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As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves.—The Doctor
One of Doctor Who's few bottle episodes, "The Edge of Destruction" (sometimes known as "Inside the Spaceship") is a two-part oddity wedged between two longer stories. Originaly the show was confirmed for four episodes (until the end of The Fire Makers) to be reviewed up. Then it was increased to having 13 episodes, 2 more than The Daleks allowed for and, worse, there was no money for sets or extras.
The TARDIS lurches and everyone falls over, and when they get back up again, everyone's acting a bit odd. Weird stuff starts happening and the Doctor suspects there's an alien presence on board and gets very paranoid. He accuses Ian and Barbara of sabotage, drugs their cocoa and is himself attacked by Susan.
Turns out it's the TARDIS itself that's the problem. The Doctor hit the "fast return" switch at the end of "The Daleks", but it got stuck and the TARDIS has been whizzing back in time to its own creation and therefore destruction. The weird stuff was the ship trying to warn its crew, who fix the problem (a faulty spring - lovely 60s space technology) and go on their way.
The story can be watched here.
- The Alleged Car: The drama is caused by the TARDIS's stuck fast-return switch.
- Billions of Buttons: The console's (as iconic to Doctor Who as the blue police box) caused the actors to start labeling them.
- Incidentally, on the DVDs it turns out that no one is sure who actually wrote it. Carol Ann Ford suggests it may have been her and Hartnell, during rehearsal, but she isn't sure.
- Bottle Episode: One of the few in the old series, along with the first episode of "The Mind Robber".
- Break the Haughty: Given that the Doctor was well into Type IV on the Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes in the first two stories his behaviour here isn't very surprising. However, he reaches a new low upon threatening to throw Ian and Barbara out the TARDIS, something that could easily kill them. When the woman he threatens to kill not only gives him one hell of a What the Hell, Hero? but also figures out the problem and saves the day, the Doctor is understandably humbled. Not only does this lead to his attitude improving but sets his moral compass in a more unambiguously good direction, something that will determine the show's outlook to this day.
- Deconstruction: Living inside a sentient alien ship whose pilot, whom you don't fully trust, can't fully control, through time and space, is not a happy experience.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Ian checks for the Doctor's singular heartbeat.
- The Doctor scoffs at the idea of the TARDIS being a Sentient Vehicle which later media would say was the case for all TARDISes. In his view, the TARDIS is intelligent in the same way that a computer is intelligent. Though one could say that this is when he realizes that the TARDIS is properly alive.
- Easy Amnesia: For a while anyway.
- Everybody Lives: Thanks to there being no weapons lying about.
- Jerkass Realization: The Doctor at the end.
- Mind Screw
- Minimalist Cast
- Not Themselves
- Reality Ensues: Susan just said that the Doctor can't reliably control the TARDIS. It's Played for Drama here as he doesn't know what to do when it malfunctions.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Barbara lays into the Doctor calling him a Narcissist Jerkass who fully believes in It's All About Me, is a horrible grandfather and person overall, and genuinely deserves to a painful death. It sparks a Jerkass Realization.
- Sinking Ship Scenario
- The X of Y
- What the Hell, Hero?: A truly awesome and well-deserved one, delivered by Barbara.