5x4. The Enemy of the World
Writer: David Whittaker
Director: Barry Letts
Script Editor: Peter Bryant
Producer: Innes Lloyd
Synopsis: The TARDIS crew arrive in a
near-future Earth where a man named Salamander - who looks exactly like
the Doctor - has accumulated considerable power through his predictions
of natural disasters and his technology that has solved food crises.
But some are convinced that he has sinister aims, and the Doctor and
his companions become involved with a group seeking to expose him.
you read the synopsis above and think to yourself that this doesn't
sound like quite enough story for six episodes, you're probably right.
The main flaw in "The Enemy of the World" is that it takes a little too
long, especially because the Doctor understandably remains skeptical of
the accusations against Salamander at first while we, the audience, are
given enough of a peek behind the scenes to know that he's up to no
good. Part of what makes Doctor Who work
is enabling the audience to keep up with a protagonist who's smarter
than we (or any of the human characters in the stories) are, but here
we're in the opposite position, waiting for him to catch up.
Fortunately, despite the unnecessarily slow pace, there's enough to
make for a solid, if not exactly exceptional, installment. Not only
does Troughton put on an able performance as a villain, but two of the
guest characters we meet at the beginning - the anti-Salamander
agitator Giles Kent and the security chief Donald Bruce - end up
playing against type. Kent turns out to be a duplicitous ex-partner of
Salamander's, while Bruce is not the standard power-mad enforcer but a
reasonable man just trying to do his job, who eventually sides with the
Doctor. And things do pick up around Episode 4, when we learn that
Salamander has kept an entire group of people underground using
advanced technology to stage the natural disasters, under the pretense
that the surface is awash in radiation after a nuclear war. While this
isn't a classic and it suffers a bit from trying to do an international
caper with the budget and resources of 1960s Doctor Who, it's always nice to have more Troughton serials intact, and it's entertaining and clever enough to hold the viewer's interest.
Rating: **1/2 (out of four)
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