Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World – Episode Six

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The Doctor’s impersonation of Salamander places him in a rather precarious position as Benik doesn’t seem to be totally convinced.  But he’s able to authorise the release of Jamie and Victoria and he asks Bruce to take them to the gates to ensure they get away safely.  There’s a lovely moment when Bruce asks them to call his deputy Forrester, once they get outside, and tell him that Bruce is at the research station (using the word “redhead”).  Jamie wonders if that’s a reference to his wife, but Bruce tells him no, it’s just a code-word.  Typical Jamie, always thinking of women!

Once Jamie and Victoria leave they don’t reappear until the the final scene, so this, together with their fairly light appearance in episode five and their absence from episode four, means they’ve hardly featured in the second half of the story.  Maybe this is because whilst The Enemy of the World is a good story, it’s not necessarily a good Doctor Who story, so Jamie and Victoria end up rather surplus to requirements.  Indeed, you could remove the Doctor as well and it would have been made a very decent one-off serial with Kent and Astrid facing off against Salamander and Benik.

Astrid is able to do little for Swann, but he’s able to tell her the whole story and Astrid ventures underground to tell the workers that Salamander has duped them. She’s only able to take them up two at a time, so she naturally elects to take Colin and Mary (there’s no point taking any of the others, as they’re non-speaking extras!).

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For a large part of the story, Kent has insisted that the Doctor should impersonate Salamander in order to find incriminating evidence that will expose him.  In the end, this doesn’t happen (and is rather neatly reversed) when Kent meets Salamander (or so he believes) and betrays himself.  Kent and the faux-Salamander seem to be trapped in the records room, but Kent knows about the secret exit.

DOCTOR: Well, that’s very interesting, Mr Kent. Why didn’t you tell me that before?
KENT: Oh no, it can’t be.
DOCTOR: Oh, I’m afraid it is. Oh, look. Here’s another surprise for you. Look behind you.
KENT: Astrid, you’ve come just in time.
ASTRID: It’s too late, Giles. I know everything.
COLIN: That’s him. That’s the man who took us down there in the first place.
MARY: Giles Kent. We thought you were dead.
KENT: Now look, I’ve never seen these people before in my life.
ASTRID: They’ve told me everything. You and Salamander were in it together.

The emergence of Astrid at just the right moment (and with two people who can confirm that Kent was Salamander’s partner) is more than a touch contrived, but it works in story terms as it finally strips away the lingering pretence that Giles Kent was on the side of the angels. The Doctor tells him that he was never convinced by him anyway, as “any man who resorts to murder as eagerly and as rapidly as you must be suspect. You didn’t just want to expose Salamander, you wanted to kill him and take his place.”  Although Kent may have been more convincing had Bill Kerr played him as a more reasonable and sympathetic character, it’s still a very watchable turn.  Best known as Tony Hancock’s idiot friend in the radio version of Hancock’s Half Hour, he also enjoyed a long and successful acting career (some of it spent in the UK) and once of the joys of the recovery of this serial was that we were able once more to enjoy his complete performance.

As previously touched upon, Doctor Who was still a long way away from out-of-order recording, so each episode has to mostly feature Troughton as either the Doctor or Salamander.  Since it was the concluding episode, it’s not a surprise that he’s mainly the Doctor, although this means that after building Salamander up throughout the serial, he rather fades away.  But he does get to confront his old associate Kent, before his first (and last) encounter with the Doctor.

Had there not been at least one meeting between the Doctor and Salamander, the audience would probably have felt a little cheated (although the Doctor and the Abbot never met in The Massacre).  Before that happens though, loose ends are tied up as Bruce and Astrid take charge.  Kent has apparently killed both himself and Salamander (via a huge explosion) and the Doctor leaves Astrid as she attempts to rescue the people trapped in the underground shelter.

The final scene is a bit of a cracker.  Salamander impersonates the Doctor and he asks Jamie to operate the TARDIS controls.  This naturally confuses the Scot, but when the real Doctor makes an appearance, all becomes clear.  The Doctor tells Salamander that “we’re going to put you outside, Salamander. No friends, no safety, nothing. You’ll run, but they’ll catch up with you.”  After a tussle, Salamander is flung out in the Space/Time vortex and (unusually for the Troughton era) the story closes on a cliff-hanger.

