Episode 7: The Sensorites
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Peter R. Newman
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield and Frank Cox
Strangers in Space
The Unwilling Warriors
A Race Against Death
A Desperate Venture
After landing the TARDIS on a starship of the future, the Doctor and his companions must fight for survival against an alien race that distrust human intentions.
This episode starts strong. The TARDIS crew encounters a starship in which its inhabitants are presumed dead. Luckily for the faint of heart, they are merely in a deep sleep. The starship crew, Maitland, Carol, and John, have been forced to orbit around the Sense-Sphere planet. The alien race, the Sensorites, refuse to allow them to leave as they fear what would happen if more humans came to potentially exploit their planet. During their initial interactions, the Sensorities attack the ship once more as well as make contact with Susan telepathically.
These first installments of the episode play out like a suspenseful science-fiction film. As the Sensorites are terrorizing the human starship crew, it’s unknown what they’re true intentions are. Combine this terror with the contact with Susan, and it’s a fantastic recipe for compelling television.
The later parts of the installment showcase how the majority of the human crew travels down to the planet with the Doctor. There is a plot in which a power hungry Sensorite takes control of the leadership in the hopes of killing the Doctor and the rest of the humans. While it’s an interesting storyline, it is not nearly as strong as the previous parts in the starship. The suspense could have been heighten with a little bit of editing.
Still, the overall story is compelling and interesting. It also foreshadows human-alien interactions in the future. The Sensorites are fearfully of humans because of their desire to exploit the planet of its goods and wealth. Quite similarly to the American Indian or any other culture that has been reduced thanks to Western “influence”. It’s barely touched upon in this episode, but a savvy viewer might begin to question the role of humanity in a future where exploration and expansion is possible. We always wonder what it would be like to meet an alien. Do we ever consider what it would mean to have an alien meet us or judge us by our history?
Susan tells the First Elder that they haven’t been to their home planet in quite some time. She describes her home as having a burnt orange sky with trees that had silver leaves.
Susan displays telepathic tendencies in her communication with the Sensorities. It will be later established that the Doctor and other Time Lords have limited telepathic abilities as well.
The Doctor refers to his heart, implying that he has only one. Later episode of the program indicate that Time Lords have two hearts instead of merely one.
The Doctor also refers to himself as human. This will come into play in the Eighth Doctor film.