The Tomb of the CybermenBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 7 August 2012 - Reviewed by Chuck Foster

>‎"50 pounds to the first person to open those doors"

Those who remember the days of video-craving that the documentary "Cheque Lies and Videotape" depicts would probably not be surprised to be offered £50 back then if they could open their door and produce "Tomb of the Cybermen". The 1980s were rife with rumours about this particular story still existing, fuelled by the audio soundtrack doing the fan rounds that sounded like it was off a badly tracked video recording! Enter 1991 and some naughty fans (ahem) tried a social experiment about how a rumour of how Season Five had been recovered and would be released one story at a time starting off with Tomb the following year ... only to have it announced that Tomb had been recovered and would be out that following year ...

I think one of the problems with Tomb was that is ended up being an extremely hyped story. Those who had been fortunate to see it on broadcast raved about how great it was, the novelisation was a reasonable effort by Davis, and the soundtrack was atmospheric so we were all geared up for it's release when announced. I remember sitting there at the Tombwatch premiere (now sadly removed from the Special Edition version) and still wondering if this was really real until after those titles ended and the action began (curiously I don't remember the opening scene with Victoria's introduction only from the Telos landscape but it must have been shown!). The anticipation of the audience was electric and it was great to watch ...

That first time. When I came to rewatch it on the video it seemed more lacking in some ways. Suddenly scenes seemed to be much slower, and the Cybermen didn't really seem to actually do anything. Quite boring really, in comparison to The Moonbase before it, and certainly not as good as Evil of the Daleks and The Web Of Fear looked. Fan attitudes were variable too, and of course emphasis shifted to wanting another "undoubted classic" to be recovered - Fury From The Deep. [this has of course not occured - yet - but would we lose our reverence for that too if seen again in all it's onscreen 'glory'?]

But that was the 20th Century. It's now some two decades since those heady days and we have a new fresh remastered DVD version to enjoy. And, as with many of the earlier stories (The Web Planet excepted), these adventures have a lot going for them. The atmosphere perceived on the old soundtrack *is* there on screen, the Cybermen *are* menacing even in their minimal participation in the tale, and the acting is very competent. I still wouldn't rate it a "classic", but it is a strong tale.

"I love to see the experts at work, don't you?"

The Doctor of Production Block Four is witty, intelligent, perceptive, and at times downright dangerous. This had been highlighted in the previous serial Evil of the Daleks as he manipulates his companion to achieve his (benevolent of course) aims [long before the 7th Doctor did so to some fan complaints!], and continues here as he deftly manipulates Parry's team into, well, doing his dirty work for him! A little hint here, a flick of a switch there, and they all progress further into the Tomb's mysterious depths. As he says, they couldn't leave as soon as "Cybermen" are mentioned, but then again if he hadn't have surrepticiously assisted then would there ever have been a threat (or indeed the death of most of the team by the end).

Similarly, the Block Four Jamie is still an intelligent of out-of-his-league Scots lad, perceptive enough to realise the Doctor's line about skirt lengths to reassure Victoria. Victoria herself demonstrates her own strengths: a particular exchange comes to mind when, as Hopper head into the caverns she remarks "Who'd be a woman?" and he responds "How would you know?", but later she gets to give him a cutting response in ""its comforting to know they we've got your superior stength to call on should we need it"!

The main cast excel throughout. Even though she's the new girl, Debbie Watling seems to settle in with the Pat'n'Frazer duo quickly, and they display a genuine affection to each other throughout the serial. As for the supporting cast, generally the acting is okay, if the accents are a little 'eccentric' at times. Also, a little consistency in pronunciation would be handy, e.g. Telos and Teelos, CYBERman and CyberMAN! (Ah well, Matthew Sweet doesn't do much better in the Cybermen documentary on disk two so should we worry?!).

Of particular note is Roy Stewart, who does wonders with Toberman considering the character is mainly treated as "the heavy" and gets about three lines in the entire story(!) - it seems at times that the Doctor is using subtle manipulation upon him (opening the Tomb doors, the Kaftan death aftermath), but there's a certain nuance that suggests there's more to him than meets the eye - quite literally later on with his cyber-arm! And let's not forget it's his sacrifice that wins the day (even if it was him opening the doors that caused the kerfuffle in the first place!).

