“The Enemy of the World” is an adventure of the fifth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired between the end of 1967 and the beginning of 1968. It follows “The Ice Warriors” and it’s a six parts adventure written by David Whitaker and directed by Barry Letts.
The Tardis lands on the Earth, on a beach in Australia in 2018. The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) takes the opportunity to bathe while Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) prefer to stay out of the water. Suddenly, a group of men who spotted them try to kill the Doctor and only the intervention of Astrid Ferrier saves him and his companions.
The Doctor was the target of the attack by mistake because of his striking resemblance to Salamander, a powerful man who has created a technology to use solar energy to increase crops. Salamander’s team is also giving early warnings about the earthquakes that are hitting various parts of the world, saving many people.
For these reasons, Salamander is seen more and more as the savior of the world but there are those, such as Giles Kent, a former collaborator later discredited, who claim that he’s only seeking absolute power. The Doctor gets forcibly involved and wants to discover the truth.
“The Enemy of the World” was the last “Doctor Who” adventure with Innes Lloyd as the producer. At the same time, the show’s “father” Sydney Newman left the BBC. Maybe also to easily handle a delicate moment, to write the screenplay David Whitaker was chosen as he had worked in the show from the start with various tasks.
Actor Patrick Troughton had expressed a desire to play a character other than the Doctor and this was only possible by creating a doppelganger. In the First Doctor era there were already adventures with doppelgangers, there was only the technical problem of shooting the scenes in which the actor appeared in both roles.
As a director Barry Letts was appointed, at his first experience in “Doctor Who”. A few years later, he became the show’s producer and ended up being one of the people with the greatest influence on the saga.
A peculiarity of “The Enemy of the World” is the absence of monsters. This usually happened in historical adventures while this one was set in the future. It’s a story with elements of political fiction as some of the characters are important world leaders. However, the political situation in the future, now very close, isn’t really described in depth.
The story is focused on Salamander, who is rapidly becoming the most important world leader and looks amazingly like the Doctor. He’s hailed by many as a savior first of all because he invented technologies that have allowed to multiply crops. At a critical time when many earthquakes are hitting the world, Salamander is able to predict them, allowing the evacuation of the territories.
Giles Kent, a former collaborator of Salamander then discredited by the leader, wants to convince the Doctor that behind his apparent altruism there’s a desire to become a dictator. Those, however, are Kent’s statements and the Doctor demands to have proof before helping him.
The question of evidence is crucial in “The Enemy of the World”. The Doctor has no intention of blindly trusting Giles Kent and his collaborators but is willing to help in the search for evidence of illegal activities by Salamander. This search brings Jamie and Victoria to infiltrate Salamander’s staff in order to gather information.
The story unfolds in a complex way, because there are some well developed characters who have their own personalities and their motivations. This development also creates ambiguity it’s not simply about figuring out who are the good guys and who are the villains but rather seeing the various shades of gray of their actions.
From this point of view, “The Enemy of the World” is really excellent as Giles Kent is a character of a certain complexity and in the course of this adventure we discover the different sides of characters such as security chief Donald Bruce. Eventually, however, the story revolves around Salamander, with the gradual discovery of his plans with several twists.
“The Enemy of the World” was one of the adventures of the ’60s almost completely lost. Only episode 3 had been recovered and was released on DVD in the “Lost in Time” box set. About two months ago the discovery of all the episodes was announced and their availability online and in DVD gave us the chance to fully admire them.
I had already seen episode 3 of “The Enemy of the World” along with the recons of the others but watching the complete adventure is totally different! Thanks to this discovery it’s possible to admire in particular Patrick Troughton in an extraordinary performance. The editing has sometimes cuts that are a bit “brutal” but in general from the visual point of view it’s good as it didn’t require big special effects.
The DVD contains no extras, unlike what normally occurs. There’s only one trailer that advertises the the adventure “The Web of Fear”, the other found and announced along with “The Enemy of the World” and soon to be published on DVD. From this point of view, this edition is disappointing but this is not a normal DVD because the episodes were found after decades. Basically it’s an event and the users of the iTunes service can watch them there as well. In my opinion, this adventure is overall excellent so I recommend getting it, one way or another.