Weighing in at an impressive 800 episodes, Doctor Who has been entertaining audiences for the past 50 years. Yet, despite this vast backlog of content, I know next to nothing about the actual series. For that reason, I’ve decided to watch this unusual show from the beginning, to discover the source of its unique appeal. Come with me as I tackle this daunting sci-fi phenomena from the very beginning in The Complete Doctor Who.
Warning: the following contains spoilers
The Complete Doctor Who: Serial 3 The Edge of Destruction, Episode 1
Given that today is St. Patrick’s Day, this episode couldn’t be more apropos, playing out like a preview of what awaits many of you tomorrow morning: namely, stumbling, random mood swings, sudden explosions of violence, and a heavy dose of amnesia thrown in for good measure.
We pick up right where last episode left off, as a random explosion renders the crew of the TARDIS unconscious.
Barbara wakes up and wanders the deck taking in the wreckage. Ian’s sprawled out in a chair, while the Doctor lies face first on the floor. She’s soon joined by Susan, who exclaims, “I know you,” slurring her words while trying to hold herself up straight. She’s also in incredible pain, clutching at her skull.
Is this stirring up images from anyone else’s college days? Well, hold on, because it’s about to get worse.
Barbara and Susan check in on the Doctor, who’s cut his head falling down. Susan goes off to find a bandage, while Ian finally wakes up and mistakes the inside of the TARDIS for his classroom.
As they slowly pull themselves through the mother of all hangovers, they discover that the TARDIS isn’t working right. No surprise there, that’s just kind of what it does, but the doors are open, leading them to wonder if maybe something’s compromised the ship.
Back in her room, Susan whips out what looks like the world’s largest packet of condoms, but ends up being some kind of fast-healing bandage. Barbara nurses the Doctor, giving us another untapped action figure idea, Drunken Bender Doctor with bloody facial bandage accessory. I don’t know about you, but put me down for a pair.
Susan starts ranting that there’s someone else on the ship, then immediately passes out.
Ian brings her to her room, lays her in bed, then steps out to get some water. When he returns, he finds her brandishing a pair of scissors with obvious intent to kill.
She threatens to cut him, then does her best Norman Bates impression, stabbing the living hell out of her bed, before passing out for the second time in under five minutes.
Back on the bridge, the others discuss Susan’s idea that there might be something on the ship, which the Doctor dismisses as “not very logical.” It is pretty outlandish. Someone walking through a set of open doors? That kind of thing, it just doesn’t happen.
Susan slips out of her room just long enough to retrieve her scissors, then pulls them on Barbara when she goes in to check on her.
This is a new direction for Susan, unstable, paranoid, and prone to stabbing anything within striking distance. I think we can all agree, it’s a vast improvement.
Unfortunately, Barbara curbs her murder spasms by wrestling the scissors away from her. Ian joins them and mentions something offhand about the Doctor turning on a scanner, which leads Susan to run towards the bridge screaming.
Ian and Barbara chase after, and they all arrive just in time to see the Doctor lose his mind. He accuses Ian and Barbara of everything from sabotaging the ship to having attacked him.
Barbara reaches the end of her rope and delivers the speech we’ve been waiting eleven episodes to hear, taking him to task for all the horrible stuff he’s put them through.
“You ought to go down on your hands and knees and thank us,” she says, in what is perhaps the show’s greatest understatement.
Then, we get the strangest moment of the entire episode when the group walks over and stares at this weird clock, only to suffer a full-scale breakdown.
That’s right, they stand there screaming at a clock for a full minute. Then, Susan tears her watch from her arm and throws it across the room before collapsing in tears. Which really got me thinking, how is it that this show survives for another fifty years, when we’ve just witnessed its obvious high point?
Then, just when you think we’ve tapped out the old insane-ometer, the Doctor shows up with a tray full of drinks. He makes nice with everyone until they finally say screw it and just head off to bed. Which, incidentally, is how I deal with most of my problems too.
As they lay there sleeping, the Doctor creeps into each of their rooms, making sure everyone is unconscious, while quietly cackling to himself. THE END.
David Whitaker did the writing honors this time, which may be a pseudonym for Hunter S. Thompson. Whoever he is, he can just go ahead and write every single episode from this point forward. Drunken insanity on the bridge of a time machine, how is that not an entire sub-genre of science fiction? I’m almost afraid to watch the next episode, because I really don’t want this ride to end.
At the very least, can Susan continue packing a pair of scissors?