What I Learned From Doctor Who: “The Edge of Destruction” (One, 1964)

Doctor: One (William Hartnell)

Companions: Ian Chesterton (William Russell); Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill); and Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)

Time: The very, very distant past.

Place: A forming solar system, possibly our own, at the birth of its (or our) sun.


1. “The Edge of Destruction” (Season One, Episode Twelve)
2. “The Brink of Disaster” (S1, E12)

Today’s Lessons

1. Mystery alert!  The TARDIS seems to have crashed, and everyone’s acting strangely, on edge and muscling through various levels and severity of amnesia.  One is suspicious!  He blames his companions (also his captives) for sabotaging the TARDIS with nasty accusations, despite the fact that Ian and Barbara are also suffering from some ill effects.  He also tricks them into drinking something that lulls them to sleep so he can investigate, since the doors keep opening by themselves (but close when the travelers try to leave).

2. Water comes from the TARDIS wafer machine, as does bandages – bandages that come ready with ointment and change colors to show that wounds have been healed.

3. The TARDIS comes with two very important controls: a fault locator, which allows the Doctor to detect non-working elements of his ship, and a “fast return” switch, which allows the Doctor to return to the last point in time and space in which the TARDIS landed.  He admits that he was trying to return Ian and Barbara to Earth, but the fast-return switch gets stuck – a faulty spring, see – and the TARDIS is hurtled back through time past the beginnings of most things in space to the formation of some solar system, most likely our own.

4. The Doctor confirms in episode 12 that they visited Skaro in the future.

5. It is surmised by Barbara, who solves the riddle of where they are and what is happening, that the TARDIS contains its own intelligence and is trying to alert the passengers of the danger to the ship, though the Doctor pooh-poohs that notion in favor of describing it blandly as the “intelligence of a machine” and a “collection of computers.”  Boy, is he in for a surprise!

6. When history does not afford one the luxury of good special effects, to show the effects of, say, strong turbulence, one needs to make dramatic movements in time with dramatic camera movements to show the severity of the disturbance.  See also: Star Trek.  And probably the new Doctor Who.

7. Answered question alert! The Doctor does, in fact, seem to be learning about humanity through his companions.  His unjust accusations toward Barbara, in turn, leads her to puzzle through clues that the TARDIS is offering to illustrate the danger being presented to the ship.  Her “intuition” trumps the Doctor’s logic in this regard, by his own admission, and he admits that he underestimated both Ian and Barbara’s capabilities.  Barbara doesn’t forgive him right away, so he capitulates rather nicely in the end.  Aw, heartwarming!

8. The Doctor’s love and pride for his granddaughter are quite apparent.  Question: Well, addendum – let’s talk about the Doctor’s family.

9. The Doctor admits for the first time in episode 12 that the TARDIS plays home to “a rather large wardrobe.”  Ian emerges with warmer outer wear in the form of a cloak that was given to the Doctor by none other than Gilbert and Sullivan.  Musical cue alert!  Also, Barbara is given a nice pea coat. Pea coats are fashionable in any decade!

10. The TARDIS landed in snow and clearly not during a 1960s school year in London.  Question: Does that mean Ian and Barbara are now OK to be along for the ride?

Next serial: “Marco Polo” (Season 1, Episodes 14-20 – these are characterized as lost episodes, but I found them on http://www.dailymotion.com).


One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · December 4, 2013

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