Number : Season 1, serial 7 of 8.
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 episodes.
1) “Strangers in Space”
2) “The Unwilling Warriors”
3) “Hidden Danger”
4) “A Race Against Death”
6) “A Desperate Venture”
Plot : The Doctor pilots the Tardis to a space station, where the human astronauts are being mentally assaulted by the psychic (alien) Sensorites, who hail from a nearby planet; The Sense-sphere.
Whats good : Episodes 1-to-3; set on the human space station. Have a nice atmospheric and unsettling quality. The Sensorite’s first introduction, peering in the window is – chilling. Susan gets a bigger role here.
Whats bad : It’s too long. Episodes 3 – 6; set on the Sense-sphere, descends into maudlin melodrama. The Sensorites aren’t ultimately interesting enough, to anchor this serial. Barbara is missing.
Review With Spoilers : The Sensorites in the seventh (and penultimate) serial of season 1 – of Doctor Who.
It introduces the alien Sensorites, harassing a bunch of human astronauts via ESP – aboard a space station. The arrival of the Doctor and companions changes events, so the Sensorites send a boarding party, from the Sense-sphere – to investigate.
And this is where episodes 1 – 3, at least – excel, in providing plenty of tension and gloomy atmosphere aboard the human space-station. The mentally tortured human astronauts and the impending arrival of the Sensorites, punctuated by fleeting glimpses and noises, makes for a very unsettling initial story.
“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 with the Sensorites – and the Doctor, Ian, Susan and human astronauts; John and Carol; are invited to the Sense-sphere. The episode becomes a little more embroilled in political intrigue and loses it’s way somewhat.
The Doctor attempts to negotiate a peace treaty between the Sensorites and humans. Spends time investigating a poisoning plot and uncovers a plot by hardcore Sensorite rebels.
As a result, episodes 4-to-6 are a tad stretched out and talky – and don’t come close to matching the early suspense (and promise) of episodes 1-to-3.
The other problem, is; once we get to know the Sensorites, we don’t actually find them as interesting. They have ESP abilities to communicate and attack other beings – mentally. They have a rudimentary form of technological achievement but you are left hoping through this, that there is another twist in the tail; such as a hidden agenda or trait – unfortunately – there isn’t!
They are at least, well designed monsters, (for early Doctor Who) and are memorable with their odd ‘upside-down’ look – bald heads and hair on their chins.
Susan gets a (surprising) much bigger role 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 mildly 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 space-station under siege, gives way to almost pedestrian Star Trek Next-Gen talky diplomacy-style turn. Still, Susan gets a (rare) bigger role and look-in, on this story.
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