Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World”

In the BBC’s Great Archive Wipe, one of the classic Doctor Who episodes lost to us forever–or so we thought–was “The Enemy of the World”, a 1967 serial with Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, Frazer Hines as Jamie, and Deborah Watling as Victoria. Fortunately for Whovians everywhere, a copy of this story was found in 2013, and it was promptly released on DVD.

Why was there so much excitement when it was revealed that “The Enemy of the World” was an episode that had survived the Great Archive Wipe? Well, there were two reasons behind this. Firstly, very few of Patrick Troughton’s stories have survived completely intact, so a chance to see him in action is a rare treat, indeed. Secondly, “The Enemy of the World” is not your average Doctor Who story–Patrick Troughton is not just playing the Doctor but also the villain, a scheming would-be dictator known as Salamander.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of Patrick Troughton as a villain, but I was not disappointed. Yes, at times his Mexican accent seemed a bit dodgy, but the power and menace he brought to Salamander was electrifying. I had no idea he was so talented. What’s more, I gained a better appreciation for him as the Doctor after watching him as Salamander; the harshness of Salamander’s character was quite a contrast to the Second Doctor’s cheerful cosmic hobo.

The supporting characters, especially Astrid and Fariah, were interesting and well-drawn allies. It seemed a shame they didn’t get to travel with the Doctor–although having four companions probably would have been overkill. Still, it’s rare when characters who don’t become companions are well-drawn and likeable enough that they could have become companions (I’m thinking primarily of Rita in “The God Complex”).

As for the story itself, it certainly wasn’t predictable. I won’t spoil anything for you, but there were some unexpected plot twists that I did not see coming as well as some moments when Patrick Troughton is on the screen, and you think he’s playing one character when he’s really the other.

Do I recommend “The Enemy of the World”? Absolutely. Not only is it one of the best surviving episodes of the Second Doctor’s era, but it also gives you a chance to see just how talented an actor Patrick Troughton really was.

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