The Rescue

Region 1

Region 2
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 11, starring William Hartnell)
  • written by David Whitaker
  • directed by Christopher Barry
  • produced by Verity Lambert
  • music by Tristram Cary
  • 2 episodes @ 25 minutes each:
    1. The Powerful Enemy
    2. Desperate Measures
Story: The TARDIS crew discover Vicki and Bennett, two survivors of a space rocket that has crashed on the planet Dido, who are now being harassed by an alien named Koquillion. But the Doctor is deeply disturbed by the disappearance of Dido's peaceful natural inhabitants, and suspects there is more going on than meets the eye....

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by William Russell (Ian), director Christopher Barry, designer Raymond Cusick, and moderator Toby Hadoke.
  • "Mounting The Rescue" making-of documentary (22 min.) adding Maureen O'Brien (Vicki) and Ray Barrett (Bennett).
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery
  • bundled with the next story: "The Romans" and all its extras....

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Quality in the television series picks up quite significantly with both a strong script and Christopher Barry back in the director's chair. This short little two-parter is definitely the best of televised season two so far.

From here on, every season two story seems to do the TARDIS justice, with satisfactory visual materializations synchronized with the good old sound effect. The only thing not figured out at this point was the improvement of reversing the sound for landings and ending it with an extra characteristic "thud", but the standards of the day are quite satisfying anyway. Thankfully, for this story, the titles superimposed over the TARDIS do not take away from the visual effect of its appearance. The time travellers and the interior/exterior relationship of the ship are also well introduced. The Doctor's character goes through some interesting new twists and developments, making a moving and very watchable drama.

Maureen O'Brien makes her debut as Vicki, and seems capable of expressing a greater range of believable emotions than Carole Ann Ford as Susan. She can appear vulnerable without appearing desperate - an important quality considering life aboard the TARDIS for the typical Doctor Who companion. She is much more watchable and a stronger character. Susan has her moments, but Vicki is on the mark much more consistently.

Writer David Whitaker has to perform some elaborate maneuvers to make sense of everyone's motivations, but he manages to do the characters fair justice in the end. Once again, the concept of misunderstood alien characters comes up, and the ensuing conflict is much better done here than it was in "The Sensorites" (story no. 7). Other good pluses include the Doctor's loyalties and beliefs, which bring up several questions to be answered in the story. Our regular characters become quite interested in this time/space location early on, even with the Doctor spending so much time in the TARDIS in the beginning. Very important, and rightly done!

Tristram Cary's music from "The Daleks" (story no. 2) returns, and once again lends much to the creation of a creepy alien atmosphere for Dido. It's re-use in this adventure was a good call, as it deserved a second outing and this story was an excellent opportunity.

The acting and directing is back up to standard for a good Doctor Who story, which can be a bit hard to come by at times in these early years. Chris Barry appears to be a man who knows what he's doing.

Music by Tristram Cary
has been made available on:
Audio CD
Doctor Who - Devils' Planets:
The Music of Tristram Cary

More info & buying options

The only thing that really doesn't work for me is the cliffhanger, but to avoid spoilers, I'll only go into such details in the In-depth Analysis version of this review.

This story is really good for the Doctor. As things unfold, William Hartnell turns in one of his best performances as he demonstrates most of the Doctor's best qualities. The script is particularly good when he and Vicki are together, and both William Hartnell and Maureen O'Brien make the most of it. The climax of the story is tense and dramatic with a few surprise twists thrown in for good measure, something that is sadly too rare in much of the first Doctor's era. David Whitaker has proved to be one of the best writers for overcoming this so far.

The story turns out to be quite heart-warming, demonstrates the TARDIS very well throughout, and has a worthwhile message on top. Very excellent!

In actual fact, this is probably the best story of the entire second season, largely because it remains so superior in delivering a satisfying ending, in addition to being an interesting sci-fi that keeps up a decent pace and showcases our regular characters so well. Still, season two has many more intriguing story premises to continue to whet our appetites.....

This story has become available on DVD and VHS video.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A for North America
NTSC B for North America
PAL for the U.K.

Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The Romans"

Home Page Site Map Star Trek Sliders Doctor Who William Hartnell Era Episode Guide Catalogue