A while back I started to muse on the first season of Doctor Who, but for some reason it slipped my mind and this prompt reminded me.
So story number three, which like the previous two stories has been referred to by multiple titles, in this case Inside the Spaceship and The Edge of Destruction. This is what we now would call a chamber piece as it features one location (the TARDIS) and a minimal cast (it is just the Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian) and something of an abstract threat. However the story is more about redressing the relationships between the TARDIS occupants and getting them to work together to solve the problem (which if to be fair is rather naff and surely there is an easier way to tell the crew what is wrong).
Paranoia and mistrust are rife through out the regulars with the Doctor convinced Ian and Barbara are trying to get at him and turn Susan against him, Susan is convinced something has gotten into the ship and has possessed one of them, while the surprised anger of Barbara at the Doctor and his behaviour finally comes to the fore. In all honesty the opening episode is a bit stagey in terms of performance and it is only with the novelisation that the opening scene really is explained. The direction is a bit flat for episode one as well, with the infamous melting clocks scene is poorly put together though that is partially down to the inability for the effects team to realise it. It isn’t obvious that it is a melting clock either and looks more like an unfinished prop and Barbara’s reaction to it is way too OTT. The visual effects for Ian’s melting watchface is much better as is his muted shock reaction to it, the irony of a time machine’s occupants being unable to measure time anymore is mentioned briefly but the consequences of this aren’t explored.
Part Two sees a marked improvement in both terms of direction and performance due to the change of director from Richard Martin to Frank Cox. Hartnell gives an impressive speech about the formation of a galaxy and the final confrontation between the Doctor and Barbara is a powerful piece of drama when he talks to her with his tail between his legs thanking her for saving everyone’s lives by tracking down the source of the problem. From now on, the original TARDIS crew have a closer warmer relationship and Hartnell begins to soften the Doctor’s character and push him toward becoming the main protagonist.
The overall reason for the TARDIS hurtling back to the big bang is silly but the story isn’t about that, it is about the TARDIS crew itself.
Worth a watch but I recommend that you purchase the book or talking book to help clarify things afterwards.