Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"The Sensorites" wrapup

Hello all, the Historian here. I apologize for the lateness of this post, but here we are to wrap up the last science fiction story of the first season. Or, perhaps I should say, two stories, since this serial can be divided into two seperate-but-related stories. The first two and a half episodes chronicle the steadily rising tension on the Earth space ship, while the last two and a half bring us adventure and mystery on the Sense-Sphere. I found both halves to be quite a lot of fun (with quibbles) in completely different ways, though Ketina disagrees a bit; she much preferred the second half, but found the first to be fairly tedious. (See below for the links to our individual episode reviews.)

This story is also a bit infamous among fans for what I've called one of the most ridiculous plot points the show's ever seen (and that's saying a lot): the "Sensorites all look alike to each other" twist that enables the City Administrator to further his plans. Although it was nowhere near as painful as I remembered, it's still a significant blight on what is actually otherwise a very good story, Ketina's criticisms aside. (She does have a point about the spaceship corridors...) As I've observed before, watching this story an episode at a time, one per week, has done wonders for its pacing; as a "movie," this story might seem to drag at times, but at 24 minutes a week, things feel a lot more, well, zippy. The writing, while not up to the level of some other scripts, is still of decent quality and the acting is quite good.

The standout, technically, is obviously the Sensorites themselves, Doctor Who's first attempt (barring the Daleks) at depicting a non-human looking alien. Barring the round feet (which Ketina and Schmallturm found pretty hilarious), I think the show's done an excellent job. The masks were really good, very interesting, and the actors did a decent job of conveying a sense of "alien-ness." This story also gave us a villain, the Administrator, who reminded me a bit of Tlotoxl in that he's not out for any selfish gain (Barbara's speculation that he lusts for power seems to be more a secondary than primary motivation), but for the protection of his people. He, like Tlotoxl, represents orthodoxy. Unlike the Aztecs, though, the Sensorites are ready for change; rather than being a dark anti-hero who represents (and fights for) the way things are supposed to be, the Administrator is the guardian of a fossilized fashion that needs to change. It's interesting to see the two villains, one after the other.

Here are the links to our individual episode posts:

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

As always, here is a link to the official BBC episode guide for "The Sensorites," and here is a look behind the scenes of the production. Feel free to leave comments about any aspect you think we missed, got right, got wrong or any little thing at all, and join us here in a few days for the first episode of the final story of the season! Until then, I remain


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