Doctor Who: Enemy of the World/Web of Fear

Director - Barry Letts/Douglas Camfield

Cast - Patrick Troughton, Frazier Hines

Country of Origin - U.K.

Discs - 1/1

Distributor - BBC Worldwide

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

Date - 05/14/14

The Serials (4.5/5, 4.5/5)

 

   I would like to start this review in a most unorthodox manner. I would like to thank Mr. Philip Morris for his hard work and dedication in ensuring that lost episodes of television are recovered, and most specifically thank him for recovering the missing episodes that have made these 2 releases the Enemy of the World and Web of Fear possible.

 

   With that out of the way, a little explanation might be in order. In the late 1960's and early 1970's in order to save on the cost of tape and space the BBC began to wipe the tape they used to record their TV programs on. Many classic TV programs that had previously had been archived had been lost during this period including many episodes of 60's and early 70's Doctor Who.  Over the decades the BBC  in conjunction with fans have worked to recover as many of these episodes as possible, but it has been a rare occurrence for a complete serial to be returned. The last serial to be returned in a complete state was the Patrick Troughton vehicle Tomb of the Cybermen in 1992, that is why the 2013 announcement of missing episodes from Enemy of the World and Web of Fear are so significant.  In the case of Enemy of the World it completes the serial 100%, in the case of Web of Fear it leaves us with one episode missing, which for the digital download and DVD release was completed with a reconstruction (telesnaps, missing footage, and off-air recorded audio put together to complete the narrative).

 

   Both serialís episodes were found in Nigeria apparently at the same time, and so they end up being serials that run together narratively. Enemy of the World finds the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria landing the TARDIS in 2018 Australia. Right away things get off to a troubled start, and they are attacked by a group of rebel fighters who mistake the Doctor for a ruthless dictator Salamander, who appears to have been taking over the world with an iron fist during this period.  The Doctor reluctantly becomes involved with the rebels, and begins to investigate Salamander in an attempt to find out if he is up to the evil that they say, and if he is to stop him before any more damage can be done. The serial ends with the TARDIS taking off, but Jamie and Victoria finding themselves in a thick web like substance in space.

 

   The Web of Fear the next serial starts moments from that with Jamie and Victoria escaping from the web, and the TARDIS materializing deep underground. This is a less complicated story than Enemy of the World, and is much more traditional, but no less great than Enemy.... The entirety of the serial takes place in the underground subway tunnels of London, the Yeti formerly featured in the Abominable Snowmen, has surfaced there 20 years after it's last attack, and it's up to the military, a science team lead by Professor Travers (who helped the Doctor defeat the Yeti previously), and the TARDIS team to defeat the Yeti.

 

   Both serials run 6 parts each, normally 6 part serials have a tendency to drag, and with Web of Fear, and this could be due to the fact that part 3 was a recon, this was partially the case. Enemy of the World, however, was an excellent 6 part conspiracy thriller that used all its part effectively with great story telling, and suspense from one part to the next. The only possible negative I could potentially throw at the serial is Troughton's Mexican accent, which seemed a tad stereotypical in it's approach, but from another perspective he did a fine job acting against himself.

   I will be honest in that I have not seen every Troughton  serial, but I have seen most of them, and Enemy of the World at this point has become on initial viewing my absolute favorite of the existing serials.  The performances from the entire cast truly bring an interesting cast of characters to life, and the story feels more global in it's approach than a standard Troughton serial of the era.
    
     Web of Fear takes the base under siege template of many Troughton serials, and takes it into a grimy claustrophobic abandoned underground station to amazing results. The Yeti by design from looks to the beeping sound it makes is creepy enough, but the atmosphere created due to the setting really helps separate the serial from other similar material from the era. When you couple it from the great dynamics created by the cast, it becomes an absolute classic in it's own right. Web of Fear, it should also be mentioned in it's still missing third episode debuts the character who would become Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who is a Corporal in this episode.

 

   Any missing episode find is a cause for celebration in the world of Doctor Who, the fact that enough episodes were found to essentially complete 2 serials is some of the most exciting news to come out in the world of classic Doctor Who in 20 years. This coupled with the fact that the serials discovered were so impressive makes it all the more exciting. We can only hope that more have been discovered by Mr. Morris and others recently, and more returns will be happening soon, but if they are not we have these excellent additions to our classic Who collections in the mean time.

 

Audio/Video (4/5)

 

     Both serials are presented in their native 1:33:1 aspect ratio, and for serials that have had their content lost and shelved for nearly 50 years these simply look amazing. The contrast is strong, we have excellent fine detail throughout.  Yes, there is some damage to the prints, and softness throughout, but overall we are presented with excellent quality throughout

 

   Both are presented audio wise with their native mono tracks, aside from the off air audio for the recon in Web of Fear everything sounds quite good. The dialogue comes through nice and clearly, as does the score and effects.

 

Extras (.5/5)

 

   To keep the discovery of these serials a surprise the BBC did not prepare extras for either release. We are left with trailers for each as the sole extra on each disc.

 

Overall

 

   Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World and Doctor Who: The Web of Fear are both thrilling and fun episodes of 60's Doctor Who made even more exciting by the fact that until 2013 they were thought lost forever. The A/V looks fantastic on both releases, and the only negative could be the lack of extras, which could be forgiven because we have NEW OLD DOCTOR WHO! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!