Reviewed By: adamelijah
Review Date: 6/13/15 7:36 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
The Edge of Destruction is a story I had to watch twice to actually get. The TARDIS begins to malfunction and the Doctor and Companions are on edge and paranoid. Susan takes up a knife, Ian almost strangles the Doctor (which wouldn't require being under any particular strain at this point in the series), and the Doctor is accusing the two school teachers of being saboteurs.
The story is important for a couple of reasons. First, in the third story, it does establish things about the TARDIS such as the heart of the TARDIS being located underneath the console which would be a key plot element in the final two stories of the first series of New Who. Other aspects are contradicted by later stories as the concepts were developed (such as the TARDIS being just a machine or a basic AI) or opening the heart of the TARDIS having the energy come out would destroy you. I think many of the differences can be explained in-world by the fact that the Doctor stole the TARDIS and may not have understood every aspect of its operation.
There's a great sense of mystery as to what exactly is going on causing problems in the TARDIS. This part of the plot ends in anti-climax and the best it does is explain why all the Time Lords make fun of the Doctor having a Type 40 TARDIS. I mean a TARDIS which can almost be destroyed by something like this-does make you kind of wonder.
However, the larger point of the story is the character and relational development. Coming on to the TARDIS, the teachers were viewed as intruders into the Doctor's home and the Doctor almost killed someone until Ian stopped him, and then nearly got them all killed by faking a problem with the TARDIS. These issues come up and the Doctor's behavior through most of this story doesn't help, but there's a turning point in the second episode that really changes the dynamic in the TARDIS as the Doctor is forced to come face to face with his own mistake and frailty. When you listen to Marco Polo, there's an entirely different dynamic. Ian and Barbara are part of the TARDIS crew. When this was written, Doctor Who was only guaranteed thirteen weeks and this served as a satisfactory conclusion to the Doctor's early adventures.
The story is helped by great performances from Jacqueline Hill, who plays a much more prominent role with a story that doesn't involve much action. She keeps her wits about her until the danger is past and then afterwards, the way she sits in stony silence and the expression on her face show how much the Doctor's threats and harsh words wounded her.
This also a good performance by Hartnell despite flubbing a couple of lines. There's plenty of the First Doctor being difficult but at the end, we see how this Doctor can be quite charming when he wants to be. The only problem is that he rarely wants to be.
Overall, this is a good bottle episode and while it's conclusion seemed weak, it's fun for it's look at the earliest version of TARDIS lore and the way it redefines the relationship between the Doctor and his earliest Companions.