The keys of Marinus (1964)
About this serial
This is a six-part serial, first broadcast between 11th April - 16th May 1964. The serial was written by Terry Nation, produced by Verity Lambert and directed by John Gorrie. The script editor was David Whitaker.
Caught between two warring factions on a planet where the beaches are covered in glass and the paddling puddles are filled with acid, the Tardis crew need to retrieve four keys before they can leave.
After 'The Daleks', this is the second story by Terry Nation. I understand it had to be written at the last moment to replace another story that didn't work out. Nation also had to work around the absence of William Hartnell, who was on holiday for two weeks while this serial was being recorded.
This serial is unique for the era, in that it consists of several different stories connected by a common theme.
Some good things about this serial:
- The different stories may be fairly standard science-fiction fare, but they're well-written and well-executed.
- There's a lot of variety between the stories, each is set up and resolved satisfactorily in its 25-odd-minute time slot, and in each there's enough going on to hold the attention.
- This is a good serial for Barbara and Ian, with Barbara providing the brains and Ian the muscle.
Some less good things:
- The sets and the model work aren't bad, exactly, but they're not great, either.
- This is not a good serial for Susan. She spends most of it being terrified of things that aren't threats, or needing to be rescued from things that are.
Some cool stuff:
- There's an almost 'meta' moment in the first episode. At the start of the episode, we see an alien who is clearly a guy in a rubber suit. Later in the episode the Tardis crew find an empty rubber suit similar to what the alien had been wearing, and conclude that it must be a protective suit belonging to an attacker.
- The search for the keys as a common theme would be revisited in the Tom Baker era, when the Doctor spends several serials looking for the different parts of the 'key to time'.
The bottom line
Entertaining from beginning to end.