Doctor Who – Story Number 40 – The Enemy of the World

Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Barry Letts

The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria arrive on Earth in the not-to-distant future and are quickly involved in a plot to impersonate a world leader named Salamander, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to The Doctor.

“They’re human beings indulging in their favorite past time of trying to destroy each other.”

If ever Doctor Who felt like James Bond, it is felt strongly in this story.  In the first episode we have a helicopter chase, a hovercraft, explosions, shootouts.  Actually, that’s probably the most action in the story, and it is all lost, meaning we have to imagine what happened, which means it was amazing and spectacular!  But I must admit that it felt odd to be thrust into such an action-packed story.  Again, it felt very James Bond as we soon discover the eponymous Enemy of the World is a man named Salamander who has access to some spectacular technology that not only helps provide areas with enhance crop growth, but can also be used to cause seismic disruptions and volcanic activity.  And we have it on word from Giles Kent, a man who once worked with Salamander before being discredited, that Salamander is thoroughly villainous, replacing sector leaders with men who are loyal only to him.  As The Doctor resembles Salamander, Kent wants the time traveler to impersonate the man.  Unfortunately for Kent’s plans, The Doctor requires hard evidence before attempting to disrupt the regime of a seemingly benevolent man.

“A disused Yeti?”
The first half of this story is given to proving to both the audience and The Doctor that Salamander is evil.  To this end, Kent and his assistant Astrid formulate a plan by which Jamie and Victoria can infiltrate Salamander’s group.  It is a simple enough ruse as Astrid fakes an assassination attempt which Jamie easily thwarts.  Grateful for the ingenuity of the young man, Salamander offers Jamie a job, and even hires Victoria who is posing as Jamie’s girlfriend.  Or is she really posing?

The timing of their infiltration coincides quite well with Salamander’s plot to remove Sector Leader Denes from power.  So, rather than gather any real evidence, Jamie and Victoria help to smuggle the now imprisoned Denes out of Salamander’s clutches.  Ultimately, they fail, which leads to Denes’ death and Jamie and Victoria being compromised and imprisoned.  While I understand that Denes would have been a great ally to Kent’s cause, it seems a bit foolish to focus more on rescuing him rather than sticking to the original plan.  As it stands, Jamie and Victoria become convinced Salamander is evil based on how his staff feel about him and based on how they feel when in his presence.  Hardly conclusive.

“People spend all their time trying to make nice things and others come along and destroy them.”
The Doctor eventually becomes convinced that Salamander is not a benevolent leader after seeing evidence that implies the removal of Denes as Sector leader.  Unfortunately, this is not hard evidence and it can’t be used to prove anything.  And ultimately, The Doctor doesn’t entirely trust Kent.  The discredited leader doesn’t want The Doctor to merely impersonate Salamander.  He wants The Doctor to kill him.  The Doctor doesn’t feel this is justified under any circumstances.  Unfortunately, faced with the imprisonment of his companions, The Doctor doesn’t have much choice.  He doesn’t wish to kill Salamander, but he must go along with the impersonation.  In a last minute twist, World Security Leader Bruce starts to doubt Salamander and is willing to work with The Doctor.  Quite a lot of amazing things happening, eh?  But wait, there’s more.

It seems that Kent isn’t that benevolent either.  He wants Salamander out of the way so he can take over.  It seems he and Salamander had orchestrated the plan to hold the world hostage with the technology they had developed, then imprisoned a group of people in a nuclear shelter to operate the equipment.  The people trapped underground have been led to believe the world has been devastated in a nuclear war and only Salamander is able to bring them food and find a new home for them.  Talk about a last-minute convolution of the plot.

“Salamander speaks to many people.  Some, only once.”
After the glacial pace of The Ice Warriors (see what I did there?), The Enemy of The World is action-packed and full of espionage and intrigue.  This is great, but it feels a bit out of place in Doctor Who, much like Seeds of Doom from The Fourth Doctor Era feels more Avengers than Doctor Who.  However, it is a bit of fun, more escapist than anything.  Plus, it allows Patrick Troughton to have a dual-role as both The Doctor and Salamander, much like the dual-role Hartnell had in The Massacre.  While The Massacre was a better story, The Enemy of the World can be fun in an over-the-top, Bondesque way.  And sure, Troughton’s Mexican accent for Salamander is a bit overdone, but he still makes a great villain.  The final moments of part six, where Salamander confronts The Doctor in The TARDIS are quite chilling.  And we get a cliffhanger to lead us in to the next story.  All-in-all a lot of fun, if not a lot of substance.

