Doctor Who #188: The Enemy of the World Part 1

"Perhaps we've landed in a world of mad men." "They're human beings, if that's what you mean, indulging their favourite past time. Trying to destroy each other."TECHNICAL SPECS: Of this episodes from this story, only one still exists in the archives. This is not that episode. Reconstruction, here I come. First aired Dec.23 1967.

IN THIS ONE... The TARDIS lands on a beach and soon flee hovercraft gunmen by helicopter. The Doctor is a dead ringer for a world leader called Salamander and one faction wants him to impersonate the man.

REVIEW: After two stories in very cold places, can we blame the Doctor for his playful antics at the beach? Sadly, the episode's comic bits of business, like its action scenes, have been lost to the ages. The former is always a big loss, but the latter, well, you never know. Seems like a LOT of helicopter flying around, really. I suppose if they really had a chopper AND a hovercraft on loan, they had to get some bang for their buck. And bang it goes too, though the 'copter explosion is stock footage. Appropriately, it's from From Russia with Love and there's a definite Bondian vibe here thanks to the specialty vehicles and world stage plotting, though perhaps more importantly, a UNIT era vibe that may or may not have inspired director Barry Letts' direction for the show when he becomes producer only two seasons from now.

Regardless, it's the only story of the season that's not about a base under siege, and a rare monsterless story for Troughton, so it comes as a breath of fresh air. We've had a Doctor double before (the Abbot of Amboise in The Massacre), but this time, the Doctor's similarity with Salamander is actually part of the plot, what drives it, in fact. Troughton is a wonderful character actor, so he gets a chance to show off here, and in the footage of Salamander, adopts a more confident attitude and a Mexican accent. It amuses me that the Doctor is asked to impersonate someone for Astrid and Kent's faction against his will when so many of his stories have featured him as a deft impersonator. He was born to it, considering he can tell which town a man's accent comes from.

David Whitaker provides a witty script that might have worked in a historical context. I don't know what the kids will make of the political intrigue and near future world building, but it agrees with this adult at least (my heart leaps at any mention of Canada, for example). I love how the Doctor plays coy with Astrid about what his doctorate is for, painting himself in a neutral, and therefore nonthreatening, corner. She's a hard woman and the action hero of the piece, and she's got some moves (Mrs. Peel-inspired, presumably). I hope they keep developing her as the Doctor's "handler", as opposed to the more run-of-the-mill Kent.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - We lost a lot when the video was wiped, but we're still left with an intriguing set-up quite unlike what has gone before. Bit heavy on the helicopter shots though.



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