Classic Doctor Who: Hunting for the Keys of Marinus, Part 1

Classic Doctor Who (Classic Who episode list here; previous entry here.)

Season 1, Episode 5

The Plot Coupons Keys of Marinus, Part 1 (Here’s Part 2)


I don’t think I know anything about this one going in.


The crew left in a hurry from the Marco Polo adventure, but we start here with a shot of a very still and silent body of water, with an island.

The episode title is The Sea of Death, so probably the water is toxic or something. Or filled with creatures that want to eat us. Or both! Why not?

Barbara leans heavily on the 4th wall by saying it’s a pity the Doctor doesn’t have color TV on his scanner. He claims that he does; it’s just…uh…not working at the moment.

Everyone’s excited that they’re at “the sea,” and for some reason nobody thinks that it could be a SEA OF DEATH.

See, already weird things swimming toward them.

Tiny submarines?

Ha, Ian’s still wearing his clothes from Cathay.

Wait, the Doctor just said the water can’t be ice “in this temperature. Besides, it’s too warm.” Wut?

At least he has the sense not to let Susan swim in it.

This beach is very…pointy.

Dude with flippers RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.

No birds, no life, and nobody thinking that’s weird.

Susan’s shoe melted! Don’t touch the water!!

I’m not sure if this critter trying to get into the TARDIS is a rubber-suit alien, or is actually SUPPOSED to be wearing a rubber suit. Somehow Susan completely fails to see him/her/it.

Ah, the tiny submarines were actually person-sized.

Susan’s being stalked by the rubber-suit guy, and everyone else has found the suit of a melted alien. Ugh.

Skyscraper! Naturally we should all go investigate it…Susan, WHY would you go by yourself??

Rubber suit guy is waiting to stab her, but conveniently gets swallowed by a rotating piece of the wall.

Barbara and Ian are historing and sciencing (squee!); the Doctor, for once, is the one who wants everyone to stay focused and find the missing person.

Except Susan also gets swallowed by the wall. And so does the Doctor.

STILL with the stabby rubber-suit guy. Uh…and a random monk wanders in…and back out.

Did the rubber-suit guy just get stabbed in the back by his own knife? Did the monk do it?

Finally, everyone’s in the building.

The Doctor calls Ian “that young schoolmaster friend” of Barbara’s, which is even less accurate than usual. Did Hartnell forget Ian’s name again?

Ian, meanwhile, rescues the monk dude, who then kills another stabby rubber suit dude with the worst falling effect ever.

A paper doll flying up a chimney!

Ok, rubber suit dudes are called Voord. There’s yet another one roaming around; the monk dude’s security leaves a good bit to be desired.

Can we get a name for the monk guy? Anyway, he reunites our friends and shows off his mind control machine. It apparently eliminated all evil from everyone’s minds. What could possibly go wrong??

Welp, the Voord went wrong, apparently. And the monk dude hid the four magic circuit keys all over the planet.

“You must find the keys for me!” Which is really a pretty big ask from people you just met, monk dude.

Cut to our friends abandoning the guy.

Ian and Barbara feel guilty about abandoning him. Why does nobody have a problem with the mind control?!?

Oops, there’s a force field around the TARDIS! They can’t get in!

The Doctor’s first reaction to this is to get excited about the force field technology.

Now the monk dude has a loudspeaker, and also finally a name, Arbitan. Because he’s in charge of a machine that ARBITRATES, get it? Get it?

Arbitan’s not only holding the TARDIS hostage; he’s condemning our heroes to death by starvation and dehydration if they don’t agree to help him locate the keys. Um…I’m not sure this guy is the best choice to be in charge of a planet-wide mind-control machine?

Ian does resigned anger so well. The Doctor’s doing overt outrage. What he OUGHT to be outraged about is the MASSIVE MIND CONTROL MACHINE. Ooh, magic teleportation bracelets! Ian’s skeptical; the Doctor’s like, yeah, yeah, perfectly normal.

Barbara tries hers out and disappears!

After everyone else goes after her, a Voord promptly kills Arbitan. Well, that was quick.

At our heroes’ destination, somehow Barbara got blood on her bracelet, took it off, and completely disappeared in approximately 10 seconds. Well then. See you next week, kids!


