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Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation (Story 98, The Key to Time Series Part 1) (Special Edition) (2009)

Tom Baker , Mary Tamm , George Spenton-Foster  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation (Story 98, The Key to Time Series Part 1) (Special Edition) + Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet (Story 99, The Key to Time Series Part 2) (Special Edition) + Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood (Story 100, The Key to Time Series Part 3) (Special Edition)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, John Leeson, Iain Cuthbertson
  • Directors: George Spenton-Foster
  • Writers: Robert Holmes
  • Producers: Graham Williams
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • 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: March 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001K2KMAA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,092 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

Commentary by actors Tom Baker (The Doctor) and Mary Tamm (Romana)
A Matter of Time: A new documentary exploring Graham Williams' three-year tenure as Doctor Who's producer and The Key to Time as a whole, with Tom Baker, Louise Jameson (Leela), Lalla Ward (Princess Astra/Romana), John Leeson (K-9), plus new series writer Gareth Roberts
The Ribos File: Making-of with Nigel Plaskitt (Unstoffe), Paul Seed (The Graff Vynda-K), and Prentis Hancock (Captain)
Season 16 trailer
Photo gallery
Production note option
DVD-ROM PC/MAC feature: Radio Times billings

Editorial Reviews

Having left Leela on Gallifrey, the Doctor and K9 Mark II dont remain footloose for long. The TARDIS is soon intercepted by the White Guardian. The White Guardian sets the Doctor on an urgent mission to locate the six segments of the Key to Time, which are well disguised and hidden in odd corners of time and space. Once assembled, the Key will allow the White Guardian to restore balance to a universe descending into evil and chaos. To assist the Doctor the White Guardian has appointed Romana, fresh out of the Time Lord Academy and none too well traveled. Despite an initial bout of “negative empathy,” the Doctor and Romana trace the first segments signal to Ribos, a remote, backward planet that suffers from 32-year winters. There they are surprised to meet other interplanetary travelers, who include two conmen, Garron and Unstoffe, and the Graff Vynda-K, a warlord in the market for an inexpensive planet.

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary
DVD ROM Features
Photo gallery
Production Notes

