Saturday, October 9, 2010

Episode 13: The Brink of Disaster

[Ed note: Our ship malfunctioned this week, much like the TARDIS, so we're a little late with the new episode.  But don't despair, we'll soon be back on track!  Thanks for the eager anticipation!]  In "The Brink of Disaster", strange things continue to happen aboard the TARDIS until an unlikely candidate realizes what the problem is.  Kevin dubs this episode "The Four Seasons" and explains what that's all about throughout the podcast.  Starring William Hartnell as Doctor Who, written by David Whitaker, directed by Frank Cox.  Originally aired February 15, 1964.  Audio length: 61 mins 46 secs.

Stream | Download | iTunes


  1. I'm sorry to say I think you both missed the boat on this episode. The explaination of the odd events and odd behavior are all there, but they're just not hammered home. Take a moment to review:

    1-The clocks melting, focusing their attention on time as a danger: Who/what did that?
    2-The fault locator: In the 1st episode, it accurately reported that none of the TARDIS's systems were faulty. Then in the 2nd episode, every single warning light was flashing in unison. Doug, you quite astutely noted that every warning light couldn't go off at once as the conditions of one warning would preclude others. So that means that there was another meaning, and a different cause, to this event. Who/what was causing this?
    3-The console: Every panel was electrified except the one with the fast return switch (the source of the danger) and the scanner (which was providing visual clues to the nature of the danger). Who/what did this?

    There are more clues as to the source of the odd events and these clues hint at bigger things. To avoid spoilers, I won't say any more.

    Needless to say, the answers are there if you want to find them. Take another look at the larger themes instead of the minutae.

  2. I agree with you that we probably DID miss the boat here, but I'm still not ready to admit that the writing's all there.

    I completely understood where they were going with all three of the points that you made (not sure Kevin did, haha) as they were (mostly) all technical issues that were caused by the Tardis itself (not sure how it melted the clocks/watches, though, but whatever).

    But the biggest unexplained mystery was the apparent bodily possession of everyone; Ian acting robotic and smiley, Susan being psychotic and suspicious, and the sudden neck pains and collapses. If there were indeed more explanations for these things that weren't "hammered home" I'd be very interested to hear the interpretation.

    Unless of course these issues are cleared up in later episodes. In which case, I maintain my stance that this episode doesn't sufficiently wrap up its loose ends.

  3. i think alot of it has to do with writers not yet having a full grasp of the characters and their motivations. it'll work its way out. one question, when we get to the reconstructed episodes out of audio recordings of the episodes that no longer exist, will you two be reviewing those? love the series, cant wait for the keys of marinus! as a long time fan you've given me reason to go dust off the disks and watch them again.

  4. Yes, our review of Marco Polo 1: "The Roof of the World" will be up this week, although probably a few days late again, unfortunately. There's no way we're going to miss an episode of Doctor Who!

    It makes us very happy to know that our show has prompted you to go back and rewatch these old episodes. I look forward to the day when WE go back to watch these "old episodes," as they're currently new to us!


  5. Doug,

    The bits you said were still unexplained: Those are the bits I stopped myself from explaining due to possible spoilers.

    There are a number of things about and surrounding the Doctor which will remain mysterious for years of the series; mysteries about the Doctor, his backstory, the TARDIS, etc., things which are hinted at but not explained. It's part of the show's DNA. After all there is a question built right into the title. You'll need to get used to the occasional bit of wierdness which will hint at something, but go largely unexplained for some time. Frankly, I like that sort of thing; it allows room for your imagination to play in!

    Additionaly, one can't expect all science in the Who universe to fit in with known science. Our characters are, after all, traveling through time and space in box with no visible engines and which is bigger on the inside than on the outside! Clearly normal science doesn't apply here.

    Regarding the "stageiness" of certain momonents, I do agree with you, it can seem a little silly sometimes. There is a reason for it, though. Unlike North American TV, which is modeled on movies, British TV, particularly of this era, was modeled on the theater. So the performances can be a bit larger than life and action tends to be exaggerated (so the folks in the back rows can see and hear). This is also why there are so many missing episodes; the BBC only had rights to show each episode twice. After that, the whole thing would have to be re-performed, like the theater. So the Beeb ended up with a lot of expensive video tape of B&W shows they could only broadcast once more and color TV was coming. So they did the pragmatic thing and started wiping them. (Darn you BBC!) Thankfully, they've become more enlightened since.

