Hey, reader, it’s-a time for Ze Enemy of Ze World! Would you like extra jalapeños with that, huh?
Sue: The TARDIS doesn’t sound very healthy. That can’t be good.
Our heroes have arrived on a beach and Sue keeps the spirit of Polly alive when she suggests that they may have landed in Cornwall. The Doctor doesn’t care where they are and he decides to go paddling in the sea instead.
Sue: I’m glad this scene with the Doctor standing there in his underwear only exists as a blurry photograph and you can’t really see anything. Recons have their advantages. Sometimes.
The Doctor and his companions are menaced by some grumpy Australians in a very cramped hovercraft. Jamie is utterly flabbergasted by the sudden appearance of the floating beastie.
Sue: Why doesn’t Jamie believe in Hovercrafts after everything he’s been through? It’s not as if it’s a very impressive hovercraft. I’m sure it’s just a VW camper van with bits of cardboard stuck to it. It’s the steering wheel that gives it away.
Suddenly, a helicopter arrives and it’s piloted by -
Sue: Yootha Joyce!
- Astrid Ferrier, who manages to save our heroes in the nick of time.
Sue: Do you think Astrid is a forerunner to Anneka Rice?
Me: Well, she does have a very nice arse.
Sue: I like Astrid. She’s brave, she can fly a helicopter and she doesn’t piss about. Is she the next assistant? They could just leave Victoria behind in Cornwall. It really wouldn’t bother me if they did. Don’t kill her, though. Just dump her somewhere nice.
Sue quickly picks up on just how atypical the episode is.
Sue: This is very James Bond. I wonder what it looked like when they blew that helicopter up. That is frustrating. The photo looks nice, though.
It seems that the Doctor is the spitting-double of Salamander, a ruthless megalomaniac who is currently dominating the United Zones Organisation with his high-tech thingamy whatsit.
Sue: Is Salamander the Master scheming under an assumed name? Or am I jumping the gun again?
When Salamander eventually shows his face, Sue can’t believe her ears.
Sue: Is he French? No, wait, he’s German… or maybe he’s Spanish?
Me: That’s close enough. He’s Mexican.
Sue: Mexican? Mexican?! Are you joking?
The secret police turn up and the Doctor is forced to impersonate his way out of trouble. It should be a tense moment but Sue is in hysterics when the Doctor comes out with a Mexican accent that sounds even worse than Salamander’s!
Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll get over it eventually.top
Sue: The Doctor looks like the Milk Tray man in that jumper. It’s a good look for him. And all because the lady loves… bad Mexican accents.
Salamander is an endless source of fascination for Sue, and she perks up whenever he’s on-screen. She’s not convinced by his wardrobe, though.
Sue: The Doctor shouldn’t wear a frilly shirt. In fact, now that I think about it, nobody should wear a frilly shirt. He reminds me of Al Pacino in Scarface. “Say hello to my little friend!”
Sue can’t stop laughing. It doesn’t matter how evil, corrupt or villainous Salamander acts, every time Troughton opens his mouth, Sue is in stitches. She finds it especially hilarious that he ends every other sentence with an upbeat “huh?”.
Sue: It’s Inspector Clouseau meets Speedy Gonzales. This is supposed to be funny, isn’t it?
Jamie and Victoria manage to infiltrate Salamander’s inner-retinue by going under cover.
Sue: Are Jamie and Victoria boyfriend and girlfriend now, or is that just part of their cover? Have they started dating yet? I’m really curious.
Meanwhile, Salamander warns Denes that a volcano in Hungary is about to explode.
Sue: This is too weird for me to keep up with it. There are too many people, too many locations and too many accents. I feel like I’m being bludgeoned to death by accents. And what is it with the Doctor and evil doubles again? They just can’t leave that plot alone, can they? Oh, was that the cliffhanger? That wasn’t very exciting.top
After we perform our ‘real episode dance’, we settle down to watch Salamander cheerfully blackmailing anyone he happens to bump into.
Sue: He’s the Mexican Rebekah Brooks.
The rebels’ contact on the inside is Denes, the Controller of the Central European Zone, but he has been usurped and he is currently being held captive in – wait for it – a security corridor. Sue isn’t impressed, to put it mildly.
Sue: What the hell is this? Have they run out of money? Did they spend it all on the helicopter? I can’t believe they can’t build a simple prison cell! This is absurd. Were all the carpenters on strike? Seriously, Neil, what the hell is this?
Victoria is taken to meet Griffin the Chef.
Me: The Monoids would have locked Denes up down here.
And Griffin the Chef proves to be a bit of a taskmaster.
Sue: It’s the Australian Hell’s Kitchen.
