Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World, episodes 4-6

The loveliness continues, in episodes four through six:

Episode 4

Giles vs the Doctor – OH THEIR FACES. The actor playing Giles is really v good. Look at his eyes! Shining fanaticism for ridding the world of Salamander in there, dammit!

The whole aesthetic  of the thing makes me yayful. How much of a television actor’s performance are you missing when you can only here it? Kind of a lot. But how much of the set designer and costume and make-up people’s efforts are you missing out on? And it’s such a Proper Sci-Fi aesthetic, all shiny and bleepy and boxes. Forty-five years in the past imagining the future that’s just four or five years from now. Wonderful! The costumes are best of all, but the tech and set-dressing aren’t too shabby either.

Ah! Lady pushing a pram wandering past the guards that have just been given orders to shoot to kill Our Heroes. That’s a nice note.

Another great little moment: Astrid insisting on staying behind to give the rest time to escape because the others are too important, and no paternalistic nonsensical arguing with her. Ooh, and then she slams the air duct escape thing closed, spins round, fires gun and takes cover all in one rather splendidly elegant movement. ILU ASTRID.

And then she gets herself into another fight, and wins. Naturally.

The whole story’s chockfull of splendid characters really. Everyone with more than a handful of lines is pretty keen. All Whitaker lacks is the knack of really lighting up the characters who have two sentences to live in.

Worst hiding ever, Astrid! But lolarious that it worked.

Fariah’s death scene is awesome: she knows she’s dying and decides to spend her last few moments taunting Benik, then smiles and slaps him across the face.

Okay, this bit I am QUITE EXCITED ABOUT SEEING. Not in the least disappointing either, hurrah. Salamander has shot down in a wee person-sized not!rocket to the Centre of the Earth, or such, and it’s all shiny and silver and circles down there. Ah, early telly sci-fi décor, you are the best!

And everyone’s in proper groovy fabrics. Possibly more importantly, it’s a human colony with (almost) Actual Proper Equal Number of Woman and Men. Miraculous! (And that’s a whole four women with speaking parts in this story now. Four! Is it a record? When does it reach five? Battlefield has, what, seven?)

Episode 5

“And I do things my way,” says Astrid as she punches out another dude and grabs his gun. Oh, Astrid. It’s not that she comes across as hard or ruthless as, say, Sara Kingdom, more that she’s been driven to this by circumstances and principle and she happens to be really good at it.

Omg, the Doctor’s holding a gun again! I’m sure I’ve been told that that NEVER HAPPENS. (Fandom fallout from The Doctor’s Daughter – yeah, I’m holding a grudge. It was really annoying, all right?) The fact that he hands it over to the Not!Actually!BadGuy to gain their trust is beside the point, dammit.

It really is a hilariously giant Space Gun.

Bruce being honest and reasonable…I’m hoping we weren’t meant to think that from the start. Cause I really didn’t.  That was an Exciting Plot Twist… or Character Revelation, or something, right? Right? (In my defence, um, sort of, I’ve been surprised by the ‘plot twists’ of Quantum Leap before.)

It is ridiculous how in love with Victoria Jamie is.

Oh, I love when Victoria gets all fired up about something that matters to her. She forgets to be scared. And she goes to hit Salamander! Who isn’t actually Salamander, but the Doctor. But still! She doesn’t know that, but she knows how powerful he is and how many people he’s killed and she’s gone for physical violence to express herself. It’s a smashing trait! It’s not a good one, no, but it is smashing.

The Doctor is proving who he is by playing air recorder! MARVELLOUS. AND THEN HE SNAPS AT JAMIE FOR MAKING HIM LEAVE HIS RECORDER IN THE TARDIS. AND THEN THEY GO FOR A THREE WAY HUDDLE/HUG. OH TARDIS!TEAM.

Astrid does get such a gleam in her eye as soon as she’s given the opportunity to Plot An Escape.

