The Beginning Collection

Cover of Doctor Who: The Beginning DVD release


  • 30 January 2006 (UK)
  • 28 March 2006 (US)




The Beginning Collection consists of the first three Doctor Who serials broadcast: An Unearthly Child, The Dalkes, and The Edge of Destruction. Among and even within these serials, the quality of individual episodes is highly variable. Overall, the collection serves as a good introduction to the show, but there's a lot of padding in the serials.

An Unearthly Child - 4 episodes

The first serial, "An Unearthly Child", gets off to an excellent start with its first episode of the same name. In that pilot episode, two affable schoolteachers, Ian and Barbara, express concern about an odd student, Susan. After following her home, they discover a mysterious man called the Doctor. The atmosphere, suspense, and dialogue in this episode is excellent, and all characters are intriguing and well-acted.

Sadly, the quality drops substantially in the next three episodes, with episodes two and four being especially difficult to bare. These episodes center on a tribe of cavemen, perhaps appropriately since it almost seems that the episodes could have been written and produced by cavemen. Long, boring speeches, terrible special effects, and a padded, unengrossing plot do not serve the story well. The Doctor's character is the only asset here, as he's an intelligent but somewhat suspect and amoral figure, and he holds the viewer's interest.

Overall, the story does not live up to its early promise.


The Daleks - 7 episodes

Doctor Who's second serial introduces perhaps the show's most recognizable icon, the Daleks. The serial gets off to a rather slow start, with the first two episodes consisting of a lot of filler. After that, the serial picks up quite a bit.

The Doctor and his companions have landed on a deserted planet, and the Doctor maneuvers his companions into exploring a city in the distance. As in An Unearthly Child, the Doctor is presented as a mysterious, somewhat mischievous character, and it suits him well.

When they explore the city, the travelers of course discover that it is hardly empty, and they end up in the middle of a conflict between two races. The Daleks poses an interesting question: do the travelers have a moral obligation to get involved in the conflict? It's a question that pits Ian and the Doctor against each other, and it serves well as the thrust of the story.

In addition to the high-quality drama, The Daleks offers a healthy dose of action and adventure, complete with fighting, subterfuge, and an odyssey. Ian gets to serve as the action hero throughout, with the Doctor often playing a more minor role. The Daleks also offers some of the best cliffhangers between episodes in the show's history.

The Daleks is a measured blend of action and drama, and it's well-executed. Though the early episodes and "The Ordeal", the appropriately named sixth episode, slow it down a bit, the rest are quite good, and the story is both compelling and engrossing.


The Edge of Destruction - 2 episodes

A bizarre serial taking place entirely on the Doctor's "ship", the TARDIS, The Edge of Destruction sees the travelers acting strangely and pitted against one another after a malfunction. The frankly irrational behaviour exhibited by several characters does not come across well, and though this story allows for some needed development of the relationship between the Doctor and Barbara, it seems quite pointless otherwise.


Special features

The special features included on the DVD are superb. The features on The Daleks provide a lot of insight into the production, and commentators include the actors who played Ian and Susan as well as the directors of the various episodes, all moderated quite well by Gary Russell.