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Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor (Story 103) (The Key to Time Series, Part 6)

4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The search for the Sixth (and last) Segment of the Key to Time bring the Doctor, Romana and K9 to the planet Atrios, where they encounter a pesky interplanetary war and Princess Astra, who is linked to the sixth segment in some mysterious way.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary
Biographies
Photo gallery
Production Notes


Special Features

  • Pop-up production notes
  • Photo gallery
  • Who's who

Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, John Leeson, Ian Liston, Susan Skipper
  • Directors: Michael Hayes
  • Writers: Bob Baker, Dave Martin
  • Producers: Graham Williams
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: BBC Video / Warner Bros.
  • DVD Release Date: October 1, 2002
  • Run Time: 148 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067FPK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,617 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor (Story 103) (The Key to Time Series, Part 6)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
In their search to the final segment to the Key To Time, the Doctor and Romana land on war-torn Atrios, which has been fighting a war of attrition against its twin Zeos. As there's variable radiation counts even 140 meters beneath the surface, one can imagine what it's like on the surface. The Doctor jokingly says of the high radiation reading that it might not necessarily be nuclear war, that someone might be holding a huge breakfast party.
Things begin bad, as usual. The Marshall, the military leader conducting the war, mistakes the Doctor and Romana as Zeon spies, yet he does a volte-face and welcomes the Doctor as "the one to head us to victory." However, he's not all he seems. One, he makes his decisions by meditating and mumbling in front of a black reflective surface. Two, he has a tiny black object around his neck. Three, he and Princess Astra, a figurehead in charge of people's morale and comfort, are at odds what with her pacifist stance.
Astra and her lover, the surgeon Merak, are trying to contact Zeos to try to negotiate a peace, but something is jamming their communications. The same jamming that is blocking the navigation system of the Marshall's fleet, perhaps? First Astra, then the TARDIS, and then the Doctor vanishes, kidnapped by sinister masked figures in black robes. On Zeos, he meets his nemesis the Shadow, who's working for the Black Guardian in the same way the Doctor's working for the White Guardian.
The Doctor's condemnation of a war fought by machines is given when he describes the commandant of the Zeon side as a "passionless lump of mineral and circuitry, highly efficient, doing very well, giving Atrios a beating, killing millions without a flicker, just doing it's job, and it's totally invincible.
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Format: DVD
"The Armageddon Factor" is a mostly funny representative of "Doctor Who"s late-1970s over-the-top years. It's the final episode of "Who"'s first experiment with what's now known as the "season-long story arc" -- the search for the Key to Time -- and shows the Doctor and Romana's completion of their task, and final confrontation with the Black Guardian, who it turns out has been opposing their move at every step. It comes from a time when Tom Baker, the Doctor, was reportedly hijacking the show with wacky ideas and random ad-libs.
The episode is pretty funny, if also silly. The plot is a little reminiscent of something you might find in a Douglas Adams' book, with two neighboring planets (the alphabetically opposed Atrios and Zeos) at war, only neither side has ever seen the other... and it turns out that nobody lives on Zeos, anyway. And then you find out that Douglas Adams actually worked on the story, so everything comes full circle.
The DVD was released in North America only, and lacks a lot of the special features you'd find on other "Who" DVDs released worlwide. Other discs in the "Key to Time" box set have a more impressive set of features, but "Armageddon Factor" is basically bare bones. The text commentary is more useful than usual, providing the original story breakdown by episode writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin. It's fun to see how the story was improved by the producers and script editors, although I like the notion that the 6th segment of the Key To Time was the shadow... of a character called The Shadow. Less useful is how the text spends minutes at a time listing the UK film and TV credits of all the guest actors. This is a North America-only release, remember?
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Format: DVD
The tug of war that goes on between the two warring planets of Zeos and Atrios is just the backdrop for an intriguing end to the Key to Time landmark episodes. For the first time, the Doctor Who series carries a single mission throughout six distinct stories. The brilliant end to the series forces the Doctor to choose between the life of Princess Astra and time itself. This moral dilema is best outlined in the famed mantra of Spock in Star Trek II, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one." The subplot of the Doctor reunited with his old college chum is hilarious. The Troy-like ending with a brainwashed K-9 playing the trojan horse makes the ending even more fun. The tongue in cheek soap opera is quite humorous from the opening scene to the end. A lot of criticism is pointed at this show due to the rash ending, but hey, you cannot have the light without the dark! Oddly enough, the actress playing Princess Astra returns the following season as a regenerated Romanavoratrelunder.
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Format: VHS Tape
The Doctor, Romana and K-9 land on Atrios, where a massive nuclear war in progress. But they must hurry in trying to find the sixth and final segment of time, because the evil Shadow is interrested in obtaining it for his Guardian. "The Armageddon Factor" should have been a lot better. It's tedious, padded, and very cheap looking at times. The costume designer must have had something else on his mind when he designed both the Shadow's and Mutes costumes and masks, as they are just pathetic. One confusing point: The Shadow's lair, the mysterious Planet of Evil, is obviously a space station, why then are the interriors of this "space station" designed as if he lived in a cave?! But, on the lighter side of this review, there are some great one liners. Both Shapp and Drax provide some needed laughs. Romanna is sexy as ever. At times, "The Armageddon Factor" is quite enjoyable, but it should have been so much better.
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