Heh, so Mary Peach (Astrid) was considered to replace Diana Rigg on The Avengers. I can only assume someone saw her in this story. Also, WHY DID THIS NOT HAPPEN?

Episode 6

Maybe it’s cause I’m seeing it for the first time, maybe it really is just that awesome, or maybe it’s just cause Troughton is in it, but this never felt like it dragged, as sometimes people claim six-parters are wont to do. They are, of course, wrong. Unless they’re talking about bloody Monster of Peladon. Or Talons.

(After recording Verity! and talking to Erika, have decided Enemy really is Just That Awesome.)

“Well, it’s a sort of space…house.” Oh, Victoria.

Ah, Giles is foiled by a classic villian error: gloating. Made more amusing by the fact that he, a secondary and surprise villain, is undone by gloating to the main villain, Salamander.

Trought has a pretty awesome evil laugh going on this episode, heh.

“No, Doctor, it’s too dangerous,” says Astrid. OH BLESS YOU WHITAKER. This is so refreshing compared to much of the seventies paternalism: Astrid’s been deciding what risks people should be taking this story, and people keep listening to her (here, the Doctor concedes she’s right and doesn’t go charging underground.)

And just to top the fact that this is as much Astrid’s story as anyone’s, when Our Heroes slip away, she takes over as Protagonist. We never see the underground colony people being rescued, but Astrid’s promised to get them out, and in an alternate universe, the next episode would be following her as she goes adventure rescuing underground.

So it’s a doppelganger story, and there’s been an expectation for SIX WEEKS now that eventually the Doctor and Salamander would meet, and so, in the closing moments of the story they do. There’s something marvellously creepy seeing Jamie guide The Villain into the TARDIS. It’s safety, after all, sanctuary, and he’s just let the bad guy in. Then the Doctor arrives, and welcomes Salamander on-board in the mildest of voices. There’re some threats, mild fisticuffs and a great deal of the TARDIS crew clinging. It’s a surprisingly satisfying confrontation, given how brief it is.

And straight into The Web of Fear, ra! Which we discuss on this week’s Verity!.

Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World, episodes 1 -3

New Doctor Who! Practically a whole two stories of new Doctor Who!

So, after some considerable flail, I was able to summon the calm to sit down and watch the beautiful, perfect, shiny new Troughton stories now free in the world, without accidently dancing the dance of Omg!New!Troughton.  Well done me.

They’re not entirely new, course, I’ve heard them once or twice (maybe a bit more) before and had telly snaps to look at to give some idea of what’s going on.

But as I learned with the rediscovered Galaxy 4 episode, the visuals can completely change your mind about a story. Which was nice for Galaxy 4, since I thought meh prior to seeing just how awesome Vicki was in the missing ep, and that the direction of the thing was rather wonderful.

But this is Troughton, where Critical Faculties are for losers and everything is awesome. THOSE ARE THE RULES. I did not make them. Like I did not make gravity, but, alas, we are all subject to both. So being already more than fond of both The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear, how much more lovely would they be with proper pictures?

A lot. Naturally.

Here are my Vastly Exciting Thoughts as I watched Enemy of the World, episodes one through three:

The Enemy of the World

Episode 1

The Doctor’s just run around the beach, heel-click jumped in the air, and stripped down to go falling about in the sea. This is the sort of loveliness that just doesn’t translate to audio. And shirtsleeves! I approve of Doctors in shirtsleeves! Well done, episode one!

Victoria has a marvellous hat! She does look lovely. And it’s nice how she and Jamie dressed to match, heh. Are their skirts kilts the same length? Is this an oracular third wave feminist comment on the bullshit written about Amy’s clothes in Season 5? (Ooh, this is *also* Season 5…COINCIDENCE? Unpossible.) Yes. Yes, I think it is.

One nice thing about two historical companions is their shared incredulity about stuff a modern day companion would take in their stride.

