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THE SENSORITES


Chase - Posted on 20 November 2009

1

This manages to be both down home and outer space out there; it manages to be clastrophobic and wildly wide open outer space spaces on a big spaceship. This is really LOST IN SPACE before LOST IN SPACE with a near hit crash landing on a planet, a creature at a window in the cliffhanger, two girls frightened in a locked off room on a spaceship, strange mind controlling creatures, and astronauts in a very metallic spaceship in suspended animation-like states, very like death.

Hartnell is just marvelous and half of everything he says is a flub and it's wonderful as it's part of his Doctor. He's very warm here, calling Maitland friend but hasn't lost his angry touch, "Go away!"  Barbara and Ian chide him in a playful way when he says he learned a long time ago not to meddle in other people's affairs and then too seconds later he asks Maitland what is wrong. Again, David Tennant is wrong in stating that Troughton set up what the Doc is today because as great as he is, it is Hartnell who sets it ALL up and here, his double takes, his control of the spaceship as it almost crashes, and his concern for Susan, sets up very Tom Baker and Pertwee-ish traits as well as Troughton's concern.

It seems strange that the TARDIS, called almost exclusively in this episode as THE SHIP by the Doctor and almost all the others, can have a lock taken out of it. The aliens looks quite mysterious and scary and for once, very alien. This is the first spaceship episode I believe and quite well done. The sets are great but for a few creaking wooden door like sounds on the inside as Barbara and  Susan avoid John. Carol and John seem...mismatched really. The music is used well and all the regulars interact well with each other as a well oiled machine here, and they seem to enjoy each other and know each other. We also see the exiting from the TARDIS control room  (unless I"m way wrong, we dn't hear it called CONSOLE ROOM at all yet and don't until a very long time from now) into the spaceship in one take through the doors as everyone walks out into the ship.

In all, a very good episode. It's interesting that the Doctor, was, if he could, going to leave Maitland and Carol stuck in space! ANd the others were going to agree with that, too!   

 

2

This is really more of the same and that's a good thing. Barbara and especially Ian have a tense encounter with the Sensorites, face to face and that's after Susan and Barbara use mental thought to ward them off John. Susan hears 100s of Sensorites and passes out. Later, the Doctor tries to bargain with them and his loud voice puts them off. They do remind me of the Ood or vice versa. The entire thing goes fast and is well done, the masks are quite good, the best the show has to date but one thing I don't get is that the costumes they wear, or rather their suits go up the back of their necks and seem to meld right into the bald heads and necks! That rather ruins it. The other thing is the actors are obviously talking beneath the mask so we see their mouths moving. What was the illusion supposed to be ? That the Sensorites communicate telepathically all the time? If so, then why do they sometimes need that round device to get in contact? And if not, then are their mouths beneath their skin? Either way, that does not make much sense. And ruinst the effect. It's nice that they are not aggressive much and that they seem timid and small. The cliffhanger is most unexpected, with Susan agreeing to go with them down to the planet, the so called Sense Sphere. What's that? In any event, Hartnell is most commanding here and his attribute of always thinking he's right and having Ian agree with him is most like the Sixth Doctor but also like Three and Four, too. Not to mention McCoy. I also like that the Doc sometimes says that Ian's thoughts can be read by him. I wonder if he can do that more often than he lets on. Another thing is that Ian DID agree with him verbally so the Doc didn't have to hear his thoughts. A commanding episode and one with atmosphere. Still a strong show.  

3

This episode is nothing much. Really. The only thing that really sets it apart is that Susan and the Doctor seem to have a family dispute! No kidding. Susan is growing up and admitting that while the Doctor is smarter and more experienced than she, she won't be dismissed and cast aside. The entire thing is brilliantly played by Hartnell and Ford. Ian also claims he's uneasy about separating, it always leads to trouble. Naw. Why would he think that? We meet the First Elder, the Second Elder and the City Administrator (who's not so nice at all). We learn there' s a plague since the last team of Earth people came and apparently left in a hurry and apparently five of them died in a fight on their ship which blew up miles over the planet. John is brought to the planet along with Carol and the Doctor, Susan and Ian. The First Elder plans to have him cured given time. John can tell which of the Sensorites is good and that one of them is evil. We learn the Sensorites have a caste system but there is no disgrace in being in the lower castes. The City Admin has a disintegrator gun machine which needs a key or rather a firing mechanism. An awfu lot happens but it's kind of boring to be honest. Again, though, it' s not terrible, just slow and talky. Ian takes a drink of water and passes out, having the plague. Do you think it's in the water? Hartnell is again, very good, and the Doc that we know today is brought out more and more.       

