Sunday, 27 February 2011

12: The Romans - A Comedy Masterpiece?

The newly formed TARDIS crew.
Written by: Dennis Spooner.
Companions: The Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, Vicki.
Mosters/Villains: Nero.
Brief synopsis: The Tardis materialises in first century Italy. Ian and Barbara are captured by slave traders and the Emperor Nero mistakes the Doctor for a well known lyre player.
Rating: 8/10.

Is The Romans a comedy masterpiece? Well... Lets look at the evidence. After the most literal 'cliffhanger' in the history of the programme, the story uncharacteristically kicks off a month after the TARDIS' arrival. Dispensing with the usual "set-up" first episode we discover the Doctor, Vicki, Ian and Barbara lounging in a villa, dressed in full Roman attire.

The action quickly picks up when Ian and Barbara are captured by slave traders. The Doctor and Vicki unbeknownst to this head off to Rome, where the Doctor is mistaken for a well known lyre musician by none other than Emperor Claudius Nero. Hartnell gets an hilarious fight scene with a mute which he seems to throughly enjoy. Afterwards boasting to an awestruck Vicki that he is "one of the best" when it comes to fighting and that he was the one who taught 'The Mountain Mauler of Montana' everything he knows. This scene is truly comical especially seeing a young, healthy man getting bested by a wily old one. Albeit uncharacteristically violent of the Doctor.

Jaqueline Hill looks beautiful in her Roman finery.
Ian and Barbara get some silly gags, where they trick each other to go look in the fridge, which won't be invented for thousands of years to come. There is an almost Benny Hill like scene where Nero is running around chasing Barbara through some corridors which in the run of the series so far seems so un-Doctor Who, but it's hilarious all the same. There's an amusing scene where Vicki meets the the palace poisoner and poisons Nero's goblet. The Doctor stops this and Nero forces his servant to drink from the goblet, hazarding out first comedy death. 

Derek Francis as an OTT Nero.
The Doctor manages to impress Nero on the lyre without ever playing a note, claiming that only the noble of heart will hear this music. The Doctor employs the Emperor's new clothes trick and claims credit for giving Hans Christian Anderson the idea. And of course there's the moment where the Doctor accidentally burns Nero's detailed map of Rome, thus giving him the inspiration to burn it down. The whole story is chock full of slapstick and jokes, but moreover as a whole is clearly written with comedy in mind. I love the conceit that the Doctor and Vicki never see Ian and Barbara all the way through the whole story, and at the end think they've just been lounging around the whole time.

There are some great cameo performances in this one. Michael Peake stands out as Tavius, who has an interesting moment where he is revealed as an early christian. Of course Derek Francis, who gives a wonderfully ridiculous OTT performance as Nero. Hartnell is clearly having a wonderful time getting to stretch his comedy muscles. and Jacqueline Hill puts in a great performance and looks just beautiful.

Michael Peake is great as Tavius.
So, is The Romans a comedy masterpiece? Probably not, however it did do a great deal for Doctor Who as a whole. Whereas before the series had moments of humour, The Romans made it feel legitimate. It made it allright in all the stories that would follow. The Romans isn't the best story ever but it is for the first time: funny throughout, and for that reason it has certainly earned its place in the history of Doctor Who.

Join me next time for The Web Planet. Will I survive it, tune in next time to find out...

Friday, 25 February 2011

R.I.P Nicholas Courtney, Five Rounds Rapid for everyones hero The Brigadier.

Sadly on 23rd February Nicholas Courtney passed away aged 81. Best known for playing Brigadier Allister Gorden Lethbridge-Stewart Nick Courtney will be deeply missed. Here are some pictures documenting his time on Doctor Who:
Nicholas Courtney's first appearance as Bret Vyon.
The Brig with his first Doctor Patrick Troughton.
Allister's longest serving Doctor John Pertwee.
The Brigadier and the fourth Doctor Tom Baker.
Nicholas Courtney returned to work with Peter Davison.
In the Children in Need Special Dimensions in Time,
with Colin Baker
With Sylvester McCoy in Battlefield.
He even worked with Paul McGann in the Big Finish Audio
'Minuet in Hell.'
The Brig returned most recently in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

11: The Rescue - Short And Not Sweet!

