Invisible Enemy? No more!

I must admit that I wasn’t particularly enthused when I first saw “The Enemy of the World” on the “Lost in Time” DVD. It was slow-paced, wordy and full of middle aged men in strange costumes being inexplicably grumpy with each other. The set felt cramped and cheap, like a tawdry two-star hotel. Hardly surprising then, when the magical Mr Morris uncovered the two junked stories, I downloaded the Yeti one first. It did not take me long before I got round to “Enemy” though and I realised how wrong I was. 

We all know that this is the story where the Doctor meets his suave, sophisticated and sinister doppelgänger, Salamander. I include some plot points in this post, so a word of caution: Spoilers! The story starts on a beach. This always bodes well. Think “The Time of Angels”, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” or “The Ultimate Foe”. There is something intrinsically atmospheric, mysterious and exciting about a beach. Black and white makes it all the more so. The Doctor dashing off for a swim is positively charming. Only Matt Smith could carry the same scene off without any embarrassment. Then came the hovercraft and the bearded baddies with guns. This was exciting! How could they afford it on a sixties’ budget? Weren’t late Troughton stories meant to be slow-paced like “The Seeds of Death” or “The Dominators”? Oh my spinning uncle’s spouse, a helicopter! Not stock footage, no special effects, but the Doctor and company actually flying in it! I’m not sure even Pertwee managed that and the chopper seemed a great deal more high tech than that tatty one from “Battlefield” over twenty years later. This was eye candy James Bond style and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen!

The helicopter landed and we met the main characters. Including Salamander. He is the ultimate proof that Troughton is the most talented of actors. His character is so different from that of the Doctor’s. He is both smooth and handsome, arrogant and evil. We see him for the first time as he is addressing the crowds. He comes across as a bizarre mix of Silvio Berlusconi and “Pop” the newsagent from “The League of Gentlemen”. Slowly but surely we get to know all the other main players. They have depth. We believe in their motives. A six part story allows us this luxury. 

The actors are all top-notch, except for that bald guy playing the cook. His lines are funny, but his performance sure ain’t. He was miscast. We needed a more rotund actor, a more temperamental performance. A beard. A chef’s hat. A stereotypical comedy cook, basically. The part of World Security Chief, Donald Bruce, was well acted. Benik, played by the inimitable Milton Johns, is evil through and through, the nastiest villain I have seen in a long time. His face is pure evil. His voice is sadistic and cruel. His hair… just needs cutting. Carmen Munroe, marry me! She is so much more than just a pretty face. Her performance as Farriah was outstanding. She convincingly displayed a wide range of emotions and was utterly believable. I was devastated when she met her brutal end. Had I been in charge of the show, I would have given Victoria the boot there and then and invited Farriah to join the Tardis crew, before you can say midnight embargo! She could have come on board just to taste the food from the Tardis dispensing machine before being whisked off on another adventure!

There were many stand-out moments. It was impressive to see Salamander in his capsule whizzing down to the underground base. I loved the misty park scenes. Jamie and Victoria’s secret meetings on a bench were worthy of an out and out spy thriller. I was however a little surprised by the violence in this story. Seeing both Farriah and Kent being shot, visibly wounded, staggering around and dying was a teensy bit disturbing. As was seeing Swann after Salamander had given him a good clobbering. Fortunately all the “blood” was in black and white! I totally resented Salamander brutally attacking our poor innocent cosmic hobo at the very end of the story. I’d never seen the Second Doctor succumb to such ferocity. It was like shouting at a bright-eyed innocent puppy, tail-a-wagging, for having done a misplaced do-do! So Salamander truly deserved his fate and I was utterly blown away by the falling out of the Tardis effect. It was glittery and dream-like, reminiscent of Zoe whirling on the console in “The Mind Robber”. If only they had used something similar when Troughton was exiled to earth at the end of “The War Games”, instead of us having to bid “arrivederci” to Doctor Two with an unconvincing blur.

Overall the episode had the general feel of a latter day Troughton story, which it was. The costumes, character-interaction and incidental music reminded me of “The War Games”. What leaves me dumbfounded though is the fact that I had found “Part Three” boring. In context it is completely enthralling. I devoured it as I did each and every one of the episodes. I was on tenterhooks to find out what happened next. I truly cared. It wasn’t “wham bam thank you ma’am” like the modern day episodes, but a lingering romance. It had real depth. If I weren’t an obsessive fan, worried about ratings and crowd-pleasing stories, I would like all Nu-Who to resemble “The Enemy of the World”. I can even imagine my Whovian yet sceptical dad saying “Why don’t they make stories like this any more?” We had all expected the Yeti story to be the classic, yet this was the one. “Enemy” had been neglected and failed to excite due to its seemingly lacklustre third episode. Maybe we weren’t enamoured by the Target novel either.

I am over the moon that this story is back in the archives. Yet the real “enemy of the world” is whoever junked these classic episodes. And the heroes are the people who made them. So let’s thank David Whittaker for his wonderful plot and Barry Letts for his inventive direction. We must not of course forget the guy who discovered “Enemy” after all these years, Phillip Morris, truly “The Hero of the World”!

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