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Doc & Co try to save some humans from mind-controlling aliens, but end up saving the aliens from barbaric humans. #irony

Doctor Who finally goes back into outer space! Out of the Aztec frying pan and into the Sensorite fire.

The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara (who presumably enjoyed a well-deserved respite in the Maldives for most of this story) land the TARDIS inside a human spaceship kept in orbit around the Sensesphere by the Sensorites sometime in the 28th century. There are three humans on board, two of whom are dead and one of whom is an aggressive zombie. But don’t worry; the dead survive and the zombie just wants a hug.

Enter the Sensorites, an evil race of mind-controlling aliens hell-bent on getting the humans to scare each other to death when they’re not busy feeding their lifeless bodies local treats or spying pervertedly on them from outside the craft! Pretty creepy, eh? But, again, don’t worry; they’re actually a really kind and meek race of people who never speak of mind-control and are actually terrified of almost everything themselves, including the dark, loud noises and the monsters hiding under the be… I mean, in the sewers.

We learn that there’s a plague on the Sensesphere and a Raptor in the basement, but The Doctor’s on the case. Thus, while Susan suddenly develops telepathic abilities out of nowhere, Ian gets sick, Barb goes on holiday, and the Sensorite 2nd-in-command stages a coup, he takes charge to save the day.

This story is fantastic, partly because it’s so great and partly because it’s largely dismal. Enjoy!


A Who Back When first – This episode was recorded “in front of a live studio audience”, in that we were joined by Doctor Who virgin, Frank, who occasionally jumped in to correct us when we were clearly in the wrong.

Huge thanks to John and Will for sending in their own reviews of this Doctor Who story. And mega gracias to Frank for being so frank.

The Ratings-and-Reviews Section of this podcast kicks off at the 1h20m20s mark.

#DoctorWho #DrWho #ClassicWho

Here's what we think of C007 The Sensorites

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Flapjack | @12Manymornings


Here's what we think of C007 The Sensorites

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Flapjack | @12Manymornings


Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C007 The Sensorites”
  1. Will Wakefield

    You asked me to give my extended opinion on the rest of the story, so here it is:

    The reason that I took 0.8 points off of my score was because it felt like it was supposed to be a shorter story (as you mentioned), and also because of the events of the last episode.

    I didn’t think that the fact that there were other survivors quite as ridiculous as you two apparently did. I found that part totally believable, but poorly executed. The Doctor suddenly getting very angry at Ian and telling him that he was going to make him leave was definitely odd, but I didn’t take any points off because the story was pretty much over at that point.

    Early on in your podcast you mentioned that you thought it was strange that most of the Sensorites were very “timid”, and there were only a few bad apples. I think that adds realism to the spieces. It makes them seem no different than the human race. Most humans are neutral to one another and try to be kind, but there are some who wish death upon others just because they are different from themselves. This idea of a spieces having both good and bad beings has become one of the best elements that is implemented in all stories of Third Doctor writer, Malcolm Hulke.

    I stand by my opinion that this story had great backstory. I definitely agree that it wasn’t implemented at all but I felt that I knew the characters and the setting very well by the end of the first episode.

    After watching all of the new series and up to the the end of the Third Doctor era of classic Doctor Who, the Sensorites remain one of my ten favorite Doctor Who monsters of all time (if you can even call them that).

    I hope this explained why I gave ‘The Sensorites’ a score which, in your eyes, is too high.

    (By the way, I should mention that I don’t love every Doctor Who story. The score for my next story will be under 4.0 and I’ve given a story near the end of the Hartnell era a 0.5.)


  2. notmyname

    I really appreciate this undertaking. However, I feel that you guys are being very harsh on these classic stories. You seem to be judging classic Doctor Who by the standards of the current show, which isn’t fair. You shouldn’t consider the Doctor Who you’ve seen coming in to each new episode. Also, although the banter is entertaining, I think the podcast would be a lot more useful and memorable if you spent less time recapping the episode (and taking major segues to rub in the show’s errors and modern inconsistencies), and more time discussing and “examining the messages, morals, and meanings”*. As the podcast is now, those who haven’t seen the episodes will come away thinking the classic series was crap. I think the amount of time you take rating the stories should be how long the recap takes.

    All that said, I think this show has great potential.

    *This show is attempting to review all Star Trek episodes, and I think taking a look at their model could greatly improve the quality of this show:

    • Gina Guerrero

      I think you are not understanding the concept of the show. Yes they tend to be judgmental,but more for comic effect. I also think the point is that they are not experts and are experiencing these stories for the first time and discussing their unique experience watching it. I love the current format of recapping the episodes, because the they tend to catch stuff I miss. Hopefully you can relax your expectations and enjoy the show for what it is, which is brilliant.

