Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World Review


Arriving in Australia in the near future, the time travellers meet Giles Kent, 
and discover that the Doctor is the physical double of the globally famous 
Mexican politician, Ramon Salamander. Most of the world regards Salamander 
as a philanthropic hero - he has devised a means of supplying and storing solar 
energy, thereby ending famine, and preventing natural disasters is his next aim.
Kent however, believes that Salamander is a would-be dictator, and the Doctor uncovers the truth by impersonating his doppelganger. Gaining access to Salamander's base, the Doctor finds a bunker where scientists have been 
undergoing an endurance test for the past five years (a concept reworked for 
Invasion of the Dinosaurs).
Salamander had convinced his team that a war had broken out on the surface, 
and had them engineer the apparent natural disasters against their unseen 
enemy. Kent is exposed as a traitor and destroys the station. Salamander then 
tries to escape in the TARDIS by pretending to be the Doctor, but is ejected
into the vortex.


The greatest asset of a unique programme like Doctor Who is its equally 
unique format. The past fifty-three years has seen a plethora of stories and 
genres across every conceivable medium - Doctor Who is the 'everyman' of television. 
But in 1967 an unusual drama like The Enemy of the World was proof that the 
programme could present a brave and competent espionage adventure at a 
time when the James Bond film series was well established and in vogue, albeit 
on a meagre television budget.
David Whitaker presents an atypical Troughton-era narrative here, resulting
 in a welcome break from the popular monsters and 'bases-under-siege' formula 
of season five.
The show was no stranger to serious tales of political corruption, conspiracy and courtly intrigue - The Crusade and The Massacre both combined politicking with religious dogma. The Power of the Daleks essentially concerned a military coup manipulated by aliens, and The Macra Terror featured a dictator controlled by 
giant crabs. The Enemy of the World however, was probably the show's first 
conscious attempt at the contemporaneous (pre-UNIT) 'urban thriller' that 
typified Pertwee's tenure, and one that a modern audience is now familiar 
with. Salamander wasn't a puppet or a figure-head. He was the archetypal Machiavellian politician, long before Francis Urquart, besides being the 
spitting-image of the Doctor!
The spy canon might appeal to adults, but younger viewers still hankered for
the Cybermen, Yeti and Ice Warriors that menaced our heroes elsewhere during
this season. Espionage and natural disasters didn't send children behind the sofa.
The real legacy of this neglected little gem however, is that it showcased the 
need for gritty, dark, and more grown-up fare.
The introduction of UNIT just a year later and the eventual Earth-bound format 
of the early 1970's meant a more adult approach for a series that was itself 
maturing. The typical sci-fi elements that were missing from The Enemy of the World were present in like-minded stories like The Invasion and The Ambassadors 
of Death, with the show now tackling issues such as the dangers of big-business, technology, and xenophobia.
Consequently, the story is also considered the weakest link of the season, with 
a markedly different style, and it's obvious lack of monsters, but the highlight 
is the notable dual performance from Patrick Troughton.
Then in October 2013, almost forty-six years after their original transmission, 
the BBC announced that The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear had 
both been recovered from Nigeria, and were subsequently released on iTunes.

  • this six-part adventure was broadcast over December 1967 and January 1968, and achieved average ratings of 7.4M
  • this political thriller is the closest the show ever got to the Bond films (and could even be compared to The Avengers) - the action spans continents, features glamorous girls, and sees a villain, complete with underground base, intent on ruling the world (footage of an exploding helicopter is courtesy of From Russia With Love)
  • the Radio Times sets the adventure in the year 2017
  • before the story's discovery, only the third instalment escaped the mass junkings of Doctor Who episodes between 1972 and 1978, and the episode was issued on VHS (The Troughton Years1991) and later on DVD (Lost in Time, 2004)
  • Fraser Hines (alias Jamie McCrimmon) provides the linking narration on the CD version (2002, 2012)
  • the story ranked 139th in the DWM Mighty 200 Poll of 2009, then following its release on DVD in late 2013, its standing rose to 56th place

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