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Doctor Who story number 7
This story presents a complete (or close enough) alien culture, which is very well done. The costuming is excellent, and for once there are no real villains. The "bad" people are not evil as much as they are misguided. The first two episodes build up suspense about the aliens, and then we learn the title race are peaceful and benign. Despite having awesome technological and mental powers they have a childlike fear of the dark and loud noises. The deranged humans beleive the aliens to be evil, and the chief administrator does not trust the humans. The whole story revolves around xenophobia and mistrust, and really does well (despite some bits of terrible dialogue).
Peter R. Newman
This story has 6 episodes with individual titles:
- Strangers in Space
- The Unwilling Warriors
- Hidden Danger
- A Race Against Death
- A Desperate Venture
The TARDIS materialises on the deck of a gigantic space ship from Earth, in the 28th century. The travellers find that the crew are in a state of terror. They are unable to leave the planet, and as the Doctor and his friends investigate the aliens arrive and steal the TARDIS lock, stranding them there as well. The aliens communicate telepathically with Susan, who argues for the first tinme with her grandfather.
They learn that the Sensorites are afraid of humans. Ever since another ship left they have been dying out from a mysterious disease. They have been keeping the humans captive because they fear exploitation at the hands of the humans. The Sensorites know their planet is rich in molybdenum and the humans have been conducting geological surveys. The Doctor, Ian and Susan travel to the Sense Sphere to talk with the leader of the Sensorites. Ian contracts the disease, and the Doctor discovers that there is poison in the water supply.
The Doctor finds out that the Sensorites do not go into the cave where the aqueduct which supplies the city with water is located because they are afraid of the dark and of loud noises, and so he goes to investigate with a cured Ian. In the cave he discovers two humans, left behind be the previous expedition. They have become deranged due to the attempts of the Sensorites to tamper with their memories and are poisoning the Sensorites with deadly nightshade.
Meanwhile, the City Administrator has realised that he can seize power from the Chief Elder - The Sensorite society is so trusting and peaceful that this kind of deviousness is unimaginable - and so he impersonates the Second Elder to acheive his goals. He attempts to disintegrate the humans, but is stopped by the Doctor. The humans are free to leave, and Maitland promises to say nothing of the planet.
- Stephen Dartnell - John
- Ilona Rogers - Carol
- Lorne Cossette - Captain Maitland
- Ken Tyllson, Joe Greig, Peter Glaze, Arthur Newall - Sensorites
- Eric Francis, Bartlett Mullins - Elders
- John Bailey - Commander
- Martin Huntley, Giles Phibbs - Survivors
- Barbara stays on board the ship for two episodes of the story (four and five) while the rest of the group travel to the Sense Sphere. Awfully conveniently these episodes were filmed during the weeks Jacqueline Hill was on holiday
- The Doctor once deliberately quarelled with Henry VIII and had a parson's nose thrown at him, and was then sent to the Tower of London, where the TARDIS was
- This story mentions mining rights for planets, which ties in to the later plots about planet mining in the Third Doctor's era
Weakling! Betrayer of our people! Coward! I should imprison you in some room wherein no light can shine and fill that room with noise! - City Administrator
The Sensorites are an interesting race, posessing incredibly advanced technology which is equalled by their great mental powers.
They live on the Sense Sphere, a planet with a "slightly larger" landmass than is normal and rich in molybdenum. Their planet also amplifies the telepathic powers of living beings (Possibly the reason the Sensorites have such extended powers is due to evolving there). The planet acts most heavily on Susan, though one of the human astronauts (also a woman) is able to sense them. Their eyes dilate in the light and contract in the dark, and they have no eyelids. Their hearts are in the center of their bodies, rather than off to one side, and they are able to survive in the vacuum of space.
The Sensorites have warriors, scientists, elders and a lower caste (there must be some kind of middle class as well). The warriors are not formal warriors, and probably serve the purpose of dealing with the wildlife - The Sensorite city is surrounded by the Yellow Mountains, and beyond is a desert wasteland where animals live, yet they eat fruit, suggesting they have particularly vicious wildlife. The Sensorites have the same concept of family as humans, and many exhibit the same human response to alien races - fear.
The Sensorites are all physically identical, with bulbous heads, beards and circular feet. They are all shorter than humans and are very trusting. They are afraid of being exploited, and feared humans due to the events of the story The Sensorites. Their society has prisons and a death penalty, though it is possible that these are kept on only out of tradition and a need to keep people aware of the penalty for treason or treachery, as they are all incapable of considering things like impersonating each other - The City Administrator has never thought that he could pretend to be one of the Elders by simply removing his collar of office and wearing the sash the Second Elder wears, showing that they are so inncent that even the devious Sensorites are amateurs at scheming.
It is possible that they have been a civilized race for thousands and thousands of years, as they posess the technology to cut the exterior shell of a TARDIS and can disintegrate people and things by merely entering the coordinates into their disintegrator. The former is something no other race can do, possibly not even the Time Lords, and the latter is similar to the ultimate weapon made by the Time Lords and never used. They have spacecraft, but they can only make it into orbit, suggesting that they have never seen reason to travel to other planets (possibly they have no moon and are the only planet in their solar system to inspire them to this, or more likely they are too timid to contemplate the endeavor). Their hand held weapons can cut, burn paralyze and stun. They have developed a disc which is held to the forehead to send telepathic messages, but it is not needed to receive them (interestingly Susan is such a powerful telepath that she does not need the disc to send messages).
Such an interesting race would be reused endlessly in other programs, but Doctor Who didn't reuse nice friendly monsters often, instead reusing the scary ones. It's probably a good thing, as there isn't much you can do with a race afraid of the dark and loud noises yet so advanced that they can nullify any threat quickly once you convince them to do so.
It's very interesting to watch them go from the scary monsters to fearful beings and then to a society incapable of coping with treachery and deceit - each of these steps takes two episodes of the story, and by the end of it you get to see the different faces of their culture very well, starting with their effect on us and ending with their effect on themselves.