The longest running Sci-Fi program in the history of this universe. The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels the universe for kicks because his planet is the dullest in the universe and Earth is much more fun. Million of fans... more » continue to enjoy this series on many levels, from the fantasy and sci-fi to the tongue in cheek humor. DVD Features:
An Ambitious Box Set Release: Includes Full DVD Descriptions
Matthew L. Roffman | Smyrna, GA USA | 08/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The BBC has gone all out with this Dr. Who DVD set of Season 16 "The Key To Time". The great thing about these DVDs is that they all have commentary and Tom Baker himself has done commentary on half of them. This is great compared to other show DVD releases. How many Star Trek Episodes or Movies have commentary by any of the actual stars of the show? (NONE) Here's a description of the stories and extras you'll get in this package...The Ribos Operations- A pretty good Robert Holms Story about greed for a valuable mineral set in a medieval type culture.
Commentary by Tom Baker and Mary Tamm(Romana). Text commentaries/trivia and photo galleries. The Pirate Planet- This is the Gem of season 16. One fo the great Douglas Adams Dr. Whos. It's about a planet that continuously experiences economic boons whose native's never bother to question why. The Doctor must face the extremely loud and boisterous Captain to find the answers. Wonderfully humorous dialogue and one of the few Whos that can hold the interest of non fans.
Commentary by Director Pennant Roberts and Bruce Purchase (the Captain) Text commentaries/trivia and photo galleries plus several minutes of additional footage from the location shoots.The Stones Of Blood- Another excellent story (from a dialogue perspective at least). Satan worshippers pray to giant stones which can move across the countryside sucking the life out of people. There's even a decent slasher film type scene with a couple camping in the woods.
Commentary by Mary Tamm and director Darrol Blake Text commentaries/trivia and photo galleries. The Androids of Tara- A swashbuckling adventure about an alien civilization who's garb look medieval but who also employ android technology. Kind of silly but kind of fun.
Commentary by Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and director Michael Hayes Text commentaries/trivia and photo galleries. The Power of Kroll- The worst one of the season. Laugh as the green painted swampies worship the giant latex Squid. Be warned... at any moment the giant rubber tentacle could come and drag someone away! Kind of like the gong show.
Commentary Tom Baker and John Leeson (K9) Text commentaries/trivia and photo galleries. The Armageddon Factor- The final battle for the Key To Time. Can the Doctor defeat the mysterious Shadow? I always found the Shadow to be incredibly scary although it doesn't make up for the fact that they could've probably cut a half hour out of this.
Commentary by Mary Tamm, director Michael Hayes and John Woodvine (the Marshal). Text commentaries/trivia and photo galleries."
What a wonderful set!
J. Fuchs | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watching the Key to Time series in one piece really fills in alot of blanks for those of us not fortunate to have seen enough Doctor Who episodes to get a sense of the whole. Not that you'll get much of a history of the Time Lords or understand from this series alone why Doctor Who is on the adventure he is on, but it's still a great place to start, not to mention that this series contains two of my all-time favorite Who episodes, The Pirate Planet and The Androids of Tara. The search for the Key is really just a convenient excuse to send the Doctor off on a series-long adventure. Some of the episodes barely make mention of the Key, while others focus on it more intently.This series comes from the Tom Baker years, and shows both the scarcastic wit and the caring that made these years so popular with viewers, especially in America, where Baker has been by far the favorite of the doctors. These years also featured K-9, the robotic dog who has more personality than alot of the humans in the Doctor Who worlds and whose near demise in the final episode is surprisingly moving. It also features the beautiful Mary Tamm as Romana, the youngish time lord who is foisted on Doctor Who against his will but becomes his treasured companion. Tamm is fabulous, holding her own wonderfully against Baker and managing to convey intelligence, beauty, humor and compassion consistently. Although you can read about each episode in more detail on the reviews for the individual episodes, here is my quick rundown of each:The Ribos Operation: 3 stars, not the most interesting Who episode, not the worst either. Introduces the White Guardian and Romana and sets up the search for the key, but is otherwise pretty run of the mill. Nice hammy turns by the co-leads, one a tyrant out to buy a planet to use as a staging post for reconquering his world, the other a con man trying to hustle him on the sale of the planet, a backwards world with religious symbols that look awfully Catholic.The Pirate Planet: 5 stars - very cheesy, very funny, very intelligent episode about one of the greatest crimes against humanity ever committed. One of the best Who episodes, written by the late, great Douglas Adams of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fame.The Stones of Blood: 2 1/2 stars -- Worst episode of the bunch, a silly, slow-moving take on Stonehenge and goddess-worshipping cults.The Androids of Tara: 5 stars - Fabulous episode that plays on "The Prisoner of Zenda." The Doctor and Romana get caught on opposite sides in a battle for the throne of Tara. Another one of those stories in which one of the leads (Romana) is a dead ringer for a principal on the other world (right down to the little scar in the middle of her forehead). Overlook that small detail, though, and this one's a winner from the beautiful scenery and costumes to some of the best acting in a Who episode.The Power of Kroll: 3 1/2 stars - not a great episode, but still entertaining. Anthropology stars here as one race risks exterminating another out of corporate greed, only to be foiled by a giant squid.The Armageggdon Factor: 4 stars -- the longest episode (at six mini-episodes instead of the usual 4), and the wrapping up of the Key saga, takes place on a planet on the brink of annihilation following a nuclear war. Also introduces us to the princess whose shape Romana will assume when she undergoes her first transformation.This series is both a must for serious collectors and a great intro for the first-time Who viewer. It's not necessary to view these in order (for years I'd only seen two of them), but it's a nice treat if you can afford it."
