A Doctor Who Community
Saturday 8:00 PM on BBC America

The Twin Dilemma
Well, the DVD and iTunes release has been out for a couple of months, so it seems like somebody has to do a review. A warning: this is for the original series. If you're bored by 3+ hour episodes, even in half-hour chunks, then the original series isn't for you. Also, if you find the 60s Doctor Who (and maybe the 70s stuff as well) too slow-paced for your liking, nothing in the episode or this review is going to change your mind.

That said, moving on with the disclaimer... Patrick Troughton has remained my favorite Doctor ever since "The Three Doctors" back in 1973 (I saw it in '78, but started watching the 3rd Doctor on IPT back in '73). I think that so many subsequent Doctor actors have cited Troughton as their role model, consciously or subconsciously, which tends to demonstrate Troughton's popularity. He's a clown, a schemer, a caregiver, a genius, a coward, a father-figure... there's something for everyone there, I don't think any other Doctor-actor has captured the range that Troughton had. That's not to say they're bad, but writers back in the 60s must have appreciated Troughton's characterization because they could have him do... well, pretty much anything.

Ye know, Doctor, some people are still wet after they come out of the ocean.
So as to the serial itself, "Enemy" is really a showcase for Troughton. Not only does he play the Doctor, albeit in a rather subdued part (but that's 1st & 2nd Doctor episodes in general), but Troughton also plays Salamander. Troughton jumps from one character to the other, sometimes in a single scene, sometimes in mid-sentence.

His Doctor is always entertaining. Whether it's nervously asking if there's enough air in the box that Giles hides him in, or miming playing the recorder to prove he's the real thing (and Frazer Hines whistling right back at him), or admiring his counterpart as being handsome and well-spoken, he's always doing little things that keep the character interesting.

Also, Troughton strips down to his (long) underwear at the beginning. So a little something for the ladies. Or the guys. Or whatever.

If they hadn't cast Troughton as the Doctor, they almost certainly should have recruited him as a villain in any case. While there's not really a lot to do characterization-wise with Salamander, who is frustratingly vague--is he a scientist, an engineer, a President of the world, what?--Troughton certainly hams it up. We're not expecting deep characterization from major villains in the 60s anyway, right?

So, Fedorin, maybe you can tell me why my parents named me after a small amphibious lizard.
One irony of the script is that a lot of the time, Troughton is playing Salamander pretending to be a good guy. And the 2nd Doctor pretending to be Salamander pretending to be a bad guy. Of course, that's mostly to fool Jamie and Victoria into believing he's the real Salamander so they'll tell Bruce everything they've learned and convince the security chief of his sincerity. Which demonstrates the 2nd Doctor's manipulativeness: he puts his companions through the wringer just to convince a suspicious Bruce that he's sincere.

And so to Jamie and Victoria, who are somewhat wasted in this serial. One gets the impression David Whittaker wrote the script for some other show. Or maybe for Ben & Polly, Jamie & Victoria's predecessors. Not only do the two pre-20th century companions seem somewhat lost in all the 21st century spy drama, but it's not clear what they were doing in Hungary in the first place. They don't really do anything of any significance once they get there. They have the vague mission to get close to Salamander and find evidence supporting Giles' accusations... but they never do the latter and it seems unlikely that a security guard and a cook's assistant are ever going to. They're absent from episode 4 and no one really notices, including the audience. So while the actors give good performances with what they have, they don't have much.

Astrid, like the writer, tries to ignore Jamie and Victoria as much as possible.
Fortunately, that leaves the rich supporting cast with a wide range of characters. Like Salamander, at least two other characters aren't what they seem. Giles turns out to be a bad guy, while Donald Bruce turns out to be a kind of good guy. Even though they are presented as the exact opposite in episode 1.

Another sinister Bruce
Astrid is a bit bland but she's a 60s action heroine in the mode of Sara Kingdom, kicking more butt than Jamie. Her sudden concern for the shelter survivors in episode six is a bit out of left field, but we can roll with it. Milton Johns warms up for his role as the slimy Kelner in Tom Baker's "The Invasion of Time," by playing Benik, the slimy director of the research institute here, with one of the better lines.

You must have been a nasty little boy.
Oh, I was. But I had a very enjoyable childhood.
But the two standout characters are Griffin the depressed chef, and Fariah the food taster. Griffin only appears in episode three (the surviving episode before the five other episodes turned up), and he gives new meaning to the word "lugubrious." He's always expecting the worse, ("What's wrong? Bound to be something serious."), and is a master of one-liners ("He's not a cook like you, I hope. Oh, well, that's all right then.").

