The Edge of Destruction

Region 1
"The Beginning"
3-story box set
for North America
Region 2
"The Beginning"
3-story box set

for the U.K.
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 3, starring William Hartnell)
  • written by David Whitaker
  • directed by Richard Martin (episode 1) and Frank Cox (episode 2)
  • produced by Verity Lambert
  • featuring library music tracks
  • 2 episodes @ 25 minutes each:
    1. The Edge of Destruction
    2. The Brink of Disaster
Story: Attempting to return to Earth's Solar System, the TARDIS crashes to a dead stop in space, the controls refusing to respond. Some of the crew begin to act strange, and distrust one another. Has one of them become a saboteur, as the Doctor suspects? Or has an alien presence found its way aboard the TARDIS?

DVD Extras include:

  • "Over the Edge" making-of featurette (29 min.) with directors Richard Martin, Frank Cox, and Waris Hussein, producer Verity Lambert,
    actors William Russell (Ian Chesterton) and Carole Ann Ford (Susan), designer Raymond Cusick, and sound designer Brian Hodgson.
    (contains spoilers for season 27 with Christopher Eccleston)
  • "Inside the Spaceship" featurette (10 min.) on the set & sound design of the TARDIS.
  • Pop-up Production Note subtitles, providing behind-the-scenes info as you watch.
  • Episode 2 optional Arabic soundtrack
  • "Origins" documentary (54 min.) - an in-depth look at the creation of Doctor Who.
  • "Masters of Sound" featurette (12 min.) on the creation of the theme music and sound effects for Doctor Who,
    with BBC Radiophonic Workshop soundsmiths Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson, and Dick Mills.
  • "Marco Polo" - a 31 minute condensed version of this lost 7-episode adventure,
    featuring "telesnap" still pictures synchronized to the original TV audio.
  • Photo Gallery (5 min.) for "The Edge of Destruction" and "Marco Polo".
(Bundled with the previous stories: "An Unearthly Child" and "The Daleks", and all their extras....)

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

Doctor Who continues its success with a short "bottle story" designed to focus on its central characters and their development into a working team. While this story isn't quite as polished or interesting as the previous two, it remains unique and has a lot of good things to offer, not least of which is the completion of "The Beginning" arc for the four humanoid characters, and a rare exploration of the character of the TARDIS vehicle itself.

Episode One - The Edge of Destruction - directed by Richard Martin

This story gets off to a very shaky start, as David Whitaker's writing of incoherent characters does not make very good television viewing. The director and the cast of companions do very little to make the early scenes bearable either.

Finally, the Doctor wakes up, and William Hartnell's screen presence quickly restores drama to the proceedings. Now there is plot, intrigue, and realistic emotional expression. Susan makes a comeback with some very memorable moments in her performance, (finally some nice direction with moving camera angles here!!) although this quickly decays into hamminess, relying on the perfect music to carry the scene further. (The SPOILERS required to identify these exact moments can be read in the In-depth Analysis version of this review.)

Barbara also has the chance to give the Doctor the sharp end of her tongue, a great dramatic moment that is enjoyable to watch.

This two-part story was supposedly meant to re-introduce viewers who may have missed the pilot to the main characters and the TARDIS and to expand and develop them, and dig deeper into who they are. It was poised to do so perfectly, and managed it somewhat - The TARDIS (a fifth character) comes out of this story with the best development, and the Doctor and Barbara are close seconds. But all this ridiculous concussed behaviour business really should have been under much tighter control, because it is ugly to watch, and only shows us who our characters are NOT.

This story is famous for being the first to really explore the interior of the TARDIS, but it is interesting to note that nearly ALL of the deep interior scenes beyond the console room appear in this first episode of the story, particularly the rooms with the strange bucket-seat beds.

Episode Two - The Brink of Disaster - directed by Frank Cox

Someone once asked what the longest scene in Doctor Who was, and the erroneous reply was the first scene in the TARDIS interior in "An Unearthly Child" (story no. 1). Well, sorry, no, I disagree. After the reprise from the previous episode, what follows is most DEFINITELY the longest scene ever in Doctor Who. Recording for "THE BRINK OF DISASTER" begins in the console room and stays there for a full 18 and a half minutes, right past the dramatic climax of the story. This is almost the full 25 min. episode, so I dare any fan to show me a longer uncut scene of original Doctor Who! (Yes, I know, "Midnight" (story no. 201) has recently set a new record in the 45-minute episode format, but that episode still has much to learn from the achievement here.)

I have to hand it to director Frank Cox, and the cast of Doctor Who (William Hartnell in particular) for being able to pull this off without it seeming to become long, or boring, or claustrophobic, or anything other than good riveting drama all the way through. There are only a few minor glitches in the production - chiefly making Ian seem less than credible or inspiring.

The Doctor is largely responsible for solving the mystery and employing the solution. This is the best example of a heroic Doctor that the series has come up with so far. Nice one David Whitaker!

Thus, Doctor Who's third story turns out to be a successful and enjoyable little coda to the previous two classics that launched the show, and the series can now continue with a better bonded team leading us through the adventures. The best gem of season one, however, is still yet to come....

This story has become available on DVD as the third adventure in "The Beginning" DVD box set.
Although the popular original edition from 2006 has now become a rare item,
a newer 2013 re-issue offers identical content at a more competitive price...
Click on the amazon symbol for your area to open amazon's page in a new window and see additional product information before purchasing.
DVD NTSC Region 1
"The Beginning" 3-story box set
for the North American market:
DVD PAL Region 2
"The Beginning"
3-story box set
VHS Video
NTSC for North America
PAL for the U.K.
original issue:

identical content
new re-issue:

original issue:

identical content
new re-issue:

original issue:

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Marco Polo"

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