Written by: David Whitaker.
Companions: The Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright.
Monsters/Villains: Koquillion.
Brief Synopsis: The TARDIS crew lands on the planet Dido, to discover two human survivors from a crashed spaceship from earth living in fear of a hideous alien.
Rating: 5/10.

When the rescue kicks off I find myself still sad due to Susan's untimely departure. But at first there is oddly no mention of her at all. Ian, Barbara and the Doctor are mearly discussing where the TARDIS will land next and that materialised is a better word than landed. Then as the TARDIS 'materialises' the Doctor goes to ask Susan to open the doors and then realises she's not there. It's a beautiful moment and you can really tell that Hartnell is genuinely sad to have lost, not just his granddaughter, but Carol Anne Ford herself. Barbara then kindly offers herself to learn how to open the doors. Ian and Barbara then ponder 'I wonder what Susan's doing now? If I know David, learning to milk cows...' What an odd idea.

This story is an odd one. The TARDIS arrives on the planet Dido and discovers a crashed spaceship with just two survivors. A girl, Vicki, and an injured man, Bennet. They are awaiting a rescue ship from Earth and are being oppressed by a terrifying native alien, Koquillion.

The terrifying alien Koquillion.
When Barbara and Ian venture out of the TARDIS alone, Koquillion spies them, causes some rocks to fall on Ian and pushes Barbara off a cliff! It's so shocking. I was thinking how on earth are they going to explain that one away. Barbara later says she broke her fall by grabbing a tree branch. Oh of course, that makes sense.

We soon learn that the rest of the crew of the spaceship are dead including Vicki's father, and with her mother being dead she is an orphan. Hmm... no ties, similar character to Susan, futuristic Orphan-type. I wonder if she's going to be the new companion?

Towards the end of this short, two part story the Doctor and Ian are inexplicably edging along a chasm, and we are issued a rather random unrelated cliffhanger involving sharp knives coming out of the wall to spike Ian and push him into a pit containing a sand beast.

Fortunately the Doctor is able to withdraw the spikes before they can impale Ian. Barbara then sees the same beasty making for Vicki and fires a flare gun at it, killing it. However, it turns out that the terrifying sand monster was actually Vicki's pet and an omnivore, called Sandy. The Doctor, Ian and Barbara are all reunited and Ian mockingly refers to Koquillion as cockaleekie. The Doctor is so kind to Vicki and you can tell he is already grooming her to take Susans place.

Poor Sandy.
The Doctor admits that he has been to Dido before and when he confronts Koquillion he recognises that what he is wearing is actually cerimonial garb and unveils Koquillion to be Bennet. It turns out that Bennet killed a member of the crew, for some reason, and caused the ship to crash, then killed the rest of the crew and the people of Dido as well to avoid being sentenced. He planned to blame the people of Dido for the massacre and dressed up as Koquillion to scare the unbeknownst Vicki into disliking the locals and to testify in his favour. Fortunately there are two survivors of the people of Dido who neatly take care of Bennet for us, without actually saying a word on screen.

It's not a bad little mystery and certainly has cross-overs with The Tempest, and acts as a good character introduction for, yep, you guessed it, the new companion, Vicki. At the end of the adventure the TARDIS 'materialises' as it shall henceforward be known, on the edge of a cliff. Being the first quite literal 'cliffhanger' of the series.

Join me next time for The Romans.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


The wonderful Exhibition.
It's Sunday the 20th February and thanks to the best Christmas present ever from my wonderful girlfriend Katie, we are going to the official opening of The Doctor Who Experience at Olympia 2.

