Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Twenty-Two: The Velvet Web (The Keys of Marinus, Episode Two)
I complained on a few occasions during Marco Polo that it felt like no matter how far the travelers were supposed to have gone, it always simply felt like the same place. Being part of the caravan meant that even though the backgrounds changed, we never seemed to actually go anywhere.
The same can't be said of The Keys of Marinus. I've seen this story before, so I know that each episode gives us something new to feast on, but it's only when you start to watch like this that you really take note of how strange it is. I've grown used to being given a set up - a location, characters etc - and then spending a few days with them.
The setting for today's episode is a world away from yesterday's, and a fun story in its own right. It's fun to see the Doctor initially cautious, advising against opening the door because there's going to be something bad behind it. It's then strange to see the series turning this on its head so early in its run, confounding our expectations by showing us a paradise world, where Barbara has been given a life of luxury.
I'm not sure how long she'd supposed to have been there - but it's clearly been a while. She claims to have met their 'host' (presumably Altos), and she's gotten quite comfortable in her new surroundings. Perhaps odd, considering that we were told in the last episode that the dials would move them through space but not time. The Doctor, Susan and Ian left no more than a minute or two after, but more time has clearly passed here.
It's nice to see Ian suspicious for so long, too. They've been at this adventuring lark for a while, now, and he's used to the way it works. It also means we're given a great grounding point for when he's tricked into seeing the beauty and nothing else.
On the subject of which - it's a really rather well done effect, isn't it? Barbara waking to see the truth of the city, all crumbling and in an awful condition. The back and forth between the luxury world the others are seeing and the version through her eyes is directed very well. It means that by the time the Doctor and Ian explore the 'lab', they can pick up a dirty mug, describe it as a piece of fantastically high-tech equipment, and I'll buy it.
There's just a chance to praise the brain-creatures in the jars, too. I've little to add to that thought, but I just thought they looked pretty good.
And now, with Susan screaming madly once more, it's off to the jungle…