Doctor Who #35: Kidnap

"To see all the time is not a good thing."TECHNICAL SPECS: Part 5 of the Sensorites. First aired Jul.25 1964.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor survives an attack by "monsters" in the dark. The Second Elder is killed by the City Administrator, but he fails to successfully frame the Doctor for it. And the Doctor and Ian set off for the aqueduct again, armed and ready.

REVIEW: While I wasn't exactly enjoying Mervyn Pinfield's direction in the first four episodes, I think Frank Cox is actually worse on this 5th chapter. The staging is invariably stiff and lifeless, as characters stand around and deliver their lines with their arms unmoving on the sides of their bodies. When the Sensorites appear more animated than humans like Carol and John (who otherwise have some charming "first contact" type scenes with the scientist), you know you have a problem. The one nice thing (carried over from A Race Against Death) is how dark the aqueduct is, sometimes played only with a spotlight, creating a sense of place without the use of sets. Puts the flat lighting of the above ground scenes to shame.

But of course, it's not the only one. The Sensorites continue to be the least impressive species in the universe, so much so even Carol calls them out on their use of sweeping statements. There can be no plot because they have a perfect society and everyone is content, and yet the "evil" City Administrator has like-minded cohorts. Their frame-up is easily exposed as a lie, in part because they make very bad liars. And there's a tangible lack of urgency in finding the real killer. A couple punches kills the Second Elder, so they're pretty feeble physically as well, and their warriors deliver weapons, but don't look like they could handle a fight. And wait, why would you have a warrior caste and weapons if no one would even dream of committing murder or go to war? Maybe that's why the warriors look so paltry - they were just drafted from their proper caste when humans showed up only a few years ago. To keep the story going, the Doctor has to be relatively dense too, but I suppose there's some irony in the fact he's instrumental in giving the City Administrator a promotion (or is he? he was already third-in-command).

And it doesn't even stop there! Ian, who was at death's door in the previous episode, now seems fine. They seem to have forgotten the antidote was never delivered (he eventually gets cured off-screen, of course). Where do the Sensorites get the Doctor's cloak? It doesn't look like standard Sensorite issue. Susan sadly returns to her childish ways, giggling and making fun of the way Sensorites walk (a characterization that is frankly, pretty ridiculous for a young Time Lady). But worst of all is the episode's title. Not only did it undercut the previous cliffhanger, but it has NOTHING TO DO with this episode. The kidnapping of Carol occurs in THE LAST TWO SECONDS!

THEORIES: Still tracking the Doctor's number of hearts? Here, he was hit under the heart, singular, but that's just a choice of words. I've always felt the use of the plural in the new series to be more than a little affected.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - I'm sorry about all the nitpicking, but when an episode is this flat and boring, you have to entertain yourself somehow. It's done with love, I assure you, but also with a lot of irritated sighs.

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