The Keys of Marinus part 4

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    Craig @craig

    This week it’s “The Snows of Terror” and we’re still without the Doctor. Ian and Barbara have jumped into a region of ice and snow. Freezing to death, they are rescued from the cold and the wolves by Vasor. They learn Altos is out looking for Susan and Sabitha, who are sheltering in a cave. Ian goes off to look for them.

    Once back together the search for the third key takes them into icy tunnels under a mountain where Vasor claims demons exist. They are soon betrayed.

    This is another light episode, merely interested in thrills, spills and last-minute escapes. But it leads to the third key and now the companions are off to find the Doctor and the fourth key, and there are still two episodes to go.

    For the best viewing experience this story is available to buy from your favourite DVD/Blu-ray retailer, or it may be on your Netflix, Prime or Hulu, or whatever else you subscribe to.

    Remember, we’re discussing this story one episode per week, as it was originally broadcast. If you’ve seen it before, for the convenience of anyone approaching this for the first time, NO SPOILERS for subsequent episodes please.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    A strange episode this. Vasor demonstrates that a hand rub is not always entirely innocent.

    It’s a world full of wolves (At least 250) but we never see one.

    Ian rubs Altos’ thighs and shows that such an action is not always sensual foreplay.

    There is a Benny Hill style runaround as Vasor attempts to rape Barbara…

    There are Ice Warriors (But they’re called soldiers)…

    Trying to direct the Gap-Crossing live in the studio was an epic fail. Instead of seeing Susan jump as the makeshift bridge collapses, we get a reaction shot. Barbara seems to have seen something else entirely…

    Ian is responsible for two killings.

    Moral: Bad men should die by the Twizzle-Sword…


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    The epic this week was getting to actually watch the episode. Between the DVD getting lost in the post, my YouTube app collapsing, and DailyMotion deciding to perpetually replay an ad about alien casinos without ever getting to alien snowscapes, I was beginning to feel like someone trekking across a sub-zero landscape peopled by greedy wolves, wanna-be rapists and soldiers in suspended animation (and plastic capes).

    Anyway, this felt like the ‘vamp till ready’ episode. In Episodes 1 to 3 there was progression: either of the plot or the characters. As @craig says, this is a very light episode; more so even than last week, when we at least learnt that Barbara finds Ian’s sexism, sorry, over-protectiveness a little wearing. And that Susan is telepathic and appears to be blocking some painful memories. And that Altos thinks he has great legs. Or maybe Verity Lambert thought he had great legs. 🙂

    One thing that has occurred to me is that people back in the early 60’s, when this episode was first broadcast, seem to be much closer to theatre than to our modern ‘ultra-realistic’ TV. The sets are really theatrical; they suggest rather than imitate. The other is that early Who seemed to be much more willing than modern Who to acknowledge that evil people sometimes rape/attempt to rape women. The word is never mentioned, and it’s portrayed in a way that means the kids won’t really get what’s happening beyond ‘the nasty man is threatening Barbara’, but there was also another rape (off-screen) in the Time Meddler.

    Which brings up the question of whether Chris Chibnall is going to ignore rape. Or not. It’s not something that’s directly affected the Doctor before – being tortured, yes, being knocked on the head, frequently, imprisoned, even murdered. But now the Whittaker Doctor will appear to be a pretty young women – and will the show acknowledge that particular method of threatening women?

    Admittedly anyone who tries to rape the Doctor is likely to end up singing Castrato for the rest of their (possibly very short) life, but it’s whether the Twenty-Tens can manage something controversial that the Sixties were brave enough to do.

    @wolfweed – I saw at least two wolves. Both from stock film footage, but they were definitely there. And yes, Jacqueline Hill did appear to be looking in completely the wrong direction when they tried to do the exciting bridge collapse with Dramatic Leap. It didn’t help that they couldn’t seem to get the bridge to collapse. As you say, epic fail. 😀

    The one thing that made me giggle throughout was the costumes. I went and checked whether they were filming this one at Lime Grove Studio D (a notoriously boiling hot studio when all the lights were on) and they were. It was the way everyone was supposed to be freezing cold, swathed in furs – and were all too clearly trying to find some way to get the furs to slip open, fall off, hang loose – anything to get some ventilation. Kudos to Francis de Wolff (Vasor), who is stoically suffering under a heavy costume, wig and fake beard.