Beware the Black Guardian...
David L. White | Everett, WA USA | 10/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Key to Time season, season 16, of Doctor Who is a mixed bag. As fans know, this was the first Doctor Who season to have a true ongoing storyline throughout the entire season. Yes, it's true, Season 8 does have the Master in each story, for a link of sorts. Each Season 8 story can be enjoyed on its own without confusion, while the average viewer watching in the 1970's who had started watching in the middle of the season might wonder what this "Key To Time" is. This experiment works, for the most part, although some of the stories are uneven. If I could, I would probably give the stories alone 3 stars, but the DVD commentaries and pop-up production text bump my rating up to 4 stars.
The Ribos Operation, The Stones of Blood, and The Androids of Tara work quite well, in my opinion. The Pirate Planet, Power of Kroll, and Armageddon Factor don't work quite as well.
The season is full of great double acts. Garron and Unstoffe in 'Ribos', The Pirate Captain and Mr. Fibuli in 'Pirate', Emilia Rumford & Vivien Fay in 'Stones' and Major Shapp and the Marshall in 'Armagedon'.
Tom Baker gets rather silly in some of the stories and, in my opinion, was allowed too much control with the character. A little flippancy is fine, but Tom's mugging to the camera and doing silly things like throwing coins in the air that take forever to fall would have never been allowed under Baker's first producer, Phillip Hinchliffe. Graham Williams needed to keep better control of his star. Tom's little eye rolling mad speech at the end of 'Armageddon Factor' is amusing but far too jokey.
Still, Tom Baker gives mostly marvellous performances and Mary Tamm shines as Romana.
The set is well packaged, with the 6 individually plastic cased stories in a nice presentation box. The artwork on the packages isn't all that pretty, but it's what's on the inside that counts.
Each story has terrific audio commentary and pop up production text. Tom Baker and Mary Tamm work well in their commentaries and don't have any of the tension that supposedly existed during the production of the stories. The other commetaries are nice, too, but the 3 with Tom are the most entertaining. Bios and Photo Galleries are on each disc, too. The only other extra is about 10 minutes of location filming from 'The Pirate Planet' which includes footage that wasn't in the story when broadcast. I wish there were more extras, but Warner Video and BBC Worldwide Americas gave the BBC in the UK very little time to prepare these 6 stories for release...
The picture quality and sound are terrific for programs that are over 20 years old.
I do hope that there aren't more season releases like this one. The only other season with an 'umbrella' theme is the 'Trial of a Time Lord' which was 14 episodes. The majority of Doctor Who doesn't have an ongoing storyline like programs such as The Sopranos, Buffy, or Babylon 5, which are more suited to the season set approach. I would rather have the stories that come out in the UK first, which are painstakingly restored and are packed with extras.
Still, I do recommend this set. It is a fun way to spend 9 hours. Acually 18 hours, if you watch the stories without the commentary and then with!"
