All right, so I'm phoning it in with another Doctor Who review I already wrote. Just because I've got free time doesn't mean I've got ideas for things to write about -- hell, the opposite may even be true.
So here goes. Originally posted on Brontoforumus, 2008-09-03.
The Ribos Operation is a mediocre story saved by interesting characters. It's probably most remarkable as the first appearance of Romana, who isn't one of them. At this point she's just a know-it-all college girl and general ice queen (as made less subtle by her costume). While this is the only serial I've seen with Mary Tamm in the role, I can reasonably assume she and the Doctor warm up to each other over time -- but I can also reasonably assume she never achieves the same chemistry with Baker that Ward had, what with Baker and Ward sleeping together and all.
This is the first part of The Key to Time Series, AKA Collection Quest: The Movie, wherein a generic good-guy overlord tells the Doctor he has to collect a series of MacGuffins before a generic bad-guy overlord can get to them first. The plot from there is simultaneously simple and needlessly convoluted: as the Doctor and Romana seek the first piece of the Key, they find that a royal exile and a pair of small-time thieves want it too. The series shows the pacing problems faced by so many early Who serials in that nothing really happens until it's half-over.
That's saved, as I said, by a good cast of characters: the lovable con-men, the ambitious villain, an alien version of Galileo, an entertainingly over-the-top augurer, and a rubber-suit monster that doesn't get nearly enough screen time.
It ends with what I've so often complained that RTD simply can't seem to do: a short but satisfying goodbye scene.
All in all, it was probably worth the rental but leaves me fairly nonplussed about the whole Key to Time series. I assume I will find the next serial, The Pirate Planet, much more impressive, as it was written by Douglas Adams.
I expect I will get to reposting my Pirate Planet review at some point here; suffice to say it had its moments but I was largely disappointed and I didn't stick around for any of the rest of the season arc. I did watch the Black Guardian Trilogy from the Fifth Doctor Era, and wished I'd stopped after the first serial.