Friday, 17 October 2014

021 The Keys of Marinus Episode 1: The Sea of Death

EPISODE: The Keys of Marinus Episode 1: The Sea of Death
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 April 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: John Gorrie
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: DVD: Doctor Who - The Keys Of Marinus

"If you help me find the keys of Marinus, I will let you have access to your machine when you have delivered all the keys to me. If not, you will stay on the island without food or water. The choice is yours!"

On an island, surrounded by sea, stands a pyramid.

We're halfway through Doctor Who Season 1! This is episode 21 of 42!

We're also back on DVD so we have visuals again. There's a distinct break between this story and the last, with no reprise of action form the previous story. Oooh, Terry Nation (write of the Daleks) is back writing this one!
The Tardis lands on the sea shore.
That's the first time we see the Tardis materialise from the outside!
Ian thinks he can see something moving, as some odd one man submarines land nearby. One of them moves sluggishly behind the others and lands further down the beach closer to to the Tardis. Susan is fascinated by stillness of the water.
"Is it frozen?"
"No,impossible in this temperature. Besides it's too warm."
An odd figure in a black body/wet suit watches the party from the Tardis. The shore is glass, not sand on this odd world. Susan wants to go paddling in a rock pool but Barbara knocks her shoe in and it dissolves revealing that the liquid from the sea is acid! The black clad figure examines the Tardis. The Doctor finds the submarines.
Goodness Billy is fluffing like a good un this episode!
Susan finds webbed footprints, and as she leaves the figure is revealed. The others find a damaged craft beached by the acid with another black suit in there. They prod at the suit.

I remember that picture from an old Doctor Who weekly Crazy Caption competition!

They make for the Pyramid structure, Susan is already there exploring but observed by one of the dark clad beings. He draws a knife to threaten her but is dragged through a concealed door.

Look closely as the door opens - you can very briefly see one of the effects crew operating it!

The odd shape buttresses supporting the structure have a very similar shape to the Dalek city corridors a few stories back.

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That's possibly not so surprising as this is a second Doctor who story for the designer on the Daleks: Ray Cusick.

Barbara mentions the building techniques as being similar to those used by the Indians of central and southern America: a little foreshadowing of setting for the next tale, The Aztecs, perhaps just as the French Revolution book in the opening episode of An Unearthly Child looks towards the last story this season.

Susan is pulled through a door and screams alerting the others. The Doctor likewise vanishes. Susan walks along a corridor, sees a white robed figure but is then attacked by one of the black clad strangers who falls dead with a knife in it's back. Ian vanishes and then finally Barbara falls through the doors. Ian finds the body while Barbara is reunited with Susan & the Doctor. The white robed figure wrestles with another black suited attacker but is saved by Ian who pushes him down a shaft into some acid. The man thanks Ian and tells him the attackers are the Voord who have returned to attack where he lives after many years away and releases the others. The man takes them to The Conscience of Marinus, a huge crystal machine.
Ooooo, that's a Lovely set!

The Conscience of Marinus which has been used to influence the inhabitants and eliminate evil & violence on Marinus, the planet they are on. To protect the machine from Yartek, the Voord leader who wishes to use it for evil, Four of the Five keys to the machine have been scattered and hidden. Yartek has developed technology to protect the Voord from the machine's influence. Now the keys are needed to use the machine which has been modified to overcome the Voord's protection. All of the man's followers, including his daughter, have vanished trying to find the keys. He wants the Doctor and his friends to find the keys. They refuse and leave but find a force barrier round the TARDIS, which has been erected by Arbitan, the robed man in the citadel
Ian calls his name but I swear we've not heard it before! I've checked the transcript at and that would seem to be the case!

Arbitan is played by actor George Coulouris. It's his one and only Doctor Who appearance in a long TV and film career that included two of the Pathfinders serials.

Arbitan forces them to help him. The Doctor describes the situation as outrageous. He refuses to travel in the subs but Arbitan says he has a better mode of transport in mind and passes them all a bracelet that will move them through Space (but not time unlike the Tardis) at the twist of the dial.
Oooh, do I see Blake's Seven's teleport bracelets 14 years too early? Terry Nation, as we shall see, was always good at recycling ideas.
Arbitan urges them to destroy the keys if they find the Voord have taking the building on their return. The travellers vanish and Arbitan is promptly slain by a Voord. Ian, Susan and the Doctor materialise and find Barbara's travel dial with blood on it.

That was a cracking episode! Up until the point the explanations start that's probably the best the series has been so far. A real sense of mystery and menace to their surroundings. Loved it. It sets the series up nicely and forces the travellers involvement in the story by separating them from the Tardis and this time there's no Tardis malfunction involved. Essentially Arbitan is blackmailing them to force their co-operation! It's only by completing his quest will they regain their ship and that in turn gives structure to the rest of the story.

There are three actors used for Voord in this episode: Gordon Wales, who we won't see again, and Martin Cort & Peter Stenson , who we will. Cort is in episode 3 The Screaming Jungle as a Warrior while Stenson is in episode 4 The Snows of Terror as an Ice Solider. Both are in episode 5 Sentence of Death as Aydan and the Second Judge respectively before both reprise their Voord roles in episode 6 The Keys of Marinus. They aren't the only actors in this serial to play multiple roles either! Cort returns to Doctor Who as Locke in the first two episode of The Seeds Of Death. Cort and Stenson, having met on this serial, remain friends to this day and are interviewed together on Toby Hadoke's Who's Round episode 11 where Peter Stenson reveals himself to be the Voord that trips over in the episode while Cort reveals why he doesn't appear in episode 4 as an Ice Soldier as planned! You can see both interviewed on the "I Was A Doctor Who Monster" video tape.

First and only time Doctor Who producer John Gorrie is also Toby Hadoke's Who's Round episode 11 and speaks of his reluctance to direct for the show! Soon after Marinus he moves from the Series & Serials department to plays and doesn't get the chance to direct for the series again.

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