Episode 3: The Edge of Destruction

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Dalek Edge of DestructionEpisode 3: The Edge of Destruction
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Richard Martin and Frank Cox
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Edge of Destruction
The Brink of Disaster

Description
Having survived the terror of the Daleks, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in danger once again. The threat they face is unknown and could destroy time itself.

Evaluation
Wow.

Seriously.

Wow.

(slow pause)

This was interesting to watch. Within two installments, the tone of the show shifts and the foundation for Doctor Who is formed. I know it might be a strange statement to make but there are so many different things that happen in this episode that I was astonished by the end. So where do we begin?

The first thing of note about this episode was the interactions between the characters. Again, keep in mind that Ian and Barbara were FORCED to travel with the Doctor. Most companions are brought aboard and given an opportunity to see the universe. The Doctor forced Ian and Barbara because he didn’t trust their intentions and basically kidnapped them so they wouldn’t say anything about an alien ship in a junkyard. He naturally doesn’t trust these two and is quick to suspect foul play. Ian and Barbara are doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Yes, they’ve been forced to travel with a daft old man in a box but they’ve survived so far. They know they have an ally in Susan but their struggles are more against the Doctor’s distrust than anything else.

From what I know about the history of this episode (thank you Wikipedia), it had to be a bottle episode due to budgetary reasons. Too much money would be spent for the Marco Polo episode and costs had to be cut. Yet, even within this bottle episode, this episode is important because it allows the Doctor to become humanistic with his companions. Modern Who consistently discusses the reasons why the Doctor should never travel alone. He becomes isolated and he suffered from his own arrogance. With companions, there’s a balance of emotion and intelligence. This episode showcases this need to both the audience and to the Doctor. Ian and Barbara are necessary to the Doctor because they provide a balance, something that Susan would not be able to provide as she is family and would be easily dismissed.

The end of the episode highlights this theme more so in a conversation between Barbara and the Doctor. He is beginning to understand what it means to travel with someone who isn’t his immediate family. The Doctor is beginning to understand what it means to be a friend, something I doubted he truly had during his time with his fellow Time Lords.

In terms of the story itself, it’s kinda triply. Something is distorting the TARDIS and it’s affecting everyone. Susan has homicidal tendency, even going so far as to threaten Ian with a pair of scissors. Time is melting and has ceased to exist. The TARDIS is trying to send a warning that no one understands. The Doctor has been injured and nothing seems to be working. The first installment has a very dark premise while the last installment seems to be lighter with a more happier ending than expected. Apparently there was a directorial change between the two installments, which is clearly evident in the different installments.

The Edge of Destruction is great to watch because it highlights the darkness of the Doctor as well as the playful possibilities. Time travel is tricky. You need great and grand friendships to keep you on the right track.

Historical Notes
The TARDIS warning noise has a similar tone to the Cloister Bell, a device the TARDIS uses to warn the Doctor of extreme danger.

The TARDIS is shown to be a sentient being in that it’s trying to communicate with the Doctor about what’s wrong. This is the first hint that the TARDIS is a living creature instead of merely just a transportation machine.

Episode 2: The Daleks

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Dalek Edge of Destruction

Episode 2: The Daleks
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Dead Planet
The Survivors
The Escape
The Ambush
The Expedition
The Ordeal
The Rescue

Description
Due to a malfunction in the TARDIS’s navigational circuits, the Doctor and his companions find themselves on a planet filled with radiation. As the travelers begin to explore this strange new world, they come face-to-face with an alien race that will change the Doctor’s life forever.

Evaluation
The Daleks was an interesting episode to watch in that I attempted to look at the action as if I was seeing the Daleks for the first time. Yes, the design is kooky and potentially silly for more modern audiences but the reasoning for the Daleks and this history presented of their race is frightening and in contrast of everything the Doctor stands for. Modern Daleks look upon humanity, and the universe, as something that needs to be eradicated as it is less than perfect. The Daleks of this episode are not reliant on the need for perfection or lack of emotion. Instead, they would continue to destroy their planet Skaro in order to survive. Creatures who refuse to consider the needs of others above their own are terrifying and horrific.

