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01 January 2019 @ 05:14 pm
The Randomiser: The Sensorites  
I had heard The Sensorites both highly praised (particularly for an atmospheric first episode) and high derided (for being deeply boring) so I was kind of interested to see which I would think it was.

Ultimately I thought it was fine but unspectacular, which surprised me a bit for an episode which seems to generate such strong opinions. Like Edge of Destruction there was just a bit too much random and not terribly well explained behaviour in the first episode for me to buy into its spooky atmosphere, meanwhile there was enough event in the later episodes, even if much of it does not bear up to close scrutiny, to keep me happily watching.

The Sensorites is a bit Star Trekky in its presentation of an Earth Space Crew of the future and in its attempt at something vaguely high concept in episode 1. But, to be honest, it pretty much loses interest in this when it moves down to the planet and into its vague tale of mystery and political intrigue. As noted above, enough is happening to keep the attention (at least I thought), but the moment you actually think about any of it an awful lot of questions of the "how did that work/was that supposed to work?" arise. Like much of early Doctor Who, its very serialised plotting, with an assumption that the viewer doesn't have a detailed memory of what happened before the episode began and a happiness for each episode to go off in its own direction without necessarily much strong over-arching plot coherence. Frankly however, there is an awful lot of Doctor Who that contains an awful lot more pointless padding than is on display here.

There are some nice bits with Susan using both her telepathy (for once!) and taking a look at her relationship with her grandfather (insofar as 1963 Doctor Who does relationship development), and some quite fun bits with Ian and the Doctor down in the sewers.

While quite a bit of the world-building is stupid (or at least in need of better development), it is one of early Doctor Who's more serious attempts to present an alien society and that is not without interest as well.

Overall a perfectly serviceable slice of 1963 Doctor Who and I'm mostly mystified that anyone thinks otherwise.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/537591.html.
 
 
 
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on January 1st, 2019 08:04 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever seen The Sensorites highly praised, except for one review by Vanessa Bishop (and that was only for the first episode or two)!

It does benefit from being seen in context, where you realise this is basically the first time the Doctor is actually Doctorish, solving a problem from moral obligation rather than necessity; also the first time the aliens are characters rather than monsters. So it's important rather than spectacular, but not particularly offensive either.
louisedennis: Who:Onelouisedennis on January 2nd, 2019 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I'd ever paid it much heed before I started listening to podcasts - admittedly the ones I listen to come primarily from a small group of people who all know each other, but The Sensorites seems to be pretty divisive with that crowd.