Doctor Who in The Sensational Psychic Sensorites

Weighing in at an impressive 800 episodes, Doctor Who has been entertaining audiences for the past 50 years. Yet, despite this vast backlog of content, I know next to nothing about the actual series. For that reason, I’ve decided to watch this unusual show from the beginning, to discover the source of its unique appeal. Come with me as I tackle this daunting sci-fi phenomena from the very beginning in The Complete Doctor Who.

Warning: the following contains spoilers.

Doctor Who: Serial 7 The Sensorites, Episode 2: The Unwilling Warriors

Last time, the Doctor and crew stumbled onto the bridge of a spaceship where a trio of astronauts were being tormented by a group of psychic aliens called Sensorites. Barbara and Susan stumbled down the wrong hallway, accidentally locking themselves in a room with John, an astronaut suffering serious emotional trauma after his encounter with the aliens.

We pick up right where we left off, with Ian spotting of one of the Sensorites floating outside one of the ship’s windows.

As the Sensorites board, the two astronauts Maitland and Carol start going catatonic, while in another part of the ship, John starts receiving psychic messages telling him to menace Barbara and Susan.

BBC

BBC

Ian and the Doctor manage to revive Maitland and Carol, then set to work breaking down the door so they can get to Barbara and Susan.

Just about that time, the Sensorites stroll in, giving us our first good look at them and wow, the designer really broke the mold on these guys.

Dig those fantastic feet - BBC

Dig those fantastic feet – BBC

Dressed from head to toe in a pair of wild footie pajamas and looking like a cross between an old man and a goldfish, the Sensorites might be my favorite thing since that time the Daleks made Susan transcribe a letter.

BBC

BBC

And speaking of Susan, she actually contributes something useful this week by remembering an encounter she and the Doctor once had with psychic plant, in which they were able to block its mental probes. She suggests trying the same tactic against the Sensorites and, sure enough, moments later the aliens fall to their knees in pain.

Then Susan passes out, which to be fair, can’t really be held against her. That’s just kind of what she does, right?

Meanwhile, the Doctor and crew finally manage to break down the door. They put John to bed, then set about trying to come up with a plan.

As the Doc tosses out various theories, we cut back to one of the Sensorites who is eavesdropping on his conversation by placing a stethoscope to his head. My God, these Sensorites are getting better by the second!

BBC

BBC

Since John was the most seriously affected, the Doctor theorizes maybe he was targeted for some specific reason and decides to look into his work. John was the ship’s mineralogist and, after looking at his research, the crew determines he discovered a large supply of molybdenum on the planet’s surface.

Evidently, molybdenum is of incredible value in the future, so the Sensorites have been keeping Maitland and his crew prisoner so they can’t tell anyone what they’ve found.

After figuring this out, Maitland and Carol collapse yet again. This is the last straw for Ian who has had just about enough of these psychic shenanigans thank you very much. So, with Barbara at his side, he sets off to find these Sensorites and give them a piece of his mind.

But, while his heart is in the right place, Ian’s follow through leaves a lot to be desired. After laying eyes on them for the first time, Ian beats a not-so-hasty retreat, backpedaling slowly until he finally manages to lock them behind a door.

Unfortunately for Ian, he didn’t factor in the power of the  Sensorites’ goofy ping-pong paddle, which apparently can be used to unlock doors. Oh well, live and learn, I guess.

With the door unlocked, the Sensorites walk through it to a second door, but instead of going through it, they pull out their trusty stethoscopes for a nice trip into Susan’s mind.

BBC

BBC

Using Susan as a vessel, the Sensorites tell the Doctor they simply want to talk, so the second door is opened and the aliens stroll in for a nice heart to heart.

Never one for pleasantries, the Doctor cuts right to the chase, demanding, “Why don’t you let these space people go back to their earth?”

The Sensorites say they can’t let them go because they’ll reveal the rich deposits of molybdenum. Instead, they’ve prepared a nice place for them on their planet where the earthlings can live out the rest of their days.

The Doc tells him that’s not going to happen and that they’re more than capable of defending themselves, which leads to what may be the best trash talk of all time.

“You have only proved that you can lock doors. We can unlock them.”

BBC

BBC

The Doc counters with the equally sensational, “I don’t make threats, but I do keep promises and I promise you I shall cause you more trouble than you bargained for if you don’t return my property.”

Seeing as how no one’s going to budge, the Sensorites scuttle off to decide how to proceed. Then, with the aliens gone, the Doctor reveals that he’s been assessing their weaknesses and has determined that their eyes will not allow them to see in darkness. In light of the Sensorites’ psychic powers, you’d think he might want to play things a little closer to the vest, however, the whole thing becomes moot when the Sensorites reach out to Susan once again.

After another one-sided conversation, Susan reveals that she’s agreed to go down to the aliens planet as their prisoner in order to spare the rest of the crew.

As she departs, the hatch slams shut, bringing this episode to a close.

Another solid episode. While it doesn’t quite live up to last episode’s creepy Twilight Zone setup, it manages some pretty fun character moments. The Sensorites are wonderfully ridiculous and Hartnell gets to deliver a pretty badass speech. All in all, pretty fun.

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