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Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus (Story 5)

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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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 (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002PHVHK8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,535 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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Doctor and friends land on a small planet, on an island surrounded by a sea of acid. They meet some interesting villains and make some new friends, and they have a number of adventures trying to hunt down "the Keys of Marinus" which are circuit boards to operate a mind-control machine at the center of the island's pyramid. Their adventures take them through a land of illusions, a jungle where the plants are out of control, a snowy mountainside laced with a network of caves, and a great city. There is even a courtroom episode where Ian is on trial for murder; only the Doctor can defend him, and only Barbara and Susan can piece together the mystery and catch the real culprit.

This is a single story-line containing six individual episodes from the first season of the Doctor Who program, starring William Hartnell. Still several years before BBC went to color, so it is in black and white. This show is so old that the credits still list the character's name as "Doctor Who" rather than simply "The Doctor." If you look closely, there are a few places where the original footage had to be "repaired" by splicing in footage from other places, but if you aren't looking for it you won't even notice it. For being so old and having survived the BBC's notorious process of erasing original material, the quality is pretty good. (The special effects are not... because at this point the show's budget was still less than my weekly salary.) This is also the first episode that actually shows the TARDIS materializing; prior to this all of the arrival scenes were shot from inside the TARDIS.
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By sharona on July 10, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
i think this has to be my favorite william hartnell doctor who episode,i have watched it at least 10 times since winter of 2013,if you like any of the original doctor who episodes you will want this one,i am a big fan of the original but i do not like the new stuff,not the same
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This is a different style of adventure for the Doctor in this story. He and the Companions have to complete a deadly quest to save the planet Marinus. This story is basically a bunch of stand alone mini-adventures that each get a piece of the key which is needed to activate the "Conscience of Marinus".

The later "Key to Time" story line with Tom Baker from 1978-79 is the same style of quest plot although that is stretched out per story over the entire season rather than the more compact per episode as done with William Hartnell in 1964.

The Doctor is absent from episodes 3 & 4 due to Hartnell taking a vacation. This in part weakened the story for episodes 3 & 4 and in addition, Carole Ann Ford probably did one of her worst performances as Susan in this adventure which also helps knock down my rating of this story. I enjoyed the quest theme immensely however so I will give this story a 4 star rating even though it probably deserves a 3 star rating.
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