Sue: Then you’ve come to the right place! Ha! Get it? Hungary? No? But seriously, I can’t keep up with this. Where are we? Who are these people? Who’s in charge? Can I see the wine list?
Griffin taunts Victoria into coming up with a recipe from memory.
Sue: Now it’s turned into a really surreal episode of Masterchef!
Me: Cooking doesn’t get much more incongruous than this!
Sue: What is it with the BBC and latex? Do the people working in wardrobe department have a fetish? Perhaps they bought a job lot of kinky-gear in the mid-60s and they’re trying to get their money’s worth. I have to say, Jamie looks, er, interesting.
The next scene takes place in Kent’s static caravan. Frazier Hines tries to make it sound a bit more exotic by calling it a trailer on the narrated soundtrack, but he isn’t fooling anyone.
Sue: It’s the Lyndhurst 2000!
Me: Ah, the glory years. The frozen toilets; the way we would sway violently in gale force winds; cooking in the living room; the sound of the rain as it bounced off our tin roof like nails; oh, and not having enough room to swing our cats. Yes, it’s all coming back to me now.
Sue: You loved every minute of it. Oh wait, this isn’t good. Oh dear. Well, it doesn’t get any worse than that: when the secret police smash-up all your crockery, you know they mean business. Giles must be bricking himself. You know, I’m sure if this was a James Bond film, we would have had a big car chase or a death-defying stunt at this point. In Doctor Who, you get some smashed plates.
Jamie and Victoria attempt to break Denes out of his, er, corridor but they fail miserably.
Sue: I’ve just realised that Victoria is wearing Jamie’s skirt so they must going out with each other. It has to be serious if they’ve started sharing each other’s clothes.
Me: That reminds me – you’re wearing my socks.
Sue has taken a particular shine to Fariah, Salamander’s duplicitous food taster.
Sue: She’s great. And very beautiful. She’d be a great companion but I’m not stupid enough to suggest it. I’ll just leave you with that thought.
Fariah’s favourite refrain throughout this episode hits a nerve with Sue: “Sometimes we do what we have to do, not what we want to do”.
Sue: You’re telling me, love.
The episode concludes with Salamander realising that someone is doing bad impersonations of him in Australia. He isn’t very happy about it.
Sue: Why did they make the bad guy Mexican, especially when they knew Troughton was going to play him? There has to be a reason for it. It can’t be an arbitrary decision. Why not make him German? The accent is practically the same and you’d avoid all that blacking-up nonsense.top
Sue and I have started talking to each other in bad Mexican accents, even when we’re not watching Doctor Who.
Me: Hey, what’s up, Sue? So you wanna watch The Enemy of Ze World with me, huh?
Sue: Sure-a thing, Neil. You wanna make me-a cup-a tea first, huh?
Thankfully, Nicol is away this week and she doesn’t have to put up with this madness.
Sue: I had a fringe like Benik’s once. That was not a good time for me at school.
Me: Fariah! I’ve just met a girl named Fariah! And suddenly that name, will never be the same to – sorry, what are you looking at?
Sue: Why did the writer give all the characters names that sound so similar? Ferrier, Fedorin, Fariah. Is he trying to confuse me on purpose? This is hard enough to follow as it is.
She may not understand what’s going on, but at least she’s enjoying the overall vibe.
Sue: I like the good guys in this story – Astrid, Giles, Fariah – they’re a good bunch. They should have their own TV series. In fact. it’s as if the Doctor has stumbled into their series by mistake. This isn’t Doctor Who. I’m enjoying it – I think – but this isn’t Doctor Who.
Sue is horrified when Fariah is brutally murdered by Benik’s men (“That’s terrible. They can’t do that!”), and she goes into a bit of a huff as a result.
To get maximum enjoyment from the next section, you should play the following sound file as you read on:-
When Frazier Hines describes Salamander’s trip to his secret base, it sounds like something straight out of Thunderbirds.
Sue: Is he heading for the Salamandercave?
We end up staring at a photograph of an empty room for what feels like an eternity, probably because John Cura was ill, on holiday, or he left his lens cap on. We can only imagine what this scene must have looked like.
Sue: Will somebody please answer that bloody phone!
And then the plot twist hits us. Sue utters several thousand “huh?”‘s – reflecting her bewilderment and not her latest attempt at cultivating the perfect Salamander accent – and then the penny finally drops.
Sue: Is Salamander the world’s biggest practical joker? This is the result of a bet with a rival dictator, isn’t it? It’s insane!
Salamander’s underground captives includes Harold Steptoe (see right) and Frank Spencer. Well, that’s what Sue says and I’m not going to argue with her.
