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Old 04-14-2014, 01:54 PM   #131 (permalink)
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The Sensorites : An Update


Episode 3 : Watched Successfully
Episode 4 : Watched Successfully
Episode 5 : Nodded Off
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Old 04-16-2014, 06:31 PM   #132 (permalink)
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206: The Sensorites

Doctor : 1st (William Hartnell)
Companions : Ian Chesterton (William Russell) Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill)
Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)
Series : 1
Originally Transmitted: 20th June - 1st August 1964



A Colour BBC publicity shot from 1964 just in case you get bored of all the black and white.

It's funny how your mind plays tricks on you.
I first saw 'The Sensorites' sometime back in the early 90s when it was screened on UK Gold. Back then I knew virtually nothing about Doctor Who, only a few bits and pieces I'd remembered of the Peter Davison & Colin Baker episodes I'd watched as a kid and that was very little. Even watching this back then I was only a casual viewer. In fact it wasn't until they started screening the later 2nd Doctor & 3rd Doctor stories I became a fully fledged fan of the show. UK Gold were showing it right from the very beginning and I liked the show enough to tag along. (I gave up after The Dalek Invasion Of Earth and returned for the end of Pat Troughton's run)

I remembered it being a decent story. Nothing special but not bad. I also remember it being 4 episodes long. I never owned it on VHS, it was one of the last stories to be released and I had already moved on to DVD. By the time it was released on DVD in January 2012 it had been almost 20 years since I last saw it, and it was nothing like I remembered.

For one thing it was 6 episodes long and not 4, also I could not believe how slow the episode was. Throughout all the years I hadn't seen the story I had read fans opinions about it in books and online and the general fan concenus was it was terrible and boring. I didn't really understand why people had such a low opinion of it, The story previous to this one 'The Aztecs' was considered to be a Doctor Who classic by many fans yet I had found that to be even duller than 'The Sensorites' when I watched it. I changed my mind about 'The Aztecs' when I rewatched that for the first time in years when that came out on DVD would I change my mind about 'The Sensorites' as well?


During the story they can't seem to decide if it's a lock or an opening mechanism that's been removed. But since when does removing a lock mean that something stays locked? Let's go with opening mechanism

The first episode is rather good and is actually pretty creepy. The Tardis crew arrive on a spaceship in the 28th century where they find the two dead bodies of a man and a woman. They're just about to leave when the man begins to stir, He asks Ian to hand him a piece of medical equipment and resuscitates himself, he then asks Barbara to resuscitate the woman which she does. The two crew members tell the Tardis crew that they're being kept prisoner by the Sensorites who won't let them leave orbit of their planet. They keep them there by controlling their minds and putting them in suspended animation but make no attempt to kill them and even feed them to keep them alive.

While they're having this discussion an alien hand steals the opening mechanism from the Tardis.
The two crew members Maitland & Carol warn them to leave before the Sensorites discover them, they go back to the Tardis and discover they're locked out. The ship begins to be dragged towards the planet but the Doctor averts a collision.

Susan & Barbara go looking for John, the third member of the crew who is hiding in another part of the ship. John was the ship's mineralogist and Carol's fiancée but his mind was broken from the Sensorites getting into his head. After calming him down they look after him, meanwhile back on the ship's bridge they hear a Sensorite spacecraft approaching. Suddenly Ian sees one peering into the window.


Peek a Boo

The Sensorites board the ship and put Maitland & Carol in suspended animation, Ian and Barbara go to look for the aliens. (This one sentence takes 20 minutes to play out on screen).

The Doctor discovers John's mineralogy survey which shows the Sensorites planet high in molybdenum which is worth a fortune, he also manages to revive Maitland who shows the him how to secure the bridge once Ian & Barbara come back. The aliens begin to communicate telepathically with Susan and she opens the door to let them in.

The Sensorites explain that humans have visited their planet before and that they don't trust them. They want to take Susan down to the planet to negotiate because they trust her but the Doctor doesn't allow it. Susan goes anyway after a big argument but the Doctor stops this by turning the lights off on the ship guessing that the aliens are blind in partial darkness. They leave Barbara & Maitland on the ship while the rest of them with John who the aliens have agreed to cure leave for the planet to meet the Sensorite Elder.