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Is there no one you can trust these days?" October 14, 2002
THE RIBOS OPERATION is a severely underrated classic that sometimes gets forgotten about in the Key To Time season. The script is quite good and shows Robert Holmes at the height of his dialog-writing powers. It doesn't get all of the credit that it deserves, and this is a pity, because almost every aspect of the production is excellent, from the script to the acting to much of the incidental music to the set design. There is almost nothing here to distract from what is extremely fun and witty adventure.
The atmosphere is superb. The sets and, in particular, the costumes are exceptionally well done, especially when one considers the budget they were working with here. Possibly a lot of it was taken from stock and then given superficial modifications, but this really adds to the script's medieval and Russian flavors. It feels old-fashioned, and the few futuristic elements slide right alongside the historical pieces. The aliens are planet-hopping aristocrats with lasers, wrist-communicators and space-drives, but they trade in gold, and are concerned with half-brothers on thrones. The soldiers in the story more resemble knights in armor than science-fiction stormtroopers. The modern and the tradition merge extremely well and the two parts complement are a great complement to each other.
Science vs. magic/superstition is another theme that rears its head in this serial. Unlike other stories (say, THE DAEMONS), this story puts both of those subjects on the same level. The magic isn't just given a technobabble explanation; it actually appears to work in the confines of the story. The Seeker makes predictions that prove correct, has second sight, and uses magical incantations, while the story gives every indication that she genuinely does possess unearthly powers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I can't figure out the plot, and I was in it!" December 6, 2002
"Doctor Who" US DVD releases have been sporadic to date, averaging about two every four months. That's why the recent "Key to Time" season box set, encompassing six full episodes, is such a pleasant surprise. The first disc, "The Ribos Operation", is a story I didn't have much time for when I was younger, so I was quite pleased to learn that, not only is the DVD presentation remarkably good, but the story has improved with age, too.
"Ribos" is a light-hearted story, once the introduction to the season-linking Key to Time concept is rapidly explained (and set aside). Boisterous con-man (played to operatic high comedy by Iain Cuthbertson) attempt to swindle deposed Emperor, The Graff Vynda-K, by selling him a primitive ice planet suggestive of Czarist Russia. This went well and truly over my head when I was 12, and you wouldn't think Paul Seed's Shakespearian reading of a forged real estate contract would ever interest anyone, but it's quite captivating now. How many other DVDs do you own which contain the word "suzerainty"?
But, more seriously, it's a Robert Holmes script, and Holmes' DW stories always stood out for their attention to detail. Ribos may be populated by just three British character actors, but so much of the planet's culture is explained in 90 minutes that it's surprising DW never went back there again. I like the fact that the story devotes quite a bit of time to "Binro the Heretic", the discredited astronomer who's banished for proving the world is round, but at the same time the local witch is shown to be not a fraud, but rather 100% accurate.
The DVD includes, as always, text and audio commentary tracks. The pop-up production notes are written by a new researcher, and are much more enlightening here than many of the previous releases.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh arr...that be what we call scringe-stone.. October 27, 2002
Along with Stones of Blood, Ribos Operation is the best from the Key to Time Season/series. An all-round enjoyable story with a constantly shouting bad guy, two unorthodox con-men who adopt strange northern accents, and the good Doctor and his new companion Romana.
Although the story is not especially original, the script is fairly tight, and everything seems to work. Perhaps by the fourth episode it seems slightly padded, but there's always enough going on to keep you interested.
Most valuable player in this story must go jointly to the two conmen, who are of the old-school, honorable type. In other words, they'll switch the precious stone from the doctor for a piece of rock, but when he switches it back and they find out, they are appalled!!
It's good fun.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The key to time is a great season opener, like this one! September 4, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
The entire of Season 15 dwelt around the Key Of Time. Of the six stories (26 episodes) comprising this conceptual season, "The Ribos Operation" is the best of the sextet.
The White Guardian of Space and Time gives the Doctor a mission to recover the six segments of the Key To Time, a powerful device which in the hands of the user, allows them to let time stand still. The White Guardian wants it to restore the balance in the universe, while his opposite number, the Black Guardian wants it to spread chaos and disorder. To this end, the Doctor is given a tracer which when inserted in the TARDIS, takes it to where a segment is located, and much to his chagrin, a new assistant, one of his own kind, to be exact. Her name is Romanadvoratrelundar.
Meanwhile, Garron and Unstoffe, two conmen, have landed on the planet Ribos, where by planting a lump of jethryk, an extremely rare and blue mineral that could power an entire starfleet, they intend to con the Graff Vynda-K, a deposed tyrant, into thinking the planet has the valuable mineral, and sell him a planet they don't own(!!) It's the old lost gold mine or tract of land with oil trick done on a much larger scale. The Doctor and Romana also arrive at Ribos, because the tracer has located the Key's first segment there.
Garron and his sidekick Unstoffe have the best scenes and rapport in this story. Unstoffe, disguised as a Shrieve, tells the Graff and his right-hand man Sholakh in a thick North England accent, complete with "Oh arr" ("yes"), "that be what we call scringe-stone... You hangs a bit o' that around your neck and you won't never suffer from the scringes no matter how cold it be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeking the Best of Early Dr. Who
THE RIBOS OPERATION is a true gem. I had originally bought the older DVD boxed set of THE KEY TO TIME, but having recently replaced ROBOT PLANET with one of these newer... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tinfoot
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD extras are great!
I'm 50 and have been watching The Doctot since 1979. The Key To Time, is one of my favorites and the first story, sets the other 5 up perfectly! Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Peter Luce
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ribos Operation
I gave this as a gift for my son who watched Dr. Who when he was a young boy. He loved the quality of the dvd. He was very happy with this dvd.
Published 8 months ago by Lois Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ribos Operation (98) - Key To Time Part 1
This story is one of my FAVORITES of the Doctor Who Stories.
Well, I should just stop saying that -- They ALL are my Favorites! Read more
Published on December 16, 2011 by Granny ;-D
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten gem
This would be a sure contendor for my favourite Tom Baker story. What's that you say? How could it beat Pyramids of Mars, City of Death, Talons of Weng Chiang, Ark in Space...? Read more
Published on June 23, 2008 by The Cougar
5.0 out of 5 stars "Have you ever looked up at the sky at night and seen those little...
With the "Ribos Operation" begins the sixteenth season of "Doctor Who"--long past when most shows would've folded altogether or else become stale and tired. Read more
Published on April 27, 2007 by Crazy Fox
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff
My wife, kids and I have been avidly watching the Eccleston/Tennant Doctor Who episodes on DVD. They know nothing about the show's previous incarnations, but as I spent every... Read more
Published on December 6, 2006 by Bog Trotter
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow beginning to the Key To Time
The Ribos Operation (DVD) has a good beginning, but when the Doc, Romana, and K9 land on the frigid planet in search of The Key the plot slows down. Read more
Published on January 18, 2005 by T. J. Perhai
1.0 out of 5 stars Tom Baker, you've done it again!
Saw this many times growing up, but could not tell you the plot for the simple reason that I could NOT keep my eyes on the screen at all for any length of time. Read more
Published on May 25, 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest
This is a must not just for Doctor Who fans but for science fiction fans everywhere!
Published on October 8, 2002
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