Sue: Seriously, Joseph Fritzl has nothing on this guy. He even has the same accent.
Me: Joseph Fritzl was Austrian!
As the Doctor blacks-up in preparation for impersonating Salamander (“Again, Mexican, why?”), Bruce walks in.
Sue: Wow. Yet another cliff-hanger that doesn’t even try to be exciting. This is really, really… odd.top
Sue: Bruce looks like an old Colin Baker. He shouts a lot like Colin Baker, too.
Me: He’ll always be Frank Twist in G.B.H. to me.
Sue: Why doesn’t the Doctor pretend that he’s a futuristic Rory Bremner and he’s about to make a TV show with some topical jokes in it? That might work.
In the underground shelter, Salamander is treated like a hero.
Sue: Troughton reminds me of Seve Ballesteros in this scene. Seve was always my favourite golfer. He had excellent wrists.
But not everyone is happy with the way things are.
Sue: There are a lot of Colins in the Doctor Who universe at the moment. There’s the Colin played by Michael Crawford over there and there’s crazy Colin on Torchwood. It’s getting so you can’t move for Colins. And talking of Colin, do the actors who only appear in the recons get ignored by the fans? Do they still get invited to conventions, the poor bastards?
Swann, one of Salamander’s slaves, starts to question the whole set-up. It’s only taken him five years.
Sue: Troughton’s turned Italian now. “What’s-a matter, you, huh? Got-a no respect! Hey!”
Swann believes he’s rumbled Salamander when he finds a newspaper that suggests that the world isn’t a radioactive husk after all, and people on the surface are even enjoying holidays on cruise liners (well, until they sink that is). Incredibly, Salamander decides to brazen it out.
Sue: I can’t believe my ears. And I’m not just talking about his accent. Let me get this straight: Salamander is trying to make out that there are cruise liners running holiday tours for mutated monsters who have been affected by all the nuclear radiation? Cruise liners? How stupid are these people?
Meanwhile, the Doctor uses his fake identity to rescue Jamie and Victoria from the sadistic clutches of Benik.
Sue: I like the way Troughton’s accent keeps slipping when he’s pretending to be Salamander. It suggests that his performance is more subtle than I originally thought. Still funny, though.
And then Harold Steptoe is bludgeoned to death. For being terminally stupid, probably.
Sue: Oh look, another lame cliffhanger that was signposted to us several minutes ago. Nice.top
Sue: Salamander, a power-mad dictator who is finally toppled when he is caught falsifying his catering accounts. This is either years ahead of its time or a really clever spoof. I’m not sure which.
When it turns out that Giles Kent was the baddie all along, Sue sighs.
Sue: Well, he had me fooled. He had a caravan and everything. Still, I haven’t been able to keep up with this thing since episode three and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be surprised or not. I suppose it’s bit like finding out Judi Dench was the bad guy all along. A bit.
And then all hell breaks loose as Salamander and Giles Kent battle it out for control of the underground base and its volcano-igniting machines. There is a very big explosion.
Sue: Wouldn’t it be ironic if Giles Kent and Salamander end up getting trapped in that collapsed bunker, and it takes the authorities five years to get them out again. That’s the ending I’d have written. They’ll be lovers by the time they’re rescued. That goes without saying.
Just when we think it’s all over, Salamander manages to escape to the TARDIS, which feels really odd (“Villains don’t normally get inside the TARDIS, do they?”), and when the Doctor turns up, the two characters actually share a scene together!
Sue: How the hell did they do that? Why doesn’t this exist? This is so frustrating.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s all over; the TARDIS dematerialises and Salamander is sucked out into the space-time continuum (although it looks to us like John Cura has sneezed on his camera lens).
Sue: OK, here’s a quick tip for the future: build in a safety feature so you can’t take-off when the TARDIS doors are open. It’s just common sense, really.top
The Final Score
Sue: I have no idea what to say about that. It was nice to have a change of pace but it wasn’t Doctor Who. I have no idea what it was but it certainly wasn’t Doctor Who. So I don’t really know. The plot was either really clever or utterly bonkers, and while I liked a lot of the characters in this one – the acting was really good, incidentally – it just didn’t hang together for me. It was far too complicated for its own good. And a bit silly.
I forgot to mention to Sue that this was Innes Lloyd’s last story as producer. It feels like he’s been with us forever. However, given that it’s currently 2 o’clock in the morning as I write this, it’s probably best if I let Sue sleep. We’ll cover that particular milestone at the beginning of the next instalment.
The experiment continues…top
If you don’t already own this story, why not buy it on DVD? If you use the link below, we get a small cut, which will help pay for the site’s running costs. Many thanks for your support (UK residents only).