Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Twenty-Five: Sentence of Death (The Keys of Marinus, Episode Five)
The best thing about The Keys of Marinus surely has to be thought that's gone into the world itself? I've complained that bits of this story feel like filler, or that they're simply rehashes of things we've seen before in the series, but there's a lot to be said for the depth they've gone to in creating the 'universe' of this story.
I first made a note during yesterday's episode that it's nice to have an alien world that's got distinctly different environments. We've the acid sea, the screaming jungle, the icy wastes… in this episode, they even mention the glass factories out in a desert. This feels like a real planet, with just as many varying regions as the Earth.
I didn't actually talk about it during my write up yesterday in the end (choosing to focus on other areas instead), but today's episode has given me cause to bring it up. Initially, I made a note about the very 1960s phone used in the vault, but then later on they switch to something far more obviously 'designed' as a futuristic phone.
They've got a whole legal system that's different to the Earth, with its own rules and conditions… even its own special hats for the judges! I should like a hat like that. The point is that this world feels far more real than many of the alien planets we visit in Doctor Who, so it's really nice to see that unfold.
As for the story of the episode itself… Well… I did enjoy it, and it's held my attention throughout, though I think I'm a bit saddened to be in the same place for the cliffhanger. I was just about getting used to all the travelling, and having now seen this city for a bit, I was looking forward to moving onto the next location.
The trial entertained me far more than I was expecting it to, and thinking back to a previous watch of the serial, I think this was the point I'd started to lose patience. There's certainly a lot in this episode that I'd not remembered from last time round, which is usually a sign that I wasn't paying attention.
It's nice to have the Doctor back, too. As much as I said yesterday that I'd not really missed him, it's still a great moment when he appears just in time, having been eluding his companions since their arrival. I seem to be saying it every few days, but the Doctor really is changing rapidly, isn't he? There's a great moment when he tells Ian to trust in him, and it's a really wonderful scene. These people are the Doctor's friends now.
One thing, though… they have a system that's more accurate than finger-prints, but they didn't think to install a CCTV camera in the vault?
Next Episode: The Keys of Marinus