 

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2 thoughts on “Doctor Who – Story Number 40 – The Enemy of the World

  1. Oh boy! Are you hard to please!!

    In just about every Season 5 serial, you make a reasonable point about finding the base-under-siege theme repetitive. Yet here we have a story which does not use that theme – and you’re still not satisfied. 🙂

    I’ve been wanting to talk about base-under-siege, so I’ll take this opportunity.

    ‘Doctor Who’ can’t be understood by merely watching the episodes. It is at LEAST as important to also watch the end credits. Each new Producer, and each new Script Editor – sometimes described as the ‘Story Editor’ in on-screen credits – brought to the show his own unique vision of what the show should be.

    Season 5 became the Monsters season, because that was the vision of script editor Gerry Davis. He had co-created the Cybermen in a Hartnell serial, and now that he had become the show’s script editor he used his Cybermen at every opportunity – twice in this season alone.

    The emblematic Troughton base-under-seige theme actually begins in ‘Moonbase’, the first Cyber serial of the Troughton years, in the previous season. That serial, of course, was co-written, as usual, by Gerry Davis. In actual fact, this theme had really begun in Davis’s very first Cybermen story, ‘The Tenth Planet’, while Hartnell was still the Doctor.

    As the new script editor, Gerry was able to give free reign to his view that this theme was the most effective format for ‘Doctor Who’, a lurking menance threatening a trapped and isolated group of humans.

    In point of fact, he was, in essence, re-making the 1950 sci-fi movie, ‘Thing From Another World’, each week for 48 weeks! A full season of ‘Doctor Who’.

    The serial ‘The Tenth Planet’ re-used nearly every element of that 1950 movie, including the polar setting, the alien being, and the being’s inhuman strength and invulnerability. And Davis traded on variations of those elements in nearly all the stories of Season 5, with the Ice Warriors emerging from the frozen wastes of a new Ice Age, the Yeti emerging from the frozen snows of the Himalayas, and the Cybermen from their ice tombs on Telos.

    This was a much stronger format for ‘Doctor Who’ than the slightly silly stories which had plagued the later Hartnell years, in serials such as ‘The Savages’ and ‘The Ark’. The final Hartnell season had many weak SF stories, even including ‘Galaxy 4’. Apart from the Dalek serial, the only strong SF serial of Hartnell’s final year was ‘The Tenth Planet’.

    Gerry Davis had chanced upon a formula for Dr Who that would later be employed to even greater effect by Philip Hinchcliffe and Bob Holmes in the Seventies – parodying a famous movie. The only difference was that Gerry kept remaking the same movie, where his successor as script editor, Bob Holmes, made parodies of loads of different ones – everything from Frankenstein in ‘Brain of Morbius’ to Sherlock Holmes in ‘Terror of Weng-Chiang’. Bob even humorously made his own remake of ‘Thing From Another World’, in the 1976 serial ‘Seeds of Doom’.

    In fact Bob even re-engaged Gerry, to bring back the Cybermen, in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’.

    So the base-under-seige theme was still a feature of ‘Who’ in the Seventies, featuring in ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ and ‘Seeds of Doom’ – among others.

    It was basically asking, what kind of show is ‘Doctor Who’? Once the policy decision had been taken by the new Producer to discontinue historical stories, following ‘The Highlanders’, it was necessary to find a means for telling strong science fiction stories – which until then had been only half of the show’s serials, but would now be ALL of them.

    What did you have left, if you discarded Gerry’s format? Really, what you had was ‘The Dominators’ and ‘The Krotons’, exemplifying what might be termed ‘soft’ science fiction. Those two stories had no real menace, posed no real ‘threat’ to the Doctor and his allies, because of the lack of a credible monster, hence the Doctor was not in a genuinely dangerous situation. Season Six was essentially a return to the weak sci-fi stories of the later Hartnell period, in such shows as ‘The Ark’. Only in the tense Gerry Davis Cyber-serial, ‘Invasion’, does the season really come to life, with the presence of a really effective Monster.

    But for Season 5, all that Gerry Davis really needed to do was alleviate the formula a little, by putting in some variation from the seige theme, which was the purpose of ‘Enemy of the World’.

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