‘Yes, it all started out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard, and now it’s turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure, don’t you think?’
20 June – 1 August 1964
The Memory Cheats
No memory to cheat here! This is my first brand new all complete story! There are not many of these left now, and by the end of the Troughton Era, there will be no new classic Who for me to watch. So I didn’t have this story on VHS, not sure if it was out for my first run-through. I am aware this is not a well-liked story, and photos of the aliens that I have seen make the Voord look amazing.
The Time Space Visuliser
The static disturbance on the monitor is very futuristic and the first in a long line of technological clues that we are clearly 700 years into the future. Barbara seems to have recovered from her experiences in the Aztecs stating that she is over all that now. Phew! Then it is ‘previously on Doctor Who’ including an unseen adventure involving slapstick humour with Henry VIII. Did this ever get expanded on in a missing adventure? The wrist watches of the future. Really bizarre deduction from the Doctor that it is at least 24 hours since they died. Do both watches have exactly the same mechanism that the Doctor can recognise immediately. No kindles in the 28th Century either. Barbara and Susan go off in search of water and walk past a cupboard clearly marked water! Then the ship goes into a nosedive which thankfully the Doctor has the ability to get them through. Good hand acting from Maitland though! I wondered why the lock to the TARDIS was sticking out. Not sure why they didn’t see the Sensorite take the lock out as the TARDIS surely remained in peripheral vision. But hey ho, at least it means that can’t get back into it. May as well have an adventure again! Maitland gives an angry shh! Even though no one is talking!
Surely the Sensorite is just standing outside the window! It is established later that Sensorites are fearful of the dark. How do they get through space without crapping their pants? Then we get our first full view of the Sensorites. Fab feet. Ian proves not just a dab hand with polystyrene stones but with plywood circular doors too. Hartnell is getting better and better. The Sensorites are either related to the Ood or the Teletubbies. Maybe both. They have a Sense Sphere. (Just found out on the commentary the Sensorites are related to the Ood. This was mentioned in the new series.) Barbara runs past the water again. Did she ever find it? First indication that the Doctor and Susan are telepathic. This is a great story for Susan. The first time since episode one she has seemed at all ‘unearthly.’
The Doctor is back to being angry again. He is really going to town on Susan. It is strange that they are so worried for her safety here but couldn’t wait to send her through the forest on her on Skaro. The scenes in this story are very disjointed and hard to watch after the flow and pace of the Aztecs. Maybe that is the point. To give you an uneasy feeling. ‘The one purpose in growing old is to accumulate knowledge and wisdom and to help people.’ Call me a pedant but isn’t that three? And is it a result of getting old or the purpose? The three characters on the ship are awful. Maitland patronising and pointless. Carole annoying and John a quivering wreck. Ian says he doesn’t like splitting up as it always leads to trouble! Will they ever learn? Love how the Sensorites conduct their national politics in a corridor in public sitting on cheap tables. ‘Are the hearts of the humans in the left or right or centre as in ours?’ Interesting that they assume hearts are in the chest. They could be in their feet. The Sensorites are really thick. They have just mentioned that only the elders drink the crystal water, the ordinary folk drink refined water from the aqueduct. Then in the next breath explain that only the elders are free from the disease. Duhhh!
Now I know the administrator is Peter Glaze it seems obvious from his voice and I keep expecting Don Maclean to pop out and shout, ‘Crackerjack!’ Ian complains of a sore throat. He should stop talking in that silly way then! Can the Sensorites really only differentiate each other by their sashes? Even I noticed they had swapped the one at the spaceship window over after episode one and I have never seen one before.
‘Couldn’t you take some light?’ ‘Others have tried and failed.’ What, to take some light? Sensorites really are crap! So the administrator mentions the Doctor has gone down into the viaduct? I thought he was checking the water supply. Turns out he is just a train spotter! Peter Glaze is easily the best villain of the whole series so far. Every line is a gem. ‘The one the call the Doctor. . .l see victory for all my plans!’
‘Treason and secret plotting is impossible.’ Any sort of plot what do me right now! When the first elder swears in the administrator as second elder he says that only a betrayal of trust can set the order aside. Surely an unnecessary statement given the earlier assertion about treason. ‘I have never liked weapons at any time however they are handy little things.’ Map of the aqueduct on paper? No Google maps in the technologically advanced Sense Sphere. At least it can be used as an effective weapon later. Maybe against a monster that we hear but then never see or hear anything more of again. Rather confusing rushed and disappointing end to the story.
After building the suspense for five episodes, the mystery of the aqueduct (or was it a viaduct?) and the villainy of the Administrator it is all dispatched too quickly. The introduction to the surviving humans raises more questions than it answers and then we are all back in the TARDIS with the Doctor ready to get rid of Ian and Barbara. A disappointing and rather strange ending.