Here's John burbling, dribbling, staring vacantly at the camera and shouting in Episode 1, and Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4 and Episode 5

The Sensorite Elder and his No 2 meet the group and orders his doctors to cure John while Carol goes with him. The City Administrator is not trusting of humans and orders them to be killed by training a disintegrator beam on them when they sit down to talk with the leader. The No 2 finds out the City Administrator's plans, stops him and removes the firing key from the beam. The Elder tells the Doctor that the first humans ship blew up in orbit due to them fighting amongst themselves over the minerals wealth of the planet. He also tells him that ever since then they have had a plague in the city.



Ian suffers the consequences of trying to watch Episode 2

When Ian gets sick from the plague the Doctor agrees to help and deduces that parts of the water supply are being poisoned. He finds an antidote to the poison despite the City Administrator trying to sabotage their efforts by kidnapping the No 2 Elder and pretending to be him to the humans.
The Doctor goes to visit the aqueduct, the source of the poisoning also a place where the Sensorites refuse to go because of the darkness and loud noises from the 'beasts' that live there. The Doctor soon discovers deadly nightshade growing near the aqueduct but is quickly attacked by one of the 'beasts'. A newly recovered Ian, with Susan just manage to drag him out in time his coat in tatters which he leaves behind.


The Sensorites plans to invade Earth was cut short by their discovery of Earth's devastating weapon .... regional local radio

The City Administrator threatens the No 2 Elder to order the firing key to the disintegration beam to be bought in or he'll kill him and his family group. When it arrives the No 2 Elder grabs the key and breaks it the City Administrator kills him. The Doctor arrives back at The Elder's palace and they discuss what he found at the aqueduct, The Elder gives him a cloak to replace his coat. The City Administrator comes in and tries to frame the Doctor for murder of the No 2 Elder. He is proved to be lying because he identified the Doctor by his clothes and especially his cloak. When confronted by this the City Administrator blames his subordinate for lying to him and his subordinate is arrested. With his No 2's death the No 1 Elder promotes the City Administrator to the position of his No 2.


Despite being kept prisoner by The Sensorites, Carol was well looked after with food and hair products

Ian & The Doctor plan to visit the aqueduct, they also send for Barbara to land on the planet (Having taken her 2 week holiday). The new No 2 sabotages the weapons and the map they take with them. They ditch the map and the weapons when they realise they're useless and find that 'the beasts' are actually the three survivors from the original Earth ship who have gone insane and think that they are a war with The Sensorites. Barbara & a now cured John go after Ian & The Doctor guided by Susan's telepathy reading a map at the palace and Barbara using one of the Sensorites mind transmitters. They all meet up in the aqueduct and convince the 3 humans the war is over. Upon leaving the aqueduct the human leader attacks the Sensorites waiting at the entrance for the Doctor so they stun him and the other two men leave quietly.
The crew leave for Earth with the three survivors of the original ship, the City Administrator/ No 2 Elder is banished to the wastelands for being a traitor and the Doctor gets his opening mechanism back for the Tardis. Upon seeing the Spaceship flying to Earth Ian makes a comment about 'At least they know where they are going.' prompting a furious Doctor to say if that's how he feels he'll dump him as soon as they land.'


Sensorite FM wasn't much better

4 Pieces Of Trivia
1. In the new series story Planet Of The Ood it's revealed that the Ood's home planet of the Ood-sphere and the Sensorite's planet The Sense-sphere are both in the same solar system and that the two species are related.

2. Susan telepathy is a huge part of the story, it's revealed in later stories that Time Lords have a limited telepathic abilities. In this case Susan's abilities are heightened due to the ultra high frequencies around the Sense-sphere. The Doctor tells her she can perfect them 'When they go back home'.

3. While on the subject of Time Lords, Susan describes her and The Doctor's then un-named home planet as having a burnt orange sky and silver leaves on the trees. This description would be used by the new series Doctors after the (apparent) destruction of Gallifrey after the Time War.