4

Despite this being one the creakest Doctor Who episodes since the start, I liked this one. It moved at a fast pace, despite it mostly being talking or montages of the Doctor working and Susan nursing Ian by holding his arms as he seems to hallcinate. He's been striciken with the  Sensorite plague which the Doctor figures is really poisoning. He acts like a scientist here and while he's clearly worried about Ian, he acts a bit...standoffish...yet he's doing everything he can to cure Ian. With Barbara stuck on the spaceship and not in this ep at all, Susan seems much more grown up suddenly, solving the problem of the City Admin destroying the antidote for Ian by her going and getting some more! Susan also accompanies Ian who is just recovered to the via ducts to help the Doctor, who's continuing his investigations of where the poison...nightshade...is and how it is coming. In the via ducts or whatever they are called, there are monsters...but we only get to hear one as it seems to bear down on the dotty Doctor. In the meantime, the City Admin continues to plot and he's really mean and prejudiced and hateful. Carol and John also appear, briefly, Carol accidentally giving the City Admin an idea..humans cannot tell the Sensorites apart and rely on the Sensorites' sashes. I'm not sure that the City Admin's idea comes across but maybe I just wasn't paying attention this time. John is still a bit out of it and attached to the machine. Surely Susan can tell the aliens apart telepathically. At the same time, the Doctor yells at the Sensorites when they won't give him back his lock for him to go into TARDIS and experiment. When he finds out more, the good Sensorites realize they have a good one on their hands. Point is the Doc yells and then Susan says something like they didn't realize the Sensorites are hurt by loud sounds. Only...I believe they did learn this earlier in the story. In any event, the music is interesting but makes it more creaky in a way that seems very 1950s or even 40s sci fi. Still, this ep isn't terrible. With boht Barbara off on the ship and Ian sick for most of it, it's interesting to see the Doctor and Susan trying to solve a science/medical problem and the dynamic that will forge the series ahead and sometimes bore me/us and the plague the series, Doctor and one companion, is seen here. It really works for Susan and pity that she didn't have more solo adventures as the only companion as she really works alone and/or with the Doctor!      

5

More plotting by the City Admin and he is really one of the most cunning adversaries since the show started and ruthless. He has kidnapped the Second Elder and forced him to bring the Key to the Disintegrator Gun to him and his accomplice. The Second Elder destroys the Key but is killed. I must say the alien look to the Sensorites is still quite alien and well done. This ep I did notice a clear mouth on the City Admin. Perhaps the mouths of the others are hidden by their beards. John comes round but cannot fully recall who the enemy is. Susan and Ian rescue the Doctor who gets a new cloak from the First Elder. I feel the sets are pretty good of an alien city with archeticture of a certain type. This might be the first time or one of the first times, the Doctor mentions his friends are his "companions" including Susan and later he asks that his companion on the ship above (Barbara as she's---Hill---is still on vacation). And once again, one of the Doc's party--the Doc himself---is blamed for murder. UNless I'm very wrong, it seems the Sensorites cannot even recognize each other but for their clothing. This ep is very strong and serious, apart from Susan making fun of  a running SEnsorite or how it would looks running. And for the first time maybe...a cliffhanger has someone other than the Doc or his party in danger: Carol is grabbed from behind by the City Admin himself! WHat's more chilling is that the real enemy...the City Admin is given power...becming the NEW Second Elder--by praise and logic from the Doctor, Susan, and Ian!  Seeing these aliens, it's difficult not to notice how much like the Ood they are but although the Ood are probably better realized and much scarier, the Sensorites are more intelligent and better thought out. Good but dough! There's a lot of flubs and fluffs from the Doctor, Susan and especailly the Sensorites. A good ep.        

6

I don't know if it is that I"m just tiring of the Hartnells already or what but this one was definitely a chore to get through, the story I mean not the ep. This ep is rather faster paced; the return of Barbara was welcome, Susan uses more telepathic mumbo jumbo but loses it when they leave the Sense Sphere, the Doctor and Susan discuss more of their home planet than ever before and the climax comes with a minimum of violence and the Doctor and Ian using some quick witted thinking to save lives and avoid fighting. Truly worth a watch. I also like how the Doctor gets all mean again at the very end and threatens to put Ian and Barbara off the ship at the very next stop not that we or they believe a word of it but it is a nice ending. For a minor cliffhanger. Maitland's ship is seen departing and this reminds me of some of the Tom Baker endings and the Davison endings as the Doc and co watch a ship leaving. We never do find out what it was that attacked the Doctor in the pipes do we? I'm also not sure that the "proof" of the Second Elder was really proof or that we get to see his arrest but that's that. A good story if a bit too long. I adore the sequences of Ian and the Doctor in the pipes and Ian saying, "I"m glad you're on my side, Doctor."  Also the great sequence where the Doctor sees one mad astronaut on one side, his back to Ian, who is trying to make the Doctor understand about the one HE sees on his side, while Ian doesn't see the one the Doctor sees on HIS side, it's pure Tom Baker buffoonery. years ahead of that...and it really works here (I felt it always did work, these kind of scenes in DW to offset the violence and darker aspects).  Also: some more flubs from Susan and the Sensorites.

I like one of the features quite a lot on the DVD for this.  It is the piece where they try to find out more anout the elusive writer Peter Newman.  As someone who does genealogical research I liked how theyu worked their way back from his death certificate and found out a little bit about this writer who no one knew anything about.  Nicely done.

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