Welcome to a very special forty-fifth instalment of Who Review, my ongoing quest to review all available episodes of TV’s longest running SF series, Doctor Who. This week, I review the first of two recently rediscovered “lost” storylines with The Enemy of the World.
The Enemy of the World
23 December 1967 – 27 January 1968 (6 Episodes)
The TARDIS materialises on a deserted beach in Australia in the year 2018, allowing the Doctor and his companions a chance for a much-needed holiday. It isn’t long, however, before they’re spotted by soldiers scouting the beach in a hovercraft. They’re shot at, but manage to flee to the relative safety of the sand dunes before being rescued by Astrid Ferrier, the commander of the soldiers.
Astrid takes them to see her superior, Giles Kent, where they learn that the earth of 2018 is divided into a series of zones controlled by the United Zones Organisation. Kent is the former Deputy Security Leader for North Africa and Europe, but has been deposed and discredited by a ruthless dictator known as Salamander. Salamander has ascended to a position of power within the United Zones Organisation through exploitation of technology that controls solar rays. Using this technology, Salamander can increase crop growth in different zones, but he can also unleash devastating natural disasters on zones that don’t bow to his control. He has replaced Kent with his own man, Donald Bruce, who has risen to the position of World Security Chief. Kent has only one ally left in the United Zones Organisation, Alexander Denes, Controller of the Central European Zone.
By startling coincidence, The Doctor bears a striking resemblance to Salamander, and Kent has a plan to use that to infiltrate the dictator’s research station at Kanowa and uncover evidence against him. The Doctor is reluctant to become involved, as he has only Kent’s word that Salamander is corrupt. However, when Donald Bruce arrives at Kent’s HQ, the Doctor is forced to impersonate Salamander, and manages to do so successfully enough to avoid persecution. Despite the deception, Bruce is suspicious of the entire situation, as Kent and Salamander are sworn enemies, and Salamander is meant to be in Europe.
Although still reluctant, the Doctor agrees to aid Kent in infiltrating Kanowa, while Jamie and Victoria join Astrid in gaining access to Salamander’s headquarters in the Central European Zone.
In Central Europe, the real Salamander is meeting with Kent’s ally Denes. Salamander has predicted that the area will suffer a series of devastating earthquakes that only Salamander can prevent. Naturally, Denes is dubious as his scientists have made no much forecasts. Jamie, Astrid and Victoria fake an attempt on Salamander’s life then rescue the dictator to win his trust. Jamie is appointed a position with Salamander’s personal security force, while Victoria is put to work in the kitchen. They manage to gain the trust of Fariah, Salamander’s personal food taster, who secretly despises her employer.
When the earthquakes Salamander predicted strike, he uses the chaos to accuse Denes of treason and have him arrested. With the aid of Fariah, Astrid, Jamie and Victoria attempt to rescue him, but their efforts fail. Although Astrid manages to escape, Jamie and Victoria are captured. Fariah’s complicity goes unnoticed.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Kent establish a base in Kent’s caravan near the Kanowa research facility. There, they see news reports of the devastating earthquakes in Europe.
Back in Europe, Donald Bruce continues to be wary of Salamander, and soon discovers that the Salamander he met in Australia was an imposter! When Salamander learns of this, he returns to Kanowa with Bruce and Fariah.
Astrid also manages to return to Australia and meet clandestinely with Fariah, who has a file containing information that can be used against Salamander. They take the evidence to Kent and the Doctor, but the Doctor determines that there’s not enough in the file to prove that Salamander is truly evil. However, he also releases that he’ll need to impersonate the dictator if he’s to rescue Jamie and Zoe. Despite Kent’s demands, however, he refuses to kill Salamander.
Unfortunately, Salamander’s security forces attack Kent’s office. The Doctor, Kent and Astrid manage to escape, but Fariah is shot and killed and the incriminating file recovered.
Meanwhile, Salamander enters a hidden elevator in his records room and descends into a vast underground complex populated by researchers who believe that the world above has been irradiated due to nuclear war. The researchers have been in the bunker for five years, using their equipment to create natural disasters for Salamander. The villain tells them that their efforts are helping to turn the tide of the war against their enemies, and that they cannot return to the surface due to the radiation. The researchers see Salamander as a hero who risks his life to bring them food and supplies.
Above, Kent and Astrid prepare The Doctor for his infiltration of the research facility. They are captured by Donald Bruce, but a show of faith from the Doctor convinces Bruce of their honourable intent and he agrees to aid them. He escorts the Doctor, now disguised as Salamander, into the facility.
In the bunker below, Salamander’s ruse is partially discovered by the researchers, although he is able to convince them that the surface is populated by deformed mutants. He agrees to take the leader of the group, Swann, to the surface as a show of good faith. However, when they are out of the bunker, Salamander attacks Swann and leaves him for dead.
Meanwhile, The Doctor and Bruce manage to free Jamie and Victoria from imprisonment before they can be tortured.