I can see why the Daleks were considered scary in the beginning. At times, I think that Daleks are used too often in the new series. For as many times as they have appeared in the reboot, the impact has not been nearly as emotional as this first episode. I know that the history of the Daleks will morph and change in later episodes.

This was a great episode to watch in that the Doctor is starting to emerge as a character. There’s bits of trickery when he lies about a TARDIS component. There’s hints of his never-ending spirit to explore and his desire to see a happy ending, even though tragedy might occur. He’s still isn’t as concerned about his companions as he should be, though that will change in later episodes. There’s an outline here of what the Doctor will be. It’s fun to nitpick his traits as he begins to evolve.

The companions continue to be a delight. I’ve been a fan of Ian and Barbara when I first watched this episode a few years ago. The chemistry between these two is fun and I can’t help but cheer along as they fight for survival. The entire team of the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara show the signs of a solid friendship.

Historical Notes
This is the first appearance of the Daleks, a race of creatures that will later become the mortal enemy of the Doctor. It was also the first time the Daleks used the famous phrase: “EXTERMINATE”.

The navigational malfunction of the TARDIS becomes a running theme of the show, hinting that the Doctor never really knows how to steer the ship.

Episode 1: An Unearthly Child

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Unearthly ChildEpisode 1: An Unearthly Child
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan

Written by Anthony Coburn and C.E. Webber
Directed by Waris Hussein
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
An Unearthly Child
The Cave of Skulls
The Forest of Fear
The Firemaker

Description
Ian Chesterton, a science teacher, and Barbara Wright, a history teacher, are confused by one of their student’s behavior. They both agree that while young Susan Foreman is highly intelligent, she’s seems unaware by the knowledge of everyday occurrences. On a whim, Ian and Barbara decide to investigate Susan’s background. What they discover is something surprising, unearthly, and a chance to see the Universe.

Evaluation
Where do I even begin? The first adventure. The first companions. The first of everything.

This first installment of the series was fun to watch. So the sets weren’t the greatest and at times you can tell when someone has flubbed their lines. Despite these issues, I still thoroughly enjoyed these four installments because I decided that it was better to merely suspend belief and just accept the craziness. At the heart of these installments there lies genuine storytelling and an eagerness for adventure. And as any Doctor Who fan will tell you, adventure is why we return for each episode.

I can’t help but wonder how bad it really was for the Doctor before he began to travel; that he would isolate himself so completely that he forgot what it meant to connect with other individuals outside of his family. Of course that’s the problem with watching a program with hindsight. We know that the Doctor stole the TARDIS, or as the TARDIS later explains, she stole him. You can’t help but wonder about his past and his future within this first appearance. This is the first time he was presented to the world, but what happened before his time on Earth? Why was he so distrustful of Ian and Barbara in the beginning, when later interactions with companions seemed carefree in comparison. How long had it really been since he first began his travels with Susan in the TARDIS?

The characters of Ian and Barbara are fun to watch in that they are still incredibly human and willing to fight to stay alive. The chemistry between the two is tangible and it’s fun to watch their interactions. The difference between their interaction with the Doctor versus future companion interactions is that they were forced to travel with the Doctor. The modern series presents companionship as if it was an honor. This Doctor is so distrustful that he refuses to believe that Ian and Barbara couldn’t keep their interaction a secret. As future episodes will reveal, the relationship between the two teachers and the Doctor does morphs into genuine friendship but it’s only after surviving through brutal conditions does the foundation of their friendship is formed.

The later parts of this serial are a little darker than I expected in that the presentation of the past is quite violent. It doesn’t sugarcoat that in order to survive any struggle become an “every man for himself” scenario. It’s a dark world, even if you travel with an optimistic heart.

Historical Notes
Due to a circuitry malfunction the TARDIS is now stuck as a Police Box. This could be the fault of Ian Chesterton, who pushed random buttons on the console in an attempt to escape.