And what an experience it was. We spent the morning at The Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair (K's choice of treats) which was excellent. If you're interested in reading more about that part of our day check out K's blog: The Little Red Squirrel. Meanwhile, back in Doctor Who world we arrived at Earl's Court tube station with time to spare, to discover that it was fifteen minutes until the next train to Olympia meaning we'd be late. I panicked because our tickets were for entry between 3.30-4.00 and I was worried we wouldn't make it in time. But fortunately for me, we did. I did have a bit of strop when I thought we weren't going to get there but K remained confident we would. She was right and as we entered I genuinely regressed to an 11 year-old boy.

We queued for about fifteen minutes but I wasn't bored as K had got me the Gold package which came with a goody bag including: a programme, an exclusive Cyberman Lithograph limited to 3500, a lanyard and a card stating 'I was one of the first to enter the Tardis,' and with some set pieces and costumes from the most recent series to keep us excited the anticipation built and built, until finally we entered  a small room and were invited to walk through a crack in time only to be transported into Starship U.K. This, oddly was one of favourite parts of the whole experience. This room was classed as part of the Experience where photography is not allowed. The room was littered with wonderful props and set pieces from the original series, including Nestine spheres, some silver Yeti spheres, the yellow pool robot from Paradise Towers, a cyber helmet from The Invasion and one of the copies of the Mona Lisa from The City of Death. And all these wonderful props just scattered in boxes on the floor, with no indication as to what they are anywhere to be seen. There are specially recorded scenes featuring Matt Smith as The Doctor, who has somehow managed to get trapped in the Pandorica again, but this time it's the Pandorica II, "they had a spare, but it's not even a different colour."

A sneaky snap from the DW Experience Programme.
The Tardis then appeared and we entered the fantastic replica set where we were given various control panels in order to fly the Tardis, I ended up in front of the Diagnostic panel. 

A sneaky picture of the Tardis Interior replica.
After our flight we left the Tardis having arrived on a Dalek spaceship. Here, the experience could have really fallen apart, but we've arrived in a new paradigm Dalek ship and just as we're about to be exterminated the Golden R.T.D Daleks show up claiming to be the children of Davros and we witness an epic space battle through huge windows that really make it feel like you're in space.

The Supreme Dalek
Somehow we escape this only to find ourselves in a cave full of the Weeping Angels. I honestly tried my hardest not to blink.

Finally we ended up in the under-henge and were treated to a 3D extravaganza with Daleks, Angels and cybermen reaching out at us. In the end the Doctor manges to escape the Pandorica II and banish the baddies. I exited the experience with a true feeling of glee.
Me and the TARDIS.
Then there was the wonderful Exhibition. Which included: replicas of all eleven Doctors costumes, the current Tardis exterior, a series of Cyberman helmets through the ages, the ninth and tenth Doctors Tardis intrior, the Melkur, The fifth, sixth, and seventh Doctor's Tardis intrior and exterior, K-9, Davros, 6 Daleks, 2 Cybermen, 3 different Sontarans, 2 Cybermen, an Ice Warrior, a Zygon, and the K-1 Robot to name but a few.

All in all, I throughly enjoyed the Doctor Experience and I recommend it to any Doctor Who fan, old or young, newb or Old-Skool Whovian and at only £18 for an adult £14 for a child and £52 for a family of four it is really worth the money. I'd also like to say a huge mega thank you to K for treating me to such a wonderful day...

10: Dalek Invasion of Earth - The Return Of The Daleks!

Iconic images of the Daleks on Westminster Bridge.
Written by: Terry Nation.
Companions: The Doctor, Susan, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright.
Monsters/Villains: The Daleks, Robomen, Slither.
Brief Synopsis: The TARDIS lands in Twentieth Century Earth only to find that the Daleks have invaded and subjugated the population with mind-controlled Robomen.
Rating: 5/10.

