Friday, 17 October 2014

022 The Keys of Marinus Episode 2: The Velvet Web

EPISODE: The Keys of Marinus Episode 2: The Velvet Web
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 April 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: John Gorrie
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 9.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: DVD: Doctor Who - The Keys Of Marinus

"Take them to their laboratory. In four hours we will give them the final exposure to the mesmerant. They will be completely subjugated."

From the title, I'm expecting Spiders. Do I get them?

The travellers, looking for Barbara, open the doors behind them and, after seeing a pulsating light and hearing a matching noise, find themselves in a Roman like palatial setting. Ian is hesitant to eat, they find themselves the guests of the contented city of Morphoton. As they sleep a woman places a disk on their foreheads. Barbara awakes to the flashing light, and falls into a very deep sleep from which she is slow to wake. Barbara awakes and sees a very different room: all run down. Her drinking glass is a dirty mug and Susan's new dress is dirty rags. Their host, Altos offers to help Barbara but she runs off and hides. Altos reports to his masters - disembodied brains, with eyes on stalks, held in jars. The TARDIS crew are being exposed to the mesmertron but Barbara has seen the truth and must be destroyed. Barbara finds the serving woman who is to be punished for not placing the discs properly. The Doctor is taken to a room he believes is an advanced laboratory but we see is an empty room. The serving girl has something on a chain round her neck that Barbara recognises. She asks her if she knows Arbitan: she is Sabitha, Arbitan's missing daughter. Barbara finds Ian, but he is under the brains control. They need the humans as slaves. Their eyes recoil as Barbara smashes their machinery and the jars freeing everyone in the city from their control. Altos too is one of Arbitan's servants: he will travel with the Doctor. Sabitha has the first key round her neck. The Doctor will travel on in search of Altos' friend who was looking for the fourth key. Susan teleports ahead and finds herself in a woodland setting filled with odd screaming noises.

No Spiders then. But what a cracking episode! Decent plot. The Morphotron Brains were a great effect, we didn't see enough of them especially from the front. The way that they pulsed in time to a heart beat was really creepy! There's some colour photos on the DVD photo gallery and in colour they look jaw dropingly great.


In fact there's colour shots of the whole episode and it really looks superb.

Another decent effect is the use of the set in pristine and decayed condition as it cuts from the point of view of everyone looking at Barbara to her looking back at them - note the tattered remains in Susan's hands that she thinks is a beautiful new dress:

vlcsnap-2014-02-24-11h38m46s143 vlcsnap-2014-02-24-11h39m18s205

You can see a bit clearer the difference in a pair of longer shots:

vlcsnap-2014-02-24-11h37m21s68 vlcsnap-2014-02-24-11h37m06s123

This episode introduces the two main guest characters for the series: Sabitha is played by Katherine Schofield. She later appeared in another Verity Lambert production, The Naked Civil Servant, as Mrs Pole. Her friend Altos is played by Robin Philips. The Voice of Morpho is provided by Heron Karvic who'd worked in film and TV since the thirties. This is his final credited appearance.

Hmmmm. I've really enjoyed both of these episodes, and that doesn't match my recollections of the story. Does it make that much difference watching one episode at a time or are there some dodgy episodes to come?

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