The Keys of Marinus was one of those stories I wasn’t looking forward to tackling. The production values are pretty poor and, aside from the Brains of Morphoton sequence in Part Two, it`s not really up to much. And Bill goes on holiday half way through for two episodes! However, I managed to Edit The Sensorites without too much trouble in the end, so I decided I may as well tackle this one too.
It’s like a micro version of The Key To Time, a sort of season in miniature with an adventure a week instead of every four weeks. And just as would happen years later to Doctor Tom, Doctor Billy has to go on a quest to collect parts of a mysterious artifact that must not fall into the wrong hands. And, like TKTT, right at the end we get the baddie who wants the McGuffin impersonating the goodie who sent the Doctor on the quest, only a lot less convincingly!
It’s also a bit like one of those roll-a-dice games you used to get at the back of old Dr Who Annuals or on Weetabix packets, if you’re old enough to remember them, [like wot I am!] with about that level of sophistication when it comes to character and plotting. Terry Nation was never a great writer but luckily for the production team he was enough of a journeyman that he could knock out do-able scripts at fairly short notice,
It’s a shame so many of them aren’t up to much – his best was still his first – but to give him his due, Nation was a smart bugger too. He would re-use the concept of The Keys of Marinus as the basis for The Chase later on, cleverly realising he could get paid twice for writing two versions of the same story. And finally you have to applaud the sheer number of ideas used up here in rapid succession, any one of which you could imagine otherwise being used as a four part story that would challenge Planet of Giants for excitement.
The first fix was to adjust the arrival of the Tardis in part one to include the proper sound effect and retiming the sequence to fit it. A lot of these early Tardis sequences are unlike what we are used to and expect, some are silent and in others, most in fact, the lamp doesn’t flash in sync with the sound, if it flashes at all, so it’s the one fix I pretty much expect to have to do each time, and this was no exception.
Aside from all the other reasons to bemoan its loss, the lack of Marco Polo does make you wonder why Ian is dressed like he is. It’s strange to view this first episode knowing that, just the week before, it was all Kublai Khan and Tegana getting his come-uppance. I cut the start of the Tardis scene and the arrival of the submersibles on the beach, using the music cue from the latter to cover the Doctor & co exploring. I also cut back the sequence of the Voord examining the Tardis lock.
As you might expect, when the Dr, Ian & Barbara investigate the pyramid, they get captured rather more quickly than in the original and we lose the scene of the force field around the Tardis. Part of my ongoing mission in these Fan Edits has been to soften the character of the early Doctor to make him less abrasive and more in tune with what we know him to be. And so, in this version, he doesn’t need to be blackmailed into helping Arbitan, he does it because he’s the Doctor and that’s who he is and what he does. A bit of a retcon I know, but hey, the whole point is to do something different with the material.
I also fixed the really bad cross fade when they first use the travel dials, which are a clear predecessor of the Liberator’s teleport bracelets that would feature in Blake’s 7 over ten years later. You see, Terry Nation was never one to let a good idea go to waste, he just recycled it and reused it again years later when the folk paying him wouldn’t, and couldn’t , have known that he had done it all before, as he has all the way back here! All of that means we get through part one in just over thirteen minutes, which is pretty good considering how much setting up the episode has to do.
The crossover point from Part One to Part Two has a rather noticeable jump cut, but that was unavoidable due to the way the original scene and the replay were staged and shot. The picture for the Part Two version is also considerably darker, so I adjusted the Brightness and Contrast settings to make the two match up a little better and re-used some of the music cues from Part One to cover the moments leading up to when the Doctor & co are reunited with Barbara.
The whole “Brains of Morphton” sequence is probably the best bit of Marinus and I would much rather we had more of this than the “location of the week”. Space 1999 did something similar years later where Koenig was the only one who could see the aliens and I’d have liked them to have kept that going over two episodes instead of just the one.
I edited the initial “food” scene to make Ian seem slightly less suspicious from the outset as I felt it undermined the drama of what follows by signalling to the audience too early that something`s amiss. So now we get the shock of all that later on when Barbara wakes up.
The scene where the travellers get nobbled while they`re asleep was a bit empty and undramatic, I felt. It`s one of those scenes that really should have had some music behind it. The first thing I did was to make a loop of the heartbeat effect, then I added the Sleeping Machine sound effect from The Macra Terror, which seemed rather appropriate given that a similar thing happens here.
This marked the point where some new music tracks started to appear to help with the atmosphere, and for this story the tracks are from the Dark Shadows TV soundtrack by Robert Cobert, some of which were used previously for The Mind Robber. Having done parts one and two, I then jumped forward to parts five and six, skipping the middle two eps that Hartnell isn`t in. At this stage I wasn`t too sure what I was going to do with the Bill-less eps so I just went straight to the point where he rejoins the story. The captions for part five were easy to get rid of, thanks to a static shot of the glass cabinet, although this does mean that the bloke who nicks the key legs it really, really quickly!
Courtroom scenes are probably the most tediously dull thing you could ever put into a Who story [!] so we lose the subplot of Susan`s kidnapping and unmask the real thief of the key as quickly as we can before we’re off to Arbitan`s Pyramid for an appointment with a completely unconvincing impostor!
One thing about Part Five is that there`s a curious moment after Donald Pickering is unmasked as the villain – the next shot is of the Doctor revealing that the key was hidden in the Mace all the time. But the way John Gorrie shoots it, it looks as if it’s a continuation of the same scene, making you wonder where Donald Pickering has vanished to. The fix for this was a simple fade to black to convey more clearly that they are two different scenes.
When we get to Part Six, the scene where Yartek puts the first four keys into the machine was dropped back until after he had gained the fifth key to make things a bit more dramatic. Like The Sensorites, this is a story that all ends rather suddenly so I did what I could to give a bit more drama to the build up to the rather flat ending. The final thing to do was to re-time the Tardis` departure to fit with the sound effect and put on the clean end credits footage.
That just left me with parts 3 and 4 to do, the ones without The Doctor in them. At the climax, Ian mentions the fake key Barbara found on the idol, which rather ruined my initial plans to have a dialogue-free montage to cover these two eps. Now I would have to include that dialogue in order to make sense of the ending. Bugger…
The opening of Part Three was a real pain in the arse to edit and it took me ages to work out how to cut it down so we lose most of Susan`s bloody annoying hysteria. Again there`s a rather noticeable jump cut when we go from the cliffhanger to the reprise but that was unavoidable.
The next thing to do was to match the sound of the idol activating to what`s on the screen by extending the sound clip. The rest of the episode was problem-free.
Part Four caused no real headaches, but the cliffhanger and reprise are so completely different that I didn`t even try to cut from the one to the other, settling instead for a crossfade to Vasor`s hut and letting the dialogue explain what happened.
And so now I had the footage from the story in four sections – parts one and two, part three, part four and finally parts five and six. I put them all together, with only the transition from four to five giving me any trouble, as it took a while to find a suitable point to cut between the two versions of Ian getting clobbered and the key getting nicked.
After that it was a case of exporting the four edited sections as one file, adding the rest of the new music, having a final glitch check and then adding in the end credits.