Hello blogland. Sorry I've been away for a while, but I'm back with a brief blog on The Dalek Invasion of Earth. There are a lot of big firsts in this story: first futuristic Earth story; in this case set in 2164. First return of the Daleks. First return of any villain, giving the Daleks a status they won't ever really shake. And first departure of a companion.

This is the first big event in Doctor Who, not just with the return of the Daleks, but with the story being well advertised, for the first time, the audience knows what's to come more than the characters. It's a subtle difference in the way the story is told, but a great one. The episode starts with a man committing suicide, framed by a huge poster that reads 'It is forbidden to dump bodies in the river.' I don't know how they got away with it. It's such a bold, violent opening. However the first episode here echoes the first of The Daleks perhaps a little too much. The Tardis lands, and the crew explore and discover things about their surroundings, then their escape route in the TARDIS gets blocked off, and at the cliffhanger we discover the threat, in this case a rather impressive Dalek, rising from the Thames. The structure is identical with that of the opening of The Daleks.

Iconic, Dalek rising from the Thames.
Terry Nation holds the prestige of being the creator of the Daleks; who are now easily as iconic as the TARDIS or the Doctor himself... selves. However the stories that he penned are not of the best calibre. With all too similar structures (as mentioned above) and incomprehensible plots. And the Dalek Invasion of Earth is no exception. In this story the Tardis arrives on earth in the year 2164 (alright so far), and then the crew discover that that the Daleks have invaded (amazing the Daleks are back. Cool!) and have created a huge mine in Bedfordshire, in order to detonate a bomb in the Earth's core so they can replace it with a powerful drive system and pilot the planet around the galaxy. Uh, I'm sorry. Why?

Susan gets a worthy sendoff.
Another first I stumbled upon in this episode is: the very first use of a quarry. However in this story it is actually representing... a quarry; not an alien planet as various quarries will do in many Doctor Who stories to come. Episode five of this story is called: The Waking Ally. I have literally no idea why, or what this is referring to.

The one part of this story that really strikes a chord is the final scene where we say goodbye to Susan. It's fascinating that she doesn't even get a choice in the matter as the Doctor locks her out of the TARDIS. Doctor Who started out with Susan as a strong central character, an alien, but gradually as it's gone on she has become weaker and less individual. It's a shame she didn't have a greater chance to shine, but she gets a worthy send-off here. Hartnell seems to be so awkward and is genuinely finding it difficult to say goodbye as though he doesn't want Carol Anne Ford to leave not Susan. This whole closing section is performed beautifully. My favourite moment is after the TARDIS dematerialises, when Susan walks forward, hands outstretched, almost feeling where it was and then off she sets for her settled life on Earth with ex-revolutionary-come-farmer, David Campbell.

The Daleks invade earth, again...
My watching of this story was timed perfectly with the release of the first part of the Big Finish series finale of the Eighth Doctor Audio Adventures: Lucie Miller. In which, guess what happens? The Daleks invade Earth again, and Carol Anne Ford as a now widowed Susan Campbell is in tow once more, this time along with her half-Timelord son, Alex.

It may be a rather unfavourable opinion, but I'm not mad about the Dalek Invasion of Earth. It's a great idea, but the actual plot is terrible. However there are some real highlights. It is wonderful to see the return of the Daleks, and Susan's surprising departure is handled very well.

Join me next time for The Rescue and our first new companion.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

9: Planet of Giants - Making The Everyday Sinister.

The Insects look great.
Written by: Louis Marks.
Companions: The Doctor, Susan, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright.
Mosters/Villains: Forester.
Brief Synopsis: The TARDIS crew become miniaturised and try to stop the production of a lethal insecticide.
Rating: 7/10

I feel that this a good time to make a confession. I haven't actually seen a lot of the black and white stories, ever! I should be ashamed by this, but I'm actually starting to appreciate this previous blasphemy. It's like finding a hidden chest full of episodes of your favourite programme. They have been there waiting for me the whole time but I can't deny I am loving having new, old Doctor Who.

