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Dr. Who Ep.98 Ribos Operation

Tom Baker , Mary Tamm    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 30.98
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Product Description

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The Ribos Operation is the first part in the ambitious "Key to Time" story arc that composed the 16th season of Dr. Who, and series fans were treated to not only a feisty and comely new assistant for Tom Baker's Doctor, but a cracking good story by Robert Holmes that relied more on character and plot than on special effects or monsters. The Doctor is dispatched by the White Guardian to recover the six segments of the Key of Time, a device that allows its user to make time stand still. With the help of elegant Time Lady Romana (Mary Tamm), the Doctor begins his search on the wintry planet of Ribos, where a con man (Ian Cuthbert) is attempting to rook a deposed despot into buying the planet via a phony mineral scam. Unbeknownst to all but the Doctor and Romana, the con man's mineral sample is in fact the first segment to the Key. Holmes's script gives some charming wordplay to Baker and Tamm and Cuthbert, along with the prerequisite dashes of cliffhanger suspense. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

As with many past Doctor Who DVD releases, the obvious highlight of the special features is the commentary track, here by Baker and Tamm. Though the optional text commentary track mentions that tension developed between the actors over Tamm's glamorous wardrobe, the pair contribute a warm and affectionate audio track that will undoubtedly please fans of Baker and the series. The text commentary also reveals a wealth of behind-the-scenes information about the serial, including several conflicts between production staff and numerous script changes. A production-still photo gallery and biographical information on the cast is also included. The episode is presented in full-frame mono with optional English subtitles. --Paul Gaita

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh arr...that be what we call scringe-stone.. Oct. 27 2002
Format:DVD
Along with Stones of Blood, Ribos Operation is the best from the Key to Time Season/series. An all-round enjoyable story with a constantly shouting bad guy, two unorthodox con-men who adopt strange northern accents, and the good Doctor and his new companion Romana.
Although the story is not especially original, the script is fairly tight, and everything seems to work. Perhaps by the fourth episode it seems slightly padded, but there's always enough going on to keep you interested.
Most valuable player in this story must go jointly to the two conmen, who are of the old-school, honorable type. In other words, they'll switch the precious stone from the doctor for a piece of rock, but when he switches it back and they find out, they are appalled!!
It's good fun.
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Format:DVD
"Doctor Who" US DVD releases have been sporadic to date, averaging about two every four months. That's why the recent "Key to Time" season box set, encompassing six full episodes, is such a pleasant surprise. The first disc, "The Ribos Operation", is a story I didn't have much time for when I was younger, so I was quite pleased to learn that, not only is the DVD presentation remarkably good, but the story has improved with age, too.
"Ribos" is a light-hearted story, once the introduction to the season-linking Key to Time concept is rapidly explained (and set aside). Boisterous con-man (played to operatic high comedy by Iain Cuthbertson) attempt to swindle deposed Emperor, The Graff Vynda-K, by selling him a primitive ice planet suggestive of Czarist Russia. This went well and truly over my head when I was 12, and you wouldn't think Paul Seed's Shakespearian reading of a forged real estate contract would ever interest anyone, but it's quite captivating now. How many other DVDs do you own which contain the word "suzerainty"?
But, more seriously, it's a Robert Holmes script, and Holmes' DW stories always stood out for their attention to detail. Ribos may be populated by just three British character actors, but so much of the planet's culture is explained in 90 minutes that it's surprising DW never went back there again. I like the fact that the story devotes quite a bit of time to "Binro the Heretic", the discredited astronomer who's banished for proving the world is round, but at the same time the local witch is shown to be not a fraud, but rather 100% accurate.
The DVD includes, as always, text and audio commentary tracks. The pop-up production notes are written by a new researcher, and are much more enlightening here than many of the previous releases.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Is there no one you can trust these days?" Oct. 14 2002
Format:DVD
THE RIBOS OPERATION is a severely underrated classic that sometimes gets forgotten about in the Key To Time season. The script is quite good and shows Robert Holmes at the height of his dialog-writing powers. It doesn't get all of the credit that it deserves, and this is a pity, because almost every aspect of the production is excellent, from the script to the acting to much of the incidental music to the set design. There is almost nothing here to distract from what is extremely fun and witty adventure.
The atmosphere is superb. The sets and, in particular, the costumes are exceptionally well done, especially when one considers the budget they were working with here. Possibly a lot of it was taken from stock and then given superficial modifications, but this really adds to the script's medieval and Russian flavors. It feels old-fashioned, and the few futuristic elements slide right alongside the historical pieces. The aliens are planet-hopping aristocrats with lasers, wrist-communicators and space-drives, but they trade in gold, and are concerned with half-brothers on thrones. The soldiers in the story more resemble knights in armor than science-fiction stormtroopers. The modern and the tradition merge extremely well and the two parts complement are a great complement to each other.
Science vs. magic/superstition is another theme that rears its head in this serial. Unlike other stories (say, THE DAEMONS), this story puts both of those subjects on the same level. The magic isn't just given a technobabble explanation; it actually appears to work in the confines of the story. The Seeker makes predictions that prove correct, has second sight, and uses magical incantations, while the story gives every indication that she genuinely does possess unearthly powers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest Oct. 8 2002
By A Customer
Format:DVD
This is a must not just for Doctor Who fans but for science fiction fans everywhere!
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