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