And there's Fariah, basically a 70s blaxploitation heroine for the 60s. Her backstory is a little vague--Salamander got her out of the gutters but has something to blackmail her with?--but she displays a sense of humor occasionally (commenting on how a wine-sampling Fedorin is doing her job for her) and definitely conveys her hatred for Salamander a few times. Carmen Munroe is also a beneficiary of one of those times when the show's casting directors remembered to cast a non-white actor or actress in a non-stereotypical role and the writer could care less what race the character was.

Doctor Who's Foxy Brown.
That leaves Fedorin, your basic weasel, the brave but doomed Swann, and the very wet Mary and Colin. Appearing on Doctor Who was apparently Adam Verney's big break, and he disappeared shortly thereafter. His character Mike's "I just want to see the sun" speeches get very tiresome.

As for the script, well, "Enemy" is a bit of an oddity. It's not just the only monster-less serial in the famed "Monsters" season of Doctor Who (Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti, and Ice Warriors), it's essentially a historical set in the future. There's no real science fiction other than off-screen mentions of the earthquake machine and Salamander's Suncatcher, no aliens, no time travel. That's why it seems like it was written for another show. Once 2018 comes and goes, will we call it a "historical"? It's not quite a James Bond movie, even though it uses footage from "From Russia With Love" (and we'll see it again in "The Daemons") but it's close. The Doctor and his companions are peripheral to all of the other characters backstabbing and betraying each other. Salamander is a classic Bond villain and Astrid is rocking the Pussy Galore look.

Where have I seen that helicopter explosion before...?
A couple of quibbles: I wish they'd clarify their geography a little. The TARDIS arrives in Australia, and Giles and Astrid seem to be working out of Australia. But then they go after Salamander's research base, which is in... Kanowa? But Kanowa is in Cartagena. I think they mean Kanowna, which is in Australia. Nobody at the research station in "Kanowa" has a Cartagenan accent...

Also, don't let those reviewers and recappers who say the story is of "epic scope" fool you. Yes, other than some outside filming at the beginning, it's all about the same six interiors. Not even any stock footage of a rocket to show the occasional rocket jaunts around the world. Salamander is President (right?) but doesn't seem to have any kind of presidential entourage. He hops, skips, and jumps from Hungary to Australia (or "Kanowa"), and so does Fariah. Giles seems to have some kind of office, even though he doesn't have a job. It's all very unanchored, geography-wise.

And the vaguely futuristic costume design. Ugh. And the props, particularly the guns with foam rubber padding wrapped around the ends...

What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or something?
And the story ends rather abruptly. Salamander gets thrown out of the TARDIS and... that's it. Not even a wrapup scene. There's probably not much they could have said, but it still ends on an odd note.

Overall, if you're a fan of the early Doctor serials, I'd recommend this one to you. If we had to get lost episodes back, this would have been one of the choices... even if we didn't realize it until we saw it.

(If you don't want to buy the episodes, or don't want to buy the late Ian Marter's heavily rewritten and "adult" novel, the scripts can be found here.)
Comments (6)
Sort: Latest | Popular
I recently bought this episode on DVD.I really enjoyed it and I'm starting to be a fan of Patrick Troughton(Baker is my favorite),who was great in the two roles.I'm having fun going back and discovering some of the Doctors that I haven't had the pleasure of following before.Overall,a fun episode with interesting characters and my Troughton collection is starting to grow.
As you sounded so enthusiastic, I've downloaded it (still legal here). For me Doctor Who started with Tom baker as he was the first to be aired in the Netherlands. I have never seen this doctor. I just saw part 1 and it is different from what I know and remember. This doctor seems to be more of a clown (meant in a positive way) and he is pretty insecure until now (at least until the last seconds of the first episode). I did wonder why they did not return to the Tardis when they under fire but that wouldn't have fit the story. I also remember the Tardis was not a real personality in those days.

I have not read the review yet (apart from the first part that made me also wanting to see it) and will do so after I've seen all episodes. I will return afterwards.
Well, like i said, if you're not a fan of the 60s serials, this one won't change your mind. It drags in spots, there's a few odd subplots they dwell on too much, and a few they hop skip and jump over. And the Doctor really isn't the focus (and the TARDIS not at all). It's very un-modern dayish, or even un-70s and 80s. But then, most of the 60s stuff was like that.
I always try to watch series of that period as if I live in that period and not with the (tv)knowledge of these days. As I already was a teenager then, I can relate to it easily enough. I liked the original 'Survivors' of the seventies as least as much as the recent one. They are different but both very good based on the decade they were made in. For some reasons I even liked the seventies series more as they are more close to what I believe the world would have become.
Although the novelization makes it clearer, the hovercraft guys cut them off from the TARDIS on their approach.

The TARDIS is pretty much peripheral to a lot of early episodes. It gets them into the story, they get cut off from it, they return at the end of the serial.

I think writer David Whittaker's strength is in his characterization, and that's where the story shines.
Follow this Show