5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"A Touch of 007"
, 30 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Enemy of the World [DVD] (DVD)
Naturally this is a review that I never expected to be writing but I'm very delighted to get the chance. The biggest shame about this story's rediscovery is that its director Barry Letts died 5 years too early to see that his memory cheated and it's much better than he remembered.
Who does a spy thriller as the Doctor's close resemblance to a world leader/dictator Salamander enables the group against him to use the Doctor to get the goods on him. The Dr is sent to impersonate him with Jamie and Victoria infiltrating Salamander's organisation at much lower levels.
Salamander is very like a Bond villain what with his plans to rule the world and the story is not unlike the old ITC adventures series such as The Saint and The Champions.
At its best Letts and his team make it look more expensive than it really was, note the clever blending of helicopter stock footage in ep 1. Good sets and generally high production values, especially noteworthy is the Gerry Anderson style transport tube that takes Salamander into an underground bunker (where the inhabitants are dressed in 60's fab gear).
The minor downside is some unsuccessful back projection.
It's well cast with a number of familiar faces. Who rep actors Christopher Burgess and Milton Johns, (Johns is wonderful as the psychotic Benik)plus Colin Howard (see again in Horror of Fang Rock)& George Pravda of Deadly Assassin.
familiar to Tony Hancock fans is Hancock's intellectually challenged friend from his radio days Bill Kerr. Here Kerr is great playing a less charicatured character.
Mary Peach could have been an Avengers girl if her peformance as Astrid is anything to go by.
One of those great performances that never seems to get noticed is Carmen Munro as Fariah who puts more into the character than was in the script.
Jamie and Victoria get a good slice of the action too watch Frazer Hines pouring contempt in his taunt to Benik "I bet you were a nasty wee boy". Deborah Watling considerably lifts a padding scene as she discusses menus in a kitchen.
The man of the match is of course Patrick Troughton and he doesn't dissappoint. here he doesn't get to do the dark Doctor probably to help distinguish him from Salamander but instead his Doctor is the clear moral voice, vey much against murdering Salamander even if he is as bad as people say. I have a feeling if this story were to be done now there would be one of those frequent "looking at you is like looking in a mirror Doctor" lines.
For Salamander Trougthon does a light Mexican accent. yes perhaps it's not the best accent you ever heard but what makes it such a good choice is that he can still act with it and makes Salamander loathesome. Also it pays dividends in a marvellous scene where he plays the Doctor practicing Salamander's accent. Troughton sells us on the idea that the Doctor could master the accent so quickly.
The script by the Police Box Show's faithfull 60's retainer David Whittaker (*1) is a good one. It only drags a little in episode 3 which has padding and on the whole is full of good characters, humour and action.
The picture restoration is some of the best I've seen.
Sadly it's a vanilla release, an attempt to mount a commentary was abandoned. the only extra treat is a nicely done trailer for Web of Fear.
I join with others in hoping there will be no special edition any time soon but for all that I recommend this for everyone.
(*1) whittaker did plan to return to Who novelisations completing a few pages of Power of the Daleks and peroducing a revised storyline for Enemy which would have ened with Salamander being left to the mercy of the people.
His untimely death prevented the completion of either one.
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