Monday 30 May 2011

189 The Enemy of the World: Episode Four

EPISODE: The Enemy of the World: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: 13 January 1968
WRITER: David Whitaker
DIRECTOR: Barry Letts
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World
TELESNAPS: The Enemy of the World: Episode Four

Salamander decides to return to the research centre. The Doctor & Kent are waiting for Astrid who arrives then contacts them by vidphone, alerting them authorities before she switches to a secure transmission. Denes is dead: shot in the back during the escape attempt. Farrier has followed Astrid: she has come to see Kent with information for him. Farrier has been observed by the guards as well. Farrier tells how she was blackmailed into serving Salamander: she now has evidence that he engineered the schemes that Fedorin was accused of. Kent wants the Doctor to execute Salamander: he refuses. The guards close in on Kent's office but the occupants escape. Farriah is killed on the street after the escape. Salamander locks himself in the record room. He accesses a secret lift which takes him to hidden underground chambers. Bruce is angry with the guard outside the room that he can't get access to Salamander. Underground Salamander announces his return to those in the underground shelter. One of the men, Swann, meets with Salamander who claims he has been irradiated and must be decontaminated. He has brought them food back, and reports that it's terrible on the surface. Those in the shelter have been there for five years: they believe there has been a war on the surface which continues to this day. Those in the shelter are creating the natural disasters believing they are striking at those causing the war. Salamander tells them they cannot return to the surface till it's safe to do so. One of the survivors, Swann, wishes to go to the surface but his wife Mary reminds him that of the others that have made the journey only Salamander has returned. The Doctor is being made up to pose as Salamander when Bruce arrives with guards.

The Enemy of the World has had a three and a bit episode run up but finally during this episode it dives head first off the deep end. Up until now we've had a spy story with a little bit of a hint that Salamander has been causing some natural disasters. Then all off a sudden we've got a hidden underground base complete with survivors sheltering from the after effects of a (presumably nuclear) war who rely on Salamander venturing to the surface for their food. Bwah? Where did that come from? Not even a remote hint of this exists in earlier episode. As plot developments go this one is absolutely barking mad.

Six part (or longer) Doctor Who stories frequently have to do something different at some stage. Changing location is a good one: The first few episodes of the Daleks are in the city while the last deal with the attack. The The first half of Dalek Invasion of Earth is in central London before the action moves to the mines. Marco Polo, Keys of Marinus, The Chase & The Dalek Masterplan all change location most episodes. Evil of the Daleks travels from 60s London to Victorian Canterbury to Skaro. Inferno, famously, has a four episode alternate universe in the middle of it. Other stories introduce new characters or plot elements: The Optera in the Web Planet for example. But the new plot element here just comes from left field completely.

No Telesnaps exist for this episode: the BBC website has had a rough go using shots from other episodes. This episode doesn't feature Jamie or Victoria: Both actors were on holiday this week. Leaving the cast this episode is Carmen Munroe who plays Farriah. She's since gone on to extensive acting fame, including the wife in Desmond's, but I believe she is here the first female black actress in Doctor Who.


  1. When I introduced thisa episode on FB I said it features "the most bonkers plot twist in Doctor Who"

    Tim Walker replyed "Oh, I don't know - some of the current series' plot twists run it jolly close..." which got me thinking....

    Most Nu-Who plot twists have some signposting or make sense afterwards. This one? Barking.

    The thing is this plot twist has come from nowehere. Really the only element of Salammander's story that's slightly loose from the first few episodes is how he's causing the natural disasters. It had been a few years since I last listened to Enemy of the World so I was putting that down to his Suncatcher technology mentioned in earlier episodes. It turns out those inn the shelter are responsible but never explains how. My money's still on the Suncatchers: I've seen enough Bond films to know that Supervillains can't resist usingf satelites to threaten the world. We don't see Salamander disapearing off for stretches of time, we don't hear abvout his unexplained absences or days spent labouring in the research room. Nothing until he goes down in the lift. David Whitaker's got to the end of part 3 and gone "oh ****, I've got three more episodes to fill and thrown in the first idea that's popped into his head...

    I'll get onto this again later but where has the idea that "people hiding in a shelter from a war that's never happened" been done before? I've seen it somewhere before. I asked on Facebook when I watched this episode for the blog| but we never got an answer!

  2. I really love the sudden swerve of the reveal of the bunker. I agree that it is well and truly mad, but I actually quite like that. Pulled out of the writers back pocket, yes? But as long as it is a fun idea I don't really mind.

    I can think of at least one story that has done the "hiding from a fake war" before, but it is prose story so probably not what you are thinking of.

  3. It could be so let's hear the suggestion. I've got no idea, just a feeling that the story idea is very familiar. Could be TV, book or comic for all I know!