Okay, once we get past the (massive) rejoicing that quite rightly accompanied the return of the missing five parts of this story to the archive, it begs the question – was it worth the wait? Some stories have singularly failed to live up to the promise of their audio versions; others have been considerably better. For my money, The Enemy of the World quite definitely falls into the latter category.
If you don’t know the story – and it’s not one of those which has had masses of attention over the years –avoid the YouTube trailer; even more, avoid the iTunes descriptions of the episodes, which, apart from being wrong in so many respects, managed to give away even more spoilers than the trailer does. (Equally, it’s hard to avoid them here, so if you don’t know the plot, jump from here to the end of the review, or better still, start downloading it!)
From the moment when the TARDIS lands by a beach, and Troughton takes the opportunity to give a little skip in the air as he races towards the water, then strips off for a bathe, to the climactic scene in the Ship, the story is full of little surprises. Troughton obviously relishes the chance to play a double role – in fact, one could argue a triple role, given that there are two different sides to Salmander on display during the story – and he’s provided with plenty of opportunities to both play scenes subtlely and over the top. One of the overriding impressions you come away with from watching it, which isn’t, oddly, so obvious on audio is how much everyone shouts at everyone else in this tale – which makes the scenes with Griffin, the cook, stand out even more.
Barry Letts may have moaned at directors under his producership for splashing out on the stunts and action sequences, but any of them who remembered watching this tale would have had a perfect answer, since the first episode sets that template. Letts directs an all-action film spectacular, which provides an adrenalin rush that carries through the necessary exposition of the rest of the episode.
What’s also clearer from the visual version is just how much the Doctor is adamant about getting evidence against his duplicate before he’ll act. (Also clearer is the daftness of his line about whether there’s enough air in the bench in which he hides – there’s a grill clearly visible at the end of it!)
The second half of the story introduces a new element, with a group of survivors believing that civilisation has been destroyed, and that their leader is the only one who can travel to the outside world. This is reused in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, perhaps slightly more effectively than here – the scenes with one of them desperate to return to the surface aren’t as well played.
Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling have some nice moments (and a week off), and the supporting cast all step up – it’s good to see Milton Johns at his callous best, particularly.
Is it a story that people will dig the DVDs out of repeatedly once they’re available? It doesn’t feature a recognisable monster, but anyone who loves Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor is going to find much to appreciate in this, and anyone who enjoys his acting generally will also do so.
Verdict: Don’t wait for the DVD – this is a Lost Story that deserves the appreciation it is now getting. 8/10