Of the others, Shirley Cooklin and George Pastell play the Logician fanatics Kaftan and Klieg well, though their character's motivations seems a little woolly at times (why does Kaftan play with the cyberchamber controls, and why is Klieg's logic over the Cybermen's intentions so completely flawed?!?!). The others are unfortunately less memorable, though they have their moments.

"Symbolic logic"

Logic, in theory, is a matter of taking a particular pattern of event and being able to realiably predict what will occur next in that sequence, A will go to B will go to C etc. Here, we have the interesting discourse between the Doctor and the Cybercontroller over the latter knowing all about the former, and then he deducing what the latter was up to. It's quite a revelation to find out that the trap was for him, with the Cyber race logically concluding he'd eventually come to Telos and release them. Was the Doctor really so unwitting? If this was the 7th Doctor, of course, then we'd know it was all a collosal "chess game" of manipulation to achieve the desired result - but here it seems the 2nd was just as good at the game ... or was he? Things could have gone badly wrong if it hadn't been for his companions ... or did he know they would pull through for him? A debate for another time, perhaps!

In principle logic should have no alignment, but Tomb's event do suggest that it is more likely to lead you down the dark path than stay neutral. Being the opener for this series, it's quite poignant that the subject of logic returns in the finale with Zoe's slavish consideration of it in The Wheel in Space - and of course the Doctor's gentle mockery of her over that - how to be wrong with authority indeed!

But where does logic state you should let your enemy get into a recharger, activate it yourself and then wonder why a fully fit version then proceeds to trample over your apparent plan ...

"Now I know you are mad, I just wanted to make sure"

Of course in a production made "as-live" a number of mistakes can creep through. There are lines that would make the First Doctor proud: "curiously lacking in curiousity" and "open that opening mechanism" come to mind. The usual array of boom mike shadows and inadvertent crew in shot crop up (you can see someone inside the closed hatch at one point, though the production notes pointed that out to me!).

The "cyber-chatter" could be a little grating at times, too, making it difficult to understand what they are saying at times.

"Keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut"

It seems sometimes characters can hear the TARDIS arriving and other times they can't - guess it depends on what serves the story best!

The Cybermen look great in the story, even towering above the massive Toberman. I guess casting shorter actors/actresses helped immensely with that, but it is still awe-inspiring, especially with some of the camera angles employed by Morris Barry.

I don't know about you, but I feel the old classic Cybermen used to have some great quotable lines; you could imagine the chants around playgrounds as kids try out their monotone reproductions of "Now You Belong To Us", "We Will Survive" and "You Will Be Like Us" - no namby pamby "DELETE" going on here!

Why was the Cybercontroller doing a Brucie pose when his tomb was opened. And just what was the pow-wow between Parry and the other Cybermen about before they went to release the Controller?

What do sleeping Cybermen dream about? Would they be able to?

It's interesting that the Doctor has an entry on cybermats in his 500 Year Diary - when did he find that out being he only encountered them in The Tenth Planet (or did he? The First Doctor did know that the mysterious planet was Mondas ...). It's also a shame that the diary didn't continue beyond this block ... but then it won't be long before the sonic screwdriver arrived and things wouldn't be the same again!

"Archaeologist written all over him"

To conclude, overall the story does stand up well, more so to me now than it did upon it's recovery. Maybe that's because I'm 20 years older and appreciate the subtleties and nuances more than I did back then.

The story has some eminently quotable lines, too; as well as the ones mentioned throughout the review, there are also the lovely moments between the Doctor and Victoria to enjoy, too The bit when they talk about family memories is wonderful: "I have to really want to to bring them back in front of my eyes. the rest of the time they sleep in my mind and I forget". Similarly, when talking about their adventure: "our lives are different to anybody else's - that's the exciting thing, nobody in the universe can do what we're doing".

The Doctor's final comments are interesting, too; when asked about if this is the end of the Cybermen he cautiously adds: "on the other hand, I never like to make predictions" - but didn't he state that it was the final end of the Daleks just a story before? Considering their return later on perhaps he should have considered what he would say about the metal giants a little later (grin).

The final scene was cut, of course: as the TARDIS dematerialises and the lonely cybermat makes its way across the rocky surface, it is suddenly picked up, examined, and commented upon: "hello, sweetie ..."

