The edge of destruction (1964)
About this serial
This is a two-part serial, first broadcast between 8th - 15th February 1964. The serial was written by David Whitaker, produced by Verity Lambert and directed by Richard Martin and Frank Cox. The script editor was David Whitaker.
After the Tardis breaks down, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara all start to behave strangely...
This serial was a last minute addition to the first season. It was inserted either to bring the total number of episodes to thirteen (the number of episodes that had been approved by BBC management) or to fill a gap that was caused by a delay in creating the sets and costumes for the subsequent serial 'Marco Polo'. In any case, it had to be made with no money, which meant that only the regulars could be in it and that they couldn't leave the Tardis.
The good bits:
- It's a weird story. Susan runs with scissors, Ian makes half-hearted attempts to strangle both the Doctor and Barbara, and the Doctor threatens to throw Ian and Barbara off the Tardis - into outer space, if necessary.
- The serial shows us the Tardis as, to some extent, sentient and intelligent. This idea would be expanded upon in the TV Movie and in the new series.
- The serial is important to the relationships between the four regulars, who have started to trust each other at the end of part two. In part two there are some particularly good scenes between the Doctor and Barbara where the two sort out their differences.
The less good bits:
- The serial aims for psychological horror, and misses. What we get in stead, particularly in part one, is characters acting weirdly and overreacting to insignificant events. Part two, where the four leads start acting rationally again and work together to figure out what's going on, is a great deal more enjoyable.
- Throughout the serial William Hartnell gives a good performance as the Doctor, but in part one we get a great deal of 'insanity' acting from the others that probably shouldn't have made it out of the rehearsal room. In part two everyone does better, especially Jacqueline Hill as Barbara.
The bottom line
If you're a fan you should see this. If not, you might as well give it a miss.