  3. notmyname

    I’m sorry to bug, but you could do a little bit of research before recording. Molybdenum is a chemical element on the periodic table. I’m not saying that you should have known that, I just do because I’m a nerd. Also with the whole Yeti “sub-plot”, they’re mentioned again in “The Abominable Snowmen” (Troughton’s doctor), and also later in “The Web of Fear” (also Troughton).
    I’m not trying to be a classic series know-it-all. I just think that the show could be improved if you guys do some research beforehand, not to spoil the future of the show, but to better inform the people of podcastland and present the show with a bit more authority.
    You don’t have to approve this comment or my last one on this page, just read them. This podcast is great, but it could be even greater.

  4. Gina Guerrero

    So my first watch through I was so bored through the middle episodes and so unsatisfied by the end, I gave it another watch. It was worse the second time. This story had potential to be an interesting story, but went off the rails by the second episode. The Sensorites ended up being tedious aliens who were rather lame and boring. I’m still unsure of what the hell was going on with the humans in the tunnels. I can say that I enjoyed Edge of Discussion… I mean Destruction more than this story because even though it was ridiculous, it had some entertainment value. So with the Doctor getting a cape and Susan apparently having psychic ability to serve the plot, nothing happened. Lastly, how did a story that started with the Tardis crew being all lovey dovey end with the doctor kicking Ian and Barb out again. Anyway, my rating would be 0.8 only because I felt the human astronauts in the beginning were interesting and well acted.

  5. Kyle Rath

    The beautiful thing about today’s modern technological age, is that if you don’t like the way something is done, you can go and do it yourself, in whatever manner you see fit.

    For me, listening to this podcast as a long, long time Doctor Who fan, I get to rediscover all over again what it is about the show that I love, that i hate, and that i generally appreciate about it’s various eras. I wholeheartedly embrace the manner in which Whobackwhen is produced. I have seen every television (’63-89,96,05-13) episode, listened to many of the audio dramas, and read many of the novels. I’d say i am aware of a fair bit of the Whoniverse. Big Deal. If I can shed light and add to someone else’s experience, then everybody wins. But I really have no business telling a couple of guys who take time out of their days to make a podcast about a show they love, how they can do it better.

    That’s just being a dick.

    Ponken & Flapjack: Please keep making gold records. It is tremendously fun. And thanks for your time.

    • Gina Guerrero

      Couldn’t have said it better myself! I listen to at least 5 different Doctor Who Podcasts and this one by far is my favorite. They all have varying levels of Doctor Who knowledge and experience. And I am able to appreciate what each one brings. But as a fairly new Doctor Who obsessive fan, Flappy and Ponken hold a special place in my podcast heart! So if someone doesn’t appreciate the uniqueness of this podcast, why are they listening?

  6. John David (jD) / @mariuskane

    The Sensorites

    In previous podcasts you’ve talked of “things that randomly happen and never mentioned again” – this is the first example of them revisiting something which looked like they’d forgotten. Susan’s hearing of the plant life screaming in Keys of Marinus is revisited with her having telepathic gifts in this episode. Which would be great, if they actually allowed her to have character development rather than oscillating between “irritating and useless screaming schoolchild” and “Otherworldly Alien” – personally I prefer her when she’s in the otherworldly alien mode such as she is in the Sensorites, which apart from Dalek Invasion of Earth is really the only Susan heavy episode we get.

    It’s a pity that the episode itself is “okay” rather than “good” – coming of the back of the Aztecs which is a classic, and the Keys of Marinus which is another classic, this is the first episode of Season 1 which is “poor” in my books (and unlike Ponken and Flappy I actually really loved the Edge of Destruction).

    The Good – Susan
    The Bad – Hartnell seemingly doesn’t actually bother reading the script : “I rather fancy that’s, er… settled that little bit of … solution.” and Yes, rich in mins, min, minerals, yes, quite…”

    Score – 2.1 / 5

  7. Peter Zunitch

    Years ago I had seen the name of this episode (and a picture of a sensorite) in a Dr who book (the 60s). I became really interested in the story and was dying to see it. When I finally did I was, like most other seems, quite bored for much of it. My recent 2nd watching made me think “it’s better than I remember”, but that still makes it just an average episode. There are certainly blocking issues (the sleep stimulator being across the room) and some dropped plot devices. However it’s once again the acting that saves this episode. Susan, though still underutilized, is quite good, as is the guy with the broken mind (sorry it’s been a bit since I watched and I can’t remember everything. The sensorite are indeed very menacing for the space ship episodes, and at first they seem invincible. It’s a shame they get a bit flaky later. They eventually become humans that don’t look like humans, with little alien to them other than looks and telepathy.

    The monster in the tunnels was always rather obvious to me. The survivors would dress up as a creature (a fur skin and claws), and drive off the sensorite. Normally just a noise and a shadow would be enough to do the trick, but for those going too far in an assault and retreat would push it over the top. They had no need to risk themselves in direct attack, as they would just poison the sensorite later…after the victims would retreat and claim monster. Meantime it was so dark in the tunnels that Ian, the dr and the survivor never got a good look at each other. We even see the survivor arriving back at the camp with the fur skin.

