The Enemy of the WorldBookmark and Share

Saturday, 9 December 2006 - Reviewed by Eddy Wolverson

“It was you… or someone like you

“The Enemy of the World” is a thoroughly entertaining Doctor Who adventure, most famous for being the one story in the 1967-1968 ‘Monster’ season not to feature any alien menace. David Whitaker’s script is a sort of ‘future historical’, a six-parter with the old ‘historical’ format but set firmly in the future. If anything, this espionage thriller is reminiscent of many of the early James Bond films – Salamander would have been one hell of a Bond villain! Of course, to be able to enjoy the story at all you have to be able to swallow the co-incidence that just as the first Doctor had his doppelganger in 16th century France, the second Doctor has his very own twin hell-bent on world domination…

For me, the most memorable thing about this story is how it exudes expense. The first episode begins with an amazing chase across an ‘Australian’ beach featuring hovercrafts and helicopters that many feature films of the time would have been envious of. This serial was also the first to be shot with a picture resolution of 625 lines instead of just 405, which also helps give it that little bit of extra sheen. Even the story’s ambitious number of sets – it is quite literally set over the whole world – sets it apart from a lot of Earth-bound adventures that are grounded in one location. In fact, in terms of the production “The Enemy of the World” has but two flaws. Firstly, the need to avoid recording breaks ruled out frequent costume changes for Patrick Troughton, with the result that the Doctor featured rather less in the action than would normally have been the case. Of course, Troughton’s thoroughly deplorable Salamander more than makes up the cosmic hobo’s absence; that cod foreign accent is magnificent! Secondly, we are left waiting until the closing moments of Episode 6 before we get to see the Doctor and Salamander meeting face to face – earlier on in the story, the film jammed in the camera being used to shoot the split-screen effect!

“Which is good, and which is bad?”

Episode 2 is very well written, with the Doctor and his companions facing an interesting dilemma. Do they believe Giles Kent and Astrid’s assertions that Salamander is a tyrant and help them bring him to justice, when all available evidence seems to point to the contrary? It is also this episode that first brings the wonderful sense of scale to the story as we see what has become known as the ‘Central European Zone,’ as well as the ‘Australasian Zone’ and we also meet Salamander’s food taster, Feriah (Carmen Munroe), as well as the man himself! 

“Some people spend their time making nice things, and other people come along and break them.”

Generally speaking, the third episode of “The Enemy of the World” is the one that fans will be most familiar with as it still survives today and was recently released as part of the ‘Lost In Time’ DVD collection. Sadly, the extant episode is completely studio-bound and has to be one of Victoria Waterfield’s most horrendous outings! She brings a new meaning to cheesiness in this episode! More positively, the episode features awesome performances from two actors who would go onto play Gallifreyan Castellans – George Pravda, who plays the (unjustly) disgraced politician Denes, and the superb Milton Johns who plays the nefarious Benik.

Oddly, as with the missing episodes from “The Space Pirates”, there aren’t any telesnaps in existence from Episode 4, meaning that the only way to enjoy it is via the BBC Radio Collection CD with Frazer Hines’ linking narration. Judging purely by the audio, it doesn’t seem like the best episode in the world. Both Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling are absent, the episode is set almost completely underground and it features a hell of a lot of exposition – Salamander’s heinous plot is finally revealed…

The last two episodes are much better as they bring the story towards its sensational climax. There are lots of twists and turns – I was delighted to see one character in particular ‘turn good’, finally won over by the Doctor and his companions, yet on the other hand I was appalled to learn that one of the ‘goodies’ was in with Salamander all along! 

“The Enemy of the World” is certainly a fine example of some of David Whitaker’s best writing. The final scene, where the Doctor and Salamander finally come face to face in the TARDIS is electrifying, and dovetails beautifully into the next story, yet another Troughton classic…