Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Thirty-Four: Race Against Death (The Sensorites, Episode Four)
It's not something you often see said, but actually, I quite like the design of the Sensorites. No, genuinely! I've been meaning to mention it for a few days now. There's one or two obvious flaws (those feet are very impractical. You'd better hope they never have to run anywhere…), but on the whole it's a good design.
It's quite well realised, too. There's one or two instances where the joins are perfectly visible, but as I've said before, I'm watching a VidFIREd version of this story on a 21.5" iMac screen. This isn't the natural format for this show. On the whole, I really like them.
Shortly before watching this story, I stumbled across a redesign of the creatures on the blog 'Mels Art Stuff'. I really liked it, and I've had it in mind while watching… but it's not a million miles away from what we've got here! It's this exact design with a bit more freedom of budget.
Now then, if that opening has sounded pretty positive, it's because I've enjoyed today's episode! I know! I resolved to go into it with a positive outlook, as assuming it would be like yesterday's installment was going to get me nowhere. It's a good thing, though, because this one's been rather good.
The Doctor very quickly deduces that it's the water infecting the planet, which is good. I'd worried that even after it was so spelt out in the last episode, they'd leave it running as a mystery for a while. The main complaint that I hear about The Sensorites is that it's dull, and I feared that would be because the solution was clear to us long before the characters arrived at it.
And once that deduction is out of the way, the story rattles on at quite a pace! There's even chance for a montage, with the Doctor working on an antidote, Susan caring for Ian, and the Sensorites testing water for the poisons. Part of the fun of watching the montage is seeing everyone get into position ready for the shot to return to them, as cutting was out of the question due to time and budget. Plus, Hartnell pulls some wonderful faces while trying to look as though he's concentrating.
Alongside this, we've got the thoroughly evil City Administrator trying to get rid of 'The Humans' as best he can. There's some interesting parallels to The Aztecs, here, but with the morality angle almost completely removed. There, Tlotoxl was desperate to show up the TARDIS crew as false (when they actually were being), while here, the City Administrator is trying to prove that Ian's 'illness' is false (though it's not).
And then there's the Doctor. His transformation into the character we know and love is pretty much complete, now. He's found the solution for curing Ian, and it can be scaled and applied to the rest of the planet, but that's not enough for him. To quote the Doctor himself; 'Why cure something when we can stamp it out?'. It's great to see him at this stage, finally.
Oh, and then there's even room for a cliffhanger involving a monster! Brilliant!
Next Episode: Kidnap