Episode 16: The Chase

The ChaseEpisode 16: The Chase
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin and Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Executioners
The Death of Time
Flight Through Eternity
Journey Into Terror
The Death of Doctor Who
The Planet of Decision

Description
Fleeing from the Daleks, the Doctor and his companions find themselves being chased through time and space.

Evaluation
I liked this episode and then I was deeply annoyed by this episode. The initial premise of this serial was interesting; Daleks chasing the Doctor throughout time and space. Yet, the serial only goes about fifty percent in the effort/presentation. Some of The Chase scenes involved historical scenes that could have been edited and pushed for four parts instead of the longer six parts. The pacing is off and I felt bored at some times which should have been the opposite effect. The best part about the historical Chase bits was the Peter Purves scenes in New York. It was quirky enough that the sequence could be as long as it was.

I thought the opening sequence with the Time-Space Visualizer was very interesting because it reminded me of the Guardian of Forever in the original Star Trek series episode The City on the Edge of Forever. A quick Wikipedia search led me to discover that this particular Star Trek episode premiered in 1967, two years after this episode of Doctor Who aired. I can’t help but assume that writer of that Star Trek episode, Harlan Ellison, might have been a Doctor Who fan or was aware of the program.

The first part of the serial should have been the benchmark that the rest of the installments should have achieved. There is a great suspense to the first episode with the companions being separated from each other and the TARDIS. The first time that Barbara and the Doctor sees the Dalek emerging from the sand is chilling. It serves as a reminder that these creatures are horrifying and worthy of being one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies.

One of the problems that I have with this serial was that there are many “convenient” moments within the episodes that explain how the Doctor is being followed or how he escapes. While it’s fun to see these technical aspects of how the TARDIS operates, I can’t help but be annoyed. This feeling comes up again with the double Doctor plot. While the clone robot Doctor plot was fun to watch the manner in which it was presented was a little laughable. The voiceover from the fake Doctor was not lip synced very well and the fake Doctor was far too skinny to be an exact replica of Hartnell. I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t just use Hartnell for those scenes.

The final battle scene with the Daleks and the Mechonoids was a great ending. I feel that the beginning episode and the last episode were the strongest parts of the serial. The installments in the middle should have been edited to fit within these exciting episodes.

DVD Note: I usually don’t comment on the special features of the DVDs but the third disc of this DVD set has this great documentary about Daleks. “Daleks Beyond the Screen” Highly recommend.

Historical Notes
The cowboy character at the Empire State Building was played by Peter Purves, who would later play Steven Taylor, the new companion introduced in the last part of this serial.

This is the second time that Ian has destroyed one of Barbara’s cardigans, having destroyed one to use as guide through the Space Museum.

Book Evaluation
I found the book to be a little bit more fun in terms of back-story than the serial. In terms of storytelling, the serial is better but not by much.

In terms of the back-story, this almost felt like an encyclopedia for all things early Who. Okay, maybe not that extensive but I found myself writing down little things that I found interesting if I were ever to create such encyclopedia.

Things of note:

  • When the Daleks discuss their greatest enemy, there is mention of how the Doctor has changed his appearance many times over the years. While this adventure was set in the First Doctor’s adventures, I can’t help but wonder where the Daleks were in their timeline in relation to the Doctor’s timeline.
  • The book mentions that is almost 750 years old but had yet not reached his first regeneration.
  • Vicki mentions that in her timeline on Earth there had been work towards inventing a machine that would allow historians and scientists to tap into the Time Vortex to witness and record events of history. It should be noted that Vicki stems from the 25th Century. I couldn’t help but think of Captain Jack Harkness and the Time Agency of the 51st Century. It’s interesting to note the evolution of the understanding of time and how it affects science work throughout Earth’s history. As the humans were just beginning to understand the Time Vortex in the 25th Century, how long did it take before the Time Agency of the 51st Century to be a full functional time travel entity?
  • Often times the Doctor displays a great deal of arrogance that jeopardizes his companions. While this a past issue with the Doctor, and will be for the future incarnations as well, it’s distressingly annoying to read. I do realize that this is more of a youthful issue with this incarnation but it makes the Doctor seem entirely too careless when his companions’ lives as well as his own are on the line. This is made even more apparent when Vicki is left behind at the The House of Frankenstein, forced to fend for herself, and to sneak onto the Dalek vessel in order to regroup with her fellow travelers.
  • The book explores a lot about the technology of the TARDIS and the Dalek ship, particularly with one scene in which Vicki is trying to make contact with the TARDIS using radio transmissions. The Daleks also create a replicate Doctor. Since I have only begun in my Doctor Who viewing adventures, I can’t help but wonder if this is attempted by the Daleks later in their encounters or is this a one-off attempt?
  • Steven discusses a great expansion period that Earth experiences in the future but were distracted by the Draconian conflict and then the Third Dalek War.