This story was originally penned to be the very first episode ever, it ended up being the first episode in season 2 instead.  The story opens with some fairy suspect technobabble. The doors open during materialisation due to too much 'space pressure'? And then the Doctor explains that the scanner screen exploded because what it was trying to show was too big to explain!? The explanation of why our heroes end up miniaturised is practically nonexistent, but who cares...

The sets were tip top.
The sets in this story are wonderful, and really wouldn't look out of place in a more modern Doctor Who. There's a classic 60's model shot of the TARDIS which looks like a model shot but in this episode that is exactly right! Also the fact that all the insects in the giant garden are dead due to the insecticide means all the wonderful set pieces aren't required to move, making them look even better.

What a wonderful cliffhanger.
What Doctor Who has always been excellent at is making the everyday sinister. There's a wonderful cliffhanger at the end of the episode where we simply see the water draining down a plug hole. Doesn't sound like much but when you realise the Doctor and Susan just went down there it becomes The Terrifying Sink of Doom! Fortunately the pair escape when they discover The Overflow Pipe of Freedom. The script is well crafted and works very well. All of our heroes are on top form, even Susan. We also get another little reference to a previous adventure for the Doctor and Susan, when she mentions an air raid, and Doctor adding "those Zeppelins were infernal machines."

Planet of Giants obviously owes to the 1955 novel The Borrowers and even more so to The Incredible Shrinking Man. The primary difference here is that the Doctor and Co have to stop a ruthless businessman, Forester from producing a lethal insecticide, that not only kills insects harmful to agriculture, but also those vital to it. A feat that were they not one inch tall might have been somewhat of a challenge. 

This was originally a four part story but was restructured into just three to tighten up the action. It feels relatively short, but it really works: The set up, the rising action and the pay-off. It's a shame they didn't format more of the early stories this way. I really enjoyed Planet of Giants and I'm really looking forward to the next outing.

Join me next time, back to DVD (sigh, I shall miss the crackly VHS quality) and The Dalek Invasion of Earth.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

8: The Reign of Terror - Too violent For 5.15?

Hartnell is great in this classic story.
Written by: Denis Spooner.
Companions: The Doctor, Susan, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright.
Monsters/Villains: Robespierre.
Brief synopsis: The TARDIS lands in France 1794 in the middle of the French Revolution.
Rating: 7/10

Wow, so we've made it to the end of the first season of Doctor Who. Well done us! Sadly episodes 4 & 5 of this one are missing but what a way to bring the season to a close...

The story starts with the time travellers thinking they've returned to Earth, with Ian and Barbara ready to depart, fortunately Ian persuades the Doctor to stay a while and make sure they are where they intended to be. They quickly discover that they are in 1794 revolutionary France, discover a dressing up box and continue to costume themselves in the appropriate garb for the era. We discover that this is the Doctor's favourite period in the history of earth. Really? What a very violent era to have a preference for, Doc.

And oh boy is this violent! First we meet two young revolutionaries on the run. Rouvray and D'Argenson. D'Argenson tells of how his whole family has been executed, "even my younger sister." The two are almost immediately shot and killed. Rouvray on screen and D'Argenson off screen as his 'executioners' laugh. Barely ten minutes in and two people are dead. And for those of you playing at home, we shall keep score as we go along.

As if the graphic murders weren't enough, we see the Doctor unconscious as the building he occupies burns to the ground and Barbara gets propositioned by a pervy jailor. And this is a children's programme that went out at 5.15pm?

There is a really lovely scene between the Doctor and the small boy who saves him. The Doctor thanks him and asks his name, promising to remember him, 'Jean Pierre.' I shall remember him too. The Doctor then gets put on to a Labour party but tricks the road works overseer and then hits him over the head with a spade. Which for some odd reason causes him to fall down and snore. Odd that. Hartnell is great in this story; probably the best we've seen him yet.