4. In this story the Doctor mentions his heart, as in singular. The fan explanation for this is that he acquired his second heart after his first regeneration. So I guess Time Lord hearts are like wisdom teeth.

Although the Sensorites are telepathic they cannot read each others minds. The can however direct thoughts to whoever they wish to receive them. They can boost the power of their minds over long distances using a mind transmitter. When Barbara uses a mind transmitter to receive directions in the aqueduct Susan tells her to speak the words as well as think them so she can receive her thoughts more clearly.
Human minds can be affected by The Sensorites when they experience extreme emotions such as joy which is what happened to the original Earth ship and John when they discovered the mineral wealth on the planet. The emotions causes their minds to open making them vunerable to all the Sensorites thoughts which caused them to go insane. The Sensorites do have the technology to reverse the process as seen when they cure John.


Susan's racist impressions didn't always go down well

The Sensorites is a weird one, it seems to have a really poor reputation amongst fans yet if you look at the reviews for it in sci fi magazines and other publications it seems to considered average to good.
I can see both sides, I think the story behind it is really good yet the direction is horrible. The director Mervyn Pinfield was known more as a technical type of director rather than an action director or an actors director and it shows because it's directed in a really flat and boring way. it's not really surprising that he was replaced by Frank Cox after episode 4, but by that point it didn;t really make much of a difference to the end product.

Episode 2 is the worst by far. Ian & Barbara go off into the spaceship to look for the newly landed Sensorites, yet the rest of the spaceship is made up of one corridor and a couple of small rooms. They spend around 10 minutes walking around these sets at a snails pace taking tiny steps so that they don't run out of set before they finish saying their lines. It's really badly done and really boring to watch.


The Sensorites were named because of their great sense of humour and pranks. Here we see Barbara fall for the old 'Superglue on the thought transmitter prank' an old favourite in the sense-sphere.

Another problem is the total lack of any tension whatsoever. This done properly could have been a really claustrophobic eerie story, but as soon as a moment of peril arrives it's just glossed over and solved about a minute later. For example a great deal is made of Ian being poisoned and the need to get the antidote to him, the city administrator stops the antidote from getting to him.
So what happens next?
A life or death race to get another batch of antidote ready for Ian only arriving in the nick of time?
Actually no, Susan just tells the scientist that the antidote hasn't arrived so he brings up another bottle.
Later on the Doctor is framed for murder, this again is resolved in approximately 2 whole minutes later.
It's the same when Ian and the Doctor's weapons and map have been sabotaged. They don't find out in a moment of great danger. Ian notices the weapon has been tampered with while walking along a corridor, then the Doctor looks at the map and decides that's been tampered with too, so they just throw them away and carry on as normal.

There are some good moments in this, Susan gets a lot more to do in this story other than her usual crying, tripping over and screaming. We see the first signs of her wanting to do her own thing and not wanting the Doctor to treat her like a child all the time (She will leave 4 stories after this one). Sadly this is the only time they show that tension between them and in the next story Susan goes back to being her normal self, which is the main reason that Carole Ann Ford was the first regular member of the cast to bail on the show.

Also I love it that Hartnell is so angry in this story, he's really pissed that they've stolen the lock from the Tardis and is gruff and short tempered with everybody, which is even funnier when you're putting that against aliens who hate loud noises. Also The Sensorites standing on each others huge feet never gets old. The Sensorites themselves are rather pathetic creatures. Loud noises cause their nervous system to shut down, they can't see in low light and even when Barbara & Susan both share the same thought to resist them they fall to the ground in agony. You can't really blame them for being so defensive against people from other planets. Also if greed and personal gain is such an alien concept to The Sensorites then why does the City Administrator have so much of it?

Barbara doesn't get much to do but then Jacqueline Hill did have to be written out of two episodes to accommodate her holiday (Doctor Who was filmed almost all year round at this time approx 40-45 episodes a year, one episode a week.) The Sensorites isn't a terrible story by any means but hugely flawed , rather boring and shows it's age badly.
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Old 04-16-2014, 06:34 PM   #133 (permalink)
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The Sensorites : Coda

It's also worth noting that on the DVD of this story there's a great documentary called 'Looking For Peter' about the writer of story Peter R. Newman.