In terms of the character development, I think the serial presentation is the better of the two in that showing the emotions the Doctor tries to hide when Ian and Barbara leave is more impactful than how the adaptation presents the scene. The book adaptation left me feeling that it was a mundane exit as opposed to the serial in which I found myself crying and hugging my couch pillows. I do appreciate how much sass Ian has when he talks to the Doctor. The Doctor is never has forthright as he should be with information and can be condescending when he explains things to his human companions. Ian retaliates with sarcasm and wit which irritates the Doctor is the most amusing fashion.

 

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Episode 15: The Space Museum

Space Museum_ChaseEpisode 15: The Space Museum
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Glyn Jones
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Space Museum
The Dimensions of Time
The Search
The Final Phase

Description
The Doctor and his companions discover they’ve landed in the future of their own timeline.

Evaluation
I really like the premise of this episode, how the TARDIS pushed the travelers farther into the future. The first part of this serial is pretty strong and I think that if they had kept the invisibility aspect of the storyline it would have made for more compelling television. Unfortunately, the idea fizzles at the start of the second part and never fully develops the potential that was showcased in the first part. There are deeper issues in this episode that should be explored, but sadly are not.

Before we go ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss the strengths of this serial. The first part explores how the TARDIS travels from one place to another, using the different dimensions of time and space. What happens when there is a miscalculation in regards to the fourth dimension, time? Are you far ahead enough to see your future? Can you change the future that you see or must you be an unwilling participant in events yet to come? How do you prevent the future when you see a glimpse of it in your past/present? Does it matter what we do in our solutions/actions or is it already pre-determined? A lot of this is discussed between Ian and Barbara during the later parts of the serial, which I think are the more interesting parts of this episode.

The larger piece of this serial is why the Moroks created the Museum in the first place. To invade a different planet and to create a museum on said planet to display their conquests is a crazed notion that works for this storyline. What better way to showcase your great acts than on the blood of others. While the overall acting and design of the characters is slightly minimal, the overarching evil of the Moroks is frightening and should be considered a lesson for those who can see past the simplicity of the storyline. It’s also a commentary about how one can become so bored after everything has been accomplished. The Moroks have done it all and seem to be longing for some form of adventure once again. The Xerons have no clue about how to reclaim their land, and have to bullied into revolution by Vicki’s desires to leave the planet with her companions in one piece.

As I mentioned before, I truly believe that they should have kept the silence/invisibility aspect longer than just in the first episode; or at least through mid-third part. Or there should have been a better connection between the Doctor and the companions with the Xerons or Moroks. It’s an “interesting’ installment and serves as a great starting point for the perils of time travel and fixed points of time.

Final Note: The leader of the Xerons, Tor, was played by Jeremy Bulloch; a man who would later have a claim to Sci-Fi fame with his role of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back.

Historical Notes
The Museum contains a diverse collection of artifacts from around the universe, including a Dalek shell.

 

Book Evaluation
One things that was glossed over in the serial was how the TARDIS created the bump in time travel. There is a larger explanation within the book that helps discuss how the TARDIS protects itself from such occurrences. The TARDIS clock has a built-in memory and will adjust when a time friction occurs. This explains why the companions and the Doctor were asleep when they landed, blacking out their actions for their protection.

There is a bigger description about the Moroks and the Xerons in that the travelers witness the Moroks killing Xerons as the try to escape. There is a ruthless quality to the Moroks that was only hinted at in the visual presentation. It also highlights the lack of weapons that the Xerons currently possess, showcasing their position as a peaceful planet.

Like the visual serial, the question of action becomes a larger issue with the story. Do our actions change what will happen or are the actions following the line of destiny?

It’s a quick little story that flows well; far better than the visual presentation. I would recommend reading the novelization first before watching the serial as I found myself zoning in and out of the visual presentation. At lease with reading ahead you won’t find yourself as lost as I did with my first screening of the episode.

 

Episode 14: The Crusade

The CrusadersEpisode 14: The Crusade
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Lion
The Knight of Jaffa
The Wheel of Fortune
The Warlords
(Missing #2 and #4)

Description
The Doctor and his companions are thrust into the war and politics between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade.

Evaluation
A solid and engaging episode that sadly is incomplete, thanks to the loss of footage. Overall, with the combination of the visual footage and the book adaptation, this was a fun story that should have had the missing segments animated.

Serial Evaluation
The serial was originally presented in four episodes. The first and third episodes still exist, while the second and fourth are only available through an audio presentation. Unlike previous missing episode presentations such as The Reign of Terror, there is no animated sequence to accompany the audio presentation. The serial, audio and visual, is collected in the Lost in Time set, which also includes footage from The Daleks’ Master Plan and The Celestial Toymaker. The best part about this presentation of The Crusades is that William Russell reprises his role of Ian Chesterton and introduces the footage in character.

Like with the presentation of Marco Polo, I can’t help but feel sad at the lose of footage. While the audio is engaging, the visual footage was fun and delightful. Bonus: I always feel a little giddy whenever William Hartnell starts his adorable little giggle.

Speaking of Hartnell, the fun chemistry that his Doctor displays with Vicki is touching. I’m a tremendous fan of Susan’s character but it’s fun to see a different approach with Vicki. Their interactions are some the best things about this visual presentation.

There’s also a hint of the war within the Doctor, specifically with the use of violence. While later incarnations will discuss their role in various wars, specifically the Time War, there is still a vague notion of that the Doctor has merely escaped or ran away from his people. When he discuss war with the Earl of Leicester, there are hints of the Doctor’s understanding of the true impact of war and how it has scarred his past.

This was the first serial that starred Jean Marsh, who would later play the character Sara Kingdom. Her portrayal of Joanna, King Richard’s sister is incredibly fierce and awe inspiring. While the part is small, Marsh brings a great deal of light and strength to the character. It’s fun to watch her stand her own against her brother’s plans.

Book Evaluation
The beginning of the story describes life within the TARDIS, how the companions and the Doctor relax between adventures. As much as I appreciate the newer Doctor Who story lines, I find these little bits of normality between the Doctor and his companions to be entertaining. There’s something so beautifully domestic in these interactions. I think it might that within these first story lines of this Doctor we are able to see his growth in character and begin to appreciate how these companion interactions have affected his outlook on the universe.

The book adaption really emphases a love story between Ian and Barbara; something that has only be hinted at in the past. It’s not distracting to the overall storyline but it can a little silly compared to how the characters interact on the screen.

One of the things that I appreciate within this adaptation is the exploration of Barbara’s character, specifically her growth as a strong female lead as she continues her companion adventures. The book discusses her use of wit, humor, and intelligence as she adapts to new situations. There isn’t an emphasis on her physical strength, which is a refreshing take considering how more modern audiences use the term strong-female character as one who must have a robust nature to match the physicality of male action heroes. Within the past decade or so, the definition of strong female has shifted to include those of use who don’t fit into the action-packed category. Women can be strong outside of physical strength. It’s nice to see positive example of this with the description of Barbara’s developing character. Barbara doesn’t have to be the physical type to save the day; her strength comes from her mind and it is within this role that Barbara’s character is actively celebrated.

Having said that, there was a part in this book that was never in the telecast; Barbara was lashed by the villain of the story. While it might make for a compelling storyline, I truly didn’t see why it had to be included in this adaptation or why it was even necessary at all. Keep in mind that Doctor Who was meant to be a child’s program; such plot devices seem barbaric to be included. Granted the show’s first episode did deal with potential killings in the era of cavemen.

Historical Notes
In her initial conversation with Saladin, she mentions past adventures such as The Web Planet, The Romans, and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

 

Episode 13: The Web Planet

The Web Planet

Episode 13: The Web Planet
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Bill Strutton
Directed by Richard Martin
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Web Planet
The Zarbi
Escape to Danger
Crater of Needles
Invasion
The Centre

Description
After being forced to land on an unknown planet, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in a struggle for control between two waring alien races.

Evaluation
I honestly don’t know what was up with this episode. The sets were pushing taste and the plot lines seemed far too long. If this had been a four-part episode, I might have liked it but I felt bored throughout the entire sequences. Granted I’m saying all of these from a modern perspective. It might have been different for a six-week run. I just couldn’t get into the storyline.

I’m not happy that my review is small but this episode inspired nothing for me. This might change later when I have an opportunity to read the novelization. Apparently, according to the small featurete that I watched, the episodes were very popular with audiences. It also mentioned the poetry of the writing in this episode. This might be one of those cases in which I don’t fit the demographic for the intended audience.

Historical Notes
The ring the Doctor wear is a key to open the TARDIS doors when the power was out.

 

Episode 12: The Romans

The Rescue_Romans

Episode 12: The Romans
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Slave Traders
All Roads Lead to Rome
Conspiracy
Inferno

Description
As the Doctor and his companions take a month-long vacation in the Roman Empire, they are pulled into the world of one Emperor Nero.

Evaluation
I’m still not sure if I like this episode. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still pretty good. But for some reason it left an unsettled feeling in my stomach. The story lines are split between with the Doctor and Vicki in one plot line and Ian and Barbara in another.

The Doctor and Vicki story line is whimsical in that the Doctor finds himself involved with a plot to kill Emperor Nero. As with the case with comedy, nothing seems to go right for everyone involved. The Doctor is gleeful in his discoveries and you see a glimpse of the whimsy that will be showcased in future Doctor incarnations.

The problem that I have with this is that it is a large contrast between the whimsy and the dark plot lines of Ian and Barbara. They are kidnapped, sold off as slaves, forced to work to survive, battle against Roman soldiers (or in Barbara’s case against an insane Emperor), and somehow make it back to the TARDIS in one piece. The contrasts are very startling and unnerving. Ian and Barbara in real, tangible danger while the Doctor and Vicki are out enjoying the Roman city. Even when the Doctor does face danger, it is, again, more whimsy than suspenseful.

The set designs and the costumes are delightful as well as the background characters. The Doctor’s interactions with Nero provide for some of the best scenes in the episode.

Historical Notes
The Doctor was the inspiration of the Roman fire that destroyed the city during the reign of Nero. The Tenth Doctor hints at his involvement later on in the Fires of Pompeii.

 

Episode 11: The Rescue

The Rescue_RomansEpisode 11: The Rescue
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Christopher Barry
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
The Powerful Enemy
Desperate Measures

Description
Still reeling from the departure of Susan, the Doctor and his companions come across a crashed spaceship and it’s surviving crew.

Evaluation
With only two installments, The Rescue is a short but satisfying episode which introduces a new companion quite effectively. Vicki is a clever girl from a futuristic Earth. She exhibits traits similar to Susan but still maintains her own individual personality. And as a child of the future, she will have the intelligence to match the Doctor’s eccentric behavior.

In regards to the Doctor, with the departure of Susan it becomes clear once again how necessary it is for the Doctor to have a companion. There’s a slight shift in his relationship with Ian and Barbara in that he continues to grow in his appreciation of having the two of them around in their travels. If it wasn’t for their presence on the ship, the pain of losing Susan could have been devastating, despite his wish to see her grow as a person.