FILTER: - Television - Second Doctor - Series 5

Doctor Who: Series 5 SoundtrackBookmark and Share

Monday, 8 November 2010 - Written by Stephen Willis
Written by Stephen Willis

Doctor Who: Series 5
Music written by Murray Gold
Silva Screen
UK release: 8 November 2010
Like the Series 4: The Specials release, this album is also a 2-disc set. The result of this is that it really feels like a soundtrack, like a journey from A to B with a wealth of characters and themes in between, rather than the more “pick ‘n’ mix” approach to the first few releases.

We begin with Doctor Who XI – Murray Gold’s brand new rendition of the Doctor Who Theme, for a brand new era of the show. And it is stompingly good! The brass fanfare over the introductory bars took a few people by surprise (myself included), but it’s perfect for the tone and feel of the show in Steven Moffat’s hands, and it matches the opening titles very well, too.

What follows is a selection of tracks from the opening story, The Eleventh Hour. This episode had to introduce a new Doctor, a new companion (at two different ages) and a brand new feel for the show. Even a new TARDIS! Murray Gold brilliantly does the same thing in his music. This episode features some of my favourite tracks from the series; the haunting, sweet little melody for Little Amy, the exuberantly comic Fish Custard, the devastatingly beautiful Can I Come With You?, the magical The Mad Man With A Box, and, of course, I Am The Doctor.

As a theme, I Am The Doctor is excellent; its quirky, syncopated 7/4 beat and wacky, playful woodwind melody is perfect for Matt Smith’s Doctor, while the relentless strings and cyclic horn chords show us a darker side. The “B section”, as featured in The Sun’s Gone Wibbly, is also a fantastic tune, a rousing chorus as the Doctor encourages people to be their best. The theme’s rendering on this album (in its original form on Track 9) is slightly disappointing, because of the intrusively percussive guitar line which didn’t feature in any screened version, but the other versions such as Onwards! and at the end of Amy In The TARDIS more than make up for this. The theme’s frequent use in the series is echoed by its many guises on the album – no complaints from me, though, as it’s a superb composition.

Amy’s Theme does not appear until the beginning of episode 2, The Beast Below. As with Rose’s Theme in Series One, it’s almost as if travelling with the Doctor has unlocked the song in Amy’s heart, as we hear it for the first time here as she floats above the TARDIS gazing at the stars. This creates an emotional connection for the audience, so that, when the theme is developed in later episodes, we are able to simultaneously call back to the beginning of Amy’s journey and look forward to the future of her character arc.

One particular standout track is The Vampires of Venice. It’s very Danny Elfman in its use of the “dark fairytale” sound-world (tremolando strings, fluttering flutes, celesta and “floaty” choir). It’s magical and mysterious, and builds to an epic action sequence with crash cymbals and very loud “Hah!”s from the choir!

There is also some nice material from Amy’s ChoiceThis is the Dream reminds me slightly of the McCoy era music, such as Dominic Glynn’s score to Survival. The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood begins with a lyrical valley theme, setting the tone at the start of the episode, while the Silurian theme contains hints of the old-style Pertwee era music (Malcolm Clarke’s bizarre electronic sounds of The Sea Devils). Orchestral power builds up with the taste of war and aggression, with a deeply unsettling undertone.

Onto Disc 2! There is some fantastic music in Vincent and the Doctor, in its own world of clarinets, saxophones and mallet percussion, most notably in the beautiful “With Love, Vincent” from the end of the episode, a lilting waltz with a pang of sadness, yet ending on a positive outlook.

Gareth Roberts’ The Lodger was unique, fresh and FUNNY! And so is Murray’s score. The tune for Craig and Sophie (Friends and Neighbours), is lovely, gentle and wistful, while the next two tracks have a distinctly silky clarinet solo, suggesting the strange impact the Doctor has on these ordinary lives.

Most of Disc 2 is dedicated to the series finale, The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang. And quite right, too – the score to these episodes is hugely cinematic, with great scale and depth. Beneath Stonehenge is a track John Williams would be proud of, while the following track, Who Else Is Coming? is simply crazy in its escalating panic and mayhem! The bombastic horns give a sense of drama and danger, and the energetic strings and flourishing woodwinds keep an undercurrent of fear, while complementing Matt Smith’s quirky, edgy performance as the Doctor.

