Trash Culture’s Dr. Who Reviews – The Sensorites (1964)

by Chad Denton

The TARDIS’ crew find themselves in what appears to be a moving object. Ian muses that “we are different from when we started out with you.” The Doctor agrees, saying that “it’s turned out to be a great spirited adventure.” Although Barbara notes that nearly every time they leave the TARDIS they get into trouble, the Doctor wants to head out to see where they are. Outside they find they are on a spaceship where seemingly the crew, a woman and a man, has recently died with no visible signs of wounds. Before they can return to the TARDIS, they find the captain of the ship, Maitland, who gives Barbara a device that revives the woman, Carol. Maitland explains that the crew isn’t dead but is in stasis. From conversation with Maitland the Doctor and the others learn that the ship is from Earth and that it’s the 28th century. Carol interrupts to urge them to leave, since they’re all in danger. At the Doctor and Barbara’s prompting, Maitland explains that they’re oribiting a planet called the Sense-Sphere, and its inhabitants, the Sensorites, have some mysterious form of control over the ship as well as the crew’s minds. The Sensorites have trapped the ship in space and placed them in stasis, but will not harm them; in fact, they make sure the crew remains well-nourished. At Maitland’s insistence, the Doctor and the others prepare to leave, discovering to their horror that the Sensorites have removed the TARDIS’ opening mechanism, effectively sealing the TARDIS.

Before they can think about the situation, the ship begins to be pulled toward the Sense-Sphere. The Doctor manages to help pilot the ship to avoid collision and theorizes that the near-crash was an intimidation tactic. While they go to retrieve some water, Susan and Barbara are trapped on part of the ship by the third member of the ship’s crew, the mineralogist John. Carol tells Ian that John was her fiancee and that the Sensorites probed him telepathically far more than either her of Maitland, making him dangerously insane. However, John is comforted by Susan’s resemblance to his sister, but soon collapses, claiming that the Sensorites are trying to force him to frighten them. A group of Sensorites come back to the ship, driving John into hysterics. Meanwhile Susan tells Barbara that they can use their own thoughts through concentration to disrupt the Sensorites’ control of John as Maitland and Ian manage to force the door open and put John to rest.

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