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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh arr...that be what we call scringe-stone..
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...
Published on Oct. 27 2002 by ollierobbers

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tom Baker, you've done it again!
Saw this many times growing up, but could not tell you the plot for the simple reason that I could NOT keep my eyes on the screen at all for any length of time. SOOOO BORING!!!!
If anything actually HAPPENED in this episode, I did not notice. And I love Dr.Who!
Published on May 25 2004


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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
By 
ollierobbers (Bay Area, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars "I can't figure out the plot, and I was in it!", Dec 6 2002
By 
Jason A. Miller (Brooklyn, New York USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"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. Lots of attention is paid to cuts made from Holmes' (lengthy) original script, and much fun is had at the expense of the dated 1978 production: most notably Mary (Romana) Tamm's efforts to push a styrofoam rock, and the K-9 prop's inability to roll over a raised doorway.
The audio commentary, by Tamm and Tom (The Doctor) Baker, is hilariously irrelevant. Baker hasn't seen the story, well... ever, and Tamm admits defeat trying to follow the plot before episode three has even begun. In the meantime, the two trade lots of double entendres, and Tamm has to explain to Baker twice which actor plays Unstoffe. They have great chemistry together, which is impressive considering that Tamm worked on "Doctor Who" just the one year and shouldn't have to recite as many details about the episode as she does (I expect she read the pop-up notes too).
The Who's Who is a useful guide to have (Americans may remember Cuthbertson from his brief role in "Gorillas in the Mist", and Tamm played Jon Voight's wife in "The Odessa File"). The Photo Gallery is a bit unusual in that the first three pictures are not actually from "The Ribos Operation". The remaining pictures are mostly stills from the episode, although there are appealing shots of the gorgeous Tamm posing in her extravagant white gown. The only mystery unexplained on the entire DVD is just why Tamm's eyebrows look so fake...
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Is there no one you can trust these days?", Oct. 14 2002
By 
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
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. This is vitally important for keeping the balance between science and magic.
When we hear the story of Binro the Heretic, we already know that his calculations and deductions about the lights in the night sky are correct, so our sympathies will automatically go towards his point of view. But if the Seeker had been revealed to be merely a slight-of-hand conjurer, then the battle between the two elements would have been drastically undermined. Because the magical side is so powerful, we can see exactly why someone like Binro has been shunned and derided by his peers. It's not just that what he says conflicts with their religious viewpoint, but also they have apparent proof that the superstitions have a concrete basis in reality. Holmes doesn't chicken out of the conflict, but portrays it in a mature and surprisingly balanced manner. It would be easy for Holmes to have us conclude that Binro is right, and that the Seeker is a con artist. But he doesn't do that - we have at least some evidence that both sides of the conflict have a sound case for parts of their belief.
The characters in this serial are larger than life and twice as fun. During his career, Robert Holmes wrote a number of over-the-top, almost operatic individuals and THE RIBOS OPERATION is certainly no exception. The actors, without exception, all latch on to how these characters need to be played and all deliver exactly the type of performance required. The Graff Vynda-K can't be anything other than an obsessed and fanatical tyrant. Garron has to be a great big lovable rouge. In a story such as this, louder is better. These are archetypes on paper, and the actors bringing them to life inject them with enough humanity and pathos to let them live.
I'm not usually a fan of the actors-only commentaries on these Doctor Who DVDs. Of those discs that have been released in the US so far, the audio tracks that contain no members of the production team are boring and useless, with the people concerned not remembering much about the story and not having known much about the behind-the-scenes planning in the first place. But the commentary for this DVD is highly amusing despite only consisting of Tom Baker and Mary Tamm. While it isn't the most informative thing I've ever listened to, I couldn't stop laughing. It's an extremely entertaining track featuring a few interesting tidbits from Tamm, punctuated by occasional orgasmic sound effects courtesy of Mr. Baker.
The pop-up production notes provide us with a lot of detail about the numerous cuts and edits that were made to the original Robert Holmes script. I find this sort of thing fascinating, and it's really interesting to see how the script evolved. Incorporating the Key arc, to tightening up the script for timing reasons are all featured here.
The DVD picture and sound are quite good considering the age of the material. This disc upholds the high standards that the Doctor Who DVDs have achieved in these areas. The rest of the extras (Photo Gallery, Who's Who) are things that I really have no interest in, but some people like them, and it's nice to know that they're there.
It's interesting to note that at the time of writing this review, Robert Holmes has become the most represented author on the Doctor Who DVDs. And if you really have no idea why, then check out this disc for a reevaluation of a forgotten classic. No one wrote dialog quite like Holmes, and it's absolutely amazing to see what can happen when the writer and the actors play off each other's strengths so perfectly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "If mine's mines, what's yours?", June 27 2001
These stories(starting with this one) have inspired me a great deal since I was a kid. A mixture of sci-fi adventure and some fantasy(always adhering to science). The only reason I like to write stories of my own(not relating to DW) is because of Dr. Who season 16-18. Their is an air of mystery more than flashy sci-fi in these. Spaceships sure, that's the sci-fi part that should stay, but also planets of mystery and magic. And depth. Probably something to do with the era, I don't know. This one has beautiful sets, great acting(Paul Seed and Iain Culbertson were exceptional) humor, and a good plott. Get the tape!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Key Start!, Sept. 4 2000
By 
"traken" (Hector, Arkansas USA) - See all my reviews
I think this is good start to the key of time saga. We see a new assistant Romana for short. Also the apparnce of the White Guardain. The reason I just gave it 4 stars is that Romanas encounter with the monster (Shrievenzale) is not too much of an encounter by the way I saw it. Tom Bakers performace was still very great in this adventure. I would recmoned this one to all that are just starting out there collection!!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Precious as a jethryk, Nov. 20 2001
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Low budget, but precious nonetheless. Once again, Robert Holmes writes a great script with his usual dynamic duo of non-regulars, this time a couple of intergalactic swindlers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest, Oct. 8 2002
By A Customer
This is a must not just for Doctor Who fans but for science fiction fans everywhere!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tom Baker, you've done it again!, May 25 2004
By A Customer
Saw this many times growing up, but could not tell you the plot for the simple reason that I could NOT keep my eyes on the screen at all for any length of time. SOOOO BORING!!!!
If anything actually HAPPENED in this episode, I did not notice. And I love Dr.Who!
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Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation - Special Edition (No. 98) (DVD)
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