the announcement of it's recovery, then so be it. This 50th anniversary year has turned out to be very special for fans of Classic Doctor Who and the return of two Patrick Troughton stories to bolster his meagre showing in the BBC archives something to be celebrated. If we ever meet Philip Morris, we’d like to buy him a drink. Watch Enemy of the World and enjoy!
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 25th November 2013
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Coming Soon Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Barry Letts
Cast: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Patrick Troughton
Length: 220 minutes
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