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13 July 2013
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Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 194: The Enemy of the World, Episode Two

Dear diary,

There's a lovely line early on in this episode which, to some extent, sums up why I think I'm enjoying it. Asked to help in the fight against Salamander, the Doctor muses that there are two very clear sides, but goes on to wonder which one is the force for good, and which is the force for evil. He then further questions wether it's his place to get involved in events.

I think I'm loving the fact that things aren't quite so black-and-white in this tale as they have been lately. This is the first time we've had a story without a real, definable 'monster' since The Underwater Menace, and even that had fish people bobbing about. Much as I'm loving the series at this stage, and enjoying the parade of Yeti (Jetty? No, Yeti.), Cybermen, Ice Warriors, and Daleks, it is nice to have a story a bit like this, and it can't help but put me in mind somewhat of the Hartnell era of the programme - where enemies could be just as human as you or I.

There's obvious parallels to be made with The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, what with our lead actor inhabiting two roles for this story, and once again it works surprisingly well. There came a point toward the end of today's episode where I thought about the fact we'd not had that much Troughton in this one, except that we had, just not in his usual form. Quite a lot of scorn can be poured onto the accent being used here (Indeed, while Graham loves this story above all others, he admitted that he enjoyed it a lot more once he'd gotten past the voice), but I really enjoy it! I've spent today quoting 'Allo Bruce! What are you doing here, eh?' at Ellie every time she enters the room. It hasn't gone down well.

It's nice to see that the voice being somewhat comical doesn't take away from the character though. During The Massacre I praised the way that such a cruel character being played by the man we usually associate with safety in the programme really helped to make him stand out as a bad guy, and the same is true here. As is typical of late, it's the brilliant dialogue that is key, really helping to sell the threat that Salamander poses - we get plenty of brief references to the way that he has control over people (there's a lovely moment when he's referred to as a sorcerer, but it's done via the Mexican word. It's not until some scenes later that we find out the true meaning of it, and from the man himself), and the fact that he always gets what he wants. I also have to praise the line that tells us Salamander talks to many people. But some, only once. It's beautifully crafted, and really helps to amp up the fact that we should fear this double of our usually comical Doctor.

It makes his actions at the end of the tale, in which he plots to replace one of his people with another and explains that there will be a 'suspicious death' all the more powerful. There's even suggestions that Salamander himself is responsible for the volcanic eruption here (which would tie in nicely with the description of 'sorcerer', though I'm sure there's a non-magic explanation on the way). He's an arch-manipulator, and by the time the closing credits kick in, we're not left in any doubt as to which is the side of good, and which is the side the Doctor and his friends need to be fighting against.

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