A new one for me, written by Terry Nation (who created the Daleks), this six-episode serial starts with a little prop island with a toy TARDIS materialising – very much reminds me of the old 60s and 70s tv shows I grew up on with the cheesy sets.

 They find themselves on a beach with sand of glass and Susan almost wades in a pool of acid. They investigate the island, surmise that the sea itself must be of acid. They quickly discover that the island is inhabited. Susan wanders off and finds herself approaching danger in short order – I guess teenagers on Gallifrey are just as stupid as on Earth.

 Susan, on her own, and the others together, make their way to a large pyramid-type building, where the adults split up. This is what they did in The Daleks – arrive at the city and split up. (That story was also written by Terry Nation. Is this a formula, or just a coincidence?)

 Ian seems to be some attempt at being a version of a Victorian Man of Science and Action – he’s a competent combatant, a capable traveler (as shown in Marco Polo), for a high school science teacher. Susan is obviously part screaming teenager, part conscience of the group, with a healthy dose of information. Barbara is their history/architecture/sociology expert, as well as good at diplomacy. And The Doctor is, of course, good at just about everything, but often hesitant to do it all – this Doctor prefers to let his companions sort things out on their own.

 They meet a man living in the pyramid, under attack by the Voords (men? In acid-proof suits who come to the island in mini-subs). He maintains a machine, judge and conscience to the planet of Marinus, and he sets them a task – to find the other keys to the machine, so he can prevent the Voords from trying to kill him. They returns to the TARDIS to find a force field around it, preventing them access; the man in the pyramid (Arbiton, I think his name is) put it there since they did not agree to help him.

 He gives them wrist-bound teleporters (a common trope in Doctor Who – we see this during the Fourth Doctor’s stories, as well as Captain Jack in the modern stories and Torchwood), and Barbara stupidly activates hers ahead of the others. The others follow, finding her travel dial abandoned (with blood on it.) Back at the pyramid, the man is attacked by a Voord and stabbed.

 The end credits roll.

 It’s fascinating how much direct connection there are between the stories of old, later classic and even new – and not just the continuity and characters and races, but commonalities like using wrist transportation devices.

 For those not reading the rest, this serial was middling – light on story, heavy on plot, a little too shallow in character development for my tastes, but not horrible. I muse at the end on some of influence this story might’ve had on later story arcs.


 They find Barbara is quite all right, being catered to in decadent situation by some servants. They are quickly given their wishes, and told that the people of (Morfet?) are there to serve and provide them. Ian is suspicious until The Doctor is promised a laboratory with every conceivable machine, but he still sees danger in the shadows.

 While they sleep, a woman enters their chambers and places a device on each of their foreheads. Barbara awakes, her device falls off her head, and alarms go off, sending her into unconsciousness; the others do not wake. The next morning the other three are having breakfast, and Ian seems less suspicious. Barbara is still asleep, and they don’t seem to think anything of it. Only when Susan gets a new dress do they wake Barbara. When Barbara awakes, we see how things really are – not decadent and lush, but decrepit – their surroundings, the fancy glassware they’re eating breakfast from is dirty, their dresses and furniture are drab and battered.

 Barbara flees, and their host reports to his masters, which look like brains with eyestalks in glass cases. The girl who put the discs on their head is to be punished and Barbara is to be killed. Ian and The Doctor are told that Barbara is under sedation, and are taken to a mostly empty room full of junk, but they obviously see a marvelous laboratory.

 Barbara interrogates the girl who is in trouble, and she has the Key they are looking for. Barbara suspects that she is Arbitan’s daughter, but the girl is under heavy hypnosis and is unsure of things, though her father’s name resonates with her. They fight, but Barbara is captured by Ian, who takes her to his masters, and she destroys the masters. Go, Barbara!

 Sabethia (Arbitan’s daughter) and another courier (their young host, who was another of Arbitan’s agents) join the group, but they split up – The Doctor goes ahead to the fourth key, with everyone else going for the second key.

 Susan pops off first (really? After Barbara doing so? I understand she’s a teenager, but how dumb can you get?) We see Susan by herself, in a jungle, and there’s noise and she’s screaming (because, of course, it’s what she does best) “Stop it! Go away!” and the credits roll.

 Gosh, such drama. /sigh

E3 “The Screaming Jungle” picks up immediately, as they all do – in fact, so far this season, each serial starts right after the previous. The others arrive, but they don’t hear what made Susan scream. She can’t explain, so she cries, which she is second best at doing.

 They again arrive just outside a wall (formulaic tendencies here…) We found out that Susan popped off b/c she was upset at being split from her grandfather. “I don’t like saying goodbye,” she tells Barbara, and all I can think is “I can’t wait until we do.” I really do not like her one bit. She’s everything that I hate in the portrayal of women in genre stories – scream and yell and cry and be stupidly irrational.

 The vines are alive and grab Susan. Barbara thinks it was her imagination. “It couldn’t move by itself, you know it couldn’t!” And why do we know that Barbara? YOU’RE ON AN ALIEN PLANET, TRAVELING BY TIME MACHINE TO GET THERE AND BY TELEPORTER WRIST DEVICE! Poor writing, perhaps indicative of the time period, rises its ugly head.

 While Ian and the others scout the wall, Barbara leaves Susan to enter a tunnel in. There, she finds a statue with the microkey, but she is grabbed and taken inside. They recover the microkey but the statue, which pivoted to take her in, returns. The group splits up, Ian staying behind to make sure Barbara hasn’t transported on, the others teleporting to the next stop, in case she has.

 As they’re about to leave, Sabethia realises that the 2nd microkey is a fake. Gosh, I figured that out when it was on that statue.

 This really feels like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. (Granted, this show pre-dates the game.) A quest for four keys, splitting the group up, a location full of booby traps (plant and constructed)…

 A door opens while Ian is looking for a crowbar. Barbara walks in, despite everything that’s happened so far every time she’s walked into a trap. HOW FUCKING STUPID.

 d-e-3-o-2 they are given a code by the protector of the key, before he dies. They end up realising it’s a chemical equation, they find the key as the jungle comes to life at darkness, and quickly activate their wrist teleporters, ending up somewhere extremely cold.

E4 “The Snows of Terror”

 They quickly pass out, succumbing to the cold. A man in furs finds them and takes the microkey. We then see Barbara awakening in a cabin; the man tells her she is safe. Ian is still asleep. Ian goes out to find their companions. The furrier makes a pass at Barbara.

 Ian moves about, wolves howl, he finds Altos (the male courier) tied and unconscious in the snow. Barbara is afraid of the wolves, but the wolf she is with might be the more immediate threat (bow chicka bow bow). While cleaning up after dinner, she finds Sabethia’s keys and their wrist teleporters. The trapper tries to… well, presumably rape Barbara, but Ian and Altos return as she’s fighting him off. They force him to take them to the caves where he left Susan and Sabethia.

 The party is reunited, the trapper leaves them trapped in the caves, so they go deeper in. Total D&D-style storyline. They find the key, but must melt it out of a block of ice. The ‘dead warriors’ guarding it come to life and try to kill them. They escape, and the knights follow them back to the trapper’s cabin, where they regain their teleporters and escape; the knights kill the trapper.

 We see Ian in a room, checking on a body, and he is attacked from behind, and framed for the attack. A mystery person steals the key which is in a glass box and an alarm goes off.

E5 “Sentence of Death”

 Ian is interrogated – they believe he hid the key – and he is taken away to be charged with murder. This society’s law is the opposite of ours (or at least how ours is presumed to be) – there, you are guilty until proven innocent, and the burden of proof is on the defense.

 They are reunited with The Doctor, who will defend Ian. Ian is sentenced to death, unless The Doctor can provide proof that he is innocent. The Doctor manages to petition the court for time to prepare his defense, and they grant him two days.

 The Doctor and companions begins to investigate, interrogate and so forth. Though a culprit is found, he is killed before he can answer the many questions, and Ian is found to be guilty. Susan has been kidnapped and is under threat of death if Barbara reveals the location of the key.

E6 “The Keys of Marinus”

 We discover that the widow of Aidan (the co-conspirator who was killed in court) is behind Susan’s disappearance and is part of the conspiracy. Barbara, Altos and Sabethia figure it out just in time to save Susan from being killed by her.

 Finally, all is revelaed, and The Doctor knew it all along (of course.) Meanwhile, Sabethia and Altos have been captured by the Voord. The Doctor and his companions return to the island, find the TARDIS is accessible, but Ian and Barbara are worried they were not greeted by their friends.

 The Doctor seems to have finally learned to trust Ian’s instincts, and they are onto the Voord having the pyramid under their control. Ian, playing along, gives them the fake key. The leader uses it to activate the machine, to disastrous result.

 Goodbyes are said, the lovers Altos and Sabethia are left to start anew, and Ian takes the final true key as a souvenir to give to The Doctor. We see the toy TARDIS disappear from the toy island and final credits roll.

 Not a great serial, not horrible (like Edge of Destruction). Too much like a bad D&D campaign or your typical computer RPG – go here, talk to this person, collect this item, move on. Heavy on plot, light on story. However, it’s important to note the influence this episode had on the series – the wrist-bound transportation, for one, as already mentioned. Another is the keys – the Fourth Doctor had a long story arc – The Key of Time – and I want to say there was a Fifth Doctor storyline of similar concept. What other influences might this serial have had? Time will tell.  

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