Doctor Who #484: The Ribos Operation Part 3

"There's no comfort in dying. I've always said it was the last thing I want to do."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Sep.16 1978.

IN THIS ONE... Everyone and they psychic Seeker are after Unstoffe and the stolen gold. Binro the Heretic helps him hide.

REVIEW: As in the best of cases, Robert Holmes crafts some brilliant lines for his characters in Part 3, both amusing and poetic. Throw Garron and the Doctor together, and what results it some clever banter indeed. The poetics are handled by Binro the Heretic - Ribos' own Galileo, down on his luck and crippled after daring to suggest the "ice crystals" in the sky are actually suns, around which might spin other worlds. Between him and the Seeker, a sort of theatrical psychic detective, Holmes expands his world considerably. And in Unstoffe's kindness to Binro, he gives more dimensions even to his clowns.

Though Romana seems too smart to be playing cabbage-head in scenes meant to explain the plot to the most common denominator, the Doctor gets many wonderful moments. The fast-talking loon I was praising in Part 2's review here manages to create enough confusion to save his party from summary execution. And we get his take on why he can laugh and play while under threat of death - it happens so often, he simply refuses to take it seriously. Might as well have fun with it. That's an excellent view of the Doctor's attitude in these cases. The Doctor even gets to do a little gadgeteering without it turning into deus ex machina. Even K9 is judiciously used, now responding to a patented dog whistle instead of poking his nose out at a coincidentally opportune time. And speaking of his nose, I really appreciate the new laser effect.

The Graff putting the pieces of the con together makes him a smarter villain than we might have had in a lesser script. Here I thought his man Sholakh was there as a "smarter servant" type, but no, his master is well beyond him. He may prove to be a calming influence since the Graff is so stressed (by money, power and a fear of humiliation), but up until now, he's only be a sounding board and basic muscle. A narrowly avoided cliché.

THEORIES: I have a theory as to why Garron seems to undervalue his huge piece of jethrik even though he knows the mineral is rare and precious. How could a greedy con man NOT see it for what it is - a fortune. I say it's because of its true nature as a segment of the Key of Time. Were it sold, it would then be carved into thousands of pieces to power some battle fleet. In which piece would the Key then remain? Perhaps its nature is able to fold reality around itself to keep it in one piece. It "luckily" fell into the hands of a man who would keep it and use it intact, a man possibly manipulated into doing so. And here, as the Graff tries to get his hands on it, it still remains elusive, almost as if fate was intervening on its behalf.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Ribos is turning into a fascinating place, but even if that weren't the case, we'd still get some great dialog between the Doctor and Garron. Romana needs to show her worth though.


Peder said...

I love the theory of the Key. Almost like the One True Ring from Tolkein.
Garron is one of my favorite one time characters in Dr Who. Plays a wonderful con man. I rewatched this a few years ago and looked him up to see what else he'd done. I was sure that he'd had a long and successful career, but sadly, it doesn't look like it. Such a shame!

Siskoid said...

It's not so bad. Iain Cuthbertson's TV/movie career spans 1960 to 2003, and he probably has many more theater credits, as Brits of this era often do.

The biggest credit seems to be Gorillas in the Mist, but having looked at IMDB, I'd be keen on seeing him play the Ghost in that 2003 adaptation of Hamlet.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine