Tuesday 23 October 2012

The Sensorites

Although a lot of fans hate The Sensorites, claiming it is a sleep-inducing plodder, I absolutely love it. It is one of those stories that I will defend whatever critics say.

The Sensorites has an element of nostalgia for me. The novelization was among the first Doctor Who books that I read at the age of nine. Like most I read, it was in the beautiful WH Allen hardback edition, borrowed from the local library. What is more I read it during my first holiday in France. I remember sitting outside my parents' caravan in the sunshine of Brittany, reading about the City Administrator's treachery, about Ian getting poisoned and the Doctor being given a stylish black cloak as a reward. It was all very charming stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed it then. Watching the DVD twenty-two years later, I still love this story.

Part of why I like this story is because it is very gentle. The story is about 'alien monsters' but they turn out to be relatively friendly. There is only one onscreen death and the villains are treated with mercy at the end. This contrasts with the morbid sadism of the Hinchliffe era and the pointless violence of the Saward era. The story is also quite radical for its time in that it has humans as the villains.

The most common complaint against The Sensorites is its slow pace. This is a charge that could be levelled against most Hartnell stories. Perhaps this is more noticeable with this serial because of its low level of violence. Another complaint is the round feet of the Sensorites themselves. I don't get this complaint at all; the point of the round feet is that they are not human. I think the Sensorite costumes are very effective.

Being one of the few fans of Susan, I particularly like the way this story, unlike the others of Season 1, makes good use of the character. She is given impressive telepathic powers, reflecting her ethereal alien quality and for once, she gets to stand up to her grandfather. It is sad that other writers could not do more with Susan. Notable also, is Susan's delightful line about her planet having a sky like a burnt orange and silver leaves on the trees. That line was used so hauntingly in the New Series.

The Sensorites should be regarded as one of the most creative and interesting stories of the Hartnell era.


  1. I too, am very fond of this story! I had initially recorded it from a television broadcast (mid 1980s - Public TV) and had somehow managed to preserve (without erasing or eroding) the videotape. Not too long ago (month or so), I decided to upgrade my Sensorite experience by purchasing the DVD. Wow, was I impressed! Of course, the DVD restoration was amazing, and as a result, I was able to appreciate and enjoy this story so MUCH more Highly recommended! Two Sensorite Feet Up!

  2. I was note huge on The Sensorites, but I also am a fan of Susan.

    I discovered Doctor Who with the new series less than a year ago. But have been slowly watching the original series in chronological order. I am only up to the very end of the 1st Doctor but so far counting the first Doctor's companions and the new series companions Susan has been my favorite of all of them.

    1. Thanks for dropping by. What do you like about Susan?

    2. I am not sure, but Carol Ann Ford had a charm and charisma that resonated despite the writers limited use of the character. And although Ford complained they humanized Susan too much, I thought there was a quality about her that totally made me believe she was an alien all be it a "humanized" one.

      I will admit she could have done with screaming less, particularly in The Reign of Terror when her constant whining almost made me turn on her. But something about her I just liked.