As the island of our knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.
- John Wheeler
THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION
Having escaped from Skaro, our friends are hit by a sudden whiteout and fall to the TARDIS floor.
Me: That’s quite spooky.
Him: They’re all dead.
We pan around the TARDIS to find everyone unconscious. Barbara wakes with a start and looks about. She finds Ian slumped in a chair but doesn’t seem to recognise him.
Him: Isn’t the door supposed to be open?
Suddenly, from behind Barbara-
It’s actually Susan. She’s got a headache and her neck’s a bit sore too so she does a fair bit of complaining. The Doctor’s still unconscious and has a wound on his head. Ian wakes suddenly but seems to think he’s in the staff room.
Me: “The TARDIS set cost a bomb so we’re going to use it.”
Him: It makes you wonder how much stuff they could have done in the spaceship – because, first time round, I thought this was really dull. I thought that they were just sitting around because there was a technical problem and the doors wouldn’t open.
Elsewhere, Zombie Susan cuts off a section of bandage using scissors we’ll be seeing later on.
Him: There! The edge of destruction!
Back in the console room, the Doctor is coming round. Ian, however, doesn’t seem to be back with us just yet. Susan tries to get some water from the Vend-A-Matic but it isn’t working. She heads back to the console room and is shocked to discover that the doors are open. Barbara suggests that they’ve crashed.
Susan: No, the ship can’t crash! It’s impossible!
Susan suspects that there’s something aboard the ship. Ian walks towards the doors and they close. He walks away and they open.
Him: Inconvenience doors!
Me: This story feels really odd.
Susan tries the controls, but faints before she can reach them.
Ian: What’s going on here?
Me: I know how Ian feels.
Ian moves Susan through for a lie down. He checks the Vend-A-Matic which says it’s empty but then gives him water. Susan confronts Ian with a pair of scissors, moans, and then attacks the bed before collapsing.
|"Clair? Are you feeling alright?"|
Me: They got in some trouble for that.
Him: For what?
Me: The scissors.
Him: Is that why you drew the scissors?
Me: Yeah. There was concern that children would copy what they saw.
Him: But it’s not a kids show, it’s a drama show.
Me: That comment opens a whole can of worms I don’t want to go anywhere near.
The Doctor is awake and at a total loss at to what’s going on. Barbara asks if something might have got onto the ship somehow.
Him: No, not at at all like Midnight – even though it’s about the same length. Have I seen this one?
Me: When the box-set first came out.
The Doctor doesn’t think they’ve been boarded but remembers that the TARDIS has a fault locator. Susan slips around in the background and helps herself to the scissors. Susan challenges Barbara who relieves her of the scissors. Susan remarks how silent it is and suggests that whatever this thing is could be hiding in one of the crew. Ian walks in.
Ian: You must be clairvoyant.
Me: “No. My name’s Susan.”
The fault locator hasn’t shown any problem. The fault must be outside. The Doctor and Susan are beginning to side against the teachers. The scanner only shows photographs. They try opening the doors again but when they do, there comes a terrifying sound.
Me: That roar was a bit unsettling. Like a hungry sitting room.
The scanner shows a succession of baffling images. The tension rises and Wiliam Hartnell stumbles over his lines a little, but this adds to the atmosphere.
Me: It’s all quite tense.
Jacqueline Hill delivers a fantastic performance as Barbara berates the Doctor. It’s only spoiled by a weird moment where something happens to a clock.
Him: “It’s modern art. Y’know, a statement on modern life. Ain’t modern life rubbish?”
It looks like the clock’s been hit with a hot spade. Barbara’s so upset about this, she has a sudden fit of hysterics musically accentuated by, what sounds like, the remains of the clock falling down some wooden stairs. The Doctor brings everyone a nice cup of something.
|"It's the worst thing that's ever happened!"|
Me: So the series has basically gone from adventure space opera last week to weird drawing room drama this week.
Everyone falls asleep except the Doctor. The Him makes an observation.
Him: The Entity.
Me: “The Entity”? What do you mean?
After checking everyone’s asleep, the Doctor makes his chuckling way to the console. Suddenly, someone grabs him from behind.
Him: The Doctor looks furious. I think it’s Ian.
Me: Couldn’t there be something else in the ship?
Him: Nah, it’s Ian. Haven’t you noticed the constant rivalry between Ian and the Doctor?
THE BRINK OF DISASTER
Turns out it’s Ian. Ian falls over with surprise at this.
Him: If The Daleks had only been six parts then there would have been twelve episodes, like a normal three stories.
Me: For a while it looked like this might well be the final episode of Doctor Who.
(The Him puts a Hartnellism to music.)
Him: You saw try/What he tried to do/You saw try/What he tried to do
Susan: You’ve been behaving very strangely.
Me: You’re one to talk.
