Recently I had the opportunity to watch a Doctor Who serial from 1964, featuring the original cast (William Hartnell as the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as his granddaughter Susan, William Russell as Ian, and Jacqueline Hill as Barbara). This classic was entitled “The Sensorites”. I won’t give away the plot for those of you who haven’t seen it yet but are planning to do so, but this was an impressive episode from the early years of the longest-running science fiction show on television.
For one thing, I enjoyed how it detailed more of the relationship between the Doctor and Susan. We’ve known from the very beginning that Susan has been living with her grandfather ever since the two ran away from Gallifrey, but the dynamic of that situation was never really detailed much in some episodes (although handled beautifully in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”). In “The Sensorites”, though, we learn that the Doctor and Susan have never argued once in all their years of travel. We also see more of how deeply the Doctor cares for Susan–he goes all Oncoming Storm on the Sensorites when they want to take Susan to their planet as a hostage, yet he is furious with Susan for agreeing to go with them. This fury stems from his love, however, and he makes her promise to leave all major decisions to him in the future.
Another treat of this episode is seeing Susan demonstrate the Time Lords’ latent telepathic abilities to an astonishing extent. Many episodes of the updated series have featured the Doctor using telepathy ( as in season 4’s “Planet of the Ood” where he links his mind to Donna’s so she can hear the song of the Ood), but there wasn’t as much focus on the Time Lords’ mental abilities in some of the much, much earlier episodes. Curiously enough, the Doctor’s telepathic range is quite limited in this serial. Although he claims he can occasionally read his companion Ian’s mind, he seems unable to transmit directly to a Sensorite’s mind the way Susan can.
And, of course, it was great to hear Susan’s description of Gallifrey and how closely it kept with the Doctor’s description in “The Sound of Drums” (an episode from 2007).
As a final, random thought on “The Sensorites”–is it just me, or do the Sensorites resemble the Silence? It seemed to me that there was a bit of a similarity about the face. Perhaps the Sensorites and the Silence are related in a similar vein as Star Trek‘s Vulcans and Romulans are…
Wait, what was I talking about again?