David Whitaker’s ‘Enemy of the World’ is a departure from previous stories, without any sorts of monsters or robots whatsoever. It makes a decent change and is very cleverly written with a couple of nice twists and a dramatic final two episodes. It seems like Whitaker was going for a James Bond feel in this story, one that is perhaps a bit more adult in its audience orientation to some of the recent stories.
It opens with the Doctor and companions being shot at on a beach and whisked away in a helicopter, and is generally very well paced throughout the six episodes. We suddenly seem to be in a rhythm of six-parters. This is the third in a row. The only really slowly paced episode is episode three, perhaps it’s ironic that only episode three exists.
The characters are very well written in ‘Enemy of the World’, with no monsters it was inevitable that there would be a character focus, but I was really impressed how the characters all seem to develop and have their own eccentricities and so forth. Giles Kent (Bill Kerr) is scheming all the way through, there’s the cook, a wonderful small part brought to life for just the one episode by Reg Lye, the angry Fariah (Carmen Munroe), and the nervous wreck that is Fedorin (David Nettheim). The sadistic Benik is played by Milton Johns in his first Doctor Who role, and he couldn't have been more perfectly cast. All these amazing characters before we deal with the Doctor and his companions, and the fact that the villain of the piece is the Doctor’s dopple-ganger, Salamander, and thus is played also by Patrick Troughton.
There’s no doubt of Patrick Troughton’s ability to play different and varied characters, but his performance is simply remarkable in ‘Enemy of the World’. The further the story goes, the more screen time he has as both characters. Jamie and Victoria disappear for episode five, so he is shouldering an awful lot of storyline and he does it brilliantly.
The scheme that Salamander has cooked up is the sort of crazy scheme reminiscent of such Bond films such as ‘Moonraker’. It’s truly mad, a group of humans trapped under the Earth because Salamander wants to destroy the Earth and start anew. With only thirty people! He’s been getting them to create natural disasters such as Earthquakes from a bomb shelter below the ground, but they believe they are there because there was a massive nuclear war which never happened. As for his proper motivations, it’s all very very unclear.
|Reg Lye (right) gives a wonderful cameo.|
Nevertheless it moves very well as a story and is clever and exciting. A unique story in a season focussing on monsters, filled with some very memorable performances. I have to admit that I enjoyed it a lot more than ‘The Abominable Snowmen’. In fact, I found it to be one of the best stories.