The Keys of Marinus

‘Sensuous and decadent but rather pleasant.

The Doctor

11 April – 16 May 1964

Keys of Marinus

The Memory Cheats

It is time to mention the Target novilisations. I am not a huge reader of these although there are some that I read and re-read as a child. There are many that I have never read. Maybe this trip through the shows past will encourage me to dip into some of them again. Especially those from the missing episodes.

In the famous hiatus of 1985 I bought the Keys of Marinus and this is my first contact with this story. I loved the book. The narrative conjured images of glass sands and acid seas that have stuck with me until today.

Again, I had this story as part of the BskyB weekend tape. Not sure if I had the whole thing. Found it a bit disappointing as I recall. Enjoyed slightly more when I watched the DVD a couple of years ago.

The Time Space Visuliser

After a Christmas fest of watching most of ‘The Daleks’ and ‘Marco Polo’ I am back to watching one a week and I think this story quite suits that schedule. Each week a new story and a new part of the quest. Rather than a summary I will now babble on whilst watching. Just like William Russell in a DVD commentary.

It is good to get back into moving pictures again. When the Voord boats arrive I always think they are a group of insects with millipede style legs. The travellers brave the glass sands, Ian without his shoes! Owch! Weren’t the Voord meant to be as popular as the Daleks? The cardboard cut-out one falling down the hole is an amazing special effect too and he screams like Zippy as it falls down. Based on this I can see why they didn’t. The ‘perspective’ shot of the never ending corridor is not as good as in the Daleks’ story, especially when you can see a shadow on it. Arbitan does his best am dram acting.

Off to Roman decadent world. Barbara is well in there by the time the others arrive and then she spoils it all! Of course the Doctor would choose a laboratory with every conceivable instrument. Ian and Barbara are leading the show now and have really found their stride. Echoes of The Awakening with the big face on the wall. When you think how hard filming was then this is really good stuff with the double perspective. Altos is really shit at looking for Barbara. Shame the posh alien brains just made jars out of glass, you’d think they would have at least had a force field to protect them from psychopathic teachers.

Susan screaming again. It’s a Krynoid! Why is Susan lying down? Cue more screams. We had a cheese plant like the one in this place. Barbara finds the key but is captured, this time by a statue. Ian manages to shake off Susan so now it is just he and Barbara. So he steps up to the statue, inserts his penis into the glory hole, then it is off to find Barbara and the real key. Surely Barbara could get herself out of the net, luckily the cardboard crow’s feet stop before they reach her and she finds another over acting monk. He snuffs it too. Key found and on to the cliff hanger.  ‘I can’t move. I am too cold.’ Really? Better just die then.

Vassor is genuinely upsetting. ‘Do you fear me? Rubbing your hands like this? What are you doing in the drawer?’ Well putting the cutlery away like you told me to! ‘Now we are alone!’ Perve! Altos showing a bit of leg. ‘We will never be able to jump across.’ Are you sure? You could probably step across it though. The pipe and valve are very alien. Why does Sabetha stand in front of the guard for so long while it thaws. So they return to Vassor who is looking at his treasures and when they enter he suddenly camply screams and runs away.

Nice of the Doctor to turn up. Luckily he has been studying law as we have a whodunit! Terry Nation often made up futuristic versions of his name, most famously Tarrant in Blakes 7. Here we have Tarron. Loving the hats of the court officials. They look like chess pieces. The TARDIS crew are much friendlier now. Off to Kala and Aydon’s house and it is all very Homebase. Especially the key hole and door handle through which we can see a pointy finger on the buttons. Best hand acting so far in the show. Everyone seems to fluff their lines in episode 5. Just realised it’s Donald Pickering. Lovely Homebase cupboard for the evidence too. More maniacal laughter from The Doctor when he realises Eyesan will come back for the key.

Back at the orgasmatron. So the Voord can speak. Even if they can’t walk in flippers. One trips up as he brings in Sabetha. And they wear leather gloves. No one seems convinced by lead Voord’s Arbitan disguise. Probably down to his large Voord shaped head. And the quest is all over rather disappointingly. The Doctor cannot even be bothered to show up for the denouement! So the TARDIS dematerialises, and for the first time there is no cliff hanger.

Terry Nation comes in for some stick for his formulaic writing, but after a rather clunky start I actually rather enjoyed the story this time round. Each episode tells its story quite well and a lot happens.  The whodunit storyline is quite gripping, and the Doctor is the hero in this bit again. Shame about the rather disappointing end.

Inuendo Bingo

‘Get a hold of yourself.’ Ian in episode 2.

‘I’m going out the back way.’ Vassor, episode 4.

‘My husband was very secretive. He never told me where he was going or where he went!’ Kala, episode 5. Cottaging probably.

Notable First

First set wobble, that I have noticed anyway, when Altos and Sabetha fight with Barbara in episode 2. Also the first quest within a story and the first materialisation and dematerialisation. Cute little model!

