Written by Peter R. Newman
Directed by Mervyn Pinfield (1, 2, 3 & 4) & Frank Cox (5 & 6)
I don’t like to go on about western imperialism*, but The Sensorites, perhaps even more so than The Aztecs, has a fair amount to say on the subject. The Sensorites, like their more modern cousin the Ood, act almost as a mirror to humanity, by and large a peaceful group of people, open to trusting strangers and when presented with a situation in which they must defend themselves, but with individuals capable of lying and murdering for their own gain. Their gentleness and easiness to beat in a fight – they’re afraid of shouting and the dark for fuck’s sake, ultimately reveals the true characteristics of any humans coming into contact with them. Unsurprisingly, it’s the Doctor who comes off looking best.
As evil as the city administrator is, the real villains of this story are all human. The destruction caused by just a few greedy men, behaving exactly as the europeans I mentioned in the previous post, was devastating to the Sensorite people, ultimately killing around a third of them.
One of my favorite things about Doctor Who is that, unlike many sci-fi shows, is that alien creatures are not either good or evil depending on what race they are, and the Sensorites is the first example of this. The Doctor is the perfect hero for this type of dynamic, setting aside all other considerations and deciding what action to take purely on the evidence of what he has so far observe, not allowing prejudice to colour his outlook.
And Susan actually gets to do something! Finally. Its nice to see her do something better than the Doctor for a change. Its a real shame that she didn’t seem to have this potential in the rest of her run.
As with the previous two stories, it was time for one of the cast to have a break. In this instance it was Jacqueline Hill who disappeared for tho episodes. In later years it would be common for the Doctor to travel with younger women and men of a variety of ages, but its been rare for him to have a female companion over that age of thirty, and since the first TARDIS crew unheard of if he already has a younger female companion. I think that this is a bit of a mistake, personally, and feel that the hole left by Hill is every bit as noticeable as the absence of The Doctor in The Keys of Marinus.
In the end, the Doctor manages to dispose the evil sensorites, save the good sensorites and root out the reprobate humans poisoning their water supply. Will he fare as well in the French revolution? find out next time, in this exciting mission to the unknown.
*That is a lie, I love to go on about it.
Small side note: ‘A Race Against Death’. Best title ever?