|People do not remark on the fact that Salamander|
dresses like Jon Pertwee enough. This is sad, as there
are some great jokes about Pertwee as an evil version
of the Doctor to be made here.
It’s December 23, 1967. The Beatles are at number one with “Hello Goodbye.” Also at number three with the Magical Mystery Tour EP. They’ll hold it for five weeks, which is good, because the rest of the top ten for those weeks leaves more than a little to be desired. At week six, the bottom falls out and Georgie Fame takes over with the Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.
In terms of news, we have the origin of the term “black hole,” which will be a term with surprisingly large impact on the series. Prime Minister Wilson endorses the “I’m Backing Britain” campaign asking people to work an extra half hour without pay, which ends up being a complete turkey. The Prague Spring gets underway, which is a bit unusual given that it’s January. And the Vietnam War keeps it up.
But look, the real news is this. Doctor Who airs The Enemy of the World. And I am here to tell you that it is the best Doctor Who story up to this point. It is, in fact, one of the all time greats of the series. It is a criminal offense that there are people who think of this as the red-headed stepchild of season five and prefer the monster stories. This story is absolutely incredible, light years ahead of its time, and still fantastic to this day. I’m honestly at a loss for why this does not have the wild and ecstatic praise reserved for it that Marco Polo or The Massacre, both of which it runs rings around. I’ll take it as a given that it’s never going to attain the luster of The Tomb of the Cybermen or something by virtue of it being mostly missing, but there’s really no excuse for it not being recognized by those who have seen it as an absolute triumph. Because it is. This story belongs on the list with things like City of Death, Caves of Androzani, Doomsday, and Blink. It’s that good.
(For the sake of completists, since I have declared this the best story to date, I will say that previously I consider An Unearthly Child/100,000 BC, The Aztecs, The Rescue, and Power of the Daleks to be the best stories to date.)
Let’s just dive right into it. The usual thing everybody knows about this story is that it’s another in an oddly long line of identical duplicate stories that Doctor Who does. The first, of course, is The Massacre. In this one, Patrick Troughton gets to pull double duty as both the Doctor and the villainous Salamander. The second thing that everybody knows about this story is that it’s Doctor Who Does James Bond. This should not be a surprise to us today, when the default mode of Doctor Who is “Doctor Who does X” where X is some other genre – The Curse of the Black Spot being the most recent flagrant example.…