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Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus (Story 5)

4.3 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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(Jan 05, 2010)
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Product Description

Doctor Who: Keys of Marinus, The

On a remote island of glass surrounded by a sea of acid, there is a machine that can remove evil from the minds of an entire population – the Conscience of Marinus. Fearful of its immense power falling into thewrong hands, its sole guardian has scattered the machine's operating keys across the planet. The TARDIS crew arrives to find the island underattack by the evil Voord. Marinus' last line of defense – and its only hope – is the Conscience machine. The Doctor and his companions must undertake a deadly quest to recover the keys of Marinus.



For all the Whos in Whoville (sorry, wrong Doctor), this vintage Doctor Who adventure from the venerable British series' inaugural season is a must-own collectible. For the uninitiated, Doctor Who is television's longest-running science fiction series and it has gained a cult following that rivals those of Star Trek and Star Wars. Dr. Who, portrayed here in his first incarnation by William Hartnell, is a Time Lord who travels the cosmos in a spacecraft called the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), whose exterior looks like a police call box.

Originally broadcast in 1964, The Keys of Marinus is a six-episode arc that features the doctor's original traveling companions, science teacher Ian Chesterton, history teacher Barbara Wright, and the doctor's granddaughter, Susan, who is given to screaming at the first sign of peril. Hartnell's doctor is a sprightly curmudgeon who relishes adventure and mystery, which he finds after the group lands on Marinus, an island of glass surrounded by a sea of acid. Doctor and company are compelled to retrieve four microcircuits that are the keys to the Conscience of Marinus, a computer that has eliminated evil from the minds of men (except apparently the evil Yartek and his web-suited Voords, who want to seize the machine). Their quest takes them most memorably to "a planet of the most contented people" (beware the brainwashing powers of the "mesmerent"), another world overrun by plants, and finally a city where Chesterton, framed for murder, is considered guilty until proven innocent--by the doctor, of course. As is characteristic of this series, the special effects are a hokey hoot and the actors sometimes step on each others' lines. Hartnell vacationed during production and is absent for two episodes. But this is a surprisingly prophetic cautionary tale: it may be good to heed the doctor's prescient observation that "man was not made to be controlled by machines." If you have yet to make an appointment with the doctor, perhaps the episodes featuring Tom Baker--the fourth and most popular of the doctors--are a more accessible introduction. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

Commentary by actors William Russell and Carole Ann Ford, director John Gorrie, and designer Raymond Cusic, moderated by Clayton Hickman
The Sets of Marinus: Interview with designer Raymond Cusic
Photo gallery
PDF material (DVD-ROM, PC/Mac): Radio Times listings, Cadet Sweets: Doctor Who and the Daleks (scans of the entire set of the Cadet Sweet cards, which features a mini Doctor Who story involving the Daleks and the Voord
Production note subtitles

Product Details

  • Actors: William Hartnell, Jacqueline Hill, William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, George Colouris
  • Directors: John Gorrie
  • Writers: Terry Nation
  • Producers: Verity Lambert
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Subtitled, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • 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: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 5, 2010
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002PHVHK8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,240 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 21, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
When I watched the first episode, I couldn't stop laughing at the low production values. But after that, it became an excellent story. I enjoyed, partly for the thrilling story, and partly for how it shone the spotlight on Ian and Barbara, and they did well. The cliffhangers had be wondering what would happen next. I was also amazed at the suprisingly adult scene when the trapper Vasor tried to rape Barbara during Episode 4. This story had you in it, whether it was Ian and Barbara strggling to find the key before they are killed by the living jungle, or when their rope bridge breaks and they are trapped on a ledge with some unthawing monsters. The best story in the Hartnell era
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"The Keys of Marinus" is on paper a sweeping outer-space epic. The TARDIS crew is solicited by a man named Arbitan -- the keeper of the Conscience of Marinus, a robed figure living in a pyramid on a deserted island surrounded by a sea of acid. Arbitan's played by George Colouris, who was part of Orson Welles' repertory and who had a role in Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition). So in the first part of this six-part story, the principal guest actor brings great gravitas to proceedings.