The sea dune chase is marvellous. That’s some quality running around. And it looks rather lovely. Possibly cause of the novelty of a chase across dunes by the sea, possibly it’s quite well-directed, I do not know. But as Doctor Who chase scenes go, it makes me want to draw little hearts around it.

So much characterisation you miss out on in just audio: Jamie and Victoria’s shared look of judgieness at the Doctor and his love of the beach; the fact that this TARDIS crew don’t so much duck down to hide as bundle down on top of each other.  And there’re plenty of episodes that exist to show how touchy-feely the Doctor and Jamie are, but it’s lovely to see that Victoria isn’t at all excluded.

Astrid! Oh, she’s smashing. I mean, she was smashing on audio, but omg that awesome costume of hers. The coat! The collar! Stunning. I want one. Major kudos to the costume designer.

And how much lovelier the scene with the Doctor tending to Astrid’s wound is now you can see their faces! He loves her, clearly.

Poor Victoria; she is terribly frightened (Victoria’s the only companion where the Screamer companion label might get any traction, but it relies on ignoring the rest of her character and acting as though having one companion who gets scared a heck of a lot is a pattern). Which makes me cheer when she snaps back at Bruce. (It’s such a lovely moment – Jamie speaks for her, realising how scared she is, then Bruce mocks her, so she summons the courage to speak up.)

It all feels rather epic too. Doctor Who, as a rule, does small-scale rather better. And, as a rule, one tends to just nod along politely when, in the last episode of a story (or penultimate episode cliff-hanger), it turns out the whole world is now about to blow up. So it’s rather fine and novel to feel a story is Convincingly Epic and it’s only the first episode.

Episode 2

“Disused Yet?!” Ha! So much better when you can see Troughton’s face! :D:D

And Fariah’s “that’s why it’s very nice to have help for a change”. Lols! Visuals required for the full dryness of delivery. (Also, first female black character in Doctor Who, IIRC? She gets killed off, yeah, but she also gets some good scenes and excellent lines. The actor’s got an OBE now, y’know.)

“I like eating. ” Ilu Victoria.

Oh, poor Hungary is getting volcanoed. Rotten for Hungary, but it’s smashing how just saying that’s where we are makes rather a difference. Yes, dammit, I am QUITE PREPARED to buy we were in Australia and then rocket-shipped to Hungary cause there’s at least one (possibly?) Australian accent, a Czech actor, and the countries get name-checked a couple of times. Bits of the world in danger that aren’t the Home Counties! Characters living in bits of the world that aren’t the Home Counties!  Important things happening and not everyone has an English accent! Exciting stuff, dammit.

I really wouldn’t be surprised if Illya Kuryakin turned up. Alternatively, I think Astrid should join UNCLE.

Episode 3

This one is considerably less new cause it was not just discovered but has been around for some decades. But like magic it’s suddenly EVEN BETTER with shiny visual context leading up to it. Hurrah!

Griff is amazing. He should be in more Doctor Who stories. All those bases under siege have kitchens, I presume, and he should be in them all. All the kitchen scenes are winning. From Jamie just sitting there eating, to Griff’s epic pessimism, to Fariah’s casual cheerfulness at Griff and her epic “sometimes we don’t do the things we want to do, we do the things we have to do” scene.

Astrid has another fantastic costume. It doesn’t have an amazing space collar though, so gets less points.

Jamie and Victoria are terrible spies. Which is okay. There’re worse on MUNCLE and some of them are meant to be professionals, and they do just fine.

Concerning broken crockery: “People spend all their time making nice things and other people just come along and break them.” OH DOCTOR. There are a ridiculous number of lovely little moments in this story.

Ah, the lolarious ‘guarding in a corridor’ thing. Dudes! Come on, you afforded a helicopter, you couldn’t make a wee room to lock a dude up in? (Do I vastly underestimate the difficulty in managing set space?)

I do like how Victoria’s very definitely got over her fear, slamming tea trays into bad guys with abandon.

Oh, credits. Boo.

More later, on episodes 4-6!