At the climax of the first part come two tracks, Words Win Wars and The Life and Death of Amy Pond, which are based on character themes and have both been given similar treatment. The former is the stirring, rousing reprise of I Am The Doctor played during the Hello, Stonehenge! speech, and the latter is a fully orchestral version of Amy’s Theme, which wouldn’t be out of place in a ballet or opera; it’s as if a moment of time has been frozen, as we watch with pity as the Doctor is dragged into the Pandorica, and the universe seemingly disappears from existence as Rory hopelessly clings onto the dead body of Amy Pond.

For me an underrated track, Roman Paradox is a perfect madcap moment as the Doctor appears in front of Rory at the start of The Big Bang. The Patient Centurion is also excellent, as a poignant reflection on Rory’s devotion to Amy. This cue was used earlier in the series as well, so by now it has a strong emotional connection to the characters involved.

Both The Sad Man With A Box and You And Me, Amy feature variations on The Mad Man With A Box, a secondary, more emotional and mysterious, theme for the Eleventh Doctor. You And Me, Amy is perfectly gentle and touching, as the Doctor resigns himself to his fate and tells little Amelia a final bedtime story. This is surely one of Matt Smith’s finest performances in the series, accompanied by the perfect score.

Overall, this album is superb; it tells a story with such depth and sensitivity, exploring a wide range of genres and sound-worlds. The album finishes with Onwards!, another reprise of I Am The Doctor, which is perfectly placed and executed, finishing on an imperfect cadence, a musical cliffhanger as the TARDIS team fly off, laughing, with promise of more adventures to come.

Stephen Willis is the creator of The Doctor Who Fan Orchestra.

FILTER: - Music - Series 5/31

The Wheel In SpaceBookmark and Share

Thursday, 14 December 2006 - Reviewed by Finn Clark

"Oh dear, a six-parter," I thought. I watched the two surviving episodes and my suspicions appeared to be confirmed. Part three barely feels like a part two, while part six feels like a part three. I was taken aback by the destruction of the Cybership and the spinning away of the Cybermen into space, which would be an unsatisfying ending for just one episode, let alone the climax of a six-week epic! I was ready to bash this thing to matchsticks...

...but then I read the scripts. It makes such a difference to see the whole story. If you put the surviving episodes in context, you can see the structure. It's still creakingly slow, but tension does build over the six weeks. (...Finn says provisionally, not having heard the audios or seen the reconstruction.) As in The Seeds of Doom, the traditional "four and two" six-parter pattern is turned on its head with a claustrophobic prologue on the Silver Carrier leading into the main story on the Wheel. A doom-laden atmosphere builds up and I'm prepared to bet that episode five was downright scary. The New Zealand censor clips look intense and Gemma Corwyn's murder is sinister even on the page, going so far as to get its own cliffhanger.

I decided that I like the script and even admire the production. It's a solid piece of work from everyone: designers, actors and direction. Check out the Cyber-murder in part six. They're repeating the "lift someone over their head" trick from Tomb, but this time they get it right. You can't see the Kirby wire! In fact the whole sequence looks brutal. That's a better directed and scarier Cyber-murder than anything from the colour era.

The model work is great, but the spacesuits are fantastic! Those may be the best-looking spacesuits in all of Doctor Who. I also love the new Cybermen. Leaving aside the fact that they're so bloody big, this is where they got their teardrops! I adore the teardrop. I'm absurdly pleased that the new Russell T. Davies Cybermen have teardrops. I don't think anyone will ever invent a more perfect visual metaphor for the tragedy of the Cybermen, or incidentally execute it better than the DWM comic strip did with That Shot of Junior Cyberleader Kroton. It's a beautiful accident of design.

On the downside, again a director thinks that Cybermen need to move when talking. Earthshock somehow got away with it, but here it looks almost as stupid as it did in Attack of the Cybermen. (Hell, if you must indicate which one's speaking, add a visual effect like the glass jaw or the Tomb/Moonbase mouth flaps.) The difference is that 1980s Cybermen did little boogies, but their Wheel predecessors incline their upper bodies as if bowing Japanese-style.