Although The Enemy of the World does have a few logistical issues, there’s plenty to enjoy (especially as it’s such a break from the norm).  It was a daring move to tackle a James Bond-type plot with the series’ usual budget (and especially since 95% of the story was shot in the studio) but, apart from the odd wobbly set, it all holds together.  Troughton’s great (no matter who he’s playing) and he’s surrounded by some familiar faces (Colin Douglas, George Pravda, Milton Johns) all of whom would appear in later Doctor Whos.  Hines and Watling have little involvement in the later part of the story, but Whitaker keeps the story bubbling away so nicely that this never becomes an issue.

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Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World – Episode Five

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The mysterious visitor at the end of episode four is revealed to be Donald Bruce.  Although he’s Salamander’s head of security, he also seems to have a policeman’s instinct, as he’s willing to listen to the claims of Kent and the Doctor that Salamander is not the universal benefactor he claims to be (although anybody who’s spent time around him surely would have quickly picked up plenty of negative vibes).

Astrid disarms Bruce’s guard and the Doctor attempts to bring Bruce onto their side by handing the gun back to him.  As Bruce says, “you must be a complete fool or very clever.”  The Doctor responds that Bruce will “have to make up your mind to that right away.”  This fairly basic piece of psychology does the trick and Bruce agrees to accompany the Doctor as he attempts to enter the Research Centre.  But as insurance, Astrid and Kent are left behind – under guard.

Meanwhile, Salamander is still underground.  One of the slight problems with the underground scenes is that there’s only three speaking roles – Swann, Colin and Mary (there’s plenty of other people in the scenes, but they’re all just rhubarbing extras who rush around with clipboards, looking busy).  Adam Verney (as Colin) is still machine-gunning his lines, delivering them with an intensity that borders on the manic.  As the character is supposed to be somewhat stir-crazy, it’s a reasonable performance choice – although a little of him does go a long way.  Especially when delivering lines such as “I don’t think it’s right. Just work, sleep, eat, if there’s enough to go round. Like worms under the earth, sightless worms wriggling about without hope, without purpose.”

Mary (Margaret Hickey) has the thankless task of having little to do except react to Colin’s complaints.  Swann (Christopher Burgess) initially seemed also to be a rather uninteresting character, very much Salamander’s yes-man, but events take an unexpected turn when he discovers a fragment of newspaper which was stuck on their new boxes of supplies.  Salamander has told them all that there’s a global war occurring on the surface, and that their work (engineering natural disasters), is vital to the war effort.

But the scrap of newspaper has a report about the sinking of a holiday liner.  How can there be holiday liners in a world at war?  Swann confronts Salamander and it’s the first time that we’ve seen Salamander even slightly shaken.  He quick back-peddles and tells Swann that the war is over, but the survivors are deformed in mind and body.  “They have a kind of society, but it’s evil, corrupt. You don’t think I could expose you to that sort of thing? Think of Mary and the other women.”  Swann insists on going up to the surface with Salamander.  Salamander readily agrees and it’s not hard to understand why – Swann may go up, but he’s not coming down again.

Jamie and Victoria were absent from the previous episode and in the first half of this one were only in a brief shot (as their unconscious bodies were carried past the camera).  Once they’ve woken up, they have to face the tender devotions of Benik.  Milton Johns excels in this scene.  So much is left unsaid, as it’s left to the viewer’s imagination to wonder exactly what Benik would be prepared to do to them.  Jamie tells him that he must have been a nasty little boy, Benik concedes he was, but that he had a very enjoyable childhood.”

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But he only gets as far as tugging Victoria’s hair when he’s interrupted by Bruce and (apparently) Salamander.  In order to convince Bruce that Salamander is as corrupt as he believes him to be, the Doctor stays in character for a while – and he’s convincing enough to fool both Jamie and Victoria.  The recovery of this episode allows us to see a few more nice visual touches – as Jamie and Victoria confront the man they believe to be Salamander, the Doctor takes fright and falls off his chair.  He’s then concerned that his friends don’t recognise him, but after miming playing the recorder he’s delighted to find they believe him after all.  Just before this, Letts manages to ramp up the tension as he rapidly cuts between close ups of Hines and Watling as they list some of Salamander’s crimes.

