Friday, April 17, 2009

G1 - Strangers in Space

For the first time in the show's history, the TARDIS lands inside a spaceship. Judging by everyone's reaction, it would also seem to be the first time in The Doctor's history that he's landed inside a spaceship. There's also a bizarre diversion in the episode's opening TARDIS scene where everyone starts reminiscing about their adventures to date. It almost feels like they're reading an episode guide line by line from a Peter Haining book.

Once the crew leaves the TARDIS, the episode takes a creepy little turn. The two human pilots, Maitland and Carol, seem dead at first, but then suddenly awaken from what is apparently a form of suspended animation. They're prisoners on their own ship and, although we never see the aliens who have imprisoned them, the Sensorites' presence is felt throughout the episode. There's a brief shot of a Sensorite hand melting the TARDIS lock, and it's cleverly implied that they are stalking the corridors behind Barbara and Susan (even though it's the third crew member, a deranged John, who is the true culprit). It certainly enhances the mystery about the titular aliens. Unfortunately, by the end of the episode that mystery is shattered when a Sensorite makes his first appearance...

Okay, I did say at the beginning of this odyssey called The Chronic Hysteresis that I wouldn't dump on the special effects, but latex prosthetics have clearly come a long way since 1964. Despite what the Sensorites might look like, it is an unnerving final shot of the episode to see a Sensorite crawling up the outside of the spaceship to peer in the window.

The Doctor also has a strong episode, especially when he swoops in and pilots the ship away from a collision course with a planet. He looks like he's obviously flown a ship before, the way he works the controls and barks instructions to the others. It's another instance in this young series that serves to point out that The Doctor has seen and done a great deal in his life before we meet him in a London junkyard in 1963.

Overall, I get the impression that this serial isn't highly regarded, but, judging by its first episode, that opinion is in need of re-evaluation.


Anonymous said...

Sounds truly spooky--I need to start watching the recons. Too many good stories that are lost to the ages for me to pretend that they never existed. I'm off to find "Power of the Daleks."

Keir said...

I'm a staunch defender of The Sensorites, I'll be interested to hear what you make of the rest of it.

Anonymous said...

I watched this episode by chance a couple of weeks ago and I have to say, I *wasn't* impressed. The continous ridiculous, illogical behaviour of Carol and Maitland in a situation that seems to make no sense whatsoever really ruined the initially interesting atmosphere for me. I wanted the TARDIS crew to slap some sense into Maitland but no, everyone buys into it. Good frisson-y cliffhanger, though, you're right.

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