‘THE RIBOS OPERATION’
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The Quest for the Key to Time Begins
These reviews of ‘The Key to Time’ series are for the lovely Mary Tamm, the noblest Romana of them all!
‘The Key to Time’ series is one of my favourite seasons from the Tom Baker era of ‘Doctor Who’. I love this series, which was Season 16 of ‘Doctor Who’. It was true bliss for me when I saw it for my birthday in 2009. The DVD box set comprises of six stories with a link for the quest of the Key to Time!
This ‘Doctor Who’ season stars Tom Baker as the Doctor and Mary Tamm as Romana. I enjoyed the character relationships between the Fourth Doctor and Romana as it was developed in this season. I also enjoyed the ‘treasure hunt’ quest atmosphere of this season, since it was so engaging to watch!
The six stories are as follows. There’s ‘The Ribos Operation’; ‘The Pirate Planet’; ‘The Stones of Blood’; ‘The Androids of Tara’; ‘The Power of Kroll’ and ‘The Armageddon Factor’. These six stories range from fantasy, comedy; horror and good action adventure since they’re exciting in their own right!
‘The Ribos Operation’ by Robert Holmes is the first story of ‘The Key to Time’ season. It is a four-part adventure on 1 disc. It starts with the Doctor summoned by Cyril Luckham as the White Guardian who chooses him to find the Key to Time.
The Key to Time is a crystal cube, divided into six segments. When combined, the key maintains the balance of time. The Doctor reluctantly agrees to do this mission and is joined by a new companion.
This story features Mary Tamm’s first appearance as Romanadvoratrelundar. The Doctor finds that her name is too long. He calls her Romana instead. She doesn’t like it, but ‘it’s either Romana or Fred’.
I love Mary Tamm’s performance as Romana. Mary delivers a cool, gracious and glamorous presence as the Time Lady companion. She’s also the Doctor’s equal, as they clash and don’t get on well at first.
The Doctor and Romana use a tracer to locate the six segments. They look for the first segment, as it takes them to the planet Ribos. Ribos is an icy, snowy, cold planet and is medieval-like in appearance.
This story is set on an alien planet, but the atmosphere feels like a historical adventure. This story tends to be slow, but it starts off ‘The Key To Time’ season nicely when the Doctor and Romana start.
Tom Baker delivers a stupendous performance as the Doctor. I liked the Doctor’s casual manner in this story. He finds it difficult to get on with Romana and I love the sparkly dialogue between them.
K-9, the Doctor’s pet robotic dog (voiced by John Leeson) is loveable as always. K-9 gets summoned by his ‘master’ when he’s called to help. I like the scenes between K-9 and Romana in the catacombs.
The guest cast includes Iain Cuthbertson as Garron and Nigel Plaskitt as Unstoffe. These two are a pair of conmen who try to sell a large piece of jethrik to an unstable, glory-seeking, warlord on Ribos.
This warlord is Paul Seed as Graff Vynda-K, who is joined by Robert Keegan as Sholakh. I felt that Paul Seed gave an over-the-top performance as Vynda-K. I couldn’t take him seriously in this adventure.
There’s also Timothy Bateson (who I’ve seen in ‘The Good Life’ and ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’) as Binro. The scene between Binro and Unstoffe when they’re talking about other worlds is so touching.
There’s also Anne Tirard as the Seeker and Prentis Hancock as the Shrieve Captain. Prentis Hancock was in some ‘Doctor Who’ stories before this one, including ‘Planet of the Daleks’ with Jon Pertwee.
The first Key to Time segment turns out to be the disguised gemstone jethrik that Garron and Unstoffe tried to sell to Vynda-K. The Doctor and Romana acquire it, now having five segments left.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘A Matter of Time’ documentary, which is an enjoyable look into the Graham Williams era of ‘Doctor Who’. There’s also the making-of documentary called ‘The Ribos File’. There are also ‘continuities’ of the story and a Season 16 trailer.
There’s a commentary with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm on the story and an info text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also a photo gallery of the story and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story.
There’s a coming soon trailer for ‘Planet of Evil’ with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.
‘The Ribos Operation’ is a nice start to ‘The Key to Time’ season. It’s not the most exciting story in the season, but I enjoyed it. It’s also a nice introduction for Romana as the new companion for the Doctor.
‘The Ribos Operation’ rating – 6/10
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