Kent and Astrid manage to distract the guard (thanks to some HP sauce, it appears) and Kent hot-foots it to the Research Station.  He says he’ll have no trouble getting in, since he has a pass (are we supposed to believe that Salamander wouldn’t have had it cancelled by now?!).

At the same time, Astrid is trying to shake off the guard (through a very unconvincing section of forest – alas, it’s too obvious that it’s a studio mock-up) when she hears a cry for help.  She stumbles across a mortally injured Swann, who clearly has come off second best in a tussle with Salamander.  It’s interesting that a few minutes earlier Salamander asked Swann if he was sure he wanted to go right up to the surface – the inference being that if he’d changed his mind, Salamander would have spared his life.   I’m not sure if that was the scripted intention or just how it was played, but it does make the character of Salamander a little more interesting (was he reluctant to kill?  And if so, was it just because he didn’t want to get his own hands dirty?)

As it is, we once again end on a cliff-hanger where neither the Doctor and his friends are in danger.  It’s another atypical ending to an atypical (but far from uninteresting) story.

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Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World – Episode Four

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Episode four is where the story takes a unexpected turn after Salamander’s underground base is revealed.  The Enemy of the World has often been likened to a James Bond film and the eventual reveal that Salamander has been engineering natural disasters (with the help of a group of duped underground workers) places him firmly in the Bond villain category.

It also helps to give the story more of a science fiction/fantasy slant, as up until now it’s been pretty much a contemporary thriller (although set in the future, it could have just as easily been set in 1967).  But before this mid-episode about-turn happens, we spend some time with the Doctor, who’s still a master of inactivity.

As a vehicle for Troughton’s Doctor, Enemy isn’t the best, since he’s absent for long stretches to enable him to play Salamander, which makes his limited screen-time when he does play the Doctor even more precious.  There’s a definite feeling that the Doctor is still at something of a disadvantage and he only agrees to the impersonation in order to rescue Jamie and Victoria.  Kent continues to be totally ruthless, telling the Doctor he has to kill Salamander – if he doesn’t then Kent won’t lift a finger to help his friends.  Naturally, the Doctor isn’t happy.  “Private justice, eh? Oh no, no. I’ll expose him, ruin him, have him arrested, but I won’t be his executioner. No one has that right.”

In the power struggle between Kent and the Doctor, at present you’d have to say that Kent has the upper hand.  Troughton’s Doctor may not quite be the fool that he sometimes appears, but the world of early 21st century politics isn’t his natural environment and he continues to be buffeted along by events, rather than shaping or initiating them.

More evidence comes Kent’s way when Fariah (who appears to be wearing a black bin-bag) offers her help to expose Salamander.  The hinted back-story between him and Fariah is teased a little further when she explains that “I have every reason to hate Salamander. He blackmailed me into being his personal servant. I even had to smile when he told me to.”  We never find out what he blackmailed her about, as the Doctor is happy to accept her at face value.

There then follows the main action sequence of the story, as Benik and his guards surround Kent’s office (which means that Kent, Astrid, Fariah and the Doctor are trapped).  The sequence does show the limitations of studio shooting – Astrid has a fight with a guard that looks terribly unconvincing, whilst the guards make something of an effort to break down Kent’s door, when the wobbles we’ve already seen would imply that just leaning on it would be enough to collapse it!

It’s also another opportunity to see the sadistic side of Benik.  He orders the guards to shoot to kill and one does – hitting Fariah.  Even when she’s dying, he continues to question her (much to the disgust of the guard captain).  And after the captain tells him that she can’t tell him any more, because she’s dead, he’s unruffled, simply saying “good”.