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    I must have blinked and missed those blinking wolves!

    Chibbers has always wanted Dr Who to be more adult. He must be careful how he handles that for the younger viewers though… (Even implied rape of the Doctor sounds rather disturbing…)

    From Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (By Chris Chibnall)

    SOLOMON: My bounty increases. And what an extraordinary bounty you are.
    NEFERTITI: Never touch me.
    SOLOMON: I like my possessions to have spirit. It means I can have fun breaking them. And I will break you in with immense pleasure.


    (Later the Doctor killed Solomon [But not with a Twizzle-Sword])

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Yeah, I think Chibbers could well be prepared to go there – and capable of writing it in such a way that the kids don’t understand the implications. As you point out, he wrote the Nefertiti/Solomon scene in such a way that it implied both ‘slavery’ and ‘rape’, with the kids much more likely to pick up ‘slavery’. But Nefertiti was a one-off character. Equally, he’s quite prepared to suggest that mother-love can turn some women into murderers who nearly start a war. But that, too was a one-off character. I think the closest we’ve come Post Gap to this scene in Keys of Marinus was Clara fighting off the Sheriff in Robots of Sherwood, and that was played very much for laughs.

    I’m just not sure the BBC is quite ready for even implied attempted rape to happen to the lead character in a series watched by kids, the way Verity Lambert was willing to do with her lead character of Barbara. Even though the kinds of creeps the Doctor finds him/herself facing means that it would normally be almost a given. 🙂

    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip   I wonder whether, given Chibnall’s interest in female characters, whether a female Doctor will be seen encountering more adventures involving women in major roles — which would likely lead to at least a more in-depth look at factors like the Sisterhood of Karn, maybe the lives of women masquerading as men to be able to go to war, female pirates — women, that is, instigating or caught up in action.  Where there’s large scale violence, women are always affected in ways that definitely involve the possibility of rape; wouldn’t a female Doctor be, or perhaps become in time, more sensitive to this, and to preventing it where possible?  So it needn’t be the Doctor herself who is at such high risk, but a heightened awareness of the vulnerability of female people (aliens too, sometimes) in this regard.  I’m thinking back to the days of “Xena, Warrior Princess”, and how Xena herself was never (that I recall) in believable danger of rape — she was far too formidable.

    But she was a warrior by definition; the Doctor we know struggles to “be a Doctor” first . . . and being a warrior instead often brings a grievous aftertaste for him.

    It’s going to be fascinating to see how the new crew handles the ins and outs of this change, with a possible re-setting of all kinds of balances around what’s okay to deal with that just wasn’t very visible .

    ichabod @ichabod

    Damn it.  I think I need a new mouse.  That last sentence was supposed to end with “with”.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    More from the audio commentary:

    Carole Ann Ford wasn’t exactly delighted at the prospect of furs. The ones in Unearthly Child had little biting insects hiding in them: lovely! 😉 And while she spotted the ‘rape’ subtext (and Francis de Wolff seems to have played it that way), it appears to have completely bypassed the director, John Gorrie.

    The snow was polystyrene granules, tradename Jabbalight. Francis de Wolff was equally imposing in real life – a sort of 1960s Brian Blessed.

    A lot of time was spent talking about rehearsal (as well as joking about Robin’s hot pants/thong/really short underpants); four days to produce half an hour. A two hour play would have three weeks. Nowadays the system is rehearse-and-shoot – but instant playback means current Doctor Who is much more film-like. I didn’t realise that the BBC’s rehearsal block (not yet built at this point) was Sydney Newman’s idea.

    Ray Cusick does not like the ice caves, despite everyone else insisting they look pretty good.

    Ah, the bridge. If Carole Ann Ford doesn’t look happy during that bridge crossing, it’s because she really wasn’t. 🙂 The epic fail is explained: the thing collapsed completely on the first take, tumbling Carole Ann Ford onto the studio floor. So I suppose it’s possible that Barbara’s reaction shot, where she’s staring down at the floor, was from that first take. Jacqueline Hill is looking to see if Carole Ann Ford is okay.

    And in the final cliffhanger, John Gorrie admits that he really mucked up the shot where Ian was hit – or rather not hit, because we can see that the blow never went near him. Wrong angle. But they get to retake it next week.

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