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....

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have
already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.

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 (although the three people exit the police box in a different order to the one in which they exit the interior set). The Doctor's character goes through some interesting new twists and developments as he deals with his granddaughter's absence, 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 had her moments, but Vicki is on the mark much more consistently.

Bennett is a strange character, and writer David Whitaker has to perform some elaborate maneuvers to make sense of Bennett's motivations, but he manages to do the character fair justice in the end. Once again, the concept of friendly, but misunderstood, alien characters comes up, and the ensuing conflict is much better done here than it was in "The Sensorites" (story no. 7). Another good plus is the Doctor's clinging loyalty and belief in the aliens' benevolence, bringing up a question to be answered in the story: "What happened to change them?" Our 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. The set/prop is fine to look at, with its fascinating carved face hiding the Indiana Jones style trap really well, but the trap itself is ludicrous. Ian isn't being believably forced over the edge, as he could easily stand still and wait in the huge gap between swords, or step up on top of them, after which the flimsy things will probably break off. Not inspiring.

The second episode is really good for the Doctor. William Hartnell turns in one of his best performances as he wins Vicki's confidence, trust and admiration with compassion and understanding. The script is particularly good at this point, and both William Hartnell and Maureen O'Brien make the most of it. Next the Doctor investigates and solves a mystery single-handedly. As Vicki gets to know and like his other two companions as well, the Doctor alone confronts the villain of the piece, and the climax of the story is tense and dramatic with a few surprise twists thrown in for good measure. Conclusions like this are not only riveting in their own right, but are also excellent for establishing the Doctor's heroic nature, something that is sadly lacking in much of the first Doctor's era. David Whitaker has proved to be the best writer for William Hartnell Heroism so far.

The story ends with a few heart-warming scenes of Vicki joining the crew, which also manage to demonstrate the TARDIS extremely well for anyone who might have seen nothing but this one half-hour episode. There's also a moral to the story emphasized by the final scene - a warning about where the lack of respect for other cultures can lead. 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.....

International Titles:

Deutsch: (Die Rettung)

Magyar: "A mentőakció"

  1. A nagy ellenség
  2. Kétségbeesett intézkedések

Русский: "Спасение"

  1. Могущественный враг
  2. Отчаянные меры

Français: (Le Sauvetage)

Italiano: "La salvezza"

  1. Il nemico potente
  2. Misure disperate

Español: "El Rescate"

  1. El Poderoso Enemigo
  2. Desesperación

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.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Romans"

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