The Edge of DestructionBookmark and Share

Monday, 6 September 2004 - Reviewed by Lance Hall

"As we learn about each other, we learn about ourselves." The Doctor sums up this story pretty well with that bit of double-speak from the second episode. Is it sagacious, or is it moronic? The key to enjoying "The Edge of Destruction", as all intelligent fan-boys call it, is to give yourself over to the enigmatic storyline. This is Doctor Who pretending it's The Twilight Zone. I think that's the reason the whole thing feels a bit "off" at times. At any second we expect to hear Rod Serling pipe up with, "Submitted for your approval, an old man and his granddaughter, stuck in a box and stuck in time…" Rod doesn't interrupt, though, and we're left to navigate somewhere beyond the sun without any signposts whatsoever. The moodiness alone holds the attention for the relatively speedy 50 minutes it takes to screen this gem. There's undoubtedly a claustrophobic tone, whether intentional or not, that adds to the key scenes, particularly the ones involving Susan. Then there's the experimental feel permeating the script, direction, and acting. Was this a study in character development within the confines of a one-act play and the literal confines of the TARDIS itself? Or was it some quick filler they pounded out over a long weekend? It's hard to say. At least the cast gets to show some acting chops, specifically Jacqueline Hill. Without Daleks and cavemen upstaging them, the central cast shows us why they got the gig. Even Hartnell takes a crack at developing the Doctor, exploring the "becoming" human angle of the Time Lord's emotional journey. Or maybe he just forgot his lines... One theory is that the cast didn't know the cameras were on, and this was simply how they killed time on the set waiting for the script for Marco Polo to come through.

One detail I enjoyed was the Doctor's stripey head bandage that loses stripes as he heals. For years I assumed that the stripes were meant to be bloodstains and that his wound kept moving around, but watching closely I realize that there was actually quite a neat concept at work there. A mood bandage so you don't have to constantly check under the band-aid. Brilliant!

Of all the mysteries this episode raises, the most boggling is why "water" is the sole choice on the food replicator? I hope no one wants protein, fiber, or for that matter taste. Or maybe the "Food Replicator" is just a fancy term for "Faucet". Of course, we tend to let things like this slide when truly engaging villains are introduced to the series. The Daleks were frightening, but nothing compared to this bad guy... THE SPRING! Not since Homer Simpson and the inanimate carbon rod has a mundane object had such an affect on a space vehicle.

In the end it was a nice novelty story with a reminder that the TARDIS obeys the laws of physics too… at least sometimes. Newton (Isaac not Sydney) would've been proud of the moral learned from this story: Without action, there is no reaction. Am I talking about the plot or the spring? DooDoododoo DooDoododoo DooDoododoo…

FILTER: - Series 1 - First Doctor - Television