‘The Edge of Destruction’ (TV)

edgeofdestruction drwho_beginninglrg


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Inside The Spaceship

This is a two-part story by David Whitaker and it sees the four TARDIS regulars in a tricky situation.

This is actually the transitional story between ‘The Daleks’ and ‘Macro Polo’. I enjoyed watching this story. I won’t admit to understanding it completely and it definitely predates the Steven Moffat era.

After leaving Skaro, the TARDIS gets stuck with the console exploding in mid-flight. With loss of memory and headaches, the TARDIS team behave strangely and erratically. Could this be the end?!

I liked how the TARDIS characters are in a strange situation and that they work out the problem as a team. It makes for some interesting drama on how they need to work together and trust each other.

William Hartnell is superb as the Doctor. He gets a bump on the head which gets bandaged. He accuses Ian and Barbara for sabotaging his ship and he gets mean to them before they work together.

Carole Ann Ford delivers an amazing performance as Susan. She shifts from being the sweet, lovely girl into a scary, almost murderous person. That scene with those large scissors was pretty terrifying.

William Russell as Ian is equally good. He’s baffled and confused when he recovers, and is shocked when the Doctor accuses him and Barbara for sabotaging his ship before he helps to solve the clues.

Jacqueline Hill as Barbara stands out well in this story. She stands up to the Doctor when he accuses her and Ian and she’s deeply hurt by the Doctor’s cruel words, even after they’ve solved the mystery.

The TARDIS plays a key role in this tale. It’s indicated for the first time that the TARDIS is more than a machine. This predates the new series episodes such as ‘Boom Town’ and ‘The Parting of the Ways’.

The TARDIS gives clues to the four regulars on how to escape the trap they have fallen into. It was interesting when they discovered that the ‘fast return switch’ on the console was stuck in mid-flight.

There were two directors for this story including Richard Martin and Frank Cox. I couldn’t tell the difference in approach of these two episodes by the directors, as the flow of this story was seamless.

The music for this story is pretty eerie and weird and it adds to the eerie weirdness and nature of the story. It certainly provides for the atmosphere of this story with its dark tones, making it mysterious.

I was very impressed by the soliloquy William Hartnell gave as the Doctor in the second episode by himself. Despite his tendency to forget his lines, he effortlessly pulled off that speech amazingly well.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Doctor Who Origins’ documentary; the ‘Over The Edge’ making-of documentary; the ‘Inside the Spaceship’ featurette; the ‘Masters of Sound’ featurette and a 30-minute tele-snap version of ‘Marco Polo’, which was pretty interesting to watch. There’s also a photo gallery of the story; an Arabic soundtrack for the second episode and PDF documents including ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the three stories in ‘The Beginning’ DVD box set and the script of the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’. There is also an information-text commentary option to enjoy.

‘The Edge of Destruction’ is an enjoyable two-part story that sees the four TARDIS regulars putting aside their differences and working together as a team and a family. I’m pleased they did a story like this since this allows the series to continue and for the Doctor to continue as a beloved TV character.

‘The Beginning’ DVD box set is a great collection of stories showing how ‘Doctor Who’ began in the early 1960s. I enjoyed watching the stories in this box set, especially ‘The Daleks’. It was great to see the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan and how they started having adventures through time and space.

‘The Edge of Destruction’ rating – 7/10

The previous story

For the First Doctor was

For Ian was

For Barbara was

For Susan was

The next story

For the First Doctor is

For Ian is

For Barbara is

For Susan is

Return to The First Doctor’s Timeline
Return to Ian’s Timeline
Return to Barbara’s Timeline
Return to Susan’s Timeline
Return to The Doctors’ Timelines Index
Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index
Return to Doctor Who Timelines
Return to Doctor Who
Return to Sci-Fi

8 thoughts on “‘The Edge of Destruction’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Excellent review Tim, not a bad filler two parter but it’s obvious a budget saving adventure, i remember reading the scissors scene with Susan caused a few complaints at the time of transmission, how times have changed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Hi Simon.

    Thanks for your comments! Glad you enjoyed my review on this two-parter!

    Yes this was a budget-saver since behind-the-scenes they had problems with scripts and stories. But I like this transitional adventure for these four regulars as it helps to set them up as a team for the rest of the series.