The story is enthralling. The conspiracy between the Koquillion character and Bennett was pretty obvious but it still plays out well in the end. The camera work is something that should be noted in that the lighting and aspect between establishing shots were of a higher quality that previous episodes. This comes into play during the final battle scene within the Temple Room with the Doctor.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures with Susan, I’m excited to see how the adventures play out with Vicki. As I’ve mentioned before in previous reviews, it’s fun to see the evolution of the Doctor as he begins to grow into the character he is today. Even when Ian and Barbara comment on the Doctor’s age, there still exists a sense of adventure and innocence that the older Doctors don’t quite possess anymore.

Historical Notes
The introduction of the new companion, Vicki.

The Doctor has visited Dido in a previous off-screen adventure, where he encountered the Didonians who are friendly people.

 

Episode 10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Dalek Invasion of Earth

Episode 10: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Richard Martin
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
World’s End
The Daleks
Day of Reckoning
The End of Tomorrow
The Waking Ally
Flashpoint

Description
The Doctor and the Daleks face off for the fate of Planet Earth.

Evaluation
I know I’ll repeat this again in the end but this episode is completely brilliant. The characterizations, the story, everything was spot on. It was also the first time that filming was conducted outside of the studios. The empty city of London was a wonderful bonus for the story, showcasing the terror of a planet in ruins. Granted, there are always some cheesy aspects of the production. There’s a small animation sequence towards the end that amused me but as it fit with the storyline quite nicely, I didn’t think too much about it.

The acting skills of all of the cast continues to be impressive. The facial expressions of Ian and the Doctor at the end of the first installment was breathtaking, even more so as the horror of their situation becomes apparent for both the cast and the viewer. There’s hints of the future Doctor in the second installment. Ecceleston was fantastic in that he would always be quick to the chase and was annoyed when no one else was. Hartnell’s Doctor begins to showcase this when he dismisses a fellow captive, pushing him aside when he continues to blather about without adding anything useful. The scene is a delight and wonderful for those who have come to Who first with the reboot and later for the early episodes. (And like many Doctor Who episodes, it never quite works out like you think it will).

This comes up again in the later part of the episode when the Doctor stands confident and strong as a we see through the view of a Dalek his attack against the humans and the Time Lord. And like many future adventures of the Doctor, we find that it’s because he took a chance, a gamble, and won. This, again, begins to push the idea that the Doctor has moved from a runaway traveler to a man who will fight for injustice in the universe.

I was initially worried about the Susan/David relationship but there’s genuine chemistry between the two characters that tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings. Even when the Doctor is confronted by David’s respect for an elder’s opinion, there’s a sense that David is attempting to impress a potential in-law. The entire sequence is adorable. The ending was very emotional and more prove that Doctor Who is more about heart than just science fiction.

Barbara’s side story continues to show her strength as a character. One of the best scenes in this episode is when Barbara pushes through a Dalek barricade using a fire truck. When Barbara and Jenny, one of the fighters against the Daleks, are captured in the middle of the fifth episode, the woman who sold them out remarked that they would have been captured eventually. It was only because of Barbara’s continued belief of good character that is her downfall. It’s because of moments like that this that drama of the traveler’s situation becomes heartbreaking. Survivors are shown to be pitted against each other just for a chance to live. People will sell out each other just for a can of food.

The idea of using the Earth has a spaceship is quite brilliant. The question that I can’t help but ask is why did the Daleks choose Earth as their primary target? It’s not something that is discussed in the episode and only because I have knowledge of future episodes do I have a small understanding of their reasoning. I wonder if Barbara and Ian ever realized their role in the Time War that would consume the universe before the Ninth Doctor emerges.

On a side note, the robomen look like early versions of Cybermen. I can’t help but wonder if they were the inspiration; even more so when David mentions that there is a transfer process from human to robomen.

Overall, this episode is one of my favorites. The story and characters are engaging. The impact of this episode has a ripple effect to future episodes in regards to Daleks, companions, and the role of the Doctor as the protector of the Earth.

