Doctor Who: Sense And Sensorites

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Christopher Morley visits the Sense-Sphere...

A history lesson like no other follows! If you thought the Ood were a bit special, you could do worse than taking a step back in time & settling in for a viewing of The Sensorites, broadcast from June 20th 1964...

Way back when Doctor Who was a new Saturday teatime curiosity for viewers, the First Doctor's visit to the Sense-Sphere with Susan, Ian & Barbara served as the third & final spacebound narrative in a series split between trips into Earth's past & brave new frontiers out there in space.

Sandwiched between The Aztecs & The Reign Of Terror, it clearly served as something of an inspiration to Russell T Davies when it came to the business of embellishing the Tenth Doctor's character, as well as that of the Ood he would encounter in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit & Planet Of The Ood.

Honourable mention must also go to Ood Sigma for his solo cameos in The Waters Of Mars & The End Of Time, delivering on the prophecy that the Doctor's song would soon end. Any similarity between Sigma's kind & the Sensorites was intentional, according to several sources including a Radio Times revisit to the senior race.
"The creatures clearly struck a chord: Russell T Davies even claimed they were an influence on the spaghetti-dangling Ood of recent times."
And of course there's the older Doctor's description of Gallifrey to Martha Jones in Gridlock...

...seemingly cribbed almost word for word from that offered by the granddaughter he so loved as a younger man during their dealings on the Sense-Sphere.
"Grandfather and I don't come from Earth. Oh, it's ages since we've seen our planet. It's quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burned orange, and the leaves on the trees are bright silver."
One day, they shall get back, yes, one day. But not quite yet, though a later incarnation will remember that in a roundabout manner.

Or rather, his Ganger will!
"Argh! What's happening? I wonder if we'll get back. Yes, one day. Argh! I've reversed the polarity of the neutron flow...."
Well before a bout of existential angst on the part of his Flesh duplicate, his younger self finds himself having to wade into a dispute between the Sensorites & the human crew of a spaceship helmed by Captain Maitland.
DOCTOR: What's that noise?
MAITLAND: Yes, we always hear that.
CAROL: Interference now on all our scans.
MAITLAND: Now remember, all of you, no violence unless the Sensorites start it first.
IAN: Why no violence? Surely we've got the right to protect ourselves?
DOCTOR: My dear Chesterton. It's our minds that they take over, so we must presume that the brain is all important. Now let our own intelligence be our own defence, and attack.
Somebody's watching them!

And Susan's own telepathy soon offers the chance of an audience with the retrospective cousins of the Ood.
SUSAN: Yes, but they won't agree to that.
DOCTOR: Agree? To what? What are you talking about, child?
SUSAN: I'm sure they'll talk to you about it.
BARBARA: Susan, what is it?
SUSAN: All right, I'll ask them. I'll tell you later. The Sensorites want to know if it's all right for them to talk to you.
IAN: Are you saying that you're in...
DOCTOR: Are you saying you've made contact with them?
DOCTOR: Well of course we shall see them, but they must agree not to harm us.
SUSAN: Right.
DOCTOR: If they try to harm us then I shall fight them.
It seems they have a grievance with humanity after "a fearful affliction" befell the poor dears during a previous man-made expedition to the Sense-Sphere. What's to be done in that regard? Simple! They offer the crew a sort of long-term hotel stay in their corner of the universe. Someone call room service.........
MAITLAND: What do you expect us to do? Drift around for ever?
SENSORITE 1: No, you must all come back with us. A special area has been prepared for you on the Sense-Sphere. There you will live, and there you will be looked after.
DOCTOR: These people cannot possibly accede to your request. It's out of the question.
SENSORITE : You will do exactly as we tell you because you have no choice. None of you.
DOCTOR: My party does have a choice, and I assure you we have no intention of spending the rest of our lives with you.
IAN: Well, you have our answer. What do you propose to do?
SENSORITE : We intend taking you down to the Sense-Sphere, but we do not wish to harm you in any way.
IAN: Since we've met you, we have no wish to harm you either, but you must get off this ship.
SENSORITE : What if we refuse?
That's any dreams of a leisurely wake-up call & full English breakfast of a morning gone, the Doctor may sourly reflect at this juncture.

But the Sensorites can be defeated surprisingly easily by a fear of the dark, rendering a potential stay for the senior-looking Gallifreyan refugee & his companions at what sounds like the universe's best Premier Inn mercifully short.
DOCTOR: Oh, my dear, they're not invincible. Oh, no, no, no. Did any of you notice the peculiarity in their eyes?
MAITLAND: No, I can't say I did.
DOCTOR: It's a fallacy, of course, that cats can see in the dark. They can't. But they can see better than we humans, because the iris of their eyes dilates at night. Yes.
IAN: What are you driving at, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Oh, it's all perfectly simple, Chesterton. You see, the Sensorites' eyes are the exact opposite to that of a cat. The Sensorites' eyes were completely dilated, that is, enormous, in light.
IAN: The conclusion being that they would contract in darkness.
DOCTOR: Exactly. And that is our best weapon. The Sensorites will be frightened of the dark.
Upon their departure in the police box the Doctor can't quite bring himself to call "Sexy" yet, talk quickly turns to the home they left after stealing that very TARDIS............
DOCTOR: What's the matter, my child?
SUSAN: I had a talk with the senior Scientist just before we left. It seems that the Sense-Sphere has an extraordinary number of ultra high frequencies, so I won't be able to go on using thought transference.
DOCTOR: Oh, I don't know. It's rather a relief, I think. After all, no one likes an eavesdropper about, do they. No, I think you obviously have a gift in that direction. When we get home to our own place, I think we should try and perfect it.
SUSAN: When will we get back, Grandfather?
DOCTOR: I don't know, my dear. This old ship of mine seems to be an aimless thing. However, we don't worry about it, do we? Do you?
SUSAN: Sometimes I feel I'd like to belong somewhere, not just be a wanderer. Still, I'm not unhappy.
DOCTOR: Good, good.
Of course, eventually Susan would find her place in the grand scheme of things away from the "silly old buffer" she'd first fled with....

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