Last year fans of the original Doctor Who series received some great news: several previously 'lost' episodes from Patrick Troughton's tenure as The Doctor were discovered in Nigeria. They comprised the second Yeti story, The Web of Fear (still missing one episode) and The Enemy of the World. While I was elated at the news, I was much more interested in The Web of Fear since it featured the first appearance of fan-favorite supporting actor Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney). Now that both stories have been released on DVD and I have to say that Enemy of the World is fantastic... just as good as the other 'found' story. While this release doesn't have anything in the way of extras it does have a very good image and sound, and that's what really counts the most.
The Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Victoria, arrive in Australia in the far-off year of 2018, and are almost immediately running for their lives. A group of men in a hovercraft try to kill The Doctor as soon as they spot him, and the group only survives because of a last-minute rescue by a woman with a helicopter, Astrid. She explains that The Doctor was targeted because he looks exactly like Salamander, the would-be dictator of Earth, and takes the group to meet the head of the resistance, Giles Kent. Kent was once part of the government and a trusted adviser to Salamander until he discovered that the leader planned to rule the entire world. Now Giles wants The Doctor to impersonate Salamander so he can get close enough to the megalomaniac to kill him.
The Doctor isn't really convinced. He wants proof that Salamander is a villain, since the only thing he's seen on television broadcasts are the good that Salamander has done: inventing satellites that harness solar energy to grow crops in extreme latitudes and coming to the aid when natural disasters strike. When Salamander's head of security, Donald Bruce, bursts into Giles house however, The Doctor pretends to be the leader in order to save his companions. But how did Bruce know to launch a raid at that moment? Could he have been tipped off by Giles himself to force The Doctor to take on the Salamander role?
The Doctor has some pretty serious doubts about both Giles and Salamander, so he, along with Victoria, Jamie, and Astrid, come up with a plan to get some solid proof. It's pretty clear that Salamander is a villain, but is Giles too?
This story was very different from the other surviving Troughton adventures and goes about casting his tenure in a different light, to some extent. In the stories that were complete before the recent discovery Troughton was a bit more bumbling and scatterbrained. He's silly in this one too, going so far as to take his clothes off (except his long underwear) and skipping into the ocean while Jamie and Victoria look on scratching their heads. But his goofiness is offset nicely by his serious side. He doesn't believe Giles when he initially says that Salamander is evil. The Doctor wants proof instead of taking the first person he meets at his word (probably the only time that has happened).
The adventure feels much more like a spy or political drama than a science fiction tale. It reminded me of The Avengers more than a little. There isn't a monster to be seen and the action scenes are very few in number, but the plot is fairly complex. There are schemes and intrigue that are much more involved than the typical Who story from the time. Added to the rather intricate plot is a very nice twist in episode four that really make the story much more interesting.
While the story is very good, if unusual for Doctor Who, it is Patrick Troughton who makes the serial work. He's amazing in his dual role of The Doctor and Salamander. They seem like totally different people and I had to remind myself that one man was playing both roles. He does a superb job and the serial is worth watch just for his performance.
The original mono soundtrack has been restored and the story sounds great. The dialog is clean and the background music comes through clearly. There's nothing to complain about here.
I was a little worried about the video quality before I screened the DVD. After all, these episodes had been sitting on a shelf in Nigeria for the past 40 some odd years. How did they hold up over the years? Quite well actually. The Restoration team worked their magic and the result is simply beautiful. The contrast is excellent, the black levels nice, and the amount of detail is superb. There are a couple of sections that are a bit soft, but only a couple. Aside from that these episodes look marvelous.
Unfortunately there are no extras save a trailer for The Web of Fear. I would have really enjoyed a trivia track (I really enjoy those) but I really can't complain. I never thought I'd be able to see this story so a lack of extras is a small matter.
When it was announced that two Doctor Who serials had been discovered, most fans (myself included) were much more interested in seeing The Web of Fear and considered this story a nice find, but much less significant. After seeing it, I've changed my mind. The Enemy of the World is a great story that showcases Patrick Troughton as an actor, as well as telling an intricate and engaging adventure. Highly Recommended.