Hartnell loving 'A Change of Identity.'
Ian is in a cell with an ailing revolutionary, Webster, who leaves him a message and then  promptly dies. That's 3-0 to the 'baddies' so far. Ian then has to spend 'several hours' in the cell with a dead body. This is so morbid.

Barbara and Susan, the two women then get taken to be Guillotined. This is so happy I can see why it's the Doctor's favourite period in history. Not! Two revolutionary sympathisers come to Barbara and Susans rescue and shoot dead three guards. Bringing the score to 3-3. And we're tied. Unfortunately this is not a great story for Susan, who spends most of the episode whining and complaining.

Susan lolling. She must be tired from all
the whining and complaining.
One of the revolutionaries is informing on his friends so he gets shot too. That's 4-3 and the goodies take the lead, but can they hold on to the finish? We meet Robespierre and Napoleon. In the end Robespierre is overthrown, gets shot in the jaw off screen and is then carried away to be Guillotined. Making the final  body count... umm... I mean score 5-3. The goodies win! Yay!

Earlier in the story Barbara laughs when everyone is trying to stop Robespierre from being killed when they know this is 'what happens.' The Doctor says "you can't influence or change history, the events will happen just as they were written" At the end of the story the crew discuss how they couldn't change history. Susan says if we had written Napoleon a letter saying what was going to happen to him, he would have lost it, forgotten it, or though it was written by a maniac. While Barbara muses, if we'd have tired to shoot him the bullet would have missed. This will be an on going issue in Doctor Who. Do the Doctor and his companions have a baring on the periods they visit?

At the end there is an odd zoom out through space in which we hear Hartnell and Russell giving a closing v/o. This is a wonderfully classy and different way to end the season.

DOCTOR: Our lives are important, but least to us. But as we see, so we learn.
IAN: What are we going to see and learn next Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well unlike the olden days our destiny is in the stars, so lets go and explore them.

Not the best period to set a children's t.v programme.
The clue is in the title really, 'The Reign of Terror.' It perhaps wasn't the best era to set a children's t.v programme, but this story is still a real classic. The music throughout is great. Very suspenseful and hats off to Stanley Myers, for the section where Ian is escaping from the jail for inventing the Jaws music 11 years early. As violent and perhaps inappropriate it is, it's great. Everyone, bar Carol Anne Ford are giving great performances. This was clearly aimed to be a climactic bang for the series to go out; a finale that does so with elan.

Well we started out on the adventure with a bang. We witnessed our four heroes do quite a bit: discover fire, meet the Daleks, journey in the caravan of Marco Polo, face the Voords, destroy the Aztec civilisation, meet the Ood-like Sensorites, and take on the Doctor's favourite period of time, the french revolution. We saw 33 out of 42 episodes, with 9 missing ones. My favourite story from this very first season has to be An Unearthly Childit's perfect, and my least favourite is the bonkers The Edge Of Destruction. Out of a possible 80 I scored this season 53/80. Giving it an average of 66/100. I wonder how season two will fare against this...

This outing ends as the time travellers leave with the English revolutionary hero Sterling saying, "You know, I don't think they know where they're going to." And it couldn't be a more apt close. After, Cave People, Daleks, Thals, broken springs, the Voord, the Aztecs, the Sensorites and finally the brutal French revolution, who knows where the series will go next? 

Find out next time in Planet of Giants.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

7: The Sensorites - Bold But Not Fully Realised...

The first VHS I have watched in the run yet.
Written by: Peter R. Newman.
Companions: The Doctor, Susan, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright.
Monsters/Villains: The Sensorites. Insane Humans.
Brief Synopsis: Telepathic aliens imprison the TARDIS crew and the crew of a twenty-eighth century spaceship.
Rating: 5/10

This is the first VHS I have watched in the run as The Sensorites has not yet been released on DVD. It's odd watching a video these days, it has a real vintage quality to it, like listening to an LP. Old? Yes, but also very stylish. 

