Paris, 1979 - and the fourth incarnation of the Doctor (Tom Baker) and his companion, Romana (Lalla Ward), are enjoying a well deserved holiday, but this is interrupted by a crack in time which only they, as time travellers, can feel the effects of.
As they investigate, they… More Paris, 1979 - and the fourth incarnation of the Doctor (Tom Baker) and his companion, Romana (Lalla Ward), are enjoying a well deserved holiday, but this is interrupted by a crack in time which only they, as time travellers, can feel the effects of.
As they investigate, they uncover an a mystery which includes an English private detective, a Russian physicist trapped in a chateau and a plot to steal the world's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, and two men - one in 20th century Paris, the other in 16th century Florence - who have exactly the same face.
This story is significant in history of the classic version of Doctor Who. Firstly, it achieved the highest ratings in the series' history, due in no small part to ongoing industrial action at the BBC's sole competitor, ITV, which meant that no television was being transmitted.
Secondly, this was the first time that the series was filmed in a foreign location.
The script was written by "David Agnew" (an amalgamation of original scriptwriter David Fisher, then producer Graham Williams and script editor Douglas Adams (YES - THAT DOUGLAS ADAMS!!!))
It is a well plotted script, which is efficient in it's story telling between the various plot strands of the theft of the Mona Lisa, the crack in time and the mystery surrounding Count Scarlioni/Captain Tancredi. However, there is very much the DNA of Adams' writing in this script as the seemingly silly can give way to the threatening in a blink of an eye.
Tom Baker and Lalla Ward share great chemistry in their respective roles of the Doctor and Romana, playing both the seriousness of the "threat" side of the storyline whilst indulging in Adams' humour without going over the top. (Something that the remaining stories of the 1979 series were accused very much of doing).
Tom Chadbon is a great supporting comedic character in the role of English detective Duggan, who has a habit to smash bottles simply to get a drink of wine and punch, or threaten to punch, any character who gets in his way.
Villainy in this episode is provided by former Bond girl Catherine Schell in the role of Countess Scarlioni and Julian Glover, who must go down as a coup in casting given that shortly after this story was transmitted he achieved the double whammy of portraying General Veers in "The Empire Strikes Back" and Kristatos in the 007 film "For Your Eyes Only", in the dual roles of Count Scarlioni and Captain Tancredi.
To further emphasise this story's comedy credentials, there's even a cameo by John Cleese, then riding high on the success of "Fawlty Towers", and Eleanor Bron, the female lead from The Beatles' film "Help", as two art critics.
It's daft, it's funny, but it's a great Doctor Who story.