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Bruce (Colin Douglas) has been something of a background figure for a few episodes, but the seeds are sown here for the action he’ll take later in the story. We’ve seen that he’s not a man who’ll blindly follow orders (and he lacks Benik’s pleasure in killing).  Douglas’ performance is rather bluff (and sometimes he seems to be struggling for his next line) but Bruce is a good counterpoint to the more hysterical Benik.

Prior to the episode being recovered, exactly how Salamander travelled underground was a bit of a mystery, the telesnaps didn’t really cover it and the camera script wasn’t very precise.  It’s actually quite an impressive few moments and does sell the illusion that Salamander has journeyed deep underground – where he meets a rather rum bunch of people.

Swann (played by Christopher Burgess, who’ll be cast again several times by Barry Letts in later Who stories) is the leader, whilst Mary (Margaret Hickey) and Colin (Adam Verney) are two of the younger workers.  Verney is incredibly earnest, delivering his lines as if his life depended on it.  “Don’t stop me now. I’ve got to see the surface, Mary, I’ve got to. I want to see the Sun again, walk on top of the Earth, not hide like a rat underground. I’ve got to do it, Mary. I’ve got to ask him.”  True, his dialogue is a bit ripe, but it would have been nice if he’d approached it in a more naturalistic way.

The story teases us as we learn that the underground workers believe the surface to be radioactive and that it’s not safe to leave the safety of the bunker.  They also believe Salamander to be their benefactor, risking his life to bring them supplies.  But the reason why they’re there isn’t revealed until the next episode, although those who’ve been following the story could probably work it out.

We end with the arrival of an unseen visitor paying a visit to Kent and the Doctor …..

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Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World – Episode Three

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Until late 2013, this was the only surviving episode of The Enemy of the World and it may be the reason why the story generally enjoyed a fairly low standing, pre-recovery.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it’s quite low on incident (which is quite typical for one of the middle episodes of a six-parter).

Salamander orders Denes to be arrested and he later tells Fedorin to kill him (thoughtfully he provides the poison to do so).  Given that Denes would obviously prove to be awkward if he was brought to trial, his removal is understandable – it’s just bizarre that Salamander would chose Fedorin to do it.  From his first scene he’s been presented as a weak link.  True, if he did murder Denes then it would tie him even closer to Salamander, but logically you would have expected that a hand-picked guard would be a better choice.

As has often been stated, it’s a little odd that Denes is kept under guard in a corridor.  This is because, apparently, it’s the easiest place to guard him.  What, easier than a room with a door they can lock?  In story terms, having Denes in the corridor means that he can easily interact with any passing character, but it’s a pity that they couldn’t come up with a better reason why he was there.

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This episode is immeasurably livened up by Griffin the Chef (Reg Lye).  In plot terms he contributes nothing (and he doesn’t appear later in the story either) but his droll sense of humour is welcome in a story that’s been rather grim up until now.  Griff’s an eternal pessimist and with a long-suffering air agrees to take on Victoria as an assistant.  He asks her to write out the menus.  “First course interrupted by bomb explosion. Second course affected by earthquakes. Third course ruined by interference in the kitchen. I’m going out for a walk. It’ll probably rain.”

Jamie wonders if somehow Salamander managed to cause the earthquakes.  We then cut to scenes of the continuing earthquakes and rather neatly we pull away from this footage to show it was something the Doctor and Kent were watching on a monitor screen.  It seems like a nice directorial flourish, although it may have been scripted since Kent unconsciously continues the conversation that Jamie (many miles away) was having as he tells the Doctor he’s convinced that Salamander, via the Research Station, is somehow responsible for the earthquakes.

This is Troughton’s sole scene in episode three as the Doctor and he’s still not convinced.  “What you’re saying is that Salamander’s found a way of harnessing the natural forces of the earth. It’s a little difficult to accept. I’m not saying it’s impossible, mind you.”  Although the plot’s ticking away nicely and Troughton continues to entertain as Salamander, the necessity of the story means that the Doctor is once again placed in the background.  He gets to witness how unpleasant and ruthless Beink can be, but it’s still not enough proof for him.  “Unpleasant, yes, destructive, but not necessarily evil.”

