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 4: A Race Against Death
Last time, the Doctor and his friends traveled to the Sensorite home world. Their leader, the First Elder, offered them hospitality, including cups of the rare “crystal water”. Ian, however, is a man of powerful thirsts and after drinking water that was decidedly non-crystal in origin, contracted a deadly disease.
With Ian passed out on the floor, the Doctor leaps into action, quickly realizing that the the aliens’ regular water supply is to blame. With only three days until the disease takes Ian’s life, the Doctor requests the Elder’s permission to return to his ship for supplies. The Elder says he’ll have to think about it.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, John the astronaut is getting a space perm.
In the middle of John’s treatment, the City Administrator (who you might remember wants nothing more than to kill those pesky humans) barges in and loses it when he sees them helping one of the humans.
The Second Elder threatens to strip old Admin. of his position, but the Administrator insists that Ian’s illness is just a ploy to catch them off guard.
It’s about this time that John wakes up and starts chanting, “Evil. Evil.” It seems that John has acquired the ability to psychically gauge the intentions of others. Unfortunately, crippling mental illness also makes him pretty easy to write off, and the Second Elder dismisses his warning as random nonsense.
As he leaves the room, the Administrator takes a moment to engage in some full-on supervillain gloating, delivering the truly fantastic line, “Your brain is too weak to harm me.”
Then, Carol strolls in, mistaking the Administrator for one of his fellow scientists. When the Administrator (God, we really need to get these characters some names!) corrects her by pointing out his administrative collar, Carol is kind enough to reveal, “if you changed your badges and sashes, we wouldn’t be able to tell you apart.”
I think we can all guess where this is going.
With Admin. stoked about his latest evil plot, we check back in with the Doctor who is having his own temper tantrum after the Elder refuses to let him return to his ship.
As the Doctor begins to rant and rave, Susan manages to talk him down, pointing out that his loud outbursts have a harmful effect on the aliens’ delicate hearing.
By way of compromise, the Elder gives the Doc the use of a laboratory with a complement of scientists to help him out.
Then First Elder decides it’s probably a good idea to fill the Administrator in on his plans. You know that guy that staged an assassination attempt last episode? Probably wise to keep him in the loop, right?
Admin. waits for the Elder to leave, then launches into another epic rant, shouting, “These creatures are defeating us with smiles and gentle words.”
Wow. Everything out of this guy’s mouth is pure gold. Can we just go ahead and make him a regular character?
Back in the lab, Doc has discovered that the Sensorites’ water supply is laced with atropine poison. The strange thing is, only one in three of the aliens die from the disease, meaning the poison’s strength varies between various parts of the city.
So, as the Doctor tests water from each of the city’s ten districts, we get a fantastic montage sequence that shows footage of Ian getting sicker intercut with shots of the Doc playing with test tubes.
Eventually, Doc isolates the poison and as he goes to work creating an antidote, that wily Administrator puts operation Sash Switch into effect.
After seizing the Second Elder, Admin. gets him to cooperate by kidnapping his family. Do you get the impression the Administrator was just sitting around waiting for an excuse to become a full-fledged supervillain?
Admin steals the Second Elder’s sash so he can impersonate him, which raises some rather troubling questions. Like, for instance, can the aliens really not tell one another apart?
As his first act as faux Elder, Admin intercepts delivery of the Doctor’s antidote, then discreetly disposes of it by throwing it onto the ground.
Unfortunately, his plan is foiled when Susan gets the radical idea to just walk to the lab herself for another sample. Damn these scheming humans!
With that out of the way, the Doctor travels to one of the city’s aqueducts to get to the bottom of this whole poisoning thing once and for all.
His Sensorite companion, however, isn’t too keen on the idea and tells him that the area is plagued by monsters, which they’ve never seen, but can hear from the city.
Between the darkness and the fear of attack, his companion gets overwhelmed and soon leaves. As the alien departs, the Doctor remarks that it’s awfully convenient that the two things Sensorites can’t stand can both be found in the space where the poison is located.
Back at Sensorite Central, Susan has administered the antidote to a grateful Ian. As he begins to recover, the two of them catch wind of where the Doctor’s gone, as well as the stories regarding the monsters that patrol the area.
Susan decides to go out after him, but since the Sensorites are all too spooked to help, it falls to the TARDIS’ resident man of action Ian to step up to the plate.
As Ian and Susan head off on their own, the First Elder is overwhelmed by their selflessness and reaches out mentally to tell his second in command.
But as luck would have it, the Second Elder is deeply entrenched in an intense game of cowboys and Indians.
Since his arms are tied, the Second Elder can’t get his hands on that radical stethoscope they use to talk to each other, so he can only hear his boss’ message.
The Administrator wants to know what’s happening and once again threatens the Elder’s family, forcing him to reveal what their leader is saying. Now, with full knowledge of where the Doc and his companions are, Admin. plans to use their absence as an excuse to wipe them out once and for all.
Meanwhile, the Doctor discovers a nightshade plant located along the aquaducts, but before he can investigate further, something in the background starts growling.
Wow, the crazy train just keeps on rolling. Intrigue, science, and an evil plan that revolves around stealing your boss’ shirt? This one is heading right off the rails in the best possible way and we’re nowhere near done. We’ve still got two episodes left in this puppy, so tune in next time for episode 5, Kidnap.