In the past nobody really knew anything about him, anybody Doctor Who related looking to find out about his life drew a blank. All that anybody knew was that he wrote a war film for Hammer in
1959 called Yesterday's Enemy and The Sensorites for Doctor Who in 1964 before disappearing off the face of the earth and that he died in 1975, which was just a bit before serious Doctor Who fandom began so there were no interviews or anything with him about his time writing for Doctor Who.

In the documentary they discover by looking through public records and tracking down his sister and niece that he was a pilot in Burma during WW2 and was captured by the Japanese although his sister and niece say that he got on quite well with the Japanese officer in charge. These experiences are what he based his script for his movie Yesterday's Enemy, which was quite controversial at the time because it was about a group of British soldiers who are cut off and who resort to committing war crimes against the Burmese people to find out the movements of the Japanese army. Despite being controversial it still recieved 4 BAFTA nominations. He attempted to write more films for Hammer but due to him being difficult to work with and him asking for too much money they stopped working with him.

He would take elements of his movie script (bad and good on both sides) and turn it into The Sensorites for Doctor Who. After that work as a writer dried up because he was suffering from writer's block. To make ends meet he got a job as a porter at the Tate Gallery, it was while working there where he suffered a fall and died in 1975.

In fact the best bit of the documentary is the heart-warming interview with his sister Vera who looks like she's well into her 90s or even older and clearly adored her brother. She seems genuinely thrilled that people are asking about her brother and his work 50 years after it was written.
It's not the greatest Doctor Who stories ever written but it's nice to end this on something positive. If you don't want to watch the story do yourself a favour and watch this lovely documentary instead.

Click on the picture of Peter to watch the documentary

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Old 04-17-2014, 06:37 AM   #134 (permalink)
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The Mighty 200

In 2009 to celebrate the show 200th story Doctor Who Magazine did a huge fan poll where 6,700 fans were asked to rank all 200 episodes of Doctor Who. Here's how the results panned out.



1-10
The Caves of Androzani
Blink
Genesis of the Daleks
The Talons of Weng-Chiang
The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
Human Nature/The Family of Blood
Pyramids of Mars
City of Death
The Robots of Death
Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways

11-20
The Girl in the Fireplace
Turn Left
The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
Remembrance of the Daleks
Dalek
The Seeds of Doom
Terror of the Zygons
The Evil of the Daleks
Earthshock
The Deadly Assassin

21-30
Power of the Daleks
Army of Ghosts/ Doomsday
The Web of Fear
Silence in the Library
The Tomb of the Cybermen
Horror of Fang Rock
Last of the Time Lords
The Ark in Space
The War Games
The Curse of Fenric

31-40
The Invasion
Inferno
School Reunion
The Daemons
The Impossible Planet
Spearhead from Space
The Daleks
The Five Doctors
The Green Death
The Brain of Morbius

41-50
Fury from the Deep
The Dalek Masterplan
Midnight
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Doctor Who and the Silurians
Revelation of the Daleks
The Time Warrior
The Christmas Invasion
Father's Day
The Sea Devils

51-60
Terror of the Autons
Tooth and Claw
Logopolis
The Unquiet Dead
The Tenth Planet
The Fires of Pompeii
The Aztecs
The Three Doctors
The Abominable Snowmen
The Mind Robber

61-70
An Unearthly Child
Carnival of Monsters
Rose
The Shakespeare Code
Marco Polo
Smith and Jones
The Stones of Blood
Rise of the Cybermen
Kinda
The Keeper of Traken

71-80
Day of the Daleks
Enlightenment
Image of the Fendahl
Gridlock
The Time Meddler
Ghost Light
The Visitation
The Ice Warriors
Planet of the Ood
Survival

81-90
Warriors' Gate
The Curse of Peladon
The Unicorn and the Wasp
Planet of Evil
The Masque of Mandragora
The Massacre of St. Bartholemew's Eve
State of Decay
Castrovalva
Planet of the Spiders
The Ambassadors of Death

91-100
The Sontaran Stratagem
The Mind of Evil
Resurrection of the Daleks
The End of the World
The Androids of Tara
The Hand of Fear
The Romans
Partners in Crime
Planet of the Dead
The Crusade