(PS: My favorite moments will always be the humans against the Daleks. You’ll know what I mean when you watch the last episode.)

Historical Notes
Thanks to the discs on their backs, Daleks can now move without the use of magnetization on metal floors.

The Dalek Supreme has a pet called the Slyther, a nasty creature that attacks Ian and Larry.

Susan’s last adventure with the Doctor, Barbara and Ian. She stays with David to rebuild Earth and to create a life for herself.

 

Episode 9: Planet of Giants

Planet of Giants

Episode 9: Planet of Giants
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Louis Marks
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield and Douglas Camfield
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
Planet of Giants
Dangerous Journey
Crisis
The Urge to Live  (only available as an audio extension on the DVD)

Description
During the materialization of the TARDIS, the Doctor and his companions discover that they are now barely an inch tall.

Evaluation
This was a light episode. There’s a subplot involving a conspiracy between a devious man and his wish to sell a dangerous pesticide. A murder occurs and it’s up to the Doctor to bring the criminal to justice, despite his height issue. The set designs used in this episode were amusing as everything had to be exaggerated to emphasize the size differences.

The DVD offers an extended cut of the third and fourth installments, which was previously combined into a single installment. There’s a noticeable switch when the older audio is mixed with the new audio. Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t match with the visual and the lack of some scenes are only solved by cutting towards extreme close-ups of the Doctor’s face. While the audio does expand the story, I found that I preferred the shorter cut instead of the extended version. There’s not enough footage for the extended cut and what is used was presented in a loop.

Keep in mind that there are some great lines that were cut. There’s an interaction between Barbara and Ian that adds more characterization to their ability to stand fast and strong in adversity. The line was cut in the broadcast version but in the extended cut it adds to the drama of the situation. I prefer the line over what was presented. Unfortunately, this great moment doesn’t make up for how slow the episode becomes with the extra material. While it’s fun to watch the expanded cut, I’m glad it wasn’t part of the full broadcast episode.

Historical Notes
According to Susan, the most dangerous moment happens when the TARDIS begins materialization.

During the extended cut, The Doctor relies on the Scanner in his travels with the TARDIS.

 

Episode 8: The Reign of Terror

The Reign of Terror

Episode 8: The Reign of Terror
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Henric Hirsch and John Gorrie
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
A Land of Fear
Guests of Madame Guillotine
A Change of Identity
The Tyrant of France
A Bargain of Necessity
Prisoners of Conciergerie
(Missing #4 and #5)

Description
The Doctor and his companions land on Earth, believing the year to be 1963. The TARDIS has actually landed in early 18th Century France under the leadership of Robespierre and his Reign of Terror.

Evaluation
This was the last episode of Doctor Who’s historic first season. The episode is very suspenseful and is a great way to cap off an interesting season. The suspense comes into play as Barbara, Susan, and Ian are captured in the earliest part of the story-arc. They are sent to the jails to either face death or a lifetime of imprisonment. Unfortunately, the girls do play into the damsel in distress mentality but the characters still strive to maintain a strength despite their situations.

The Doctor continues to be amusing as his situations turn into situations in which his clever nature naturally allows him to escape any danger. It’s amusing that his companions face terror, death, and sickness and the Doctor finds an opportunity to go shopping for new clothes. It’s sad that the psychic paper trick had not been introduced into the show as it would be very interesting to see how the Doctor could have used it to his advantage.

Overall, it’s a fun storyline to watch. The new animated scenes included with this new DVD set allows the viewer to experience what the episode could have been if the two missing installments had been found.

Historical Notes
The Reign of Terror is one of the Doctor’s favorite periods in Earth’s history.

 

Episode 7: The Sensorites

The Sensorites

Episode 7: The Sensorites
First Doctor
Companions: Barbara, Ian, Susan
Written by Peter R. Newman
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield and Frank Cox
Wikipedia Entry

Installments
Strangers in Space
The Unwilling Warriors
Hidden Danger
A Race Against Death
Kidnap
A Desperate Venture

Description
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.

Evaluation
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?

Historical Notes
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.