Number : Season 1, serial 3 of 8.
Which One : The big bang.
Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Susan : Carol Ann Ford
Ian : William Russell
Barbara : Jacqueline Hill
Written By : David Whittaker
Produced By : Verity Lambert
First UK Broadcast : 8 – 15 February 1964.
Length : 2 x 25 minute episodes.
1) “The Edge Of Destruction”
2) “The Brink Of Disaster”
Plot : An explosion in the Tardis, renders the Doctor and companions unconcious. Upon waking, the quartet begin to play out strange hallucinations – as if an evil presence has gotten aboard.
Whats good : Short two-episode character piece, with an interesting and mysterious story. The characters and the inside of the Tardis, are explored – in a bit more detail. Character developments from the first 2 episodes, are resolved here. Twisty. Bold.
Whats bad : Only that the ending is rushed.
Review With Spoilers : Edge Of Destruction is the third serial of season 1 and is a short – two-episode bridging serial, which importantly serves to resolve a number of character plot-lines from the first two episodes; An Unearthly Child and Daleks.
Ian and Barbara are both still angry at the Doctor, for having kidnapped them both and for forcing them to goto the Dalek city – under false pretences.
The Doctor is still wary and mis-trusting of his kidnapped human companions. So conflict ensues; when the quartet begin to undergo strange hallucinations and begin to turn on each other. Eventually realising that a malevolent alien presence has gotten aboard the Tardis.
Susan (under a trance) chillingly attempts to attack Ian and Barbara, with a pair of scissors. The Doctor attempts to drug Ian and Barbara, in fear that they have tampered with the Tardis controls. The Doctor then threatens to cast them out into space.
“How dare you! Do you realise….you stupid old man, that you’d have died in the Cave of Skulls; if Ian hadn’t made fire for you!?” Barbara
The conflict between the main characters and the threat of an evil alien presence on board, is pretty riveting drama (from the off). Coupled with Susan’s attempted scissor-attack on her Ian and Barbara, and the Doctor’s threat to cast Ian and Barbara into space. The stark alien-ness of the Doctor and Susan – versus Ian and Barbara, is also pretty evident here.
There is a very real air of tension and foreboding in the air – and considering this was shot in the Tardis control room only, with no other characters present; makes Edge Of Destruction an exercise in effective minimalism.
The twist of the events being caused by the Tardis itself and not an alien presence, is a satisfying twist to proceedings. However, this does lead to a rather rushed resolution in episode two; which could have been explored – in another episode.
We also learn some new information in Edge Of Destruction , including; that the Doctor and Susan travelled extensively before An Unearthly Child. They nearly lost the Tardis on one trip, that the Tardis is “alive” – and the Doctor appears to have only one heart (later rewritten to be two-hearts), after Ian checks him over, when he faints.
Edge Of Destruction can best be summed up as the original template; for a fully ‘Tardis-bound’ serial, which proves that a “monster of the week” – is not always required.
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