101-110
Full Circle
Mawdryn Undead
The Sontaran Experiment
Frontios
The Ribos Operation
Robot
The Next Doctor
The War Machines
The Pirate Planet
The Awakening

111-120
The Seeds of Death
The Moonbase
Frontier in Space
Voyage of the Damned
The Runaway Bride
The Face of Evil
Black Orchid
Planet of the Daleks
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
Snakedance

121-130
Destiny of the Daleks
The Faceless Ones
The Android Invasion
Vengeance on Varos
The Two Doctors
The Myth Makers
The Rescue
Death to the Daleks
The Claws of Axos
Revenge of the Cybermen

131-140
Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Aliens of London
Mission to the Unknown
Planet of Fire
Doctor Who: The TV Movie
42
The Macra Terror
The Idiot's Lantern
The Enemy of the World
The Doctor's Daughter

141-150
Boom Town
The Trial of a Time Lord
New Earth
The Reign of Terror
The Highlanders
Battlefield
The Sun Makers
Mark of the Rani
The Leisure Hive
The Lazarus Experiment

151-160
The Celestial Toymaker
Evolution of the Daleks
Love and Monsters
The Ark
The Invasion of Time
The Wheel in Space
The Chase
The Edge of Destruction
The Smugglers
The Keys of Marinus

161-170
Attack of the Cybermen
The Savages
Planet of Giants
The Invisible Enemy
The Long Game
The Krotons
Nightmare of Eden
The Armageddon Factor
Terminus
The Happiness Patrol

171-180
Colony in Space
Galaxy 4
Four to Doomsday
The Power of Kroll
The Gunfighters
Silver Nemesis
Arc of Infinity
The Web Planet
The Monster of Peladon
Delta and the Bannermen

181-190
The King's Demons
The Mutants
The Sensorites
The Creature from the Pit
Warriors of the Deep
Dragonfire
The Time Monster
Meglos
The Horns of Nimon
The Space Museum

191-200
The Dominators
Fear Her
Paradise Towers
The Underwater Menace
The Space Pirates
Time-Flight
Underworld
Time and the Rani
Timelash
The Twin Dilemma
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Old 04-17-2014, 05:41 PM   #135 (permalink)
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That is fascinating about Peter R. Newman, and kinda sad that noone knew anything about him (myself included). Definitely going to check out the documentary. So basically, The Sensorites came about from his time spent in a Japanese POW camp in WWII. Fascinating.

I watched The Sensorites a while ago, I'd have to watch it again though if I wanted to comment in detail, but I do remember liking the theme of the Sensorites initially being a seemingly fierce threat, but are in fact furiously defending their planet from what they see as a deadly alien race (a common theme in many sci-fi stories but still one that I like). I also liked that Susan had a substantial amount to do in this storyline.
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:22 AM   #136 (permalink)
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I can't believe that adventures like Colony in Space and the Keys of Marinus are so low down. Colony in Space might not be a classic but its a strong story and was kind of a breath of fresh air, as the Doctor had been stranded on Earth for most of the first two Pertwee seasons. It was also one of the first adventures as well that really started the trend of the 'Earth Federation' style adventures that dominated the second half of John Pertwee and the early Tom Baker years.

Keys of Marinus on the other hand is a classic and one of my personal favourites from the Hartnell era and showed an amazing amount of creativity for early Doctor Who, especially in the era of historical stories that relied on historical facts.

Also noticed The Ark low down as well, I think that's another great adventure and was a great idea to have the Doctor return to the same vessel years later after it had finished its voyage, I know the adventure had the usual flaws but still great stuff!
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:19 PM   #137 (permalink)
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I watched The Sensorites a while ago, I'd have to watch it again though if I wanted to comment in detail
That's what I had to do. This is the first time since I started doing this where I had to sit down & watched a story before I wrote about it because I remembered so little about it.

