The long-held criticism of the earliest Hartnell stories not just from fans who only vaguely know of anything that predates 1989 but even for devotees of the classic era is that the stories are slow and confined, almost to the point of claustrophobia. The rejoinder of course says, indeed must say that you have to remember this was 1964 (in the case of this weeks Classic Capitology contribution) and these issues have as much to do with the era in which these programs were made as with any ambition in terms of storytelling. Take a look at the early Honor Blackman episodes of The Avengers to compare and contrast to these early Hartnells.
Nonetheless there are reasons why these long held presumptions about early Who stick, and The Sensorites is one of them. A slow moving spaceship-bound story where the cast takes turns standing too-close together in various combinations in order to fill the camera frame and moving from set to set as the plot inched ever forward.
If this sounds overly critical it’s not meant to, merely that The Sensorites is small-bore in scope and ambition, almost certainly be necessity. Despite being a relatively good story for Susan, the essential ‘interior’ nature of this story is stretched all-too thinly over six episodes to sustain a lot in interest. Add to that Barbara gets two episodes off in the middle and Ian spends one episode flat on his back recovering from a poisoning attempt and you get the distinct impression that this was a series struggling to stay ahead of the bear of the production schedule.
Quite understandable… if lamentable.
By the way The Sensorites themselves are somewhat adorable trundling around in their footie pajamas. The new caps offer a rather modest bump in quantity but a giant leap in quality.
Next time Classic Capitology will make your brown eyes blue. Really.