Timestamp #40: The Enemy of the World

Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World
(6 episodes, s05e17-e22, 1967-68)

Timestamp 040 The Enemy of the World

This was one of the best in the season so far, especially that action-filled pulse-pounding opening sequence.

The TARDIS arrives (in stealth mode, nonetheless – no VROOP!) in a near future dominated by a rising world dictator named Salamander. The twist? The Doctor looks just like him. Despite all the confusion, The Doctor explains that he and his companions don’t know of current world events because they’ve been out of touch for a while… “on ice” if you will. That callback was a nice touch considering the theme of the first three serials in this series.

Since it’s the only way out from between the rock and a hard place, The Doctor agrees to impersonate Salamander. Patrick Troughton, an actor with whom I have no experience outside of Doctor Who, is amazing in this serial. He portrays three distinct characters in this – the Doctor, Salamander, and the fake Salamander – and his acting ability is superb.

Jamie stages an attempt to save Salamander to gain the dictator’s confidence, and as a result gets himself and Victoria hired onto Salamander’s staff. This introduces the crotchety chef, a character that I love, who provides a great humor break in the seriousness of this story.

Benik is deliciously mustache-twirlingly evil and creepy, even though it’s over the top, and the refugees hidden underground are another nice twist. The Doctor also understands the internet: “Strange isn’t it? People spend their time making nice things and other people come along and break them.”

This was an excellent political thriller with a small sci-fi twist, especially since the Doctor refuses to personally act against Salamander without concrete proof that the man is evil. It was a good break from the “defend the base from the invading alien” stories, even with an abrupt ending. Salamander meets a fitting end.

I watched the reconstructed version. It’s now a mission to watch this in the recently recovered full version.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Web of Fear

 

 

 

 

Timestamp #39: The Ice Warriors

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors
(6 episodes, s05e11-e16, 1967)

Timestamp 039 The Ice Warriors

 

Traveling through time and space, and it’s like they never left. Except this time, the TARDIS is sideways.

Come to think of it, I’m a little surprised that the TARDIS doesn’t have its own gravity. I mean, sure it makes for great comedy to have the ship fall over and everyone topple, but it seems rather unsafe from the materialization aspect. Imagine that the ship lands, falls off a cliff, and the Doctor wastes a regeneration because he snapped his neck by crashing into the library wall at full speed.

Anyway… I digress.

It’s an ice age in the far future, and people are dependent on computers to such an extent that they can’t even make simple decisions on their own. It’s so bad that the team’s leader, Clent, makes the Doctor prove his qualifications after the Time Lord saves the base and their lives. Part of me wanted the Doctor to just walk away and let this civilization freeze. It seems that the Doctor is a better man than me.

This future came about because of artificial crops, which minimized the need for real plants. As they died off, less carbon dioxide was produced and the Earth’s heat was no longer retained. I’m going to stop here and quote another good doctor: “Now wait just a damn minute!”

It’s been a few years since my high school biology class, but I seem to remember plants consuming CO2 and producing O2. The science was a bit lacking in this episode. I understand that they corrected it in the novelization, which is technically canon, but I’m not pursuing the books or audio dramas at this point.

These humans have discovered something called an Ice Warrior. Long story short: It wakes up and explains that it hails from Mars and has been frozen for millennia, and he needs his warriors to decide whether to invade or leave. It forces Victoria to find a power pack and goes to thaw his compatriots. After Victoria is kidnapped, Jamie and Arden set out to rescue Victoria from the Ice Warriors, but they get ambushed and left for dead. Luckily, Jamie is rescued by scavengers.

The Doctor develops a plan to use ammonium sulfide to incapacitate the Ice Warriors – I loved how he tested the chemical dispenser, since he’s been so skeptical of this civilization, by having it create water – and ventures off to the Martian ship. Of course the humans protest because they can’t afford to lose anyone else, but the Doctor was right: He was superfluous at the base.

The Ice Warriors are fighting the scientists because they think the ionizer, which is used to melt the ice, is a weapon. They’ve decided to leave (good!), but first have to invade the base (bad!) to get fuel for their ship. That plan begins with trying to shatter the base’s protective dome with a sonic gun. After the Doctor incapacitates the Ice Warrior gunner with the ammonium sulfide mix, he and Victoria change some settings and make the sonic gun more likely to hurt the Ice Warriors.

I would have had sympathy for the Ice Warriors because they were trying to leave somewhat peacefully, but then they started being violent to get the fuel. I had no problem with their (probably not so) final fate. The computer can’t help because it’s built to preserve itself and the society, so it short circuits and the scavengers save the day by firing the ionizer at the ship and disintegrating it.

Victoria really did a good job in this episode of carrying her own. Sure, she was a bit of a damsel in distress, but she also was great in moving the plot. I especially loved how she couldn’t describe the specifics of the Ice Warrior ionic engine, not because she was stupid, but because she didn’t have the words based on her temporal reference. I can forgive the earlier scientific snafu for that brilliance.

I can also forgive the generated apathy for the humans. They were supposed to be frustrating in their dependence on a self-serving computer. What’s harder to forgive is the plot convenience of the Ice Warriors actually having enough fuel to start lifting off. That negates any intelligence I attributed to the Ice Warriors because they attacked for no reason. It’s also lazy plot continuity.

Overall, The Ice Warriors is a fun enough story, but the plot and scripting are all over the place. I’d give it a 3.5, but the scoring method is based on whole numbers, and I follow the trend of John and Paul at Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast by being optimistic when in doubt.

 


Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World

 

 

 

 

Timestamp #38: The Abominable Snowmen

Doctor Who: The Abominable Snowmen
(6 episodes, s05e05-e10, 1967)

Timestamp 038 The Abominable Snowmen

 

The Doctor is excited to be back in Tibet, has a Holy Ghanta to return to the local monastery, and the adventure begins with murder. The Doctor’s warm furry coat gets him confused with the real monster of the week, the Yeti, who is actually pretty convincing for the 1960s. Meanwhile, the local monks are battling the Yeti, who is a robot being controlled by Padmasambhava, the High Lama of the monastery, who is himself being controlled by The Great Intelligence.

The Great Intelligence… wait, I know that one! This nemesis has something for the cold, doesn’t it?

It’s a pretty simple story from there: The Great Intelligence wants to take over the world and our heroes unlock the puzzle to stop it. Cue the big explosion at the end to wrap it all up. Victoria continues to grow on me with her desire to explore and strength of character. Jamie is still doing his thing as the vocal compass of the team.

Overall, it’s a good story and an entertaining time.
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors