Doctor Who – The Key to Time

by Alan Rapp on September 1, 2013

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Doctor Who – The Key to Time
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Doctor Who - The Key to TimeIn honor of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who we continue to look back at some old episodes of the series. While preparing a vacation for himself and K-9, The Doctor (Tom Baker) is approached by the White Guardian (Cyril Luckham), the physical representation of order in the universe, who requests the Time Lord’s help in recovering the six pieces of the Key to Time (a cube that maintains the equilibrium of time itself). Split into six segments and hidden around the universe, the Guardian tasks The Doctor with recovering each piece of the cube while warning to watch out for the Black Guardian who wants the cube for his own nefarious purposes.

To assist The Doctor in his quest the White Guardian gives The Time Lord a device to track the location of each segment as well as the arrogant Romana (Mary Tamm), a capbable but inexperienced Time Lord. Over six separate serials the two Time Lords and K-9 search for each disguised piece of the fractured Key to Time.

First the group travels to the medeival planet of Ribos where a pair of con artists (Iain CuthbertsonNigel Plaskitt) are unsuspectingly using the piece (disguised as a valuable mineral) in their latest con. Next The Doctor and Romana head to the planet of Calufrax which they discover has been destroyed by a deranged space pirate (Bruce Purchase) whose giant ship engulfs planets and strips them of their natural resources. Penned by Douglas Adams, “The Pirate Planet” is the best of serial of the group and is still a fan favorite.

After successfully finding the first two pieces The Doctor and Romana continue their journey to present day Earth where they must battle a Druid goddess (Susan Engel) and her stone creations to earn the next piece before heading to the planet Tara where they navigate the political intrigue, Romana’s eerily similar appearance to a princess, and android doubles to make it out with the fourth piece of the Key to Time. Romana’s resemeblance to the princess is a coincidence the serial never quite sells, but it still works better than the cheap stone monsters from the third serial.

Doctor Who - The Key to Time

To retrieve the final two pieces The TARDIS travels to the swamp moon of Delta Magna, where locals worship a giant squid monster who has been enhanced due to its exposure with one of the pieces to the Key to Time, and then The Doctor and Romana find themselves in the middle of a war between twin planets Atrios and Zeos where the final piece is disguised as a living human being (Lalla Ward). Aside from the twist of the final piece the last serial of The Key to Time also allows The Doctor who deduce and defeat The Black Guardian whom he has been unwittingly helping all this time.

With six separate serials the Key to Time delivers plenty of my favorite companion K-9,  a new companion in the first Romana (whose stay is far too short) as well as the introduction of Lalla Ward whose form Romana would adopt at the beginning of the next season for her next regeneration (an intriguing idea which suggest Time Lords have far more control over who and what they will look like following a regeneration than has ever been expressed before or since).

Doctor Who - The Key to Time

The recovered Key to Time also brings out the truth of the Black Guardian who will continue to plague The Doctor throughout both Tom Baker and Peter Davison‘s run even going so far as to put a potential assassin aboard the TARDIS in the form of Turlough (Mark Strickson).

The seven-disc Special Collector’s Edition includes all six episodes (“The Ribos Operation,” “The Pirate Planet,” “The Stones of Blood,” “The Androids of Tara,” “The Power of Kroll,” “The Armageddon Factor“), commentary for each episode, photo galleries, alternate and extended scenes, interviews with cast and crew, and featurettes and retrospectives on each of the episodes.

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