There’s quite a high body count in this story and in episode three we bid farewell to both Denes and Fedorin.  Denes is shot in the back after Astrid attempted to rescue him and Fedorin is poisoned by Salamander.  I love Fedorin’s death scene, as you can clearly see that David Nettheim was milking it for all it was worth!  Denes’ death is a little more rushed though – it’s possible that time was a factor as there’s a swift cut after he’s shot straight into the next scene.  It’s a shame that Denes won’t take any further part in proceedings as George Pravda, especially in this episode, was rather good, especially the way he managed a wry tolerance of the madness occurring around him.

We end with Salamander becoming increasingly suspicious of Jamie and Victoria (which will conveniently remove them from the story for a week).  He’s also amazed to hear from Bruce that he’s recently met with Giles Kent ……

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Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World – Episode Two

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The Doctor manages to bluff Bruce into believing that he’s Salamander, but afterwards he’s still not convinced that he should help.  “I don’t know where you stand, Mister Kent, but you and this Salamander are obviously on opposite sides. That at least is clear. But which side is good? Which side is bad? And why should I interfere?”

Kent’s proposal is that Jamie and Victoria infiltrate Salamander’s HQ (using a plan he’d already devised for his own operatives) to find proof of his criminal activities.  Given the Doctor’s reluctance to get involved, it’s a little strange that he agrees so freely to this, as it will place both Jamie and Victoria in terrible danger.  We’ve seen the manipulative side of Troughton’s Doctor before, notably with his treatment of Jamie in Whitaker’s The Evil of the Daleks, but it’s still difficult to believe that he would agree to such a risky plan so readily.

As Jamie and Victoria leave for the Central European Zone, Kent suggests that he and the Doctor take a look at the Kanowa Research Station.  They won’t reach there until episode three, but we briefly see inside it this episode, as we meet a character who’ll become more central to the story later on – Benik (Milton Johns).  Before we go inside, there’s an establishing shot of the outside of the building.  Although it’s represented by a still photo, it’s a nice touch that a small piece of foliage is slowly waved very close to the camera, increasing the impression that it’s a live action shot.  It’s a very simple trick, but quite effective.

Like many of the actors in Enemy of the World, Milton Johns would make several appearances in Doctor Who as well notching up hundreds of other credits.  Frankly, he’s something of a national treasure – one of many, many actors of this era who could always be guaranteed to enliven whatever tv show or film he appeared in.  Never the lead, but always solid support.

He’s tended to specialise in playing odd, weak or ineffectual characters and Benik fits into all three categories quite nicely.  We’ll discuss Benik in more depth later on, but even in his single scene here it’s quite possible to get a good grasp of his character.  He occupies a position of some power and he’s no problems with exercising this authority (witness his confrontation with Bruce).  But there’s something slightly repellent about him and he certainly doesn’t give off a very trustworthy vibe.

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We then move to the Central European Zone, where we get our first proper look at Salamander.  He’s got an interesting accent which at times does slightly rob the character of a little of his menace, but it’s Troughton, so you know that he’s always going to deliver a nuanced performance that will command the screen.

He’s meeting with the Zone controller Denes (George Pravda) and Fedorin (David Nettheim).  Salamander warns that the Zone will shortly suffer a devastating earthquake.  Denes is polite, but noncommittal, although he promises to have his experts check the data (much to Salamander’s irritation).  Denes is another of Kent’s allies, although when he speaks to Astrid later he mentions that the meeting he just had with Salamander was the first time he’d met him.  This would imply that Denes has only just been made controller, as surely he would have had contact with him on a regular basis.  And since he’s never met him, why is he so convinced that Salamander is evil?

Once Denes leaves, Salamander explains to Fedorin exactly what will happen next.  Denes will die and Fedorin will take over.  Salamander has incriminating evidence (faked, if we believe Fedorin) on Fedorin, but doesn’t plan to use it, “this just an insurance, hmm?”  It’s a joy to watch Troughton’s Salamander steamroller the ineffectual Fedorin and it gives us an early indication that he’s utterly ruthless – replace an honest man with one that you have a hold over and your power-base is immeasurably stronger.  David Nettheim’s role isn’t particularly large (he only appears in this and the next episode) but his twitchy, anxious turn is a memorable one.

