Doctor Who — The Keys of Marinus


Season 1 – Episode 5 – (1964)
Doctor: 1 – William Hartnell
Companions: Susan, Ian, Barbara

Classic, and by classic I mean very classic (only the first couple of series), Doctor Who followed a formula for education. First you would have a historical serial for a few weeks – in order to teach children about history. Next you would see a sci-fi serial and this was used to teach children about science. It’s not a coincidence that Ian and Barbara are science and history teachers.

Keys of Marinus is set on a completely different world. The group land on a beach made of glass and, thanks to a fortunate accident, they discover the sea is sulfuric acid. It seems better to explore the monolithic pyramid at the center of the island. Meanwhile they are pursued by the scuba suit monsters! These are the Voord.

They make it into the pyramid followed by the creatures who are trying to invade. One of the Voord attacks a cloaked figure but he rescued by a timely Ian. He pulls a leaver and a trap door opens. The Voord (now played by a paper cutout) falls to its death screaming. The premise is this: there was once a computer aiming to purge thoughts of criminal behaviour from peoples minds. The Voord are a resistance movement. The scuba suits are actually scuba suits! – This is not how they look. The Voord set out to gain and manipulate the machine and so five keys (that make the computer work) were scattered across the planet in the hopes of preventing this. The time has come for the keys to be reunited – and the cloaked figure won’t allow the TARDIS to be accessed until our crew have retrieved the keys, with the help of teleportation bracelets.

Destination one features the group arriving in a paradise with every whim catered for. It’s an illusion and thanks to breaking the hypnotism by a badly placed mind control device, Barbara realises the place is sinister and an illusion. The hypnotised servants try to catch her, as do the remaining crew (also hypnotised). Thankfully Barbara kills the creatures that are responsible. They only feature for one episode so you should enjoy the picture of them:


After this Ian and Barbara (everyone splits up) visit a jungle where the plants come to life and attack the place that the key is located. After a bunch of convoluted traps and the death of an old man who dies of causes: 1) strangulation by angry plant, 2) melancholic overacting, and 3) plot convenience, they find the key and proceed onwards.

They then teleport to an icy realm where they are rescued by the episode’s soon-to-be villain. He has kidnapped those who went on ahead, which is Susan and a couple of others who are also on the same mission. Our villian, Vasos, does portray quite the sinister figure actually. It’s a relief when they escape by means of the bracelets, once they are all together.

It all get’s a bit convoluted from here. Ian is framed for a murder in a city known as Millennius (residents: The Millennials *cough snicker*). The laws state innocent until proven guilty and so it’s up to someone to help out. The Doctor! Missing for two episodes of the story and now here to be very doctor-ish… down to entering with such timing that you believe that he’s been stood outside a door, waiting for his name to be mentioned.

It’s Scooby Doo for a time and you even get lines like:
“Because we know where X is hidden!”
“But you couldn’t know because I…”
Then by some bait and switch he is caught:
“But you can’t have found it, I…”

Susan is kidnapped (of course), while Ian remains on trial as an accomplice. More sneaking around and eventually the truth wins. It’s back to the computer but our cloaked benevolent figure has been killed and the Voord are waiting. Thankfully, Ian isn’t fooled by a man in a scuba suit in a cloak. He slips them a fake key and this causes the machine to explode. So quite a few are dead but free will is saved and it’s once again off.

It’s not a bad plot but it’s a bit slow going as we continue. The middle parts drag but setup and payoff are fairly well paced! A nice enough story and a fine one to check out. It features a bit of everyone being in good form.

Favourite Quotes:

  • Barbara [Of the sea]: Is it frozen?
    The Doctor: No, impossible at this temperature. Besides, it’s too warm


7/10 – Quite like it but it’s incredibly cobbled together.

Next time: Back to earth again but back in the time of the Aztecs. Are sacrifice, ceremonies and superstition really that bad? After all, Barbara is a queen here…

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