‘The Ribos Operation’ (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

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 part 4

‘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

The previous story

For the Fourth Doctor was

  • ‘Survivors in Space’ (Audio)

For Romana was

  • ‘Reborn’ (G) (Audio)

For K-9 MkII was

  • ‘The Perfect Prisoners’ (Audio)
The next story

For the Fourth Doctor is

  • ‘Tomb of Valdemar’ (Book)

For Romana is

  • ‘Tomb of Valdemar’ (Book)

For K-9 MkII is

  • ‘Tomb of Valdemar’ (Book)
Return to Doctor Who Reviews

2 thoughts on “‘The Ribos Operation’ (TV)

  1. Excellent review Tim, this starts well then feels a little flat in the middle but picks up at the end.

    Tom Baker & Mary Tamm share a instant chemistry & Timothy Bateson brings genuine emotion to the character Binro but i agree Paul Seed as Graff Vynda-K who’s trying to outdo Graham Crowdens Soleed in the hammy acting department.

    As you said a slightly above average opener for the Key To Time season.

    Nice pics by the way Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Simon! Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Ribos Operation’.

    Yes it does feel flat early on in the story, but I’m glad it got better later on in the story. If it had been more fast paced early on in the story perhaps it would have got my attention more easily. Shame that.

    I love the Doctor and Romana’s relationship in their first story together and you’re right Tom and Mary do share an instant chemistry. I like Timothy Bateson’s performance in this story, having seen him from sitcoms like ‘The Good Life’ and ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ with Richard Briers. I can’t help not take Paul Seed seriously as Graff Vynda-K. He’s angry about anything and does he have to shout a lot in his performance as the Graff. 😀

    It is an average story by Robert Holmes, but I’m glad it sets ‘The Key to Time’ season off in a good direction.

    Glad you like the pics. I’m so glad I can write my reviews on my blog and add pictures to them. I couldn’t do that on Amazon when I was writing my reviews. Also, I can write individual reviews for each of ‘The Key to Time’ stories which is great!

    Many thanks for your kind comments, Simon.

    Tim. 🙂


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