Rather uniquely among the episodes reviewed so far, I had no real prior expectations when it came to watching this adventure from William Hartnell’s first season. Obviously The Daleks had left a lasting impression upon me, but I had been less impressed by The Keys of Marinus and The Aztecs – so really wasn’t sure what to expect.
Suffice to say, I wasn’t really that wowed by this story. The first episode is suitably mysterious, but it does drag somewhat thereafter. As a faster paced four parter I think this serial could have worked quite well, and there are some genuinely interesting themes in terms of distrust of outsiders and the hindrance that telepathy can bring. And it has to be said that for its time, the serial holds up well in its production values, and it is easy to see why it appealed to TV audiences of the time.
Against that are two problems. The first is that the Sensorites themselves do not make for a terribly impressive alien species – not least in the fact that it is apparently very easy to impersonate another Sensorite – you just steal their sash! The second and more pressing problem is the TARDIS crew themselves. Although Susan is given the opportunity to branch out in this episode, and explore the gift of telepathy that the production crew promised would be hers, I’ve never really warmed to the first ever TARDIS crew, and to Susan in particular. I don’t know if watching Season One in order would correct that and allow me to perhaps judge the crew for who they are, rather than in the light of later TARDIS crews … but certainly in The Sensorites I found a distinct lack of empathy for the plight of the crew.
As with The Web Planet, I have to say again that I didn’t think the episode was especially poor or notably comical – the costumes and acting are certainly much less comical than was the case in that story! But it certainly didn’t wow me, or leave me thinking afterwards that I was in a rush to watch it again.