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23 November 2016 @ 08:23 pm
The Randomiser: The Edge of Destruction  
"What's happening?" The Teenager asked, walking in on us watching Edge of Destruction.

"Over-acting," Tame Layman said.

The Edge of Destruction came about when a script fell through and the Doctor Who production team were left with two episodes to fill and a minuscule budget. The result is a story set entirely in the Tardis which is attempting to be a cross between a haunted house mystery and psychological horror.

It is the stagiest Doctor Who story I think I've seen. I think is partly because, well it's 1964, and partly because everything is focused upon the interactions of the characters. With little else of visual interest, David Whitaker frequently places the actors in tableau where they speak their lines facing away from each other and/or oblique to the audience.

Fan opinion of the story seems to be divided between those who consider it a bizarre oddity arising out of desperate circumstances and those who consider it something approaching a mini-masterpiece arising from its constraints. They speak of the drama and tension as Susan stabs her bed with a pair of scissors. Sadly, I think Tame Layman and I are in the bizarre oddity category and Susan's tantrum with the scissors struck us more as over-acting than a moment of intense drama. Tame Layman did get a laugh however, when it was revealed that the whole problem related to a single jammed switch. He was puzzled about why everyone had been behaving so oddly throughout. I had always understood that this was the Tardis influencing their behaviour in an attempt to communicate the situation to them, but that doesn't seem to be on the page. The crew just seem to spend two episodes panicking in a particularly bizarre fashion before the Doctor and Barbara jointly manage to figure out the problem and the Doctor works the relevant switch loose.

Because of the generally strange behaviour of most of the cast, it is difficult even to see this story as character development. The most successful part is the relationship between the Doctor and Barbara. She stands up to him. She refuses to be mollified at the end by anything short of a proper apology for his behaviour and ultimately it is Barbara who saves the day with the insight that the strange events inside the Tardis are not an indication of some hostile force but an attempt by the Tardis to communicate.

However, in the end, Edge of Destruction is two episodes of padding without even the dubious benefit of a monster and a corridor to run down. It's impressive given the circumstances under which it was produced, but that doesn't actually make it good.

By the end of episode 1 the Teenager was declaiming loudly on the morality of Video Game companies who produce misleading trailers for games. She did not come back for episode 2.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/221556.html.
 
 
 
philmophlegm: Victoria Waterfieldphilmophlegm on November 23rd, 2016 08:30 pm (UTC)
It's a nice idea for a story, but it doesn't quite work. And it comes across like a subpar 60s kitchen sink drama written by the sort of angry young man who'd like to be Keith Waterhouse but doesn't have the talent.

G's right about misleading game trailers. Some things never change.
louisedennislouisedennis on November 24th, 2016 11:53 am (UTC)
The kitchen sink drama parallel is interesting in that, the story is explicitly trying to suggest some supernatural alien presence which is very not kitchen sink, but all the wandering about the Tardis interior and shouting at each other probably does owe something to more domestic tales.

G has been womanfully resisting pre-ordering some rollercoaster park simulation game for months and it has just come out, she's now resisting buying in the anticipation of a Steam sale tomorrow which, incidentally, she also has off school.
philmophlegm: gordonfreemanphilmophlegm on November 25th, 2016 06:10 pm (UTC)
In all the rush to do our own sale, I'd completely overlooked the fact that there would be a Steam sale! Hurries over to Steam...
philmophlegm: Sumatra (2)philmophlegm on November 25th, 2016 06:13 pm (UTC)
On the subject of rollercoaster simulation games and their ilk, bunn once won a copy of Theme Park (among other EA games) in a competition in The Times.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on November 23rd, 2016 09:43 pm (UTC)
The Edge of Destruction came about when a script fell through and the Doctor Who production team were left with two episodes to fill and a minuscule budget.

I thought the current theory was that Doctor Who was given 13 episodes initially and the only available scripts were four and seven episodes respectively so two episodes were needed to fill the gap (which isn't quite the same thing as a script falling through, sorry to be pedantic!).

I watched this recently. I've started watching the original series (and maybe more) in order again (ostensibly as research for a book, but really because my depression is very bad and I need the TV equivalent of comfort food which Deep Space Nine wasn't supplying; also it's easier for me to find twenty-five minutes a day than forty-five). I actually like it, although I wouldn't call it a masterpiece. I think the first three stories benefit from being watched together - there is definitely character development, albeit not smoothly. It is a weird story, though and it does leave a lot of questions unanswered. I think I just go with the weirdness and enjoy it for something unlike anything else in Doctor Who, or on TV at all, really.
parrot_knight: Hartnell wordsparrot_knight on November 23rd, 2016 10:11 pm (UTC)
Not so much 13 initially as Donald Baverstock wanting the option to cancel at 13 episodes, though the Serials Department planned and of course made a first year of 52. Though arguably I'm being even more pedantic!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on November 24th, 2016 11:55 am (UTC)
I thought the current theory was that Doctor Who was given 13 episodes initially and the only available scripts were four and seven episodes respectively so two episodes were needed to fill the gap (which isn't quite the same thing as a script falling through, sorry to be pedantic!).

I wasn't aware of that, though wasn't the Daleks also a bit last minute in some way, at least in a "we've honestly nothing even vaguely more educational we can replace this with and anyway mutation and radiation" or something.

It's definitely different and interesting, but I find it hard to feel its particularly good...
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on November 24th, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
I just like weird stuff!