It’s time to us to go underground. Please mind the gaps. All five of them.
Me: This is the first story with a new producer in charge – Peter Bryant – although he did have a trial run with The Tomb of the Cybermen.
Sue: That’s doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
Me: And I forgot to mention that The Enemy of the World was Innes Lloyd’s last story as producer. He was responsible for 16 stories in total. Is there anything you’d like to say about Innes before we move on?
Sue: Not really.
Me: We’re never going to win a Hugo at this rate.
Sue: This had better not be a sequel to The Web Planet. I’m serious, Neil.
Jamie teases the Doctor about his inability to fly the TARDIS properly (which is understandable given that they’ve just spent the last five minutes hanging on for dear life), and the Doctor retaliates by promising to show him otherwise.
Sue: Is this the story where he actually sits down and fixes the TARDIS? It’s taken him long enough.
Meanwhile, in a spooky museum…
Sue: Oh no! Not the ****ing Yeti again!
Sue doesn’t twig that it’s Jack Watling hiding underneath all that makeup and bluster. She’s far too busy moaning about the return of the stupidest monsters ever to reappear in the series (so far).
Sue: It’s too soon! They were only it in a few days ago. What have the writers got on the production team? It must be something really scandalous.
Back on the TARDIS, the crew are enjoying a light snack.
Sue: Where did they get the bread to make these sandwiches?
Me: Is that important?
Sue: I like to know these things. They used to have a food machine but I don’t remember seeing a setting for bread. I can’t see the Doctor popping into Sainsburys or Tescos to stock up on supplies when he just happens to land near a shop. But I guess it’s possible.
Me: It’s a space-time machine. I’m guessing that it can bake bread.
Sue: And slice it too – that isn’t homemade bread. It’s thin-sliced Nimble by the look of it.
Me: Jesus, even Pixley doesn’t go into this kind of detail.
Deep within some underground tunnels, the British army have more things on their minds than bread (although they could murder a nice cup of tea).
Sue: It’s UNIT!
Me: It isn’t.
Sue: Oh, that’s disappointing. You’ll be telling me that the Master isn’t in it, next. The London Underground looks fantastic, by the way. It’s a great location to set a story in.
Me: It isn’t the London Underground – it’s a BBC set.
Sue: Piss off! That’s not a set.
Me: That’s what the London Underground said! They were convinced that the BBC had sneaked in and filmed there without their permission. They went mental, or so the story goes.
Sue: I’m not surprised they couldn’t tell the difference. It looks amazing. Look at that carpentry!
Sue will keep banging on about how great the sets are throughout this story.
Sue: Such beautiful curvature…
In fact, Sue is full of praise today.
Sue: This episode is very well-directed. I don’t think we’ve seen direction this good since the days of Douglas Camfield. This isn’t Douglas, is it?
Me: I don’t believe it. Your ‘Camfield Radar’ is incredible! That’s the second time you’ve spotted Camfield’s involvement in a story. I’m seriously impressed.
Sue: It’s not that difficult. He’s the only one who knows what he’s doing.
Sue doesn’t say all that much during the last few minutes of this episode – she’s far too engrossed in the action – but when the end credits roll, she’s very pleased indeed.
Sue: Well, that was a cracking start. They should have cut away just before the explosion went off for that cliffhanger, but that’s forgivable. It’s a great start for the new producer. Yes, we like Peter. We like Peter a lot. In fact, if I had to score these episodes individually, I’d probably give that 10/10.top
And so it begins. Another epic run of recons. It’ll be another 13 episodes before we reach episode three of The Wheel in Space, but I decide to hide this fact from Sue. Although she will find out when she reads this blog entry. Er, sorry, love. Please don’t hit me.
Sue: At least we’ve seen the first episode – it helps when we see something early on. At least you get a feel for the characters and the locations. I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.
When Travers and Victoria meet up, Sue is attracted to side-plot, which fascinates her even more when I remind her that Jack is Deborah’s father.
Sue: I like the way they explore the ramifications of time travel by visiting Travers again later in his life. You don’t see that enough in Doctor Who. He usually just buggers off, never to return.
Me: Not that he had a choice in this case, of course.
Sue: I notice that tabloid journalists always get a rough-ride in Doctor Who.
Me: I can’t imagine why.
Sue: Anne is really laying into Chorley.
Me: It’s like an edition of Newsnight with Lousie Mench and Paul McMullen.
Sue: I bet this scared the children shitless. It’s because it’s set in a recognisable location and those tunnels are scary enough as it is.
Me: Well, it certainly scared the crap out of Mike Gatting.
Sue: It’s very atmospheric and the Yeti are much more frightening in this one, too. The guns help, I think. And they have Orbital eyes. They look quite impressive when they emerge out of the tunnels.
As the web continues to advance along the Circle Line, Sue realises that Patrick Troughton has been completely absent from this episode.
Sue: I’ve only just realised that he’s been holiday this week. This must be a pretty good if I’ve only just noticed that – there can’t be long to go.