    Anyway, other than being too long my only real gripe is that it took so long for the characters to see the obvious. Maybe I watch too much sci fi, but I knew what was going on 5 min after they landed on the planet. And the fact that the tardis crew didn’t see through the whole switcheroo thing bothered me.

    Again, a perfectly average episode. Not amazing, not tragic.

  8. The TARDIS crew land in a spaceship which is under some kind of psychic attack from the titular ‘Sensorites’. The crew appear dead, there’s a zombie in the cupboard and a grizzly alien is looking through the window. With the lock from the TARDIS stolen by the Sensorites, the Doctor and co are trapped. If they want to break free, they will have to cut some sort of a deal with the aliens.

    As good fortune would have it, the Sensorites are more civilised than first appears. They have their distinct reasons for keeping the spaceship locked down, but are more than happy to discuss it… and discuss it… and discuss it. Meanwhile, Ian gets poisoned and there are monsters in the sewers.

    Conceptually, the Sensorites are a fascinating race. Physically, they are just actors in pyjamas and silly masks, but they are written from a mature perspective, as being truly alien. This comes across again and again, from the throwaway comments about a caste system; from the First Elder musing about how they themselves might appear ugly to the humans, and from the City Administrator’s irrational fury at their ‘silly names’ for each other. Their fear of the dark and of loud noises undermines any fear element – just shout at them and they’ll drop their guns – but again it adds to the sense that there are not just pseudo-humans, like the Thals, for example.

    Apart from the concept of the Sensorites, there’s not a huge amount to write home about, but it is nice to see Susan get a bit more to do. She develops telepathic abilities, has a flaming row with the Doctor (the first ever, he says), nostalgically describes her planet (“burnt orange skies and trees with bright silver leaves”) and delivers the ‘moral’ of the story to the First Elder (Trust has to be earned.)

    It really feels like nobody was paying attention to the filming of this story. There are innumerable errors, fluffs, goofs and slip-ups. Some are funny – Carol stands too close to the Doctor so that when he turns and sees her he jumps out of his skin – but most are just sloppy. There are TV studio lights clearly visible in the back of the shot, the mike comes into frame a lot, the cameras bump into the furniture, the walls are wobbling, the ambient sound from one scene runs several seconds into the next and is abruptly cut… It’s not due to budget, it’s due to carelessness. It’s difficult to get engrossed in a story when the production team were so haphazard about it at the time.
    That aside, there’s just way too much chat, and not enough action or suspense. The final episode is very rushed; there is no pay-off for our main villain; there’s some major plot holes (Ian can pilot a space-ship now?) and the actual appearance of the Sensorites is pretty lame.

    The cliffhanger for Episode One provides one of the only moments of tension in the story. The Sensorites are coming. Everybody keep quiet… Silence. So much silence. And then at last – boom – a face at the window, peering in. It’s a brilliant cliffhanger, though as I’ve seen noted elsewhere, you do wonder if he’s going to wave cheerily, get a mop and bucket and start cleaning the window.
    The shot in Episode Two, in which we properly see the Sensorites for the first time, opens on a close up of their feet. And yes – one of them is accidentally standing on the other ones foot. That’ll be the end of any tension then!
    Susan’s teenage anger at the Doctor (“I’m not a little child any more”) is great.
    The cliffhanger for Episode Three is also a nicely done scene. Ian is poisoned. We, as an audience, get the idea long before the Doctor or Susan, and there is a lot of suspense while he coughs and then apologises, and then coughs again.
    There’s a nice montage scene as the Doctor is analysing the water for poison. It might be the first montage on Dr Who, so it’s enjoyable to see it being used as an effect!
    The Doctor has a delightful understatement after being knocked down by an invisible monster: “Something hit me under the heart. It was most unpleasant!”
    ‘Dumbest Moment of the Story’ Award goes to Random-Sensorite-At-The-Back, who comes out with the line: “I heard them over… over… talking” and then quickly crosses his arms in cringing shame and embarrassment. Shocking!
    Susan has a chuckle to herself as she imitates a Sensorite running away from the Doctor: “Flip flap!”
    The Doctor is given a remarkably nice cloak. The way is it made use of to counter claims of murder is a nice bonus, but I just like the cloak.

    This story was written as a thoughtful exploration of what an alien culture might look like. It then was subjected to development by a half-baked production team who were rather keen to get off home and have a mug of Horlicks. The result is a slap-dash affair that really drags out the middle of the story, that rushes the conclusion and that leaves you feeling quite unsatisfied. It’s not as illogical as Edge of Destruction, but it’s six dreary episodes.

    OVERALL: 2.2

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