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!.

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One thought on “Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World, episodes 4-6

  1. Matthew Kilburn says:

    Joyous review; and I’m sure that were this being made now (and allowed to be told in more than 45 minutes) this would be even more Astrid’s story.

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