I finally watched the rare serial "The Enemy of the World" (1967-1968) from the Pat Troughton era of "Doctor Who". I'd like to share and discuss the serial episode by episode. Let's start with episode 1. Please feel free to elaborate your appreciation.
Episode 1/6 of “The Enemy of the World”
[review] An exciting first episode in which the three leading characters are hunted down by three killers—actually, three determined political partisans—on a desolate beach somewhere in the Australasian Zone (Australia+Asia): the orchestral music used for the hunting down is magnificent and very New Vienna School. Episode 1 highlights the mistaken identity plot because the Doctor resembles a hated man called Salamander aka The Shopkeeper of the World, The Savior. The Doctor is asked by the underground to pose as and become an assassin to free the world but The Doctor doubts the testimony of Giles Kent, the leader of the underground. The film-making is dynamic as in a feature film. The use of helicopter and hovercraft anticipate “Planet of the Spiders”. The chief of the police, Donald Bruce, foreshadows the one from “The Mutants”—he's dressed up as The Master. I'm fascinated by the female character Astrid Ferrier which reminds amazon Emma Peel from “The Avengers”. We're witnessing an Earth of the future a la George Orwell's “1984” in which the world is divided in dual continental blocks known as zones. This serial is a mixture of a spy/political thriller and a dystopian tale.
Victoria: “Perhaps we've landed in a world of madmen.” The Doctor: “They're human beings, if that's what you mean. Indulging their favourite pastime of trying to destroy each other.”
Wounded Astrid: “Oh, you're doctor?” The Doctor: “Well, not of any medical significance.” Wounded Astrid: “Doctor of law? Philosophy?” The Doctor: “Which law? Whose philosophies, eh?”
[review] Interesting episode because of the philosophical dilemma and because the Doctor makes a performance in front of the chief of the security. Diehard freedom fighter leader Kent appears as a cynical manipulator by forcing the Doctor to pose as Salamander in front of a top official: it is a trap test. Kent has a contact inside the government: zone controller Denes, pronounced Denesh. The Doctor is deeply ironic with Kent. As in the future serials of the Pertwee's era, this episode takes place in a top security research station: think "Inferno". We meet another high official: Benik who has an argument with security chief Bruce. At last, we witness Salamander acting as a ruthless Latin leader towards his subordinates (Denes, Fedorin, food taster Fariah)—it is almost as tense as in "Inferno" and "Day of the Daleks" with the Controller—and making predictions about volcanoes as a prophet—think "Inferno". Jamie acts like an infiltrator agent from a spy thriller. Actor Pat Troughton shines as a multi performer.
The Doctor: "I don't know where you stand, Mr. Kent, but you and this Salamander are obviously on opposite sides. That at least is clear. But which side is good? Which side is bad? And why should I interfere?"
Salamander: "Volcano is a strange thing, my friend, I tell you the truth. It's like a man in the hot sun, sleeping, still, lifeless. Then, boom! He wakes, full of energy."
[review] Still interesting because of the character's development and the facts that Salamander shows his real self by blackmailing and ordering Fedorin to poison his fellow colleague Denes—Fedorin later confesses his inability to kill at will someone with some lethal powder therefore Salamander punishes him by making him drink the hemlock. Salamander promotes people because he owns a hot record on them. We learn from this episode that Kent is a former head of the State that discovers strange financial evidence about the research station of Salamander that can control the ecologic balance. Ruthless Benik is the second-in-command of Salamander and breaks in the trailer of Kent to make a brutal search while The Doctor is hiding. Astrid tries to free Denes with the help of Jamie and Victoria but fails and Denes is shot in the back. Security chief Bruce reports to Salamander he used to see him at Kent's office and concludes he used to witness an impostor. The casual cook adds a light touch to the gloomy teleplay. The volcano's eruption footages, is later recycled on "Inferno".
Fedorin: "You found out things about me. Lies that would damage me." Salamander: "On the contrary, I'm doing you a good turn. I'm actually suppressing facts about you." Fedorin: "Lies, I tell you!" Salamander: "Lies, truth… Who knows?"
Kent: "That's what I'm trying to tell you about Salamander. [yelling] He's trying to destroy the world!" The Doctor: "Facts, Kent. I must have facts!"
[review] It's another engrossing part in which the Doctor is still very skeptical and reluctant to pose as Salamander for the good cause. Kent now blackmails the good Doctor to kill Salamander against the rescue of his two companions: notice the extreme close-ups during that tense scene of will battle. Benik is as ruthless as Salamander because he enjoys questioning an almost dead woman and he is pleased when she eventually passes away. Salamander shows us his wild card, his big secret in the control of the ecological balance: a hidden subterranean factory filled with selected slave engineers—the sham of the selected people will be recycled in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs". Salamander tells a phony story about radioactivity on the surface of Earth and literally exploits a group of scientists for his personal glory—only youngster engineer Colin is rebellious enough and is eager to go back to the surface. Many characters die during this serial: Fedorin, Denes, Fariah. The intercourses between officials will also be highlit in the season 6 "The War Games", a close companion in terms of power struggle. We see some modern technology like videophones like in "Space: 1999". I repeat that Pat Troughton is excellent as a multi-performer.
• The Doctor: "Proof! Proof! Proof! It always comes back to the same thing. No one has any evidence against Salamander!"
• The Doctor: "What you really want me to do is to kill him, isn't it?" • Kent: "What else do you do when someone is evil?" • The Doctor: "Private justice, eh? Hmm. Oh, no. No. I'll expose him, ruin him, have him arrested but I won't be his executioner. No one has that right." • Kent: "Sometimes it's necessary."
