If there's an enemy at the door, Appellate Judge James A. Stewart isn't at home.
Our review of Enemy At The Door: Series 1, published February 11th, 2009, is also available.
"In war, there is no such thing as a game."—Reinecke
It's 1942 in Guernsey, which means that the Germans are occupying the Channel Islands. Enemy at the Door: Series 2 continues the British drama that examined that chilling aspect of World War II history.
The first series of Enemy at the Door ended on a tragic note, so there are some new regulars to introduce, most notably Capt. Foster-Smythe (David Ryall, The Singing Detective), an ex-military man who's determined to do everything he can to resist the Nazi takeover of the islands. He's taken over Dr. Philip Martel's spot as the leader of the Guernsey Control Committee.
Facts of the Case
There are 13 episodes in Series 2 on four discs:
• "Reception for the General"
• "Angels that Soar Above"
• "No Quarter Given"
• "Post Mortem"
• "The Raid"
• "War Game"
• "The Right Blood"
Series 1 of Enemy at the Door introduced the various Guernsey residents: Dr. Philip Martel, the reluctant head of the Controlling Committee, whose goal is to keep the peace with both the Germans and the Guernsey islanders in hopes of making the everyday lives of his neighbors better; Olive Martel, his supportive wife; Claire Martel, his daughter, who wants to disrupt the German activity; and Peter Porteous, a landowner who itches to get off Guernsey so he can enlist in the British military.
Series 2 seems to spend more time with the Germans, following the growing conflict between Richter, the island boss, and Reinecke, the SS commander. Richter and Kluge (John Malcolm, War and Remembrance), the German police chief, find themselves dodging Reinecke and his reports back to Berlin. Richter is generally horrified by the treatment of the prison laborers but powerless, and by the end of the series, pressure on his wife back in Germany could tie his hands even more. Reinecke is an enthuastic Nazi whose tactics in questioning scare his German colleagues as much as they do the islanders. This increasing shift in the storyline does involve Martel, who Richter seems to see as necessary in alternately calming things and taking the heat, but other characters, mainly Claire and Peter, appear less in the second season.
Although relations between Richter and Martel seem almost friendly, Enemy at the Door is a story about wartime occupation, so death and prison loom constantly for the Guernsey islanders, a point made even more regularly in this season than in the first. Gradually, viewers will realize that even piano lessons and chess tournaments could have deadly consequences under Nazi occupation. The shocking twists, including an especially sad one in the finale, will come as less surprising by the end of this season, but no less horrible. The general tone of Enemy at the Door is grimmer in Series 2, which likely reflects the real-life situation in the Channel Islands. The first few episodes detour into the consequences of the actions toward the end of Series 1, making the regular storyline for Martel and his family particularly serious.
Series 2 features one unusual episode, "The Raid," which mostly ignores the regulars to follow the course of a raid on a German installation on Sark, expanding the show's scope a bit.
The series is around thirty years old, which means the prints aren't in tip-top condition, but there weren't any glitches or problems that stood out with the picture or the sound.
As with the first series, a text feature on the actual occupation is included.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I'd suggest starting with Enemy at the Door: Series 1 if you're interested. Some of the character and plot development in Series 1 is rather important in following Series 2.
In Series 2, Enemy at the Door goes further into showing how the horrors of war and occupation landed on British territory. I suspect that if the series had continued beyond this point, it could only have gotten grimmer as the war progressed and conditions got worse. Taken as a whole, these two series make for a dramatic history lesson, rather than the story of espionage and resistance you'd normally expect. The small deprivations such as shortages, contrasted with the ever-present danger, combine for an unnerving portrait of life under occupation.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
• Text History
Review content copyright © 2010 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.