Back at the caravan, Kent and Astrid decide to break into the facility themselves. On their way there, they find the badly beaten Swann in a nearby cave. He tells them of the researchers in the bunker then dies from his wounds. Astrid heads down into the bunker and manages to convince the researchers that they have been duped. She leads them through the caves, where they meet the Doctor and Kent.
The researchers inform the Doctor that it was Kent who sent them to the bunker in the first place, and that he and Salamander were allies. The Doctor reveals that he suspected that Kent’s motives were less than benevolent, and that he knew Kent really only wanted Salamander’s power for himself. Revealed, Kent flees into the cave network.
Kent encounters Salamander and the two battle. Kent is mortally wounded, but manages to set off an explosion that destroys the caves before he dies. Astrid manages to save the researchers, but the Doctor and salamander are seemingly killed.
Meanwhile, Jamie and Victoria have made their way back to the TARDIS and are waiting nervously for the Doctor to return. The Doctor seemingly appears and asks Jamie to pilot the TARDIS for him, something he has never asked before. This is not the Doctor; it is Salamander in disguise!
The real Doctor appears. Panicking, Salamander attempts to pilot the TARDIS himself, but he dematerialises while the door to the time machine is still open. He is sucked out into the space-time vortex while the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria hang on for dear life…
Firstly, being able to watch The Enemy of the World at all is amazing. As one of the “lost” storylines destroyed by the BBC in the early 70’s, I’d long-resigned myself to the fact that I’d never have the opportunity to see these episodes. Fortunately, BBC announced in October that both this and The Web of Fear had been discovered in a relay station in Jos, Nigeria.
As for the story itself, The Enemy of the World employs what is easily one of the most ridiculous plot points in storytelling; the hero who by coincidence bears a striking resemblance to the villain. It’s silly…and I absolutely love it!
What keeps Enemy compelling is the standout performance by Patrick Troughon in the dual role of The Doctor and Salamander. He gives each character their own unique voice, body language and nuance. These are two separate and distinguishable characters with no confusion over which character is which, at least until the moment in the final episode when the script calls for confusion. Even then, Troughton’s performance allows us to see subtle hints that the character we believe is the Doctor is actually Salamander. Enemy of the World could easily have fallen into farce without Troughton’s excellent dual performance.
There are some interesting political overtones to Enemy as well, although they aren’t as fully developed as I would have liked. The United Zones Organisation is a concept I’d have liked to have seen more fully explored.
For local readers, Enemy of the World is full of Australian talent of the era, most notably Bill Kerr as Giles Kent. Kerr’s performance is definitely a highlight of this storyline, as he lends weight and gravitas to Kent.
Patrick Troughton’s son David appears in Enemy as one of Salamander’s guards. He would later appear in the more prominent role of King Peladon in The Curse of Peladon.
Although the story has been rediscovered, it is missing a trailer that was aired at the end of the story featuring the Doctor in the London Underground discussing the return of the Yeti in the next feature The Web of Fear, which is a shame.
With the discovery of Enemy and Web of Fear and the reconstruction of The Ice Warriors, we now have four of the seven storylines from Patrick Troughton’s second season. The more that is released, the more I find my appreciation for his tenure as the Doctor growing. With so little available to viewers in the past, I feel that he is an incredibly underrated Doctor. Hopefully that will change now.
The Enemy of the World was influenced by Patrick Troughton’s desire to play roles other than the Doctor. It’s not the first time the “evil double” trope has been employed for this reason; William Hartnell played dual roles in The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve.
The companions in Enemy of the World serve as an interesting contrast. Jamie is, as always, brash and headstrong, but always capable and with his heart in the right place. He remains one of my personal favourite Who companions.
When reviewing Tomb of the Cybermen (at the time the only surviving story to feature her), I described Victoria as “…intelligent, competent and fascinating.” Unfortunately, she really doesn’t follow through on the promising start she was given in Tomb. Her role in Enemy is primarily that of victim, her primary plot point to serve as kidnapee, naive simpleton, or scream queen. She really doesn’t exhibit any of the intelligence of competence she showed in her earlier appearance.
The true joy of Enemy of the World is Patrick Troughton’s wonderfully over-the-top and maniacal performance as Salamander. The would-be dictator takes special pleasure in manipulating others and truly revels in the power he has over those he controls. Whether it is the mass deception he pulls over the United Zones Organisation or the more personal destruction he inflicts upon individuals like Denes, Salamander is a true villain in every sense of the word.
The sheer audacity of his plan, from the political manipulations to the control he holds over the bunker researchers, just adds to Salamander’s villainy. In this respect he is a precursor to the Master, almost a prototype for that later villain. It’s a shame Salamander makes only one appearance in Doctor Who, as I’d have loved to see Troughton reprise the role.
The Enemy of the World is a truly enjoyable storyline highlighted by a standout performance by Patrick Troughton.
We continue our trip back to the Troughton era with the second of the recently rediscovered storylines, The Web of Fear.