[review] It's still interesting because we learn from security chief Bruce the reason why Kent was dismissed from his post: misusing public money. There're two important revivals of the story: Bruce changes side and teams up with the underground because of the Doctor's peaceful and trusting leaning and blind believer slave engineer leader Swann—who tames young Colin—finds by chance a newspaper proof in the food supply that Salamander deceives them with a so-called global nuclear war: this subplot will be developed in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" but inside a bogus spaceship. One character doesn't evolve: cruel Benik is pleased to give the third degree to drugged Jamie and Victoria by insisting on their stubborn behaviors. The sherry on top of the cake is witnessing the Doctor as Salamander testing the gullibility of Jamie and Victoria along with security chief Bruce. The twist ending is relevant and well-linked: Astrid escapes from the guard and explores the forest when she meets wounded Swann.
Angry slave engineer Colin: "I don't think it's right. Just work, sleep, eat, if there's enough to go round. Like worms under the earth, sightless worms wriggling about without hope. Without purpose."
Jamie: "You must have been a nasty little boy." Benik: "Oh, I was. But I had a very enjoyable childhood."
Back in October we passed along word that the BBC had fully recovered the entire story arc of the adventure Doctor Who - Story #040: The Enemy of the World, starring Patrick Troughton in a dual role as both the 2nd Doctor (his regular role, of course) and also as the "Enemy" in question, named Salamander. We further reported in early December that during the week in question, during the lead-in to the holidays, Doctor Who - Story #040: The Enemy of the World would be released on DVD...but EXCLUSIVELY to Best Buy stores in Canada, and nowhere else. Fans - especially those in the USA - have been champing at the bit to get their hands on this highly anticipated release.
Today the folks at Warner Home Video (the BBC Entertainment distributor for North America) have advised retailers that Doctor Who - Story #040: The Enemy of the World will get a general retail release on DVD starting May 20th. This single-disc release will cost $19.98 SRP. Package art hasn't been delivered yet, so we don't know if it will be the same cover art seen on the Best Buy Canada box, or if they will change it to something more in line with the design of the rest of the classic Doctor Who DVD releases. NOR is there any word about a general release of the other Best-Buy-Canada-exclusive DVD release at the same time, which was the docudrama "An Adventure in Space and Time." Stay tuned as further developments occur. In the meantime, here's the studio description for Enemy:
The TARDIS lands on an Australian beach in the 21st century. But this is no seaside holiday - within minutes, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are under attack. They soon discover that the Doctor bears a startling resemblance to Leader Salamander, a would-be dictator intent on world domination. Before long, the Doctor and his companions are plunged into a dangerous game of espionage, intrigue and deceit as they face off against the enemy of the world.
¶ It's, of course, enthralling because it's the big reveal: on his way to sign official documents, the Doctor discovers that 30 people work deep in the underground factory for Salamander while Astrid meets the welcoming committee of the slave engineers. Furthermore, Kent shows his real self in front of the Doctor posing as Salamander, i.e., Kent is a gangster, part of Salamander's con job to exploit people and becomes a rival wanting his full share therefore twists reality to pose as a freedom fighter. Beyond the simple big reveal, it's also the big punishment: on his way to escape from the grip of justice, Deputy Benik is eventually arrested by security chief Bruce and Benik begs for a fair trial, Kent is shot down by his former accomplice Salamander and, later on, Salamander enters the Tardis posing as the Doctor to face his double and fights him to death. The death of Salamander ejected into the void of the space time continuum which is caused by the sudden start of the Tardis foreshadows the fate of the Doctor at the end of "The War Games".
¶ On the whole, it's a very good teleplay filled with cunning characters and Machiavellian political tactics. The theme of the doppelgänger is well highlit thanks to Pat Troughton's multiple performances: the showdown is a triumph of good acting. Two characters completely change of values: righteous Kent and tough security chief Bruce. As in George Orwell's 1984, reality and truth are reversed and perverted. "Things are not what they appear to be."
¶ Among season 5 and among the serials of Pat Troughton's era, "The Enemy of the World" is a solid and mature teleplay inside a monsters-oriented decade. You'll have to wait for the late season 6 "The War Games" to get another very good serial. Only two other serials have another realistic impact but with a strong "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" leaning: "The Faceless Ones" and "Fury from the Deep".
—Kent: "We had to have someone create the natural disasters, didn't we? And we fooled you all!" —The Doctor: "You didn't fool me, Kent." —Kent: "You didn't suspect me." —The Doctor: "Any man who resorts to murder as eagerly as rapidly as you must be suspect. You didn't just want to expose Salamander, you wanted to kill him and take his place."
I'll be sure to chime in just as soon as I get this on DVD, whenever the BBC sees fit for that to happen.
As for Troughton, he was an excellent Dr Who and I place him second after Tom Baker as my favorite. I also adore the Troughton-Hines-Padbury trio nearly as much as I do the Tom Baker-Elisabeth Sladen-Ian Marter one. Another thing is that Dr Who looks so much better in black and white. Maybe it's the time frame or my association with stuff like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, but even the most tepid of Troughton's era is that much better for being in black and white.
I have been watching this on eBay from Canada and have even placed bids a few times, only to see if go for a lot more than the Best Buy selling price of $19.99. I can stop bidding now and wait for it to arrive in the US.
A week ago yesterday BBC/Warner announced that May 20th will see the general "wide" retail release in North America of Doctor Who - Story #040: The Enemy of the World on DVD. Package art wasn't available at the time, but this morning the BBC's distributor for U.S. and Canada, Warner Home Video, made an image of the box available to retailers. We've got a look at that for you below, and you'll see that it IS different (and more in the traditional style of classic Doctor Who DVD releases in North America) than the cover art seen in the Best-Buy-Canada-exclusive release of the title this past December