  6. Okay, so then thankfully everything that was meant to be explained, I got. I don't believe, however, that there was any indication that the remaining unexplained things would, should or could have been explained in future episodes. That's awesome that we DO get explanations later on, but I still argue that at this point in the series, these are blatant plot holes that should've been addressed at the time.

    I mean, there's a big difference between leaving the appearance of the Daleks a mystery or not explaining where Susan and the Doctor come from, and just full-on never explaining a key plot point like why the characters seemed possessed in EoD. Some mysteries don't necessarily need to be explained for the story to make sense, but in the case of EoD, it certainly did.

    So until we see those future episodes you elude to, we've just got this frustrating and non-sensical story that appears to have been written very sloppily.

    Who knows, perhaps someday we'll rewatch this episode again and think it's the most brilliant set-up we've ever seen!

  7. Hey Joshua, thanks for the shout-out on Staggering Stories! I hope with the combined delay and "boat-missing" this week, you aren't too disappointed or in favour of recanting your recommendation! ;-) Hopefully we'll all get back on track with Marco Polo, and as you will see, Doug and I have a few tricks up our sleeves in at least one upcoming episode!

  8. No, I'm not going to retract my recommendation. I'm looking forward to Marco Polo and your "tricks"!

  9. Hang on a sec. . .

    What are you doing listening to Staggering Stories?! Spoilers!

  10. Haha, it came up on a Google search for "Who Noobs." We only listened to the relevant bit. I started listening to the beginning to get an idea what the show was, but honestly had no idea what anyone was SAYING, let alone what they were talking about, haha. I still have no clue what the premise of the podcast is.


  11. It's a general sci-fi podcast, but with a focus on British sci-fi, particularly Doctor Who. It's been running for a while (currently a group of 5 hosts feature in various combinations) so a large crop of in-jokes have grown up in the podcast which can make a lot of interchanges difficult to follow to the uninitiated . . . though maybe you just meant the accents. Well, I grew up with a lot of British TV, so I guess I'm just used to them.

    Anyway, I hope my recommendation drives some more traffic your way. I see Adam J Purcell (from Staggering Stories) is a "follower."

  12. Yeah, I meant the in-jokes, as well as the constant talking over one another. I noticed they were discussing Babylon 5, too, which is another favourite show of mine.

    Anyway, thanks again for the recommendation!


  13. Ahhh, a fan of Babylon 5. Maybe this story would fall in line with Grey 17 Is Missing. Glad to meet another fan of that sci fi.

    Hmmm, it seem that this story is considered weak by two podcasts that I listened to. Cadmium 2 gave it low a low ranking in their review as well, in fact out of 39, it think, stories that they reviewed this ranks in thier view as the worst to date. I want to again throw out some food for thought about the Doctor and the Tardis. I know you have questions about both and some of the elements you have seen make you shake your head and say why, but out of everyone in the cast, the Doctor is the one person who knows the most about the Tardis. He is the operator of the time machine and hence knows the most about it. While we might not understand all of the technobabble he gives, he clearly does have a far greater understand of how it works and should be. Hence while we do not understand why he say we have 10 or 5 minutes until desintergration he would certainly have a way of stating that or arriving at the number. Believe me when I say this, you will have other moments when he does something similiar on many other things to come.

    Some more trivia/history. This two parter originated as a result of the number of stories commisioned from the start, 13. An Unearthly Child 4 parts. Daleks 7 parts. Hence we have a 2 part story. The serial was comisioned another 13 episodes and the next one was going to be using up more money so they were forced to go really low budget, hence the 4 main characters and the one set. I hope this helps shed more light on what you saw, whether or not it improved your look at the 2 parter.

    Looks like I will be trying to power through these podcasts as I really am enjoying them.

  14. I've mentioned a few times on-air that most of the time the Doctor is seen using the Tardis, it seems very much like he has no clue how it works. He very often fiddles around with the console like it's his first time.

    I realize we're supposed to believe he's very technically savvy, since he's able to fix the circuit piece in the next story, but Hartnell's performance tends to betray his supposed knowledge of the Tardis' operation.