Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus (Story #5)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

A fun longer story with a smart individual episode set-up

Carole Ann Ford shows she's not very strong


Your long tedious and unnecessary complex backstory involving the keys is boring me

The Doctor (William Hartnell), Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), and Ian (William Russell) find themselves on the planet of Marinus and learn that Arbitan (George Coulouris) who watches over a computer known as the Conscience of Marinus needs to reactivate the computer with five keys hidden all over the surface of the planet.  With the Voord led by Yartek (Stephen Dartnell) assailing the base, Arbitan separates the Doctor and his companions from the TARDIS to force them to retrieve the keys…but getting the five keys might be easier said than done.



Doctor Who:  The Keys of Marinus aired during the first season of the long running Doctor Who series and was a six part adventure that aired from April 11, 1964 to May 16, 1964.  As with other earlier serials, all the episodes have their own titles and are as follows “The Sea of Death”, “The Velvet Web”, “The Screaming Jungle”, “The Snows of Terror”, “Sentence of Death”, and “The Keys of Marinus”.  Following the missing serial Doctor Who:  Marco Polo, Doctor Who:  The Keys of Marinus has been collected as part of The William Hartnell Years as Story #5.

With the first three existing stories, I had a hard time getting a handle on the First Doctor.  The Keys of Marinus provided a longer format for him, but the Doctor is surprisingly absent for much of the storyline (Hartnell was actually on vacation) and once again, it is hard to get a reading on him…this leaves a lot of the pressure on his companions.


We are the knights who say “ni”!

It is pretty obvious early on that Carole Ann Ford is the weak link in the early adventures.  Both Jacqueline Ford and William Russell are stronger actors and though Ford’s character Susan is supposed to be the wise granddaughter of the Doctor, she doesn’t often contribute much except screaming and being captured…it isn’t much of a surprise that she is the first companion to be jettisoned in Doctor Who:  The Dalek Invasion of Earth (Story #10).

I do like the set-up of this story.  It pretty much involves virtually stand-alone episodes with the key being the ultimate goal.  You get the Lotus Eaters-esque fake city where only Barbara sees the truth, the weird fur trader and the knights, the temple of killer vines (which reminded me of The Ruins), and a murder trial of Ian.  It is a fun set-up and does keep the serial moving which is often a challenge in these older entries.


Come on…you’re not even trying!

Visually, the show doesn’t provide much.  The sets are pretty minimal in this entry (besides a few models…which are so obviously models that it is laughable).  The actual Voord soldiers and their submarines are interesting, but they aren’t in it very often.  I also liked the guardian knights which just looked like the BBC pulled out old crusader knight costumes for the scene.

Doctor Who:  The Keys of Marinus is a decent early entry.  The longer serial is aided by the variety of story and one of Harnetll’s better adventures (despite his decreased involvement.  It is worth watching for fans of the series.  Doctor Who:  The Keys of Marinus is followed by Doctor Who:  The Aztecs.

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Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Aztecs (Story #6)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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