The next episode starts with ANOTHER rotating door? No, this one’s sliding.

Wow, lots of statues and pretty decorations in this room! After you get past the potentially seizure-inducing flashing lights, that is.

Ok, in addition to getting blood on her bracelet, dropping it, and disappearing, Barbara has ALSO had time for a full hairdo and wardrobe change in the 10 seconds since she was last with the other. That’s taking Instant Costume Change pretty far.

She’s also eaten and apparently been shown around.

The Doctor’s not super-interested in all the beautiful scenery.

These serving ladies don’t mess around—that’s a whole turkey!

Ian’s suspicious. I’m glad SOMEONE is.

Barbara also met their “host” in her 10 seconds of free time.

The host is now explaining that in this city, everyone can always have whatever they want. Since that ALWAYS goes well.

Susan wishes for a dress; the Doctor wishes for a science lab.

Is the Doctor REALLY falling for this?

Ian’s still suspicious. But he and Barbara nearly kissed just then, which is always interesting.

As soon as they’re asleep, a creepy face in the wall lights up!

Another of the ladies with elaborate hair puts little round things on their foreheads. Barbara’s immediately falls off when she turns her head slightly, which seems like a bit of a design flaw. The flashing and beeping starts up again!

In the morning, Ian’s disturbingly less suspicious, and Barbara’s still asleep. Nobody notices that it’s weird that they all have irritated spots on their foreheads.

Ooh, Barbara’s view is completely different now. NICE POV shot. Everything looks completely different—old and filthy.

Dang it, Ian’s all non-suspicious now, which is inconvenient.

Why isn’t Altos wearing any pants??

Barbara runs away when he tries to take her somewhere. She hides behind a convenient post, where she is COMPLETELY VISIBLE, but he doesn’t see her.

Creepy brains in jars with eyes on antennae! They’re the ones controlling everyone. I told you!

Meanwhile, Barbara’s met up with a young woman named Sabitha, who’s decidedly out of it.

The Doctor and Ian cheerfully accept Altos’s explanation that Barbara’s under heavy sedation and will be JUST FINE. OMG, the Doctor needs to get his mind control resistance abilities together.

Now they’re in an empty room with a coffee mug, going on about all the awesome sciency stuff that isn’t there.

“This might be helpful,” said the Doctor, holding up the coffee mug. He thinks it can fix the TARDIS. I mean, a cup of tea could be good…

Barbara’s working on de-hypnotizing Sabitha. Oh, SHE’S Arbitan’s daughter!

The creepy brains are planning somewhat unpleasant destinations for the Doctor and friends.

Uh-oh, Altos finds Barbara! Wow, Sabitha gets some initiative and knocks him out! Impressive for someone barely conscious.

Now Ian catches Barbara. HE’S totally brainwashed now. Barbara meets the brains.

Ian tries to strangle her on the brains’ orders, and NICE self-defense move, Barbara! Modern companions need to get in on that kind of action!!

This is how Barbara looks…
…right before she kicks your ass!

Sensibly, she smashes the brains and their machinery. The brains are screaming. And…gasping. Which is weird, because they don’t have lungs. Or throats. Or mouths.

Ian’s now free of the brainwashing and freaking out a bit. Barbara hugs him and tells him it will be all right, which makes a nice change.

Yay, Sabitha and Altos are un-brainwashed, and it turns out Altos was another of Arbitan’s messengers. Oh, and the city’s rioting.

The Doctor sends everyone except himself to the next destination while he goes on to the last destination, some kind of super-advanced civilization. Yeah, since this one went so well. And WHY would he think splitting up is a good idea??

Anyway, Susan turns her dial a little early and lands ahead of the others. 100% chance she disappears before the others get there.

At least WE get to see her, apparently getting screamed at by the screaming jungle of the next episode. Cue the credits!

Well, have we learned it’s a bad idea to mess with mind control, kids? You might end up with elaborate hairdos and no pants, talking to brains in jars!


Everyone finds Susan surprisingly quickly. She’s freaking out. Nobody else can hear the screaming, and lucky for Susan, she stops hearing it also. A telepathic screaming jungle that only Susan can hear? Typical.