And then Driver Evans appears, singing in Welsh.
Sue: And now it’s turned into Dad’s Army! Oh look – a comedy Welshman!
Suddenly, the web/fungus/mist/scary thing starts to advance on Evans and Jamie, trapping them in the tunnel.
Sue: I’m impressed. A classic cliffhanger. You can’t really argue with that.top
Sue: It’s the Brigadier!
Me: Colonel, actually, he hasn’t gone up in the world yet.
Sue: I thought you said UNIT weren’t in this one?
Me: They aren’t, they’re just the regular army.
Sue: So, is this the event that brings UNIT into being? Hang on a minute. The Doctor and the Brigadier met each other off-screen! How rubbish is that?
Me: It’s not as if they knew the character would become so important. It’s just another supporting role at this point. But yes, it is a bit frustrating.
Sue: You could do a pretty good remake of this story now. Well, you could put something scary in the London Underground. I’m not sure if the Yeti would work today, but I really like the action taking place in a recognisable location. It makes a nice change from all those high-tech bases and stately homes.
As the Doctor tries to explain what the Great Intelligence is, Sue sinks deeper into her chair.
Sue: This episode is carrying a lot of exposition. There are lots of scenes of people milling around, talking up the threat. This would be fine if we could see them walking around, but it’s getting a bit repetitive now. Don’t tell me this story falls apart now.
As the web encroaches on their position, tensions begin to mount.
Sue: It’s a bit like that film set in the supermarket where they can’t go out into the mist. There’s lots of mist in it. I think there may have been some webs in it, too. I’m not sure what the film was called, but there was definitely mist in it.
Me: The Mist.
Sue: Yes, there was definitely some mist.
Welcome to my life.
Sue: I can’t believe Jamie jumped out of the shadows at a very nervous Welshmen carrying a rifle. That could have ended very badly. Jamie really needs to take more care of himself. I’m glad Evans just didn’t just run away, though. That wouldn’t have reflected very well on the Welsh.
When Chorley starts protesting about getting airlifted out, Lethbridge-Stewart gives him a right earful.
Sue: The Brigadier -
Sue: The Colonel has a very commanding presence. You can see why they asked him to come back. He can really handle a room. He’s quite strict but he’s likeable and charming with it. I like him.
Chorley is sent to cool his heels and he ends up chatting to Victoria, who happily tells him where her time machine is parked. Chorley scarpers off, not remotely suspicious, like.
Sue: What is Victoria’s function in this story, exactly? She’s just a pretty object with a big mouth, isn’t she?
The episode ends with Travers suddenly finding himself menaced by a marauding Yeti.
Sue: That was probably a really good cliffhanger. Bugger.top
Sue: I like the way the Brigadier -
Sue: I like the way the Colonel accepts that the Doctor has a time and space machine in the shape of a police telephone box. He doesn’t bat an eyelid – not that we can see his eyelids moving – but he sounds like he’s completely fine with it. No wonder they asked him to run UNIT after this – he’ll swallow practically anything. He’s very pragmatic.
Sue is also taken with Anne Travers.
Sue: Anne would be a very good assistant. The Doctor needs someone with some intelligence. I notice that he’s sidelined Jamie and Victoria in the other room – they couldn’t hold a screwdriver steady if their lives depended on it. They are plucky and brave but they’re ****ing useless when you stop to think about it. Well, Victoria certainly is. She dies in this one, doesn’t she? I can tell. Anne is going to take her place. I can see it coming a mile off.
In the tunnels, the army attempt to cross through the web barrier on a trolley. After some agonising screams, the trolley comes back with a corpse on it.
Sue: This is a bit grim, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, up on the street above, the Colonel and his men are attacked by Yeti.
Sue: The Yeti have definitely slimmed down a bit. They’ve lost loads of weight from their hips. I still don’t understand why the Intelligence would use the Yeti in contemporary London, though. They just about make sense in Tibet, but here?
Me: Maybe the Intelligence could only work with that he had lying around after his last invasion attempt? And what kind of monster would well work in the London Underground anyway? A dinosaur?
Sue: Don’t be silly.
Me: Are you impressed by the Yeti-acting so far?
Sue: I beg your pardon?
Me: The Yeti-acting. How would you rate the Yeti acting?
Sue: I don’t understand what you’re going on about. They’re Yeti – what do you want me to say?
Me: So there isn’t one particular Yeti that stands out? That’s odd, I thought you’d recognise raw talent when you saw it. That’s a pity. Camfield did.
Sue: What are you banging on about?
Me: I’ll tell you later.
The army take on the Yeti in a fierce firefight. The carnage lasts for ages.
Sue: Is this the longest action sequence in Doctor Who? Woah! What the hell are they supposed to be?
I should point out that for episodes 4-6 we managed to get our hands on some brand-spanking-new reconstructions (via plain envelope again) and they include lashings of CGI Yeti.
Sue: They look like dancing chimps.
Luckily the battle is splattered with real footage.
