I think Tony and I agree that our first view of the Sensorites is the creepiest Doctor Who moment thus far. Like an odd little elf man out in space. I think little is creepier than huge. Huge can be scary. But creepy is scarier than just scary.
I find myself being drawn more and more to Barbara. Perhaps this is because I am closer in age to her than Susan. I am feeling old. Maybe someday I will relate more to the Doctor. If the present is any indication then I will in fact be a grumpy old man, who likes to travel, and *fingers crossed* is intelligent.
Speaking of relating, every once in a while I have to pause the television and confirm with Tony that I understand something correctly. Because every once in a while they seem to have “made a huge mistake.” For example a cat’s eyes dilate in the dark, as do human eyes. So the TARDIS crew deduces that since a Sensorite’s eyes are fully dilated in the light, their eyes must… be the opposite of cats’ eyes and contract in the dark. So if a duck floats and wood floats, and a witch is made of wood, then a witch will weigh less than a duck. Am I right?
Anyway, not a bad story overall. This is mostly because it is an actual story. There is a little bit of mystery and a small twist.
Sorry, dear readers, this story is yet another that Jael and I agree on. I completely agree with her assesment of the introduction of the first Sensorite at the end of the first episode… it was very creepy! I was almost ready to laugh off the awkward amount of silence, but when they show the Sensorite on the outside of the ship in conjunction with Ian’s worried face, it makes the scene. If I were a small child back in the 60s watching this, I would have been pretty freaked out.
Let me back up just a little bit, let’s give a brief history of how this blog started. I had heard Steven Schapansky (Radio Free Skaro) talk about his daunting task of reviewing all episodes in order and it got me thinking… why not try this on my own? Jael and I have watched about two-thirds of the stories, but in no particular order. I didn’t know if I wanted to push my luck by dragging Jael into my “let’s watch them all… in order!” idea, let alone my revised idea of blogging about it. When we started this blog, we didn’t know the specifics of “Wife In Space”, though they had been mentioned on Radio Free Skaro (yep, another plug, but it’s my favorite Who podcast). When I finally visited the “Wife In Space” website, I read the following:
I was reading the wonderful Running Through Corridors when I was inevitably inspired to watch Doctor Who from the beginning again. I’ve attempted this feat several times before but I usually crumble in the middle of The Sensorities; if I cheat and jump to Pertwee, it’s always Colony in Space that finishes me off. My methodology was probably at fault (that and the sheer awfulness of The Sensorities).
With that scary of a review, and the fact that we had not watched the story yet (one of the 33% we own fitting that criteria) made my expectations very low. Maybe these low standards coupled with my pleasant surprise of the story itself led to my grading of this story, who knows?
Back to the story itself…
The Sensorites are not very well known, and are not around in the new series, so the magic of their first introduction does not compare to that of the Daleks or Cybermen, but I would argue that this may be one of the best alien introductions of any monster (stripping out any magic and history of the monster’s meaning to Doctor Who). All this and we are talking about a story from the 1960s… an era not known for it’s acting or writing (hey, it was more like a children’s theatre performance back then).
Although the story was 6 parts (I prefer 4 parts or less), the story seemed to flow for the most part. The story was not 100% predictable, the twists and turns, though simple, were much better than those of previous stories. We even get to see the more scientific side of The Doctor, a side not often shown by the First Doctor, but one really that really comes out in the 3rd and 4th incarnations.
If you want further detail, here are my notes:
Oh thank you members of the TARDIS team for recapping all of the adventures we saw AND to The Doctor for teasing about adventures we hadn’t seen. Apparently there was travel before even Susan came aboard.
Great idea Doctor, let’s just leave the supposedly dead people, there’s nothing to do or see here.
A heart resuscitator, nice idea! Maybe a pre-cursor to AED?
Finally, a story set in the future, this one involves 28th century humans on a spaceship.
Poor TARDIS, she doesn’t deserve to be burned like that. The lock is gone and so the TARDIS is under perma-lock. Not good. I want sweatshirt-like gloves that match my sweatshirt, just like a Sensorite.
In typical fashion, the group splits up, Barbara and Susan leave the main area and are followed by a zombie-like man.
OK, the reveal of the alien was pretty sweet. The half minute of silence was odd, but the creepy dude at the glass was a nice surprise.
The mind games of the unknown worked well for such a long part of this episode.
The aliens look a lot like the Silents. We also learn that the scenes that are used at the end of one episode and beginning of the next are actually acted out twice, not just reused and filmed from that point onward. (The alien looked different, that’s why.)
Fight back against the Sensorites by thinking powerfully as a group… interesting.
The one Sensorite has a really nice beard! They look like really old men with terribly burned faces.
Susan sacrifices herself for the good of the group. She seems very adult and wants to be seen as such. It’s somewhat unfortunate that she gives in to The Doctor, though I’m glad she lives.
..And so The Doctor says that Susan cannot make decisions on her own. This is their first fight?!
The Sensorites have split feelings when it comes to the “Earthlings”, nearly killing the gang with a disintegrator.
Well, the writers wanted to make this one easy to solve, only the elders drink the good water, the elders do not get the disease… hmmmm.
Jael – “Is his head… foaming?!” There was waterfall and the Sensorite’s head was unflatteringly framed by the camera.
The Doctor gets to flex his science muscle, telling the Sensorites that they should take multiple water samples and test them against each other.
And now a plot extender, the rogue Sensorite group that believes that the humans are bad decide to strip an elder of power. The rogue leader says that the antidote is actually poison, that Ian is faking it.
“Scientist!” Says the one Sensorite to the scientist Sensorite. I love how formal and personal they are.
Second elder sabotage. Not good, dude, not good.
The Doctor finally admits to not liking weapons of any sort in the 5th episode (“though they look nice”).
At least the Sensorite calls Susan smart and says he can learn a lot from her.
The Sensorite shows mercy and The Doctor tells them that they are developing quite well.
Not quite a fitting and happy end, The Doctor threatens Ian with expulsion from the ship once they land in the next place (all because Ian states that the TARDIS doesn’t know where it’s going).
- Story Grade: A-
- Yep, I just went there, I threw it in the A range! The introduction of the aliens and the writing was the best since the first episode of Doctor Who (An Unearthly Child), I almost forget that it was a longer 6 episode story. I would go as far as saying that I would not only welcome a mention of the Sensorites in the new series, I would welcome them back with open arms.
Thank you, Peter Newman (writer) and Mervyn Pinfield (director: episodes 1-4), you created an awesome introduction of a monster/alien. Thank you, Neil Perryman, for possibly scaring me into a near-love for this story.
PS: If you have watched this story (or any others in our previouly reviewed catalogue), please feel free to share your review or thoughts. We are also looking for volunteers who want to watch a story with us and tell us your thoughts/review of said story. Feel free to contact us at kroWeW@gmail.com and we’ll put it on our schedule. If you have a particular story or Doctor that you would like to watch with us, please let us know. We are hoping to do this on a monthly basis (maybe 2 times a month). **cough**MICHAEL!!**cough**