The Doctor is convinced the time’s come to put the interfering teachers off the ship.
Him: It’s weird seeing this and thinking it’s going to become Matt Smith era stuff.
Me: You’re right though, it’s got a similar feel to Midnight – you can feel that it’s the same show. The first part of The Mind Robber too? The Ark In Space-
Him: Yes, but The Ark In Space was enjoyable.
Dead on the three minute fifty seven mark there’s a very interesting noise.
Me: The Cloister Smell!
Him: Or – The Stench Of Destruction!
It’s actually the fault locator. Turns out that everything’s gone wrong, which isn’t the sort of thing that you’d want it to be saying. The Doctor pulls himself together and begins to work it all out.
Ian: You’re alright. That drink you gave us-
Him: “That was just whisky.”
William Hartnell seems to be struggling with his lines this week.
The Doctor: We’re on the brink of descruc – of destruction, so that all four us must work closely together…
Ian: Just a moment. Why did you say that? “The brink of destruction”?
Me: It’s a shame that particular fluff was also the episode’s title because it then gets highlighted by the dialogue.
The time rotor stops. That can’t be good.
Me: The Heart of the TARDIS gets a mention there.
The Doctor deduces that they’ve about ten minutes left.
Him: Is it actually ten minutes until the episode ends?
Me: It is. More or less.
Susan: We’ll never stop it in time!
Him: I love that voice but you don’t get to hear it too often.
Me: Are you sure about that?
Barbara begins to unravel the mystery herself. Could it be that they’ve been given clues all along?
Him: Why do they have a clock in the TARDIS?
Me: It might be a better idea to have a big red light that comes on when there’s trouble rather than automated crossword clues. I reckon that after this experience the Doctor fitted the Cloister Bell.
The Doctor calls Ian over and reveals he’s been lying about their chances. They’ve really only got five minutes but he doesn’t want to spend it with the girls panicking. Susan asks if the boys are alright.
Me: “Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it.”
They run quickly through the “clues” and arrive at a conclusion that makes a kind of sense if you screw your brain up really tight.
Me: See? It might as well just be flashing up “geg, geg geg”!
There’s another blackout and then William Hartnell delivers a blinding performance.
Me: Great speech.
The Doctor reveals the existence of the fast return switch.
Him: The rewind button!
The fast return switch is very clearly labelled.
Him: It’s got the name written above it! Are all the controls written on?
Me: They are when Mr Pertwee’s in there…
The Doctor explains how springs can cause problems.
Me: See? Educational.
A brief shot of Ian and Barbara that looks a bit strange.
Him: They’re cardboard!
Me: It’s a trick learned on Skaro. Saves paying actors.
The Doctor apologises to Barbara.
Barbara: I… I…
Him: “Ice cream.”
The Doctor apologises to Ian.
The Doctor: You know, I really believe I have underestimated that young lady in the past, Chartow.
Him: Does William Hartnell remind you of Yoda?
The TARDIS lands in snow. Susan and Barbara start a snowball fight.
Him: Barbara’s using rocks…
Susan: Look at this huge footprint.
Me: There’s blood on it!
NEXT: ROOF OF THE WORLD
Me: That’s a line in the Kate Bush song Wild Man, which is also about Yeti. Read into that what you will.
Him: How many episodes was Marco Polo?
Him: Did it have another name or was it always Marco Polo?
Me: I’ll have to look that up to be sure and then I’ll write the answer in to make it look like I could remember that it was called A Journey To Cathay.
Him: A Journey To Kathy?
Me: Wuthering Heights. In semaphore.
Him: Didn’t Doctor Who’s first director quit before filming started?
Me: I’ll have to follow the same approach with that question and say “sort of”.
Me: Right. That’s the first run of surviving episodes. What are your overall thoughts?
Him: They were alright. I enjoyed it when they killed all the Daleks.
Me: Could you follow what was going on?
Him: Sort of. I find it easier to follow the later ones like The War Games. Didn’t you stay up once and watch The War Games when it was starting at midnight?
Me: That was a long time ago.
Him: But you did do it.
Me: I did. Edge Of Destruction then. Thoughts?
Him: I have this strangest urge to go out and get scissors.
Me: Not replace a broken carriage clock?
Me: Or examine a constantly depressed button?
Him: “Constantly depressed”?
Me: Not until McGann.
Him: But McGann wasn’t your least favourite Doctor – McCoy was.
Me: I’m willing to give McCoy another chance.
Him: Didn’t you used to buy McCoy action figures –
Him: - and melt them on the radiator?
Him: In the microwave then?
Him: Chip away at them with sharp bits of flint?
Me: And make fleas leap from his jumper.
Him: Yes. I can see what you’ve done there. Do your Matt Smith impression.
Him: “Ack. Nerk. Mumf mumf mumf. WOOP!”
* Scrambled egg.