Altos still isn’t wearing any pants, so apparently that wasn’t due to the mind control.

ANOTHER wall between our friends and the key. Why can’t these transporters put them down on the correct side of a wall?? Also, why does this planet have so many walls in random places??

Susan doesn’t like to say goodbye. Is that a thing for all Time Lords?

Ian insists that Barbara and Susan stay put while the others poke around. This annoys Barbara, which is one of the reasons I like her. Also, there’s NO reason they would be safer here than somewhere else.

Sure enough, a vine tries to grab Susan! She flips out, and Barbara tells her it was her imagination. SO MANY PROBLEMS could be avoided if people stopped assuming things were Susan’s imagination.

Meanwhile, Barbara’s going deeper into the creepy vegetation, and has found a NOT CREEPY AT ALL statue.


Barbara, just answer Susan!!

The creepy statue has even creepier hands.

It will eat your soul.  Or tickle you.


It also has the key, and the creepy hands are totally going to grab Barbara. Yep. AND it rotates. Rotating walls are another thing there are WAY too many of on this planet.

But Barbara…somehow…tossed the key before she got trapped, so everyone splits up even more. Altos No-Pants promises to protect Susan. Sabitha conveniently drops the key and figures out IT’S A FAKE! but still heads on after Altos and Susan.

Which leaves Ian alone to get hugged by the statue. Ooh, more statues, now with axes. No points for guessing what they’re going to do.

Ian, never turn your back on a statue with an ax!

Yay, Barbara saves Ian!

I’m just gonna take a minute to point out that Barbara’s NOT a helpless captive waiting to get rescued by the action guy. She’s been in here avoiding traps and exploring, and now she and Ian are collaborating to figure out what to do next. 1964, everybody!

Anyway, back to the action, where plants are coming after our heroes while they try to break down a door. Honestly, the only wall on this planet that DOESN’T rotate.

Another monk dude? This one’s a good bit grubbier.

No, Ian, when Barbara calls you, you go right away! Also, Barbara, try giving more information!

A net! …Why would a net make Barbara immediately fall over? Now a spiky ceiling is slowly descending to kill her! Slooowwwllyyy. While Ian gets himself trapped again and can’t help out!

Instead, the grubby monk raises the spiky ceiling back up. Well, why’d you lower it in the first place, dude? Instead of being helpful, he just hangs out while she gets herself out of the net. Seems like it would have made sense for her to do that while the ceiling was descending, but ok. Anyway, eventually he takes the travel dial and wanders off. Ian breaks his bars…and now the grubby monk is getting strangled by an invading plant! Well, he should have thought of that before he locked up our friends!

They manage to save him with a convenient sword. But he’s dying anyway, evidently, which is apparently what happens to all monk dudes on this planet.

Ha, the traps were supposed to keep out anyone not warned by Arbitan ahead of time. Would have been nice if Arbitan had remembered that bit!

Grubby monk (did he even get a name?) gives them a list of random letters and numbers and then dies. As you do.

Welp, the string (DE3O2) didn’t mean the safe.

No luck exploring the room either. Now Ian’s reading from the guy’s creepy science journal.

Finally the expected “whispering” starts.

Creepy vines breaking through the…um…cardboard walls. It’s still pretty intense, though.

Feed me, Seymour!

Lots of grabby vines! Finally Ian figures out that the code was a chemical formula, thanks to a smashed bottle of NH4NO3 (ammonium nitrate) clueing him in. Although since neither D, E, nor De is an element, frankly I’m not sure how he got there. Anyway, Barbara finds the right jar! And they get away before the vines get them.

Maybe this planet has extra elements?

They land in…a lot of snow. With…the Twilight Zone theme playing. It also sounds just a tiny bit like the Bad Wolf theme. Will they find shelter before they freeze to death?? (Spoilers: PROBABLY SO.)

Wait, did Altos No-Pants already land here? That would be REALLY uncomfortable.


To be continued as soon as I get through the remaining three episodes! (Click here for Part 2!)

2 thoughts on “Classic Doctor Who: Hunting for the Keys of Marinus, Part 1

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