Barry Letts elects to use back projection for the park scenes, which is an innovative, if not entirely successful, attempt to suggest the action is taking place outdoors and not in the studio.   After the initial location splurge at the start of episode one, the rest of the story is largely studio bound so it was reasonable enough to try and open things out.  When he became producer of Doctor Who, Letts would delight in using CSO in ways that few other directors would ever attempt, so it’s not surprising that he tried something similar here.  It looks just as fake as CSO often did, but we’ll give him points for effort.

The other major character introduced in this episode is Fariah (Carmen Munroe).  She’s one of Salamander’s servants, but Fedorin observes that she doesn’t appear to be an ordinary servant.  Fariah tells him that she’s his food taster, as there have been many attempts to poison him.  As her contempt for Salamander is barely concealed, Fedorin wonders why she decided to work for him.  Fariah tells him that Salamander has a way of persuading people and Salamander’s own comments on her are quite noteworthy.  “She was hungry. Only thing is, now she has all the food she needs, she’s lost her appetite. Both Troughton and Munroe are skillfully able to imply an intriguing back-story with just a few lines.

Meanwhile Jamie and Victoria have managed to win Salamander’s confidence (in a slightly unbelievable way, it must be said).  Salamander’s security must be really poor for Jamie to be able to get within touching distance of him without any of his guards being able to stop him.  Although his ruthless streak is made even clearer when he tells his guards to take the guard that Jamie overpowered away.  “Look after him.  Better still, get rid of him.”

Episode two ends with Salamander’s forecasted volcanic eruptions.  This is achieved, less than satisfactorily, via stock footage which doesn’t at all match with the clean VT studio sequences.  It’s also a little strange that Salamander quite calmly watches the devastation from the veranda in his Presidential Palace, which implies that that the eruptions can’t be too far away.  But at no time does anybody suggest that they should leave and move to a safer place.

Salamander orders Denes to be arrested and we then see a rather odd cliffhanger which ends on the worried face of Fedorin who’s clearly deciding whether to agree to Salamander’s plan or support Denes.  It’s a convenient place to pause the story, but rather atypical (normally we’d expect to see one of the regulars in peril).

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Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World – Episode One

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Even some eighteen months later, there’s a faint air of unreality about the recovery of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear.

Maybe this is because the notion of complete (or nearly complete) stories returning to the archives seemed to be such a remote possibility.  Yes, it had happened back in 1992 with Tomb, but as time went on that appeared to be a miraculous one off.  Post-Tomb, we’d become conditioned that the small (but very welcome) trickle of orphaned episodes would be all we could ever expect.

The recovery of these nine episodes changed that though and it allows us to reassess a substantial chunk of season five.  For most people, including myself, viewing these two stories was a very different experience from watching The Tomb of the Cybermen back in 1992.  Tomb might have been a legendary lost story, but in 1992 I didn’t even have a complete collection of the existing episodes (although I was well on the way).  So Tomb was just another story and I approached it with none of the baggage that some older fans would have had.

Enemy and Web were very different.  I’d had the orphaned episodes for twenty five years and the audios for nearly as long.  So the small amount of existing visual material and the audio of the remaining episodes were very familiar – meaning that finally being able to put pictures to the sounds was an exciting, if slightly nerve-wracking experience, first time around.

This was Barry Letts’ first brush with the series and it’s apt that episode one features both a hovercraft and a helicopter, given that the Pertwee era would show a similar love of hardware.  The opening ten minutes or so are mostly shot on film and they help to give the story a glossy, expansive start.  As a first-time director on the show, Letts was clearly keen to push as far as he could and there’s some impressive shots (such as the POV from the helicopter showing Anton and Rod firing as it pulls away) that maybe a more experienced (or jaded) director wouldn’t have bothered with.

The early minutes are peppered with some lovely visual moments – such as the Doctor stripping down to his long-johns to take a dip in the ocean.  This emphases the Troughton Doctor’s child-like nature although he’s also quick to sense that the approaching hovercraft means them harm (although this seems to be via a sixth sense as there’s no visual clue).

