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Doctor Who: The Sensorites, No. 7

37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan land on a spaceship orbiting a distant and mysterious world, where a human crew lies frozen somewhere between life and death. The planet is the Sense-Sphere, home of the Sensorites, beings of immense intelligence and power. Unable to leave, the Doctor and his companions must deduce the Sensorites’ intentions: are they friendly, hostile, or frightened? And what is the deadly secret at the heart of the Sense-Sphere?

For a series aimed at children, Doctor Who can take some tantalizingly eerie turns, and The Sensorites is a prime example. The Doctor (the very first Time Lord, William Hartnell) and his companions land inside of a spaceship where the crew, still seated at the controls, are dead--and then suddenly come back to life. An alien being with black eyes, a blank face, and a wispy, silken beard appears in a window that looks out into space. Stumbling around in a dark tunnel, the Doctor is attacked by an unseen roaring monster. This is the substance of childhood nightmares. Furthermore, as the Doctor investigates the planet of the Sensorites and uncovers a conspiracy to overthrow the government, the unveiling of the opposing sides leads to some surprising moral complexity. On the other hand, the pace of this six-episode serial drags at points, narrative logic is a bit hit-or-miss, and the quotient of scientific babble is pretty high ("Where's the power come from?" "Electromagnetics!"). It's best to approach The Sensorites not as a coherent story but as an unsettling dream. William Hartnell launched the Doctor with a grandfatherly air (one of his companions is his granddaughter, Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford), but the Doctor's high-handed intelligence, insatiable curiosity, and stern scruples are already there, as are hints of the capriciousness that would later become a more significant character trait. Extras include audio commentary, some behind-the-scenes stories from a "vision mixer," and an oddly intriguing investigation into the obscure writer of The Sensorites. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Jacqueline Hill, William Russell, Carole Ann Ford
  • Directors: Mervyn Pinfield, Frank Cox
  • Writers: Peter R. Newman
  • Producers: Verity Lambert
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 148 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005SH65GI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,207 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jero Briggs on January 3, 2012
Format: DVD
This six-part adventure is a great oldie and classic. I first got this one on VHS in the "End of the Universe" collection and I found it quite enjoyable. I'm surprised that it took this long to be released on DVD.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first. Episode 3 was kind of boring, but it picks up again in episode 4. There are many stuttered lines in this story. The Sensorites feet look ridiculous. And at one point, you even see a wall in the spaceship start to fall down before it is quickly put back up again. But other than that, this is a great story.

The acting was pretty good - some of it was actually brilliant. The sets look great. The dark spaceship was very spooky as well as the aqueduct on the Sense-Sphere. The Sensorites were very creepy in the first two episodes. Episode 1's cliffhanger was, in my opinion, one of the best in the series. The plot and the story are great. It has a lot of mystery and adventure in it. It has a great surprise ending, and I really enjoyed Susan's character a lot more in this story than in others. Her character should have been like this from the beginning. This is also the very first story that has the Doctor himself taking on the heroic role instead of Ian, and he uses his mind and wits to defeat the enemy instead of brute force. I really enjoyed this one and I'm sure you will as well. Highly recommended!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Claude L. Parish on February 16, 2012
Format: DVD
In The Sensorites, the first Doctor trips over a race of beings who are hypersensitive and they all look alike. Even to each other.
The six chapter serial may seem to drag a bit, but there's enough political intrigue to keep this early adventure watchable.
Barbara is missing for most of the story, but that doesn't matter as the Sensorites are the focus of it.
Misunderstanding leads to fear and treachery and ignorance gets put in its place in this unexpectedly well acted show.
It's not perfect. Early BBC allowed many mistakes and goofs. There's missed cues and at one point late in the story you can see the microphone as if it was meant to be part of the cast of characters.
Those bits aside, William Hartnell is great as ever and Carol Ann Ford is not annoying at all.
There are enough special features, including a documentary about the writer of the episode, Peter R. Newman, to justify the expense.
I'd give it five stars, but the clunky sets are hard to get over.
The writing is fantastic, though.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Little Roy Blue on January 16, 2013
Format: DVD
This is definitely a minority opinion, but I think the first season of Doctor Who was the best. William Hartnell's sinister characterization of the Doctor is very underrated, and he was well-supported by excellent companions - particularly Ian and Barbara, who are the most convincing representations of "normal" people in the show's history. Sure, the Doctor's granddaughter Susan was a criminally under-used character; but here in The Sensorites, she gets to shine a little by defying the Doctor's wishes and using some cool telepathic powers.

I'm also a fan of season one because of the (generally) great scripts. And while The Sensorites is far from the best-written story of the season, I do think that Peter R. Newman's script features some compelling ideas. In defiance of Doctor Who conventions, Newman depicted the Sensorite race as mostly benign and sympathetic creatures (an interesting contrast to the show's usual "evil monster" aliens); indeed, the Sensorites only do "bad things" in this story in order to protect their planet from exploitation by humans who want to strip-mine the place. In a sense, then, this is the sort of left-wing (or at least politically aware) story that didn't become commonplace for Doctor Who until the Pertwee era.

The story's production design, meanwhile, is pretty good (given the era and budget). The Sensorites may look a little fake, but to me they're perfectly respectable aliens by 1960s TV standards; certainly, Doctor Who produced much stupider-looking aliens even in the 1980s (like the Ergon, to name one of many). Also, the set design for the human spaceship is effective, and enhances the tense and claustrophobic atmosphere of the opening episodes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Vanderlinde-Abernathy on March 8, 2013
Format: DVD
I wanted to take half a star off, but Amazon doesn't allow that. In the end I decided to round up because of my extreme fondness for the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who.

A major benefit to this story is the growth of Susan Foreman. In the previous four stories her character is overly dramatic and incessantly whiny. With no strength of will or character she fit the mold of "damsel in distress" too often for an intergalatic traveler. In this story Carol Anne Ford had been able to play the character Susan should have been from the start. Willing to take risks and unafraid of the unknown. She is not afraid of the Sensorites, attempts to take matters into her own hand, and begins to realize that she has extraordinary telepathic abilities.

(I'm reminded of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Incredibly whiny, but in the end the character becomes intriguing and wonderful. Like Susan, he too has a strange "otherworldly" gift.)

Another benefit is that it's a good old fashion look into human emotions of fear and trust. It takes philosophical questions about humanity, and attempts to answer them in a sci-fi setting. This is the way Sci-Fi should be.

Jacqueline Hill unfortunately goes on vacation during this serial, so Barbara is not as active. This is forgivable, as it was custom to shoot film this way back then. One of my complaints is the off-scene ending confrontation with the City Administrator. The serial deals with his fear and xenophobia, but does not get to hear an ending speech from him or a suitable confrontation. Another is my complaint with the character Maitland. Dialogue suggests an intriguing relationship triangle with him, Carol, and John ... but this is never touched on again and the subject is never resolved.

Overall though, the growth and maturity of Susan's character is reason enough to buy this story.
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Doctor Who: The Sensorites, No. 7
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