The opening of this episode is slightly odd, with the TARDIS crew rehashing all their previous tales thus far. It's also evidently clear that no one has ever taught Hartnell anything about how to use the TARDIS controls, as he dodders around trying to look like he knows what he's doing. However, Hartnell gets a great line which is also a perfect microcosm for the series so far. "It all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard and now it's turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure." It truly has, Bill. The Doctor also admits to having once argued with Henry VIII before Ian and Barbara were on the scene. Here's a gap for a new novel or audio play.

It seems odd that Maitland seems unfazed by the TARDIS crew being from another time and their ability to travel in time. This seems to happen fairly often in the early series; characters ignoring aspects of the story where the writer or production team don't want to or can't tread. We also get all this stuff about Susan and the Doctor being Telepaths. It's suggested that many people on their planet have these abilities, and that Susan's aptitude could be perfected if they ever get home. Susan also gives us our first glimpse into what will eventually come to be known as Gallifrey. She says "It's quite like earth. At night the sky is a burnt orange and the leaves on the trees are bright silver." This is how we will see it presented 45 years later, with David Tennant in the The End of Time. Along with her stimulating definition of her home planet, Susan also says "sometimes I feel like I would like to belong somewhere. Not be a wanderer." Three stories later she will stop wandering and settle down on Earth. However even after our first departure from the TARDIS I will continue to 'Wonder' in the fourth dimension.

In one scene the Doctor puts on reading/smart specks, just like Peter Davidson and David Tennant will 17 and 24 years later respectively. We also learn another staple opinion of the Doctor that will go on to describe and define his passive status from now on. "I've never much liked weapons." However in this instance he goes onto say "but they are handy little things." The Doctor has been known to use weapons from time to time, but only when there is no other option.

The Sensorites. Identical? I don't think so...
The, Ood-like Sensorites are interesting. The ideas about their civilisation built on blind trust and equality is a strong story idea. However their design is not so good. The design team boast that each Sensorite mask is individually fashioned making them entirely unique. However, in the story the species refer to themselves as being identical.

The first episode of this story is strong as an oddity and a mystery. Unfortunately it quickly becomes incredibly predictable. Once we arrive at the Sense Sphere it is quickly clear what will happen with the Sensorite illness, poisoned water, and mutiny, with only one unforeseeable turn. When it turns out to be survivors from the exploded human spaceship poisoning the water. The lead Sensorite characters (The First Elder, The City Administrator and his lackey) all really remind me of the ones we will see in The Silurians. The wise leader, the young upstart who wants to take over, and his allies. The story follows a similar structure with the First Elder trying to work with the Doctor to create peace and the City Administrator trying to undermine this by acting against the Doctor.

Stephen Dartnell as John.
The human cast members are decent. Stephen Dartnell who plays John stands out. His confusion in his 'open-mind' condition is played with wonderful naivety and believability and his transformation after being cured is markedly different.  

Silly Musings
1) The Sensorites are delineated by hilarious designations. The First Elder with two sashes. The Second Elder with one. The city administrator with a collar. Scientists with a crest, and warriors with multiple black armbands. Everyone else just looks the same.

Susan with the First Elder.
2) The Doctor gives Ian a rolled up map to use as a weapon. 'Don't worry Doctor I'll hit it with this paper map.'

3) When Ian gets the Sensorite disease he says he has a soar throat and feels giddy. Call a Doctor!

4) The Doctor continuously shouts at the Sensorites, even though he knows it distresses them.

Overall I did enjoy this story, but I feel it is a victim of too many episodes. The story is bold and interesting, but it takes too long for it all to happen. The pressure never builds up enough. The Sensorites are a good creation but aren't really realised here as well as they could have been with fewer stories, and a greater budget.

Join me next time for The Reign of Terror.