Who's new direction
David L. White | 10/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The latest DVD release for the intrepid Time Lord marks a unique entry in the long running BBC Sci-Fi show's history. Producer Graham Williams took the decision to link the entire sixteenth season under one ongoing theme - the search for The Key to Time, with each of the individual six stories focusing on the Doctor's search for one of the pieces, scattered randomly around the universe by the White Guardian. The linking concept changed the nature of the show and for the first time gave the Doctor a purpose and aim, rather than just his typical aimless wandering the galaxy in prior stories. The entire series has been simultaneously released on DVD now for the first time, with each story on its own disc, released separately or all together in a box set. I opted for the individual discs, thinking this was the way to have all the individual covers, but in fact the box-set does have all the separate cases, so it is a much better bargain. The stories themselves hold up very well, although as with any Doctor Who season, there are definitely highs and lows. As far as most fans are concerned, the biggest high comes with the second story - The Pirate Planet, penned by Douglas Adams, shortly before he was appointed script editor for the show and a couple of years before he embarked on the Hitch Hiker's Guides. It certainly is a good story, but my personal favorite is the season opener, The Ribos Operation, penned by the show's former script editor Robert Holmes. It's full of whimsical characters, terrific jokes, wonderful sets and some great acting. The low points for me have to be the last two stories, particularly the frankly attrocious six-parter The Armageddon Factor, which tied up all the loose ends for the entire season most unsatisfactorily. Personally, the absolute highlight of the entire season is the inclusion of the stunning Mary Tamm as the Doctor's assistant, fellow Gallifreyan Romana. Her haughty interplay with the Doctor is magical and Tamm provided an incredibly glamorous presence in the show. It's a great pity she signed up for just the one season and couldn't be persuaded to stay on for the next. The DVD's themselves are of excellent picture and sound quality, but I'm disappointed that there are hardly any extras included at all. Each story has a commentary provided by a mix of the cast and production crew. Baker and Tamm provide the commentary together on two of the stories. Tamm appears on two others, and Baker and K9 actor John Leeson appear on The Power of Kroll, with writers, directors and guest actors helping out on the others. Sadly, Producer Williams, and writer's Holmes and Adams are all deceased. I am sure their contributions would have been wonderful. Mary Tamm seems to have almost total recall, whereas Tom Baker appears to remember nothing at all of the shows. It doesn't matter, since their warmth and obvious enjoyment of working together again comes across clearly, and Baker is obviously delighted to be reminded of the show once more. It's a bit of a shame on The Androids of Tara that the pair seem to run out of anything at all to say, and there are long silences. What is mildly annoying is that the on screen captions mirror almost word for word what the commentators are saying. I would have preferred it if the two elements provided alternative explanations of the show's background and production history. There are also subtitles available, but that's about it! None of the extra features we've come to associate with the release of Doctor Who on DVD appear here. A missed opportunity I think. Since this series is only released so far in region one, I hope the BBC don't opt to augment the extras for the British/European releases at a later time.Another small irritation is that the cover artwork for each case often features photos from a different part of the six stories. Some simple research could have avoided that error. I suppose the concept of the linking series was not considered a winner (despite huge TV ratings in the UK), since it wasn't attempted again until Colin Baker's ill-fated run as the Doctor many years later, but it works for me!"
"I'm sorry, K9, the holiday's off."
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 01/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Key To Time season - a season of highs and lows. Supposedly the Doctor's quest to find and recover all six segments of the powerful Key To Time, the hunt was really just an excuse for the Doctor to go on his usual adventures, albeit this time with a fellow Time Lord and a mission. This season (and indeed the time that Graham Williams spent in the producer's chair) isn't exactly my favorite, yet I still find quite a lot here to appreciate. The sense of fun and adventure never left the series, and both can be seen here in spades.The season itself is not one of the greatest that Doctor Who ever did, but it is certainly worth anyone's time. Doctor Who definitely exhibited a lot of variety during its 26 year run, and the stories showcased here display that diversity. We go from a medieval-Russian styled story of swindlers and con-artists to a high-concept science-fiction story from the pen of Douglas "Hitchhiker's Guide" Adams to an Earth-based horror tale to a homage to THE PRISONER OF ZENDA to an old-fashioned monster story before wrapping everything up in a tale of galactic warfare. And not only are all those stories part of the same TV series, but they're all part of the giant umbrella arc. Quite impressive that a show could manage to combine all those dissimilar elements yet still retain a unique flavor of its own.If you already own this set on VHS, then I can only state that purchasing this on DVD is definitely worth it. Fans who have been following the Doctor Who DVD releases will already know that the discs have been vastly cleaned up in terms of clearer picture quality and crisper sound. The Key To Time set is no exception. The audio commentaries are also a great idea, and even the more uneventful are never less than entertaining (THE ARMAGEDDON FACTOR being the exception). Actors Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Bruce Purchase, John Leeson and John Woodvine and directors Pennant Roberts, Darrol Blake, and Michael Hayes all share their remembrances and experiences. To be honest though, not all of the anecdotes have weathered the decades intact, and Tom Baker seems to only be dimly aware that he once played a character known as "The Doctor". But again, entertainment counts for something, and listening to Baker tell various anecdotes about old ladies attacking him with shopping trolleys is very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.While there are a few rough spots in this collection, this DVD set is really more than the sum of its parts. It's easy for Doctor Who fans to take Tom Baker for granted after seeing his episodes rerun into infinity, but a release like this can really make one stop and take notice of how enjoyable Doctor Who can be. Fans have probably watched many of these stories multiple times, yet I see this set as a reminder to sit myself down again and watch them as if it were the first time. I noticed things here that I had never caught before, and I remembered a lot of characters and clever bits of dialog that I thought I had forgotten. And if you've somehow never seen the adventures of Tom Baker, wacky Time Lord, then this DVD set is an excellent introduction to the fun, magic and variety that is Doctor Who. Enjoy!"