Saturday 25 December 2010

033 The Sensorites Part 3: Hidden Danger

EPISODE: The Sensorites Part 3: Hidden Danger
TRANSMITTED: 11 July 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
DIRECTOR: Mervyn Pinfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - The First Doctor (The Sensorites , The Time Meddler & The Gunfighters)

The Tardis crew rescue Susan by turning the lights out on the Sensorites.... oh dear. Bad story or clever comment on how different an alien life form is? The Doctor wants to speak with the Sensorite first elder to arrange their release. John is raving saying he can hear voices in his mind and the Sensorites want him to forget. The Sensorite elder agrees to them coming to the planet. The Sensorites tell a story about a previous contact with humans which went badly: the humans ships exploded which seems to be causing an increasing number of deaths on the Sensesphere (the atmosphere has been contaminated?)

We see the Sensorite council chamber where the Sensorites are discussing the visitors. The first elder, wearing a crossed sash on his chest, supports the visit but the second elder, with a single sash is against it. The administrator, with a black collar, supports the first elder. Otherwise they are nearly identical to the Sensorites seen before. The Admininistrator has beamed a Disintegrator to the council chamber to "protect them", but intends to use it to kill the earth visitors at the first opportunity. The Sensorites reveal there is a caste system to the travellers. John tries to tell the travellers something. The Sensorites say they can restore John's mental faculties. The Second Elder orders the disintegrator dismantled but the Administrator argues with them. The travellers discuss events with the First Elder who tells them of John's visit: he wanted to mine the planet. In order to stop him they wiped his mind but it went wrong driving him insane. The Doctor discusses the disease afflicting the people with the elders, who have not been affected by it, as Ian falls ill.

I can see what this story is trying to do, it's just I don't think it's execution on screen has done it any favours. There's lots of nice little detail: they flagged up about the eyes the last episode, today it's mentioned that the elders drink a different water. The Sensorites have no menace to them at all and the b&w film prints make them look just like bearded old men with odd faces.

Doctor Who's most famous guest star thus far appears in this episode. Peter Glaze was at the time the resident comic on Crackerjack. Here he's a Sensorite but I have no idea which one! His Wikipedia entry says he's the Administrator, whereas the cast list shows him as Third Sensorite. Since the cast list doesn't say who The Administrator is, I'm willing to go with this.

The Sensorites is available on the BBC section of YouTube. You can find Episode 3 here.

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