The Keys of Marinus – Story #005


Jael’s Judgment:

I like that Barbara flexed her independence more when they arrived in the jungle. She was not satisfied to simply take direction from Ian and be useless. Granted it got her into a little trouble, but at least she was not busy being extra  baggage. This all makes me wonder about the relationship between Barbara and Ian before they started out on their adventure in the TARDIS… Were they simply colleagues? Or were they also friends? And if friends, work only? How old are they supposed to be? I guess I am wondering in what ways can I relate to them in order to better understand the mindset of their characters.

Glass beach & acid sea = weird

Mind boggling dreams come true land = creepy (and Altos needed trousers)

Jungle = scary, but bad special effects

Ice land = OK

Trial = BORING (left me thinking, “how many more episodes did I agree to watch”)

Ending = short

And my last note, was anyone else wondering if the cousins of the Monty Python black knight made an early appearance?

Truth be told, I am a couple of days late writing this and getting it to my handsome husband. We watched The Keys of Marinus several days ago. 231 adventures in 365 days is quite a lot. And all of this gallivanting through space is not helping me be rid of a nasty cough that I acquired. So the reader will have to forgive me every once in a while if a few adventures are not very fresh in my mind by the time I get to ” put them on paper,” so to speak.

What I do remember about The Keys of Marinus is wishing that it was a bit more complex. There was not much of a twist to really get the imagination going. Altos seriously needed trousers and the trial was terribly boring.

What I did like was the mind games played on all characters on their initial stop to look for the first key. This seemed like a good story in itself to me. It makes one think an reflect.  On a less serious note I loved the eyeballs on the brainy things! Made me laugh hysterically upon viewing and still brings a smile to my face.

Also what was up with Susan losing her shoe. On an alien planet would you automatically assume that a clear liquid is water?! Well, maybe, in a moment of mental laziness, I could see myself doing just that. Here’s hoping for less and less of those such moments for myself and for the companions.

**Apparently I have already had one of these moments. I already wrote on this episode and gave it to my better half. D’oh. Well, this one is better.**

  • Story Grade: B-


Tony’s Take:

So, since Jael reviewed this story twice, does this mean that I have to review it at all?  I agree with nearly everything she said, minus the “too much, too soon” talk; but that is just me, and we all work in different ways.

So what did I think of the story?  Well, I was either in a salty frame of mind, or the acting and writing was just that, ummm, cheesy?  Yeah, cheesy, because I don’t want to say bad.

Notes in chronological order (salty/snarky comments in red):

  1. The Doctor suggests they split up to find Susan, who went missing after nearly taking an acid bath.
  2. Walls that give way to hidden corridors, how convenient.
  3. The Doctor even admits that as long as Ian is free the chances of survival are high.  Ian is still shown as the viewers identifiable character AND hero role.
  4. The Voord are very well designed, he said using heavy sarcasm.  A rubber SCUBA suit and a weird helmet added together equals this “scary monster”.
  5. Great acting with an invisible force field around the TARDIS.
  6. Tricky traveling technique, space-jumping.  Must have been a cool effect back then.
  7. First key is hidden in a place where anything you desire can be yours, for seemingly FREE.  But it’s just mind-games that the Brains of Morphoton are playing on their hosts (and potential slaves).
  8. …And The Doctor again suggests splitting up in the 2nd episode.  Glad this happens because Susan is sent alone into a “Screaming Jungle” so that she, herself, can scream, too.  (Have I mentioned how much I love Susan’s screams?)
  9. When all else fails, smash the ivy with a rock, right Barbara?
  10. I know, I know, the screaming jungle is scary to Jael, and for this I just have to laugh.  Please tell me that you would not be scared of an oversized statue with tiny arms!
  12. Caught in a tiny net, these booby traps are awesome.
  13. De3O2, great way to work in science while being a sleuth!
  14. William Hartnell was on vacation and it was apparent because after the split he is not heard from until episode 5 (since part way through #2).
  15. Plastic wrap on the walls, because that looks like ice, right?  I apologize for the snarkiness.
  16. Too wide to jump, and yet it’s a short enough distance for me to lay across and touch both sides comfortably (I’m less than 6 feet tall).
  17. It’s also strange how much the time travel itself has changed.  The travel by the 1st Doctor is innocent and the reason why they get trapped is always out of their hands.  Future episodes it is based on severe trouble that must be stopped to save the world/universe.  Both, when played only one way for too long, become old.
  18. I like to think that it is episode 5 of The Keys of Marinus that drove the public’s fascination with court-drama on TV.  Why?  Because the episode is dry and dull and shows like Law & Order and even CSI bore me to tears.  (Though at least episode 5 has judges with squids/octopuses on their heads.)
  19. Another story that ran long.  I actually enjoyed the setting of the original Voord on the acid beach, but then it got all cluttered and stretched out when they had to find the keys.
  20. Another “let’s split up!”, this time by Ian in the last episode.  How is that going, gang?

So, what went right?  Like I said above, the acid and glass beach beach could have been used more, as it was able to provide a longer story than was given.  Jael was also correct in her analysis, the first stop in the land of mind-games was very good and should have been the center of focus for this story.  If the writers would have been able to cut the story down to a 4 episode arc and focus on the beach and brainy-eyed monsters, it would probably be one of the better Hartnell-era stories.  Unfortunately, it falls flat and just turns out to be an easy to solve, long-running scavenger hunt.

Jael, it seems to me that you agreed with my analysis.  Why did you grade this story as “above average” (average being a “C”)?  Am I just being too harsh and critical?

On a personal note, I was very impressed (impressed, is that the right word?) that Jael decided to use the simple phrase “D’oh!”  My attempt to Simpson-ize her is working.  Please, dear reader, ask her what her favorite line from The Simpsons is; I know what it is, but having her say it is much more rewarding (especially given her major in college).

  • Story Grade: C-
  • The Keys of Marinus has a few things that either worked or could have worked, but in the end the story ran long and had many questionable moments (either story-wise, set-wise, or acting-wise).


Thank you to the costume designers.  The Brains of Morphoton and the Voord, though comical, showcase what makes Classic Who special.


One thought on “The Keys of Marinus – Story #005

  1. Pingback: Reading Digest: Joining the Club Edition « Dead Homer Society

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