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Doctor Who Original Series 05 - The Keys of Marinus

Been a while since my last episode-by-episode reviews. Most of first season was already written up, I just haven't gotten around to posting it. But now we continue with The Keys of Marinus.



1.21 Keys of Marinus Pt. 1 - The Sea of Death Written by Terry Nation, Directed by John Gorrie

The Doctor and his companions arrive on Marinus and find themselves caught up in the search for four hidden keys.

Clunky. There are some nifty ideas, but the writing feels rather laboured in execution, as does the realisation on screen. Terry nation was always an ideas man, and in this first episode it shows. Got to say, in terms of character, that Arbitan is a bit of an old bastard.

5/10

"I'm sorry you forced me into keeping you from your ship, but your refusal to help me left me no alternative." - George Coulouris (Arbitan)



1.22 Keys of Marinus Pt. 2 - The Velvet Web Written by Terry Nation, Directed by John Gorrie

The travellers find themselves in a magnificent city, where all their needs will be met.

Not bad, a definite improvement on the previous episode, but not by much. Again, a good idea but not entirely engaging. That said, given the logistical problems, the realisation of the two versions of reality is well handled.

6/10

"The human body is the most flexible instrument in the world, no single mechanical device could reproduce its mobility and dexterity." - Heron Carvic (Voice Of Morpho)



1.23 Keys of Marinus Pt. 3 - The Screaming Jungle Written by Terry Nation, Directed by John Gorrie

The travellers, searching for the second key, find a deadly jungle and a building full of traps for the unwary.

So far I'm far less impressed with Keys of Marinus than I remember from the previous time I saw it. This episode has an over-reliance on keeping the viewer distracted by cheap tricks to hide the lack of story. Certainly I've never been in favour of characters who manage to talk more or less perfectly well as they are dying, but insist on giving a crypic clue instead of just saying what they mean.

5/10

"Quickly... the darkness... the whispering will start..." - Edmund Warwick (Darrius)



1.24 Keys of Marinus Pt. 4 - The Snows of Terror Written by Terry Nation, Directed by John Gorrie

Looking for the third key, the travellers must search a snowy wilderness.

Not too bad, helped by having a fairly credible villain, juxtaposed with the nicely mythic elements to the events in the ice caves. Vasor's lascivious intent is well handled, obvious to the adults, less so for the kids, though his comeupence is disappointingly quick.

6/10

"All right! I'll wait no longer!" - Francis de Wolff (Vasor)



1.25 Keys of Marinus Pt. 5 - Sentence of Death Written by Terry Nation, Directed by John Gorrie

Ian is put on trial for murder.

As a cross between courtroom drama and detective story, this isn't too bad for the day. Simplistic but well told, and with the nice twist that the onus is on Ian to prove he is innocent, not for the prosecutors to prove his guilt.

6/10

"I mean that you are already guilty of this crime. The burden of defence is entirely yours." - Henley Thomas (Tarron)




1.26 Keys of Marinus Pt. 6 - The Keys of Marinus Written by Terry Nation, Directed by John Gorrie

can Susan's kidnappers be found before Ian is executed?

The last episode moves along at a fair pace, finishing up events in the city of Millennius, and returning the keys to the island where the travellers first met Arbitan. Yartek's disguise is a little ridiculous, but the ending still works ok, in spite of it.

7/10

"I want them here when the final key is inserted, and my power is absolute!" - Stephen Dartnell (Yartek)




The Keys of Marinus 5.8/10

While not a bad story, Marinus is just not as engaging as its predecessors. In fact, it feels more like old 1940s serials, with a series of set-pieces to make up for a real plot. There's nothing wrong with that concept, a series of challenges in different locations, but it relies on the various settings and challenges to be interesting and engaging, and the first half of the story doesn't quite manage it.

I think the key difference is that in the first few episodes the travellers are just carried along by events, where as from part 4 onwards they are involved a little more. Barbara having to deal with Vasor, Susan making the brave decision to cross the ice chasm when all seems lost, Ian's trial, and of course the Doctor acting as his friend's defence attorny.

That said, a good job is done by the production team with each of the worlds, attempting to make them interesting and different.
Tags: doctor who story reviews
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