Today, we look at “The Sensorites,” a return to space and some new aliens for Doctor Who. Are they as captivating as the Daleks? Are they as ridiculous as the Voord? Will Kari survive this episode without laughing to death? FIND OUT!
Daleks Aren’t Robots!? is a podcast in which two Whovian friends take two non-Whovians on a deep dive through the show from the very beginning.
Theme: Garage – Monplaisir
What we showed Kari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cddgvs3yGgg
Check out our YT version for pictures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck7tGXIc3CA
Podcast Contents Include
Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though. – Kari
The crew finds some dead human astronauts from earth in the future, but they turn out to not be dead. Instead they’re being mentally affected and/or mind-controlled by the Sensorites. Some weird stuff happens and then the dumbest looking aliens ever to exist show up. They look like an alien from Mac and Me banged a dufflepud from the Narnia books, and I died laughing.
We had to take a break. I wiped the tears away from my eyes and got a snack and we started the show again and then I saw they were wearing footie pajamas and we had to stop again so I could laugh.
The Sensorites aren’t bad people, they’re afraid of humans and it turns out one of the astronauts had discovered their planet was made from a valuable mineral, molybdenum. Eventually everyone but Barbara ends up hanging out with the Sensorites, who have a problem where a lot of them are dying for no obvious reason, a problem which started when a group of humans arrived 10 years ago.
Barbara comes down and sorts everything out. It turns out some humans who were crazy due to Sensorite mind influence were poisoning the Sensorites, and a Sensorite city administrator trying to murder our team and definitely murdering other Sensorites is caught offscreen in the largest anticlimax since the final book in the Twilight series.
THE GUEST STARS
- The Sensorites are absolutely hilarious-looking. They have the features of the Mac and Me aliens, but with an upside-down wig glued to their chins and caterpillars glued around their eyes. They have two plate-like feet and wear soft baby blue footie pajamas.
- The Sensorites are utterly nonthreatening. They cannot stand loud noise or even loud THOUGHTS. They cannot see in any kind of dim light. They do not move particularly quickly and are frightened of humans. These are the least scary aliens to have ever existed.
- They can do some telepathy stuff, but only with the aid of a silly stethoscope thing they hold up to their heads, which makes them look even funnier.
- The astronauts, Carol, John and Maitland, are fine. Maitland exists to be thoroughly English; he probably has an alarm clock that plays the Big Ben chimes, sweats black tea and says pip pip cheerio I say old chap. Carol is the official The Girl and John is her love interest, who when we meet him is crazy due to the Sensorites’ mind control. John is a large ham and he’s fun to watch until his mental issues are solved, whereupon he’s only about half as English as Maitland and only about twice as interesting. AKA he’s real boring.
- There are a few Sensorites with personalities as well. The First Elder, the leader, is a compassionate, gentle and cautious person. The Second Elder, his second-in-command, is more willing to believe humans are bad, but also willing to try making peace with them. The City Administrator is less powerful than either, and is an evil vizier type. He ends up murdering the Second Elder. Other Sensorites include a Scientist, who works with the Doctor to figure out what’s killing the Sensorites, and the City Administrator’s flunky.
- This serial is FINALLY good to Susan, who is revealed to have some capability for telepathy and is able to communicate with the Sensorites to some extent. She’s able to get them to trust her because of this.
- Susan also has some good conflict and character building with the Doctor, as she argues with him apparently for the first time ever.
- If Barbara had been around the whole time this serial would have been a two-parter. She turns up and essentially solves everything except the poisoning. Why isn’t this show called “Barbara Solves Everything”?
- Ian looks like Steve Jobs the whole time. Despite this he is not insufferable in this serial, even though he is still overprotective of Barbara who can, as we all recall from Marinus, beat him up.
- The Doctor does some science in this episode and figures out that the Sensorites didn’t catch an illness from the humans, but are being poisoned by atropine, or belladonna. For some reason no mention is made of the way this probably affected the affected Sensorites’ eyes–atropine dilates your pupils and makes you sensitive to light. Which is weird because the sensorites are terrified of the DARK, so you would think suddenly WANTING to be in the dark would be a symptom definitely worth mentioning.
- There were a few sets here, and some succeeded more than others. The control room of the human astronauts was cool. It was clear they had very limited sets made for their spaceship and they had to use them in creative ways to make it look like there was a lot there. Their design was distinctive, with stripy walls that gave it a lot of texture and made it look a bit industrial.
- The Sensorites have big spacious rooms and curved portals, not a lot of texture. The kind of place someone wearing footie pajamas would build.
- There is some attention given to Sensorite society, which has a caste system. Due to their bad eyesight they rely on certain marks of office such as sashes and collars to tell each other apart, which the City Administrator uses to sneak around in the guise of others.
- There are some hints about the earth of the future from the human astronauts. There is no longer a London, it’s all Central City.
- The Sensorites have some cool-looking guns that kind of look like one of those old-style coiled egg beaters, leaving me wondering if someone in the props department had a fear of kitchen implements.
- I feel like they meant to make this serial more of a commentary on ambition and the way caste systems destroy social mobility and lead to destructive behavior on the part of people who can’t get ahead. However, this commentary wasn’t actually really present much.
- At one point the Doctor gets his coat wrecked and it’s replaced by a long cloak instead. I liked the coat better but the cloak looks nice too.
- We get some hints about the Doctor and Susan’s homeworld–it’s got orange skies at night and silver leaves on the trees.