This species is cliché. The way they speak. The ruler is benevolent and his second in command is evil. The perfect society. The notion that if you take something human you can make it sound alien by adding an extra word. E.g. ‘family group.’ The ability to control minds and induce comas but only for one episode. I suppose for their time it was an attempt to show a society contrasting to the Daleks who were all bad, or the Thals who were all good. It doesn’t really work though.
Bring the Device
The disintegrater. It is huge but amazing against all life. (So long as it is warm blooded.) The switches to the numbers 287. How does that work with a switch? I am guessing the first switch is numbers 2 or 3, the second 8 or 9 and the third 7 or 459. They were all on the wrong number though. Dismantle the device.
Also, what is that thing on Johns head? A futuristic hair dryer?
A great shot going through the TARDIS doors though to the spaceship. A scene we are used to now, but not sure it happened often back then. Then into the first spaceship. And it’s classic Cusak.
Catchphrase Error of the Week
Episode 4. 20:30. ‘Yes matron.’ Ian to Susan. As we all know it’s ooh matron, and delivered much more camply. This is immediately followed by an innuendo. ‘I feel like someone has given me a good going over with a hammer.’
‘You see these lines? They represent the emission wavelengths.’ Ian in Episode 2. Really!
The 500 Year Diary
28th December 2764 am
Had a little get together with the ‘crew’ today, reminiscing about our adventures so far. Told them about my escapade with Henry VIII. It is true though, it did start out as a mild curiosity in a junkyard!
Flew a spaceship today… haven’t done that in a while. This Maitland wasn’t particular helpful, had to get Barbara to join in looking at the green light. Think I managed to avert crashing into the planet, although I suspect it was a ruse by these rather enigmatic Sensorites – one of them randomly appeared outside the spaceship – strangers in space indeed!
28th century London has become Central City. Sounds like a bit of a gridlock.
Well, we were going to leave them to it, but then these Sensorites stole the lock to the ship. Should have put the alarm on!
28th December 2764 pm
Will everyone stop saying molybdenum!
We really were the unwilling warriors today as we tried to resist the Sensorites. I tell you, I’m not going to live on the Sense-Sphere… too much to see and do! I worked out that darkness has the opposite effect on their eyes to cats… should have just turned the lights off rather than talking about it! Susan can contact them telepathically. Obviously she made arrangements in her head to go off with them!
29th December 2764 eve
Had a bit of a to-do with Susan. She can’t go off whenever she feels like! She’s just a child!
Off to the Sense-Sphere, leaving Barbara behind – hope there’s no hidden danger. Promised that I would find a cure for this mysterious disease.
On the planet had a meeting with the First Elder – we can work this out only from their sashes, despite them actually looking a bit different – one of them has had rather too much food for his own good. So we’re sitting there after some food and eventually this crystal water. Ian had drunk this other water and started choking…. Was told this was the first sign of the illness. Certain death would follow. Oh dear!
30th December 2764 am
Doesn’t take a genius to actually work it’s the water causing the problems. Strange how no-one had worked this out before. I’ve certainly had some easy clues to work out lately! I’m going to help them find a cure. They won’t give me access to my TARDIS, I have to use their own laboratory! Must stop shouting. It hurts them!
Carol’s found a hairdresser. Gives her something to do apart from moping over that John.
Had a montage moment whilst I discovered that the poisoned water contains atropine only found in District 8. A race against death indeed! Off to the aquaduct – apparently it’s death to anyone that enters! Well I find Deadly Nightshade and then hear the roar of this terrifying monster!
30th December 2764 pm
Mentioned Barbara a lot today.
I think that the monster is just a ruse. One of the Sensorites is plotting against us. Probably the fat one – turns out I was right – it’s the Administrator! Anyway, my jacket was ripped. Given a cloak – where from? Thought vthey only had sashes. Beau Brummell always said I looked good in a cloak!
This whole thing nearly got be framed for the murder of the Second Elder. Happily was wearing a cloak, so after some tough interrogation by Ian the Chief Warrior realised he was wrong and then was sent to prison – just like that!
Anyway off to the aquaduct again. Hopefully no monsters and no kidnap this time.
30th December eve
Barbara’s back. And with a suntan too. Amazing!
Found some randoms today in the aquaduct. Turns out it was them poisoning the water in one of those Japanese Second World War soldiers type scenarios. A desperate venture indeed!
Anyway, all sorted out. I got the key back. Then Ian starts mithering on about the crew being able to get home. Well that was it. I’m dropping them off at the first opportunity!
The Five Word Lords
Badly paced. Disjointed, with potential.