The Cybermen are famously absent for much of this story, but the Cybermats and possessed humans take up the slack nicely. I liked the Cybermats, which look far more effective than they deserved to. As in Tomb, it's one of television's miracles that the Cybermats didn't make the entire nation fall about laughing. Doctor Who has made a pig's ear of far less unpromising ideas. Unfortunately their victim in part three takes up the comedy slack by being terrified even before the cuddly toys have blasted a crowbar from his hand. His actual death is effective, though.

The accents are interesting, though. We had 'em in Moonbase and we have 'em again here. The Troughton-era 21st century was self-consciously international. I want to blame Star Trek and its cosmopolitan crew, but unfortunately it only reached the UK three years after its US début in 1966.

As an aside, that's an amazing combination of writers! Dr Kit Pedler rewritten by David Whitaker, the man who reinvented Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently badly written science is indistinguishable from magic." Thus we have the fluid links coming back in a story with hard sci-fi and painstakingly crafted spacesuits. Forget the sexual air supply. That's just a goof, albeit a rightly famous one. More startling is a throwaway line: "Reinforce the anti-matter field around the Wheel." Reinforce the WHAT??? We're only in the 21st century! It wasn't not my imagination either, since the scene continues with: "Switch on the anti-matter field projectors." However David Whitaker obviously meant this to mean just a matter-repelling field, while it's not as if anti-matter got a rigorous scientific treatment in stories like The Three Doctors and Planet of Evil.

Yet again in Doctor Who, a commander goes insane. I guess it's saying something about the show's attitude towards authority, but couldn't they introduce extra screening for these people at the interview stage or something?

Personally I think this story suffers more than most from being incomplete, though I'm prepared to be contradicted by someone who's heard the audios and/or seen the reconstructions. Cyber-fans are lucky that all their stories are well-represented, though. Of their five 1960s stories, one is complete, two are nearly complete and the other two both have two surviving episodes. These ones don't stand up very well as individual instalments but at least they look pretty, with Troughton on good form ("Hello, I think I've got company" before a lovely Cyber-confrontation). I hadn't known what to expect from this, but in the end after some thought I decided that was impressed.

FILTER: - Series 5 - Second Doctor - Television

The Abominable SnowmenBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 13 December 2006 - Reviewed by Eddy Wolverson

Doctor Who’s fifth season will forever be remembered for the debut of two new sets of monsters – The Ice Warriors, who would show up in the next story, and the Yeti. “The Abominable Snowmen” was such a big hit with the viewing public that a sequel for later in the season was immediately commissioned, and whilst many don’t reckon this six-parter to be quite as good as it’s moody sequel, “The Web of Fear,” this story is still one of Troughton’s best and is a fantastic introduction to the Great Intelligence and their monstrous servants. Being the first story of fifth production block, this serial was afforded the luxury – still rare at this point in the series’ history – of a week’s location filming, which took place in Snowdonia, North Wales, at the start of September 1967. In the existing episode and the telesnaps from this story, the location footage looks superb on screen – the money really shows!

“There’s a great deal of difference between the Highlands and the Himalayas, Jamie” 

“Aye. They’re bigger.”

The first few episodes of the serial are slow moving, but nevertheless compelling. The surviving second episode (available on the Lost in Time DVD) probably isn’t the best showcase for the story, as the episode is bogged down for long periods in the Detsen Monastery, but even so the slow build-up allows the audience time to really get to know the characters, and they are a particularly fascinating bunch! Travers, the explorer, is played by Jack Watling (Deborah Watling’s father) who brings a lot of weight to the role and Krisong (Norman Jones), is also especially memorable as the warrior monk who takes an instant dislike to the Doctor and his companions. The serial follows the tried-and-tested plot formula where the Doctor is initially suspected of wrongdoing and then eventually earns the trust of the people who initially suspect him, and although it has been done time after time throughout the series it never works better than it does here. To see the Doctor finally win over Travers, Krisong and the monks is wonderful to watch.

Unfortunately much of the story has little dialogue and is therefore difficult to enjoy on audio alone. Moreover, a lot of the gags are purely visual – for example, the Doctor and Victoria mistake the Doctor for a “hairy beastie” early on, as does Professor Travers, who initially thinks that the Doctor may have attacked him (when in fact it was a Yeti.) Fortunately, when listened to in synch with the telesnaps one can follow the story far easier – my DIY reconstruction just about does the job!

