Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Keys of Marinus — Blogging Doctor Who

Who's the bad guy?
The Keys of Marinus shows that Terry Nation can write a script without those pepperpots. The Daleks had, to a degree, the feeling of a set of episodes tied together (first the petrified forest, then the Daleks, instead of bringing the Daleks out early as might be done today). The Keys of Marinus does this to an even greater degree, since the episodes form four different stories. It’s a clever idea and it keeps the interest up.

Throughout the serial, you could play a drinking game of “will Hartnell flub his line?” I didn’t keep count, but it seemed that he misspoke two or three times and episode. We’re in the fifth story and Hartnell’s health problems are affecting his acting. He vanishes for two stories (supposedly going off to accomplish something, but when we catch up with him, he hasn’t really done anything), and when he returns for the final two episodes, he seems a bit more rested.
In this one, the Doctor’s bad behavior seems to be limited to taking the easy assignment (the trip to the advanced and peaceful society) while making everyone else take the more difficult ones. Also, the each time the plan to split up in order to cover ground more quickly goes awry, he suggests that they do it all over again. Shows a certain lack of planning, forethought, and reaction to the situation. Small groups that are easily outnumbered are a wonderful idea.

One problem with this episode is that the plot is a bit of a contrivance. “These things are really important, so to protect them, I’m scattering them across the planet.” Most of them seem pretty poorly protected, though I guess it was good enough to fool the Voord, who don’t seem to have tried to recover the keys for themselves.

A bit of excitement (and a small spoiler): In one scene, the villainous Vasor (okay if you like them burly with questionable personal hygiene) gets Barbara alone. He clearly doesn't like them blond and willowy, since he left Sabetha to die with Susan. If he's planning on raping Barbara, he doesn't try very hard.

Eye Candy for Gay Time Lords
First, note that the standard outfit for the Voord seems to be rubber fetish gear. I’m assuming that they’re standard humanoid (same species as just about everyone else in the series), but they keep those outfits on throughout. Hard to tell if they’re really eye candy. We get a better look at the people of Millenius, and many of the guards and prosecutors are easy on the eyes. Still, the winner has to be Altos (Robin Phillips), whose outfit shows off a nice pair of legs. Ooo!

So, Is This a Must-See?
It’s tighter than The Daleks, but the short sequences don’t really give time for tension to build. In a way, you get a series of one- and two-parters. Deal with bad guy, move on. Also, the Doctor is in a bit of a bind, so he doesn’t get to point out that Arbitan is actually somewhat evil himself. He and the Voord really have similar goals: they want to control everyone on Marinus. The Voord are just more honest about enslaving the population. This is not a must-see, but it’s not too bad an episode. If you want to go beyond the must-sees (but skip the stinkers), yeah, add this one to your list.

Next: "The Aztecs."
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