Friday, 17 October 2014

036 The Sensorites Episode 6: A Desperate Venture

EPISODE: The Sensorites Episode 6: A Desperate Venture
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 01 August 1964
WRITER: Peter R. Newman
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Sensorites

"Grandfather and I don't come from Earth. Oh, it's ages since we've seen our planet. It's quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver."

Part 6, last episode.

Carol has been seized by the former Administrator and freed Chief Warrior , who wants her to write a note convincing John she's gone to the Spaceship, but John, Susan and a returned Barbara see through the story and suspect the Administrator. The First Elder confirms that nobody had travelled to the Spaceship - they try to convince him that a Sensorite is responsible. The Doctor & Ian discover their map is altered and the weapons they have been supplied with have been disabled. John finds Carol held in the Disintegrator room by the Chief Warrior and releases her with the Chief Warrior being captured again. The Chief Elder believes he is working in concert with another Sensorite. Susan & Barbara obtain an accurate map and intend to seek the Doctor & Ian, who are in the tunnel with a monster baying at them from a distance. They discover a man in the tunnel who flees: They think he is a survivor from the exploded Spaceship. Barbara and John go to the tunnels leaving Susan with the Chief Elder. Ian and the Doctor are found by two humans in the aqueduct. They ask if the Sensorites are dead and if they've bought a Spaceship.


They take the pair to their commander, while Barbara & John track the marks the Doctor has made in the tunnel. The commander is pleased to see them, and orders his subordinates to add some more poison to the water. The Doctor convinces the Commander that he's beaten the Sensorites, but then they find Barbara and John in the Aqueduct, which initially unnerves him, but then he agrees to come out and walks into an ambush by the Sensorites, who capture the commander and his party. The Sensorites believe the three humans in the tunnel had been unhinged by using the Sensorites mind control machines. Maitland, the Captain of the Earth spaceship agrees to transport them back to Earth. The Chief Elder, convinced of the Administrator's guilt exiles him and returns the Tardis lock allowing the Doctor & the TARDIS crew to leave. Susan, now deprived of the Telepathy she had on the Sensorite planet, reflects on wanting a place to stay and belong. The Doctor argues with Ian and threatens to put him off the ship when they next land.

Probably the best episode of the six. There's some great concepts in this story, the alieness of the near identical Sensorites with their aversion to the dark & loud noise and use of clothing to differentiate themselves, the concept of telepathy and a glimpse of some genuinely unhinged minds. However the execution on screen doesn't help the story at all. It's slow, it's a touch plodding and the design isn't that great.

Susan's desire to stay somewhere and belong is a nice precursor to later events.

SUSAN: Grandfather and I don't come from Earth. Oh, it's ages since we've seen our planet. It's quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver.
1ST ELDER: My mind tells me that you wish to see your home again, and yet there is a part of you which calls for adventure. A wanderlust.
SUSAN: Yes. Well, we'll all go home some day. That's if you'll let us.
Then with the Doctor at the end of the episode in the Tardis:
SUSAN: I had a talk with the senior Scientist just before we left. It seems that the Sensphere has an extraordinary number of ultra high frequencies, so I won't be able to go on using thought transference.
DOCTOR: Oh, I don't know. It's rather a relief, I think. After all, no one likes an eavesdropper about, do they. No, I think you obviously have a gift in that direction. When we get home to our own place, I think we should try and perfect it.
SUSAN: When will we get back, Grandfather?
DOCTOR: I don't know, my dear. This old ship of mine seems to be an aimless thing. However, we don't worry about it, do we? Do you?
SUSAN: Sometimes I feel I'd like to belong somewhere, not just be a wanderer. Still, I'm not unhappy.
DOCTOR: Good, good.

The Sensorites is a very sixties story, I'm not sure you could get it to work now without drastic revision. However the Sensorites have been recycled in modern Doctor Who. The Ood are strongly based on them, with the Ood home planet and Sense Sphere being placed in the same solar system.

Writer Peter R. Newman only known previously produced work Yesterday's Enemy bears some relation to this episode: the film is about the actions of a group of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, similar to how the humans see themselves here.

The Sensorites is the first Doctor Who story novelised by Nigel Robinson , the last editor of the Target book range. It was released in Hardback in February 1987 and in paperback in June that year.

The Sensorites was one of the last stories released on video, appearing in a First Doctor Boxset with The Time Meddler & The Gunfighters which "mops up" the complete Hartnell stories that hadn't been released on video. There was a CD release of the Soundtrack on 10th July 2008 which was given to me as a "True Friend" gift by my TMUK colleague Ralph Burns. At some point it will help me deal with a bout of insomnia I'm sure. The Sensorites was released on DVD on 23rd January 2012.

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