Jamie has a great story, even by his high standards, and is at the heart of most of the action. One of my strongest memories of the Terrance Dicks’ Target novelisation that I read years and years ago is the underlying humour in the story, and Jamie is at the centre of most of that too. Along with the Doctor, the pair of them have some immortal one-liners: “They came to get their ball back”; “Bung a rock at it”; need I go on? Victoria, however, demonstrates exactly why she has the reputation as the helpless ‘screaming young girl’ companion. She does strike out on her own for a large chunk of the story – in the fourth episode, for example, it is Victoria that discovers that the High Lama Padmasambhava is possessed by the Great Intelligence – but even so she spends far too much time running around and screaming for my liking! 

The last half of the story is much more action packed than the beginning. The Yeti rampage through the Abbey; the Doctor confronts what is left of his old friend, Padmasambhava; and we are treated to an explosive ending that sees the Doctor immobilise the Yeti, but only at great cost. Songsten, Krisong, Padmasambhava, scores of monks… all lost. Despite the tremendous loss of life though, the story still manages to end with another lovely little moment of comedy, with Jamie declaring that he wants to go somewhere ‘warmer’ next time – blissfully unaware that he is on course for the second ice age! – and Travers discovering a real Yeti, a shy and timid creature!

FILTER: - Television - Series 5 - Second Doctor

The Ice WarriorsBookmark and Share

Saturday, 9 December 2006 - Reviewed by Eddy Wolverson

The Ice Warriors are one of the best-known monsters in Doctor Who but somehow, up until today, I had managed to see (or hear) every single episode of Doctor Who except the original Ice Warriors story! Now, thanks to the BBC Video boxset, my Doctor Who collection is complete and I can hold my hands up and say “I’ve seen ‘em all!” Born of the same year as the Yeti, the Ice Warriors would make an immediate impact on viewers, putting a brand new spin on the done-to-death science fiction cliché of ‘Martians.’

Inspired by a news report about a woolly mammoth found preserved in a Russian glacier, Bryan Hayles set his serial in the far future (3000AD I believe), where thanks to mans’ ingenious idea of getting rid of most plant life, the excess carbon dioxide has blocked out the sun and caused a second ice age. A team of scientists, charged with halting the flow of a dangerous glacier, find a single Martian – Varga - entombed in the ice and set him free…

Sadly, “TWO” and “THREE” are both still missing from the BBC Archives, but the Restoration Team have once again done a fantastic job in bridging the gap with a fifteen-minute reconstruction of the missing episodes. They’ve even worked it into the narrative as an ‘interruption of service’ caused by the events of the story! By virtue of this, we can now actually see Varga as we hear his rasping voice for the first time in “TWO”! Originally intended to appear far more Cybernetic, the Martians ended up being realised as reptilian humanoids and interestingly, the ones that we see in this story (who are christened ‘Ice Warriors’ by the scientists; it is not their ‘real’ name) are all ‘regular’ Ice Warriors – even Bernard Breslaw’s Varga who seems to be their leader.

I have to say though, I wasn’t all that impressed with things. There are some good things about “The Ice Warriors” – Miss Garrett and the rest of the women’s costumes, for example! – but I didn’t find the story to be worth all the hype. Varga and his men want to conquer the world, so the Doctor uses the scientists’ glacier-stopping ioniser to blow up their spaceship, and that’s about it. 

There are some great performances in there, not only from the regulars but also from the unusually sinister looking Peter Sallis, who plays the amiable scientist Penley (with a drawn on beard? I’m still not sure); Peter Barkworth as the chief scientist Clent; and also Angus Lennie (who I recognised from “Terror of the Zygons”) as Storr. Moreover, some of the stock footage of the snow and the glaciers looks brilliant; they could get away with using tons of stock footage in the black and white days and it would still look great! In all though, it’s not a patch on “The Seeds of Death” or the Peladon stories, but if for nothing else, this story is worth watching for the short skirts and unique TARDIS landing!

FILTER: - Television - Series 5 - Second Doctor

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…

FILTER: - Television - Series 5 - Second Doctor