    I can imagine that scissors scenes with Susan could have upset viewers at the time and cause shocks for children. It is a pretty strange scene where Susan goes mad. Not sure I understand the logic behind that scene as well as the Doctor and Susan’s strange behaviour. But it’s still effective drama all the same.

    Tim. 🙂


    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Yeah, it’s clear that this story doesn’t work in some scenes, particularly when the Doctor and his companions are acting strangely, especially Susan with the scissors. Despite that, I like how ‘The Edge of Destruction’ explores the TARDIS team as characters in the two episodes.

      Many thanks,

      Tim 🙂


  3. Wolfie

    I love “The Edge of Destruction” to pieces. I think it’s an excellent epilogue to “The Daleks” which addresses the strained dynamic of the four characters, introduces the cornerstone idea of the TARDIS as a living entity, and finally brings all five together as equals.

    I do think, however, the story is a lot like the televised version of “Ghost Light”. It’s asking a lot of the viewer to intuit what’s going on. The premise can be summed up as a locked room murder-mystery, where the room itself has been murdered. Something has gone badly wrong with the Ship in a way we’ve never seen before. That’s a pretty radical concept, but one bristling with potential for exploration.

    The idea at the centre of the story can be summed up in one line. One which has become a lot more obvious with 60 years of development since. “The TARDIS is sentient and telepathic.” A lot of the characters’ more unusual behaviour feels like a side-effect of the TARDIS’s attempts to warn them of the danger. Rather than being a malevolent force, it’s doing its best to try and escape total destruction.

    But the TARDIS doesn’t know *how* to talk to them.

    The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Susan — they’re all using a means of communication alien to the TARDIS, so it tries the nearest alternative. Charades. It puppeteers each person through what we’d now call its telepathic circuits into delivering that warning. The time-travellers, however, have no context for these signs and portents. The Doctor himself — probably as a side-effect of that Time Lord dogma he’s yet to shake off — has been told that the TARDIS isn’t alive. Instead, the energy is directed into a form of cabin fever, paranoia, and even bouts of violence.

    This is the most vulnerable we have seen these characters across any of these stories. The Doctor included. From Earth to Skaro to destruction. Everyone gets their opportunity to shine and demonstrate their mettle from William Hartnell to Carole Ann Ford to Jacqueline Hill to William Russell. There’s a sense of authenticity to the characters’ attempts to rationalise the irrationality around them. It’s the very start of our journey to understanding the Doctor and the TARDIS, so the core ideas are quite vague here, but — it’s a great place to have started. Much recommended.

    (Side-note: I don’t think Barbara gets enough credit for kickstarting the Doctor’s habit of treating the TARDIS as a living being. She certainly began that train of thought and the Doctor even compares her favourably to the Ship. Very fondly, he calls them both “very valuable”.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Wolfie,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘The Edge of Destruction’. This is a fascinating two-part story showcasing the First Doctor, Susan, Ian, Barbara and the TARDIS. On first viewing, it is quite a challenge to get your head around, but the more times you watch it, it does become clearer. I enjoyed revisiting the story on Britbox recently and your insight into the story has been enlightening to read. I would like to check out the Target novelization/audiobook by Nigel Robinson, read by William Russell, to find out more about this story and how it works in prose/audio.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂


  4. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    I really enjoyed ‘The Edge of Destruction’. It wasn’t as great as ‘The Daleks’, but I would give the story 8/10. It was interesting to see the Tardis crew’s minds be affected. The story was complicated in places, but I think it all came around in the end.

    I personally felt bad for Barbara the most. She had the worst experience in my opinion. Despite that, she still managed to rip into the Doctor, which I enjoyed. I was glad he made up with her by the end of the story. Susan’s character change in certain scenes was a bit unsettling (not in a bad way though), especially when she was wielding those scissors around.

    One a lighter note, it was funny to see Ian spending half the story in his dressing gown. 😀

    I listened to the audiobook reading of the novelisation last year. One day I will relisten to it so that I can review it.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Edge of Destruction’. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the story. It’ll be interesting to check out how Nigel Robinson interprets this story in print form when it comes to checking out the Target novelization/audiobook. Glad you enjoyed that version of the story. Looking forward to your review on it.

      I’m appreciating this story more and more and hopefully I’ll get to update my thoughts on it when it comes to the Season 1 Blu-ray box set release whenever that comes along.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Barbara as well as Susan. The scissors scene certainly sparked a controversy at the time. Glad you enjoyed Ian in his dressing gown. 😆

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.