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.


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