The Daleks (sometimes called "The Dead Planet") is the second-ever Doctor Who serial. First broadcast between December 1963 and February 1964, the seven-episode story ensured the program's success by introducing the Doctor's most iconic enemies. Five hundred years after a nuclear war has devastated the planet Skaro, the Doctor (William Hartnell), Barbara, Ian, and Susan materialize in a petrified forest where the pacifist, and decidedly camp, Thals face starvation. Our heroes visit a nearby city, the home of the last remaining Daleks, terrifyingly cold-blooded mutants encased in armed, pepper-pot-like shells, and become involved in a desperate battle for survival. Given a nightmarish atmosphere by Tristram Cary's surreal electronic score, The Daleks proved the template for many a future Doctor Who adventure. Hartnell's Doctor is a surprisingly self-serving hero and the ambitious storytelling, which reflects the Cold War fears of the time, belies a tiny budget. The remastered picture sometimes looks digitized, but this story, remade for the cinema as Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and starring Peter Cushing, is still both an effective, if at times unintentionally hilarious, entertainment and an essential piece of television history. A superior sequel, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, was screened in late 1964. --Gary S Dalkin
One of the rarest of the early Doctor Who series, with William Hartnell as the crusty old Doctor, Edge of Destruction is entirely based in the TARDIS, which has stopped somewhere between worlds and times. The Doctor blames Ian and Barbara, the two teachers who came aboard in search for answers about his granddaughter, Susan, assuming they have committed sabotage in an attempt to return to their own time. They, in turn, in spite of recent shared escapes from Cavemen and Daleks, have no particular reason to trust his sanity. Something is causing one after another of them to act with violent irrationality, and the clock is ticking towards their destruction... This is a claustrophobic two-episode plot in which the series examines closely some of its more beloved assumptions. --Roz Kaveney
The Beginning set is exactly that: the beginning of the sci-fi iconic series known as Doctor Who. Overshadowed in November of 1963 by the assassination of President Kennedy, what's contained in this set set the tone and established standards for what would follow for the next 26 years, one TV movie and the 2005 revival of the series.
The episodes themselves are in black and white and are a little slow moving for 21st century audiences, so I'd suggest watching only one episode at a time.
In An Unearthly Child we are exposed to the mysterious Doctor and his TARDIS for the first time, and travel back to prehistoric times. The first episode of this story outshines the remaining three.
Then we travel to a Dead Planet in The Daleks for our first exposure to Doctor Who's iconic and most popular adversaries: the Daleks (surprise surprise...). If the prior four episodes hadn't grabbed viewers by the neck, the cliffhanger of episode one and what followed certainly did. At seven episodes, there are only a few stories in the history of the show that match The Daleks in length.
In The Edge of Destruction, the Doctor and his companions find themselves inside a malfunctioning TARDIS, fighting to overcome strange and inexplicable psychological attacks. At two episodes, it is a self contained story and does a lot for character development.
In addition to these three stories, you get an alternate (unscreened) version of the pilot for the show, which shows subtle differences from what was finally decided on for episode one of An Unearthly Child. You also get commentaries and a number of documentaries on these episodes, as well as how the show itself got started. To top it all off, these 40+ year old episodes have been lovingly restored to pristine condition by the RT.
A top notch release. Finally the Powers That Be have started releasing the show in a manner that approaches a boxed set. Five out of five for certain!