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9 December 2013

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

Day 343: The Enemy of the World, Episode Three (Revisited)

Dear diary,

Over the course of The 50 Year Diary, I try to quote myself as little as possible. While I'm going back and rewatching these two newly-recovered stories, though, it's rather difficult not to do so - a lot of my reaction to them is informed by my own experience of them the first time around. Today is something of a special case, because until recently it was the only episode from The Enemy of the World to exist in the archives, and thus it's the first of the entire marathon that I'll be watching again some months down the line. Unless we get some more missing episodes cropping up in the next year or so (well… you never know…), it will hold this title with only The Web of Fear Episode One. So, this episode, first time around was exciting because it was Doctor Who switching to 625-line video:

“And what a story to feature an upgrade in picture quality! Episode One features a hovercraft and a helicopter on the beach! The second episode ends with the eruption of a volcano! This third episode is full of… well, corridors, decorated with varying types of garish wallpaper. Oh dear. Couldn’t we have had Episode One saved, instead?”

If anything, having the preceding two episodes back in the archives and available to view makes this one seem even more of an oddity. At least last time, I'd been picturing things on a far smaller scale than we've seen was actually the case. This time around, I've just come from being shocked at the balcony scenes yesterday, and all the use of rear-projection to give certain set ups some more scope. To go from all of that to what we see today feels like a real come down, and I think it may have actually harmed this instalment. Barry Letts always said that Episode Three was the weakest of the serial (and thus it was ironic that it was the only one surviving!), and I think I'm seeing that point proved here now.

Still, I'm finding it a bit easier to follow than I did the last time. As I said yesterday, I'd initially been somewhat confused by the events of Episode Two, and this one relies so heavily on it. Being able to now differentiate the characters better means that I can become a little more involved in the story than on the first time around.

I'm also finding that I can appreciate some of the other performances and characters in this episode more this time around. The chef is a great character, and I enjoy every moment he spends on screen. Hiding under the table when he thinks that a battle is breaking out nearby is his highlight, as everything seems to roll on around him while he just shrugs his shoulders. The young guard who dares to ask Astrid out for wine while she's sneaking past him with a fake pass is another great character - very little screen time, and only a handful of lines - but he feels very rounded, and I rather like that.

It's not quite enough, though. I made a point today of not looking at the score I gave the episode last time, because I'm keen for these revisited entries to be very much based on my gut feeling (as though they were being rated as just the regular next episode in the marathon). Having finished the episode, I announced the the (empty) room that it was 'a five or a six'. Having then checked the original entry, I found that last time I gave it a seven. So there we have it - the episode is let down by being among it's more impressive siblings!

I'm feeling generous, so I'm going to be going with the upper end of my score for the day, and giving this one:

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