Then our heroes are sent across the planet in search of the hidden micro-keys that will reactivate the Conscience machine and set Marinus to rights. They travel to such terrifying locations as the Screaming Jungle and the Snows of Terror. They're imprisoned in a Velvet Web, and then later, in a fine "Perry Mason" pastiche, Ian is framed for murder and it's up to the Doctor to act as his defense counsel. This reads great on paper, as the novelization (Doctor Who and the Keys of Marinus) demonstrates.

So, how could this story go wrong? Well, a low budget, for one. The DVD release of "Marinus" looks fabulous -- the original videotapes for this story have long since been destroyed, but the existing kinescope transfers have been restored to a pristine VT look. Unfortunately, that process doesn't serve the story well -- with "Marinus" already well known for tons of technical errors, it's hard to look at this DVD for 45 seconds without spotting a stray stagehand or a roaming boom shadow or a wobbly set.

The writing isn't great, either.
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Format: DVD
This is a story from the very first season of Doctor Who. Unless you are a huge fan of the first doctor, a completist, or someone interested in set design on a shoestring budget I would give this one a pass. If your local PBS station didn't show the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton stories, and you would like to see this story, I recommend you rent or borrow this DVD.

The basic story has the Doctor and his companions, Susan, Ian and Barbara, land on the planet Marinus. They land on an island in the middle of a sea of acid and meet Arbitan, who is the Keeper of the Conscience of Marinus. Arbitan needs to reset the conscience of Marinus and requires 4 keys to work the machine. He prevents the travelers from entering the TARDIS and forces them to collect the keys which Arbitan has hidden across the planet. The TARDIS crew encounter many interesting people, situations and creatures on their travels across the planet to collect these keys.

The story sounds interesting. It was written by Terry Nation. There are some lovely performances by the regulars and a few of the guest actors. There were some very interesting bits such as the Morphoton from the second episode, the living jungle, the interesting justice system in the final segments, etc. However, these very interesting snippets never really gel into a cohesive story, and seem more like a series of vignettes.

There are some very nice things in this story: 1) It is delightful to see George Colouris in Doctor Who. 2) The Morphoton from episode 2 are quite interesting and would have made a great villain on their own. 3) Ian and Barbara are given very good roles and are equal to the Doctor in trying to work out the puzzles that confront them.
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Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus after watching The Beginning is a breath of air. It's the next complete story on DVD following The Beginning and sees The Doctor and his companions continuing their adventure across space and time in the TARDIS. They land on a small island made of sand and glass and get ensnared into an adventure against their will on a planet whose thoughts and emotions are being controlled by a machine

Why I like it: The Doctor seems a bit closer to becoming something recognizable as the Doctor. Ian is still pretty much the main character and The Doctor the one who jumps in at the last minute with the plan to fix everything. The story here is also more engaging than the ones previous.

The Nitpicky: There's a scene where Ian is struck in the back of the head rendering him unconscious...except that he's actually kind grazed in the back. It's more amusing than anything else. The other thing is for two whole episodes Hartnell is MIA. This is evidently because he was scheduled to go on vacation. The show doesn't necessarily suffer either.

Who should buy it: As with The Beginning: fans who grew up with the classic series or new fans wanting to dive into the classic series. It's not a bad outing in the Hartnell era so if you've dabbled with the classic series and you're looking for a story arc of Hartnell's to experience his Doctor this might be a good place to start. If you're just toying with the idea of watching the classic series you may want to start somewhere else though.

I haven't had a chance to look over the extras. When I do I'll update!
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closed captioned
All Doctor Who dvds have English subtitles, but not closed captions.
Mar 5, 2013 by Derek Donnell |  See all 2 posts
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Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus (Story 5)
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