The hovercraft is piloted by Anton (Henry Stamper), Rod (Rhys McConnochie) and Curly (Simon Cain).  It’s Anton who gets the lion’s share of their dialogue, although sadly it’s not particularly memorable and Stamper’s unsubtle delivery doesn’t help.  Thankfully, all three are put out of our misery shortly afterwards.

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are rescued by Astrid (Mary Peach).  Our first sight of Astrid is from the rear and it’s easy to believe that this was a deliberate shot-choice from Letts as Ms Peach does have a rather attractive derriere.  Certainly something for the dads there!

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But although it’s impossible to deny that Astrid is an objectified figure right from the start, she’s also a strong, capable woman at a time when that was still something of a rarity in Doctor Who.  There are other examples in the Troughton era – Anne Travers in the next story and Gia Kelly in The Seeds of Death, for example – but they were still the exception rather than the rule.

After the Doctor attended to a flesh-wound she picked up during their escape, she begins to delicately pump him for information.  Once she learns he’s a Doctor, Astrid wonders in what field, possibly law or philosophy.  Troughton’s reply, with a faint smile playing around his lips, of “which law? Whose philosophies, eh?” is another of those lovely moments that only works when you have the visuals to match up to the soundtrack.  And it does make you wonder just how many more examples of Troughton’s magic are lost on the audio-only episodes.

Another nice moment comes shortly afterwards when she tells the Doctor that he’s “the most wonderful and marvellous man that’s ever dropped out of the skies” and asks if he’ll do something for her.  The Doctor’s quite taken with her compliment and dreamily tells her that, yes, he will.  But he’s brought up sharply when Astrid tells him it’ll probably cost him his life!  It’s a gag moment, as it’s impossible to believe that the Doctor would ever be taken in by such a cheap piece of flattery, but it’s still amusing.

What happens next is interesting.  The Doctor seems reluctant to meet with Astrid’s boss, Giles Kent (Bill Kerr) and wishes to leave.  It’s Jamie who for reasons unknown (perhaps he fancies Astrid?) tries to persuade him to stay.  The Doctor’s inaction during the story was mainly for practical reasons – an episode could either largely feature Troughton as the Doctor or as Salamander, but it would be hard to do both.  So the Doctor had to drop out of the narrative for a few episodes in order for Salamander to dominate. Therefore, if the Doctor had agreed to the impersonation straight away, then the story would have been over much sooner.

There could be another reason though – since the story was scripted by David Whitaker, the show’s original script editor, whose view of the series was very different from those who came after (especially Dennis Spooner).  Something very consistent in the Whitaker script-edited stories is that the Doctor never decides to stay and help purely out of a sense of moral duty (instead it’s generally because he’s unable to leave – the TARDIS is taken by Marco Polo, the lock of the TARDIS is stolen in The Sensorites, the TARDIS is trapped by a fallen girder in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, etc).  It’s therefore quite reasonable for Whitaker to script a Doctor who’s reluctant to act.

This is unusual for the series at this time though, where the Doctor is generally quite happy to pitch in straight away. But it’s an interesting move, as whilst Giles Kent is very convincing in painting Salamander as a villain, there’s little actual evidence to back this up.  For anybody familiar with the parameters of the series to date, it would seem clear that Salamander = Bad and Giles = Good.  As we’ll see though, things aren’t quite as clear cut and this is an early example of the series taking a more pessimistic world-view where few, if any people, can be trusted.  Possibly the best example of this is The Caves of Androzani which must be unique in lacking any characters (outside of the regulars) that could be said to be wholly “good”.

But even this early on, we have clear evidence that Kent is a ruthless manipulator.  He wants the Doctor to impersonate Salamander but obviously knows that he’ll take a great deal of persuading.  So he contacts Salamander’s head of security Donald Bruce (Colin Douglas).  Since they’re implacable enemies, quite what he says is something of a mystery, but Bruce turns up shortly afterwards and Kent gives the Doctor an ultimatum.  He has to impersonate Salamander and he has to be good enough to fool Bruce, otherwise the lives of Jamie and Victoria will be forfeit.

enemy 01-02<