Monday, 23 April 2012

The Enemy of the World


  1. Kicking off with hovercrafts, helicopters, and gunfire makes me wish I could see this story. As a youngster, before they invented home playback devices, this was one of my favourite Target books. Although in the book, I never did get Salamander's dodgy accent. Which diminishes his threat a lot as far as I'm concerned.

    One of the problems with The Enemy of The World - and I'll get to the other one in a minute - is that we seem to have wandered into a spy series. Jamie and Victoria must go undercover! Erm, why? If Astrid's organisation has already gone to the trouble of sorting out security passes and uniforms, why not stick with the people you've already sorted out to wear those security passes and uniforms, rather than giving them to two people you've only just met? And then Salamander helpfully gives a job to not just the man who he thinks has saved his life, but also his girlfriend? It just doesn't ring true.

    The story also isn't aided by the cavalcade of the bizarro accents. Troughton's Salamander is by no means the only offender here.

    And I'm sure the reason is budgetary, but the answer to the question "Why's Mr Dennish being kept in the corridor here?" ("It's easier to guard him here.") brings echoes of the Security Kitchen from The Ark.

    Victoria's undercover skills lead her to deduct that Salamander is an evil man. She can "somehow sense it from all the people here". Well, I'm not sure that'll stand up in a court of law.

    The main problem with this story is one of agency. And they hang a lantern on it throughout. It's the we-have-no-evidence-he's-evil loop, and we come back to it again and again. There's no reason to get involved. We have no evidence he's evil. So why not just go back to the Tardis?

    Cliffhangers aren't great either, with episode 5 being a case in point. "Who did this to you?" "Salamander!" Um, yeah. There's no physical or emotional threat with that reveal, even if we hadn't seen him do it ourselves not five minutes ago.

    And at the end, after the bombs explode and the people downstairs are covered in rubble, their escape is covered with a handwaving "We'll get them out somehow."

    The Enemy of the World was especially disappointing for me as I'd loved the novelisation so. Heigh-ho.

  2. Doctor Who goes James Bond on us - and unfortunately its a bit of a failure.

    I dont think its the concept of doing a spy story in Doctor Who that fails - the central conceit that you can travel anywhere anytime means you can do any story you want - but the crucial thing is that you have to have a good script. And in this The Enemy of the World fails badly. As Piers has pointed out, there are many, many holes in aspects of the story that immediately break your suspension of disbelief. Add to that the acting that ranges from dull to bad and the story is in desperate trouble.

    Perhaps a toweringly brilliant central performance could bring up the quality but Troughton, while good as The Doctor, is lumbered with a dreadful accent as Salamander that adds to the low grade overall impression.

    And can I just add that the people underground are the stupidest group we have encountered in our travels and fully deserve duping. So no greta investment there.

    Its hard to find any good things to say about this as even the better aspects of it are merely less poor. I find it hard to be harsh on Doctor Who but this story for me is a failure, a feeling heightened by the strong run of tales leading up to it. NEXT! 3/10

  3. This is a strange one. It's one of the few remaining stories that I hadn't read or listened to before.

    The plot is pure sixties espionage and more like an episode of The Champions than Doctor Who. Assimilating other formats for Doctor Who had worked before and would work again but the result here is not all that good. Characters behave oddly and the story is somewhat contrived. I'm struggling to decide if it's an ambitious attempt to do something different or an idea intended for another show but shoe-horned onto Who instead.

    Twice the Troughton should only be a good thing but Salamander is curiously charmless and that accent is horrible. Frazer Hines gets some good stuff to work with. Victoria is less well served and a little lost in the cast.

    There are a lot of guest artists here and some interesting performances (and accents). Bill Kerr is fun, especially when compared with his Hancock's Half Hour role.

    The world that we are shown here is not terribly convincing, I wonder if the detail was lost in the focus on impressive action scenes and scale.

    It's possible that this story would be more enjoyable if all the episodes were still available but as it stands it's quite a disappointment. A real misfire in what has been an outstanding season so far.

    Better than: This is difficult. I'd say Planet of Giants but even that had stunning sets and models. Enemy might just be the weakest yet for me.

    Not as good as: Proper Doctor Who