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Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
I can't believe that adventures like Colony in Space and the Keys of Marinus are so low down. Colony in Space might not be a classic but its a strong story and was kind of a breath of fresh air, as the Doctor had been stranded on Earth for most of the first two Pertwee seasons. It was also one of the first adventures as well that really started the trend of the 'Earth Federation' style adventures that dominated the second half of John Pertwee and the early Tom Baker years.
I love the Jon Pertwee 6 parters and they're nearly all really low on that list . I love The Time Warrior & The Mutants. Monster Of Peladon is OK, Colony In Space I would say is one of my least liked Pertwee story but that's more because I like the others better rather than thinking it's a bad story.I'm surprised Planet of the Spiders is so high. I wonder if that's because it's a regeneration story.
I also noticed there isn't a single Pertwee story in the top 30. I reckon in my list most, if not all of series 7 will be in the top 40. I remember when I first started joining Doctor Who forums about a decade or so ago I was really surprised that there seemed to be a huge backlash against the Pertwee era.
I'm hoping that Peter Capaldi's Doctor brings about a re-evaluation of that era with him being of a similar age and wearing a similar costume.

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Keys of Marinus on the other hand is a classic and one of my personal favourites from the Hartnell era and showed an amazing amount of creativity for early Doctor Who, especially in the era of historical stories that relied on historical facts.
I like bits of it, especially the brains in jars and the courtroom drama episodes. It was one of the first Hartnell stories I enjoyed, I think because it takes place in somewhere different in each episode it didn't seem to be as slow as some of the other stories.

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Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Also noticed The Ark low down as well, I think that's another great adventure and was a great idea to have the Doctor return to the same vessel years later after it had finished its voyage, I know the adventure had the usual flaws but still great stuff!
The Ark was one of the last stories I saw from the old series, I was expecting it to be rubbish but I watched it all in one sitting and really enjoyed it.
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Old 04-19-2014, 02:34 AM   #138 (permalink)
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My son reads this thread, avidly. He's a big fan.
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Old 04-19-2014, 11:48 AM   #139 (permalink)
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Does that mean I have to watch my language now?

Aww Shit
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Old 04-20-2014, 02:53 AM   #140 (permalink)
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I love the Jon Pertwee 6 parters and they're nearly all really low on that list . I love The Time Warrior & The Mutants. Monster Of Peladon is OK, Colony In Space I would say is one of my least liked Pertwee story but that's more because I like the others better rather than thinking it's a bad story.I'm surprised Planet of the Spiders is so high. I wonder if that's because it's a regeneration story.
I'd say the Planet of Spiders, Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Frontier in Space as probably the weakest 6 parters for different reasons. Planet of Spiders is just a corny story and the poorest 6 parter, Invasion of Dinosaurs was about two episodes too long and Frontier in Space I know is a rated story, but it just didn't seem to click where it mattered for me, much like the same complaint I'd put against the Three Doctors.

Quote:
I also noticed there isn't a single Pertwee story in the top 30. I reckon in my list most, if not all of series 7 will be in the top 40. I remember when I first started joining Doctor Who forums about a decade or so ago I was really surprised that there seemed to be a huge backlash against the Pertwee era.
I'm hoping that Peter Capaldi's Doctor brings about a re-evaluation of that era with him being of a similar age and wearing a similar costume.
When I first started watching Doctor Who Tom Baker was the Doctor, but most of the novels that were out at the time were from the Jon Pertwee era and if they repeated any older stories it was from the Pertwee era as well and so I always looked upon him as one of the pivotal and best Doctors. I went many a year thinking that people saw him as one of the best Doctors and it was only in the age of the internet that I saw how disliked he actually was. For me the Doctor should be an eccentric character which is why I think that Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton are the best two Doctors ever, with Jon Pertwee possibly taking third place.

Quote:
I like bits of it, especially the brains in jars and the courtroom drama episodes. It was one of the first Hartnell stories I enjoyed, I think because it takes place in somewhere different in each episode it didn't seem to be as slow as some of the other stories.
As said I think it was highly original and the adventure really stands out for its uniqueness.

Quote:
The Ark was one of the last stories I saw from the old series, I was expecting it to be rubbish but I watched it all in one sitting and really enjoyed it.
Another example really of one of the more creative stories from that era.
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Originally Posted by eraser.time206 View Post
If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
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