Sue knows this story is only two episodes. If she thought it could be dragged out for seven episodes, we really would be on the brink of disaster…
The Edge of Destruction
Once again, Sue is amused to discover that travelling in the TARDIS can be a traumatic experience for everyone concerned; when the crew are thrown violently to the floor, she doesn’t see it as a portent of doom, she regards it as business as usual.
It takes her all of two minutes to work out that something isn’t quite right.
Sue: What the hell is going on? This is a bit mental.
She is dumbfounded for several minutes. The last time she had a look like that on her face, I was explaining the plot of A Serbian Film to her.
Sue: Oh. My. God.
She is, of course, referring to Hartnell’s bandage (“He looks even more ridiculous than usual”) but she’s even more flummoxed by the infamous ‘running with scissors’ scene.
Sue: That is bang out-of-order. I wouldn’t let my children watch that. That’s borderline irresponsible. There’s also a weird insinuation that Susan is self-harming. What time did this go out, again?
As the level of bickering, mistrust and paranoia reaches some fairly giddy heights, Sue becomes convinced that Ian and Susan have been possessed by an alien intelligence and that it’ll be up to the other two to sort it out.
Sue: What is everyone flipping out about now? I can’t tell what I’m supposed to be reacting to. Have I missed something important?
Me: It’s a melting clock. Don’t worry about it. It would have been difficult to work out what it was back in 1964 on a tiny television set.
Sue: I can’t work it out on a 50″ plasma!
When the Doctor drugs his companions, Sue doesn’t bat an eyelid. She is now completely immune to the Doctor’s more duplicitous nature.
Sue: The Doctor is the only one of them who is acting completely in character. He’s always unpleasant.
When the episode draws to an end (“It’s Ian!”), Sue suggests we save the next one for tomorrow evening. And she’s usually so eager to press on.
The Brink of Disaster
In an attempt to give this episode such much-needed urgency, I tell Sue that elements introduced in this story will be referenced later in the series. There’s the ‘Heart of the TARDIS’ in Boom Town, for example, and all that neck-rubbing will be referenced throughout Pertwee’s tenure. She promises to make a note for future reference.
Sue: I’ve changed my mind. The Doctor is definitely possessed by something – he can’t get his words out. He’s made a right mess of the title of this episode for a start.
As the episode hurtles towards its baffling conclusion, Sue begins to flounder.
Sue: I am completely lost now. What the hell are they going on about now?
Me: Try to think of it as an edition of the 1980s quiz show, 3-2-1, with the TARDIS in the Ted Rogers role and the Big Bang as Dusty Bin. Hartnell is almost certainly Norman Collier.
Sue: So this has been a series of cryptic clues about a faulty switch? Why didn’t the TARDIS just put the words “There’s a problem with my switch” on its monitor? I’d hate to ring a support line if I had a problem with a TARDIS – it would be murder! And what were the scissors meant to represent? A holiday for two in Corfu?
Remind me never to go to Corfu with Sue.
Incredibly, she doesn’t react to the hand-written note scrawled above the fast return switch, and when I point it out to her she simply assumes that the Doctor must have put it there because he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.
However, when Hartnell leans back on the console and delivers a soliloquy about the birth of a sun, Sue is left spellbound.
Sue: I loved that. What a great speech. That’s the first time he has acted like the Doctor. I especially like the way they framed and lit that shot. It was very dramatic.
And then the Doctor starts apologising profusely to everyone, especially Barbara.
Sue: It’s about bloody time.
Me: I knew you’d grow to like Hartnell eventually.
Sue: Don’t push it.top
The Final Score
Sue: Well, that was crap.
Sue: Really? Do the fans like this one?
Sue: Most of it was pretty dire but I really liked the last five minutes.
I break out into a cold sweat. If Sue gives this story a higher score than An Unearthly Child, the universe might implode.
Sue: I think I may have enjoyed it – on a perverse level. It certainly wasn’t boring. It felt quite daring. And there’s something about Hartnell right at the end that gives me hope. Having said all that, it’s only really worth -
She goes on to explain that she would have scored The Edge of Destruction a big fat zero if it hadn’t been for those last few scenes.
Sue: What’s next?
Me: That’s a very good question.
What followed was a very lengthy discussion about the thorny subject of the missing episodes. Her reaction to the news that more than 100 episodes are currently missing from the archives was unique to say the least:
Sue: What a blessed relief.
When I explain to her that a man named John Cura, and a small army of fans armed with reel-to-reel tape recorders, have made it possible for us to experience these episodes, she gives me a withering look.
Sue: **** off. I’ve read the comments on the blog and these are the recons that everyone keeps going on about, aren’t they? Rob Shearman says I shouldn’t.
Me: Stop pretending you know who Rob Shearman is.
I can’t really go into the specifics of the discussion that followed but she eventually agreed to “give it a go”. You really don’t want to know what my price was for negotiating this concession.
This is a make-or-break moment. If I pull out the recon to ‘The Roof of the World’ and she can’t handle it then the experiment could be over. I don’t even know if I can sit through it.
But, luckily for us, there’s a condensed version of Marco Polo on the Edge of Destruction DVD and we can experience all seven episodes in less than 30 minutes!
Some of you will believe that we are cheating, but as compromises go, this one will take some beating.
And anything that stalls The Keys of Marinus is fine by me.
The experiment continues…top
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