Wednesday, 14 January 2009

January 2009, Week 3: The Edge Of Destruction


  1. Edge of Destruction or, "The one with the switch that got stuck"

    I loved this 2-parter.
    It's pure theater. One set, 4 actors, and some bonkers acting.
    The plot is not much to shout about, I admit. in fact, in my opinion the pay-off is so lame it made me laugh. So lame, that The Doctor has to explain it to his Time Lord Grand-daughter as if she were a human 5 year old.
    (Odd, especially as Ian and Barbara seem perfectly able to figure it all out!)

    It's not the plot for me, but the character development and that lovely sixties abandon that pervades the script.
    Weird for the sake of being weird.
    The easons why they all act a bit funny are kind of passed over rather quickly, but during episode one, its greats fun to see them act out of character.
    Wiliam Hartnell is excellent especially. his devious Doctor is given full reign here, but... what a lovely about turn when he shows humility and a genuine regret that he has upset barbara at the end. the scene with Hartnell and Hill by themselves at the end of the 2-parter is really sweet and quite moving.
    the Doctor i finding that these humans can actually teach him a thing or too. His desire to put things right is both beautifully played but also you feel the character really means it.

    The weak link again, for me, is Susan. The clever, mysterious girl has now been fully replaced with hysterical freak. her job to scream, fall on the floor. (repeat as necessary) and to have her IQ divided by one hundred.

    All in all. I give this a 6/10.

    Considering this is all set in one small location, it was super entertainment and importantly, it developed the Doctor hugely as a character.

    final word...

    William Hartnell really must stop fluffing his lines!

  2. I shall nail my colours to the mast right from the start. I really like Edge of Destruction. There, I've said it.
    Why do I like it so much? I think it's because it has 2 big things going for it.
    Firstly, for the majority of the time it's 4 people trapped in the ship just suspecting each other of all manner of skullduggery and reacting to being accused. A totally character based slice of TV that works for because of some great work from the cast. Hill, I think, is simply superb as Barbara. Hartnell is wonderful as the Doctor, once again being called upon to be both suspicious and angry, and show compassion and regret at his misjudgement. The final scene with Barbara is, as Mr. Turner says, really touching and who would have thought such character development would happen in 1964 Doctor Who.
    Russell is not quite as good as those two, but still fine. The weakest link is Susan, but I'm not sure that Carole Ann Ford is to blame as the bad moments are the screaming, simpering and falling down. I think she is okay when involved in the general weirdness and paranoia.
    And let us not forget the fifth character in this story, the TARDIS itself. Giving warnings to the travellers, trying to save them, we get our first intimations that this is so much more than just a ship. What did people make of that at the time, I wonder.
    The second real strength is it is only 2 episodes, so does not outstay its' welcome. No long drawn out treks here, just a simple story told well. Splendid.
    The weakness. Well it's obviously the threat to the travellers. A button is stuck because the spring won't release!!!
    But even that has a certain innocent charm and doesn't spoil the story for me.

  3. Looks like I'm going to be a dissenting voice here then, as this is the first story I haven't particularly liked.

    Some people get stuck in a room. Then they get annoyed with each other. Then they try and hurt each other.

    But even as a piece of theatre, it's weak. Why are they annoyed at each other? It's not in their characters. Susan certainly hasn't shown any signs of Mrs Stabby before now, and while I could buy the Doctor suspecting Ian and Barbara of sabotage after episode one, I don't buy it after two storiesworth of adventure.

    (Seriously - Ian has sabotaged the ship? The one thing that can get him home? Why would he do that? Why would the Doctor think he might even be capable of doing that?)

    So it seems to me that they're either a) shouting at each other for no reason other than to fill an episode, or b) the Tardis is causing the trouble in their heads.

    In support of theory b) I call to the stand Mrs Stabby, Mr and Ms Terrible Headache, and the Children of Falling Unconscious For No Good Reason.

    So, what really happened in the Tardis factory all those years ago?

    "I'm a bit stumped, mate. What shall we do if there's summat wrong and the fault locator can't, y'know, locate it? Then the crew'd be fucked, wouldn't they?"

    "Well, Rob, I reckon we should try to communicate with them by melting any clocks on board and turning them all into psychotic killers."

    "Brilliant idea mate. We can clock off early today!"


    This Adventure Would Never Have Happened If: The designers of the Tardis hadn't been quite so desparate for a pint.

  4. You mean constructing a 2-episode story around an ill-fitting switch with a dodgy spring isn't worthwhile?
    honestly... some people! ;-)

    And why does Ian try and strangle the Doctor?
    Was it a "how the hell do we get an episode climax?" moment?

  5. He claims he was trying to get the Doctor away from the electrified console.

    But it certainly looked like the manly version of Mrs Stabby to me.

  6. I was always fond of this one as child because I love all the stories that show you more of the TARDIS.

    Watching it again now it does seem a little weak and I agree totally that making all the travellers psychotic is hardly the most effective warning system (I'll go with flashing lights every time if any car designers are reading).

    On the other hand buttons do get stuck. Continuing the car comparison I had to abandon a refuelling stop at Frankley services on Saturday due to a stuck fuel cap. Okay you can't fill fifty minutes of drama with that story but there you go...

    A good fun story anyway. And nice to shake things up a little seeing as everyone was getting so pally.

    This week on Susan watch - I knew it! She's a psycho. Actually Mr Harrisons comment above suggesting the fault lies with the script rather than Carole Anne Ford makes a good point. Thinking about it that may be the problem with Susan all round, maybe the writers just didn't know what to do with her. Shame they didn't ask Anthony Coburn.

    One other thing, watching this is the first time I've really felt the benefit of what we've embarked upon. When Barbara referred to Ian making fire and the escape from the Daleks they were as vivid in my memory as the characters having only recently watched them.

    This truly is a great adventure we've embarked upon.