Friend of My Heart

Review of The Enemy of the World (#40)

iTunes Release Date: 11 Oct 13
Original Air Date: 23 Dec 1967 - 27 Jan 1968
Doctor/Companion: Two, Jamie McCrimmon, Victoria Waterfield
Stars: Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling
Preceding Story: The Ice Warriors (Two, Jamie, Victoria)
Succeeding Story: The Web of Fear (Two, Jamie, Victoria)

I can't even describe the thrill I felt watching The Enemy of the World unfold before my very eyes. I'd long since inured myself to the idea that my only chance to see Troughton in his double role as the Doctor and Salamander was to watch Episode Three, which had previously been the only one remaining in the archives. And while I'd read both a full synopsis and the BBC's photonovelization before, it's a completely different experience to see it for oneself.

For anyone who has never seen the Second Doctor in action, you could hardly ask for a better introduction. I'll admit it's probably an advantage to know him so one can appreciate the differences between Troughton's two characters better, but the story itself is a real cracker. Each episode unfolds another layer of intrigue until we see what a truly tangled web the players have woven.

One of the details that delighted me was the date on the license displayed at the back of the helicopter in Episode One: "Valid until 31st Dec 2018." That leads us to believe the story is set sometime in 2018, or possibly 2017 (assuming a license expires within a relatively short period). It makes perfect sense: set your story a safely distant fifty years in the future (after all, that's what they did with Waters of Mars). It gave me an extra chill, realizing the date is a mere five years away now—the first time people are seeing this story after its initial broadcast. It was a further jolt to realize that Colin, Mary, Swann, and the others would have been taken underground this year.

Perhaps it's merely the happy afterglow of this honeymoon period, having the story back after so long, but I can find very little to fault. The cliffhangers are always tense, the dialog feels natural and occasionally snappy (e.g., the Doctor explaining why the TARDIS crew doesn't know about Salamander because they've been "on ice, shall we say..." (having just left the Ice Warriors) or when Bruce asks what the Doctor means by "TARDIS," and is told with gentle evasion that "it's a little place that we three have in common"), and the guest cast all give top-notch performances (not least, creepy Benik—played by Milton Johns, who also portrayed clueless astronaut Guy Crayford in The Android Invasion and Castellan Kelner in The Invasion of Time).

Little details that were otherwise lost—things that wouldn't have come across on the surviving soundtrack or necessarily in any shooting scripts that might remain—are, in my opinion, the most delightful of all. Seeing Troughton's expressive face create a subtly-but-noticeably different performance between the-Doctor-as-Salamander and Salamander himself, watching stock footage for the disaster scene, and seeing the amazing depiction of Salamander's capsule journey underground were all particular highlights for me.

In short, I've nothing but praise for this story. Whether you decide to download it from iTunes (in the UK or US) now or wait for the DVD (which is already available for pre-order in the UK, though not yet in the US), it's worth the investment. Not only has it now taken a unique place in Doctor Who history, but it's also just a damn good tale. Go ahead and treat yourself.

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