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3.8 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2003
Landing on the planet Marinus, with acid seas, and a glassy beach, the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan, are forced by Arbitan, the sole inhabitant nearby, to go on a mission to hunt down four keys that will help him redress the power of good on the planet. The Conscience of Marinus was a machine built to "eliminate evil from all men. Robbery, fear, hate, violence was unknown." Then came Yartek and his Voords, who overcame conditioning and are out to take over the Conscience.
Using travel dials, wrist teleporters, they go to where the four microcircuit keys are, first to the luxurious city of Morphoton, "sensuous, decadent, but pleasant" with kind hospitable people. Yet is all this luxury real?
Accompanied by Sabetha, Arbitan's daughter, and Altos, her love interest, the Doctor has the brilliant idea of splitting up. He goes to the civilized city of Millennius, while Ian and Barbara search a place where the vegetation is very dense and "when the whispering stars, it's death." Altos and Sabetha land on an icy area where they encounter a trapper Vasor, who isn't all he seems. On Millennius, Ian is falsely accused of murder and the Doctor becomes Sherlock Holmes in order to save Ian. A city where one is guilty before proven innocent cannot be all that civilized.
Ian shines the best in this story, as he comes out as reliable, trustworthy, and brave. One of his best hours. The interplay between Barbara and Susan remains. Susan trusts Barbara to tell her what she heard in the forest in the same way she tells her of the hand that touched on in the petrified forest in The Daleks. Barbara's her usual reassuring self here.
George Coulouris (Arbitan) is best known as the man who takes Kane from his parents in Citizen Kane and as the doctor in Murder On The Orient Express. Fiona Walker (Kala) would reappear in Who's 25th anniversary story, Silver Nemesis as Lady Peinforte.
The ultimate theme of this story is given in Doctor's final piece of advice to Sabetha: "I don't believe that man was meant to be controlled by machines. Machines can make laws, but they cannot be made to preserve justice. Only human beings can do that."
William Hartnell did not appear in Episodes 3 and 4 so he could take his holiday, yet he was credited for both episodes per his contract. A similar thing would also happen to Jacqueline Wright in The Web Planet a season later.
The Keys Of Marinus is interesting in that many concepts of the show later found its way to future Who stories. For example, the search for the four keys was expanded in the six Key To Time stories of 1978-79. The concept of the Conscience as a machine that bars evil, plus the five microkeys with a permutations of numbers and symbols was revisited in The Keeper Of Traken. An acid pool is also encountered in The Web Planet. Vegetation tha attacks appeared in The Seeds Of Doom. And it was written by the Chief Dalek himself, Terry Nation. Thank goodness this Hartnell story survived the BBC purge, because it's well worth it.
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on February 17, 2012
The story is built around the quest to reinstate a mind-control machine that makes everyone on the planet live peacefully. We then see our group of travellers go to:
1) a society with misapplied mind-control, then
2) a land where wildness and aggression from nature is ending all civilization, to
3) a lawless frozen wasteland where individual brutes are allowed to run wild,
and finally to
4) an overly regulated society with uniforms reminiscent of Nazi Germany with a very low crime or disturbance rate because of harsh penalties and strict control.

That`s a whole lotta social analysis in five little episodes.
I enjoyed this series and the campy vintage feel.
I think one reviewer said the `character of Susan is either hysterical, or on the verge of hysteria for most of the story`. I disagree. I thought the characters of Barbara and Susan both were stronger than in the few earlier Dr.Who`s.
The extra documentary on the sets (very short in length) was really funny. I loved watching the poor set designer explain the compromises made to stay on budget.
My only criticism is that you only get 5 x 25 minute episodes for the price, which seems expensive. Then again, I`m likely placing an order for more vintage Who so I guess they can find people to pay the amount :)
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on July 7, 2001
When I was a senior in high school, my parents tried to ban me from watching Dr. Who, which at the time one of my local PBS stations was showing the B&W episodes at 11:00 PM Monday-Thursday-one episode per night in addition to their saturday afternoon broadcasts and the saturday night ones on my other local PBS network. Not to be outdone tho, I snuck an old portable B & W TV into an attic room and watched most of the old episodes. I found "The Keys of Marinus" to be a much more entertaining story than I expected or remembered. The Acting was good for the most part, and except for some rather bad models in the begining, the effects and costumes were very good. You can definatly see the hand of writer Terry Nation in this one (true Brit- Sci-Fi fans should notice the travel dials are very similar to the transport devices used in Terry Nation's later creation "Blakes 7"). I'm looking forward to my next purchses, which will bring me even closer to finally catching up on my collection.
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on December 13, 2014
Another piece of the puzzle for collectors. Interesting to see the origin of characters that feature in later episodes.
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