Doctor Who: The Enemy Of The World DVD review

Patrick Troughton’s recovered serial The Enemy Of The World is compelling but confusing

For a distressingly long time, Patrick Troughton’s second season serial, 1967’s The Enemy Of The World, existed only as a set of tantalising production photos brimming with gleaming hardware, retro-futurism and a Target novelisation that didn’t feel like an ordinary Doctor Who adventure.

In an era that would quickly become defined by its claustrophobic research bases and isolated outposts under siege, The Enemy Of The World is a massive, globe-trotting tale that leaps from Australia to Hungary with a seemingly multinational cast, portraying a power struggle and conspiracy at the heart of a one-world government. With the Doctor’s double, the would-be despot Salamander at the heart, it’s a perfect excuse for Troughton to chew the scenery at both ends, gobbling up the six-parter like the last meatball in The Lady & The Tramp.

Mundane in that The Enemy Of The World involves relatively few unreal elements – just people – and yet simultaneously it’s one of the most overtly tethered to literary SF. The world is divided into districts and ruled by a powerful bureaucracy, echoing George Orwell’s 1984, while the twist is straight from Philip K Dick’s then-recent The Penultimate Truth.

Compared to James Bond by those who have apparently not seen a whole lot of Bond (or Doctor Who), it has far more in common with the frequently surreal Avengers with its increasingly convoluted web of schemes, double-crosses and agendas while the production and costume design is a neat missing link between the cold Sixties future offered up in 2001: A Space Odyssesy and the fascist chic of Fahrenheit 451 or the shiny Robomen of Dalek Invasion Earth.

It’s an unforgettable concoction, but for large chunks of plot it doesn’t feel entirely like Doctor Who, not due to the absence of monsters or any template storyline, but more because the Doctor is such a passive force for so much of the story. Instead, the plot is carried by companions Jamie (the wonderful Frazer Hines) and Victoria (the frustratingly docile Deborah Watling) and a fascinating supporting cast, including chopper-piloting action girl Astrid (Mary Peach), bullish security chief Donald Bruce (Horror Of Fang Rock’s Colin Douglas), oily functionary Benik (The Android Invasion’s Milton Johns) and desperate rival Giles Kent (Gallipoli and Razorback’s Bill Kerr).

It’s compelling drama, but it’s not entirely the Doctor’s show, and as the plot gets increasingly complex, the space where a bit of twinkling or capering should be grows with it.

In the context of Matt Smith’s final brace of outings, the Troughton influence on his Doctor seems especially vivid. The first episode’s larking around on the beach is pure proto-11 down to every last mannerism and tic, and it’s similarly tough not to imagine Smith playing around with some of the dialogue: “People spend all their time making nice things, and then other people come along and break them.”

Given the expense, the BBC are obviously keen to immediately recoup on recovering the two sets of lost episodes – this one was found in Nigeria along with The Web Of Fear – it’s perhaps excusable that this release is devoid of the usually high grade extras, but that doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing.

Surely a featurette on the recovery and restoration, and an interview with Hines and Watling wouldn’t have been too much to ask?