Cliché Counter

Sabetha runs with the key, and … trips!

The 500 Year Diary


16th December 13,000,001 BC

Met this rather strange chap called Arbitan today. There he is going on about how he has to keep the Keys of Marinus safe from these Voord creatures and the evil Yartek and he hides away in a big building with trap doors that deliberately let people in – we got in with no trouble at all through these rather flimsy entrances! In addition, he seems a bit lazy because he could have gone to get these keys himself rather than get us to do it!

Anyway we have to go look for the keys of his Conscience Machine because the TARDIS is behind an impenetrable forcefield – well, apart from when Susan walked in front of Ian. Actually, this whole thing is rather out of character – normally, we’d refuse, but instead we’re more than happy to go along with it, particularly as it’s going to keep the population in subjugation. Oh well!

We’re certainly trapped because we’re surrounded by the sea of death which is acid – Susan nearly took a paddle, but handily her shoe came off first and dissolved away. I told Ian that if he’d had his shoes on him he could have lent her hers.

It all ended rather badly. Ian found Barbara’s travel dial. There was blood on it!

17th December 13,000,001 BC

Nearly caught in the velvet web on Morphoton today. We all thought Barbara was a bit mental. There we were enjoying a life of luxury. Turns out it was all an illusion. I was a bit gutted that the amazing laboratory was just some old mugs!

She worked it out somehow. Perhaps because she got there 10 seconds before us and managed to get clothes, a new hairdo and meet people and find about the culture. Perhaps she wore herself out after doing all of that. Anyway by the end she’d gone loopy and smashed up (sort of) these brains that were controlling the citizens for no particular reason. If was them I would have beefed up their own security.

By the end joined by Altos (I wish he’s put some trousers on!) and Sabetha who conveniently was Arbitan’s daughter and not as wet as we’d originally thought! So we have the key – I decided at that point that I’d go on ahead to Millennius to get the final key and the others can get the rest. Actually, wanted to get away from Ian for a bit – that dressing gown was beginning to smell.

18th December 13,000,001 BC

Had a lovely day in Millennius. Went shopping (was like the screaming jungle with all the crowds), had a nice coffee and generally just mooched around. Nice to have some me time! Went for a few drinks in the evening with the locals after looking at some rock samples.

Wonder what the others are up to?

19th December 13,000,001 BC

Day ended rather badly as Ian ends up getting knocked out and possibly framed for a murder he did not commit.

Before that it was all rather lovely – not the snows of terror for me! Went down the library and read through some of the customs of this place. Thought it might come in handy… how right I was! These companions of mine – always getting into these unnecessary scrapes. Actually getting a bit fed up of looking for these not very well hidden keys. Hope I won’t have to go another key hunting mission ever again!

22nd December 13,000,001 BC

What a busy few days! Not only have they accused Ian of murder but also the theft of the key. In Millennius, the law is ‘guilty until proved innocent’ so I had my work cut out as defence counsellor particularly as I’m not a doctor of law! Ian is under sentence of death – I’ve only got until the big hand is on the starry thing at the top. Luckily had sufficient time to create a high level crime reconstruction making Barbara lie on the floor for a bit.

Barbara & Susan go off to talk to the relief guard, Ayden, but instead meet his wife who knows nothing although Barbara suspects something is going on because of a bit of domestic violence. Anyway Barbara must have some sort of sixth sense because at the trial after tricking Ayden into confessing he had one of the earlier keys, he ends up getting killed! It’s all gone a bit Miss Marple, I tell you.

So there I am summing up, not sure how it’s actually going. The judges seem rather excitable – nodding and muttering furiously….

23rd December 13,000,001 BC

Well, while I was summing up, they’d kidnapped Susan! They didn’t tell me – I suppose that was the right thing to do although it made no difference as Ian was still found guilty especially as that Kara woman said Ian was her accomplice, which makes no sense as he’d only just got there! And she killed her own husband and nearly shot Susan. Well, I suppose he had been knocking her about. Hope I don’t meet her again; she seems like a bit of a nemesis….

Happily, Susan overheard a conversation (these plotters are very careless) and we managed to create a trap. It was Eysesen, the court prosecutor, all along – and he smuggled the key out in the bludgeon which no-one had checked. If I was hanging around I’d get someone to look in to their detectives – useless! I suppose he was the shiftiest – could have worked it out from that.

Anyway Altos & Sabetha return with the first four keys and we follow along. When we arrive, we can’t find them so we split up and look for them. I find them held prisoner – the Voords have taken over! Ian comes in and tells me that he gave a fake key to ‘Arbitan’ (actually Yartek) because of the worst disguise ever. This causes the Conscience machine to explode so we have to run to get away.

With the Conscience machine destroyed, the people of Marinus will have to find their own way. This is good as man was not meant to be ruled by machines, which made me think why did we bother looking for the keys of Marinus in the first place if I thought it was a bad idea! What a waste of time!


The Five Word Lords

Good story, ultimately pointless quest.


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