Sue: This really helps me get a handle on what it must have looked like. It’s very exciting for an episode of Doctor Who. Non-stop action and yet another good cliffhanger. Douglas shows everyone how to do it again.top
Sue: Finally! The Intelli-whatsist has turned up to explain the plot to us. It’s only taken him four episodes.
Me: This plot is moving like a freight train compared to the latest series of Torchwood.
Travers, under the control of the Great Intelligence, rasps his way through a series of demented demands.
Sue: Poor Travers. His throat must be killing him.
The Intelligence threatens to kill Victoria if the Doctor doesn’t succumb to a brain drain.
Sue: The Doctor has exactly twenty minutes to make up his mind. How long is left to go in this episode?
Me: About twenty minutes.
Sue: What a surprise. Still, I suppose it’s nice to see a villain working to a strict timetable that just happens to coincide with an episode’s running time. I’ve noticed that the villains on 24 have a habit of doing that as well. I hope he doesn’t give in: the thought of the Doctor being brought up by Jamie and Victoria as a baby doesn’t really bear thinking about. I don’t think they’d get through another season of the show to be honest. I’d get Anne to bring him up; she could teach him about science and stuff. Victoria would just teach him to be scared of things and Jamie would be hopeless – he doesn’t even know what a hovercraft is!
Evans blithely suggests that they hand the Doctor over to the Intelligence so they can all go home. Sue doesn’t like the cut of his jib.
Sue: Evans needs a bloody good court-martial when he gets out of there. You can’t talk to the Brigadier like that!
Sue: You know, the programme missed another trick when it came to the merchandising. These remote-controlled spheres with the bleeping noises could have sold like hot cakes. Someone should license them. Cats would love them.
As the paranoia increases, no one is immune from suspicion.
Sue: I think we’re supposed to think the Brigadier is the traitor but of course that’s impossible.
Me: Because the Brigadier isn’t actually in this?
Sue: You know what I mean. I know he’s the good guy and I don’t even watch the programme.
Me: Didn’t. Past tense.
Evans continues to act, as Sue so delicately puts it, “like a complete twat”.
Sue: It’s not a very good day for the Welsh in Doctor Who.
Me: Oh it gets a much worse than this. But the Welsh will have their revenge, eventually, not that we’ll be covering that particular era of the show.
Sue: I’ve just realised that Evans is played by Michael Crawford. He’s in loads of Doctor Who, isn’t he. Look! “Hmmm, Betty! The Yeti’s done a whoopsie in the tunnel.“
The episode concludes with a torrent of CGI-web-fungus – stuff - consuming the lab.
Sue: Who ordered all the porridge?top
Sue: Evans is getting on my nerves. He actually said, “there’s lovely” when the Yeti dragged him off. And why don’t the Yeti just kill him? They’d be doing everyone a favour. And this recon keeps referring to a lead Yeti. What makes the lead Yeti so special? Has he got special markings on his fur or something?
Me: It’s the one being played by the actor with the raw, unharnessed talent. Probably.
Sue: We haven’t seen Chorley for ages. I’d forgotten all about him. He’s obviously the traitor. We’re running out of suspects. And I’ve just realised that this is a very long twenty minutes. It’s been at least 35 minutes by my watch. So it’s true, watching Doctor Who really does makes time slow down. You know, Victoria should be dead by now. Not that I’m hoping or anything. Much.
As the action moves to a station platform, Sue is distracted by a poster.
Sue: There’s an advert for Blockbusters on the wall. What year is this set?
Sue: Don’t even go there. But I’m sure that it isn’t a poster for a chain of video stores.
Sue: The song by The Sweet, perhaps?
Sue: Does it really matter?
Sue: No, but I’ve been staring at it for several minutes; I thought it’d be rude not to at least mention it.
And then the traitor is revealed to be – Arnold. Who was dead all along. Which means the Intelligence is a bloody good actor.
Sue: I never would have guessed that twist. Maybe because it doesn’t make any sense.
The Doctor is hooked up to the Intelligence’s brain-draining device (“Nice hat”), and just as it looks like it’s all over, Jamie and Evans smash the apparatus to bits and everyone is saved. Hurrah!
The Doctor is bloody furious!
Sue: That is odd. I can’t believe he’s annoyed because someone else did it, just in a less clever way. He’s having a bit of a strop. He doesn’t like being the one who’s rescued.
The Doctor is angry because the Intelligence wasn’t defeated, it was just delayed.
Sue: I guess they are just setting it all up for the final part of the trilogy. I bet the Doctor will sort him out once and for all when they meet again. In a couple of weeks, probably.top
The Final Score
Sue: That was very good. Watching it was a very frustrating experience – again – but I can see it for what it is and it worked in small chunks. I still don’t know what the bloody Yeti were doing in the Underground – I’d love to read Chorley’s newspaper report – but it was pretty scary and it felt like proper Doctor Who. And you’ve got to love the Camfield.
The experiment continues…top
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