Which One : Sensing with Sensorites.
Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Susan : Carol Ann Ford
Ian : William Russell
Barbara : Jacqueline Hill
John : Stephen Dartnell
Carol : Ilona Rodgers
Maitland : Lorne Cossette
Commander : John Bailey
First Human : Martyn Huntley
Second Human : Giles Phibbs
First Sensorite/First Scientist : Ken Tyllsen
Second Sensorite/Second Scientist/Warrior : Joe Greig
Third Sensorite/City Administrator : Peter Glaze
Fourth Sensorite : Arthur Newall
First Elder : Eric Francis
Second Elder : Bartlett Mullins
Written By : Peter R. Newman
Produced By : Verity Lamb
First UK Broadcast : 20 June – 1 August 1964.
Length : 6 x 25 minute parts.
1) “Strangers in Space”
2) “The Unwilling Warriors”
3) “Hidden Danger”
4) “A Race Against Death”
6) “A Desperate Venture”
Plot : The Doctor lands the Tardis on a space station, where the human astronauts are being mentally assaulted by the psychically powerful alien Sensorites, who hail from a nearby planet; The Sensphere.
Whats good : Parts 1-to-3; set on the human space station. Have a nice atmospheric and unsettling quality. The Sensorites first introduction – peering in the window is; chilling.
Whats bad : Parts 3 – 6; set on the Sense-sphere, descends into maudlin melodrama. The Sensorites aren’t ultimately interesting enough to anchor this episode.
Review With Spoilers : The Sensorites in the 7th and penultimate episode of season 1 of Who.
It introduces the alien Sensorites, harassing a bunch of human astronauts via ESP – aboard a space station. The arrival of the Doctor and his companions changes things, so the Sensorites send a boarding party from their nearby homeworld; the Sense-sphere to investigate.
And this is where parts 1 – 3, at least – excel, in providing plenty of tension and gloomy atmosphere aboard the human spacestation. The mentally tortured human astronauts and the impending arrival of the Sensorites, punctuated by fleeting glimpses and noises, which makes for a very unsettling half episode.
“The first elder said that they have less fear of us. We are to stay here and watch, and listen to them closely. If they try to attack us with force, we are to summon our warriors to destroy them!” Sensorite
Once initial relations are established and the Doctor, Ian, Susan and human astronaut’s; John and Carol – are invited down to the Sense-sphere. The episode becomes a little more potboiling and loses its pacing somewhat.
The Doctor attempts to foster relations between the Sensorites and humans, investigate a poisoning plot and attempt to uncover a plot to prevent diplomacy by hardcore Sensorite elements.
As a result, parts 4 – 6 are a tad stretched out amd talky and don’t come close to matching the early suspensful promise of parts 1-3.
The other problem, is; once we get to know the Sensorites, we don’t actually find them that interesting. They have ESP abilities to communicate and attack other beings. They have some rudimentary form of technological0 achievement but you are left hoping there is another twist in the tail about them; such as a hidden agenda or trait – unfortunately there isn’t!
They are well designed monsters, at least (for early Who) and are memorable in their odd upside down hairy look – bald heads and wigs on their chins.
Susan gets a much bigger part in this, which is probably due to Barbara’s absence for much of the story. As a result, we get some rare extra development of Susan’s character. Including; confirmation that she is telepathic (at least while on the Sense-sphere) and frustration, that the Doctor does not allow her more free reign to make “adult” decisions.
The Sensorites is an adventure of 2-distinct halves. The early promise of a spacestation under siege, gives way to almost pedestrian Star Trek Next-Gen diplomacy-style mission. Still, Susan gets a (rare) bigger part and look-in on this story.