Number : Season 16, serial 1 of 6.

Which One : First “Key-To-Time” story – on an iceworld.

Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Romana : Mary Tamm
K9 MK-II : John Leeson (voice)
The White Guardian : Cyril Luckham
Garron : Iain Cuthbertson
Unstoffe : Nigel Plaskitt
Graff Vynda-K : Paul Seed
Sholakh : Robert Keegan
Binro : Timothy Bateson
The Seeker : Anne Tirard
Shrieve Captain : Prentis Hancock

Written By : Robert Holmes

Produced By : Graeme Williams.

First UK Broadcast : 2 – 23 September 1978.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Doctor is recruited, by the White Guardian to find and reassemble the “Key-To-Time”. A powerful artifact, which can give the wielder supreme-power over space-and-time. The Doctor is also warned, that the Black Guardian; is also attempting to locate the key.

Whats good : Beginning of a season-long retrieval mission. New companion – Romana. Mary Tamm’s refreshing stand-offishness counterpoint to Baker.

Whats bad : Feels exactly like William Hartnell’s adventure – Keys Of Marinus – “iceworld” section.

Review With Spoilers : The Ribos Operation is the first episode of season 16 – and marks the first story, in the “Key-To-Time” season, story-arc.

Tasked by a god-like being, called the ‘White Guardian’; into going on an important retrieval mission. To reassemble an artifact of great power, to thwart the evil ‘Black Guardian’.

It was an attempt by then producer Graeme Williams, to do something different, with the Who format. Key-To-Time – seemed – whether intentional or not – to borrow directly from William Hartnell’s 1964 adventure; Keys Of Marinus.

In which, the First Doctor went on a retrieval mission to reassemble a bunch of lost keys, by visiting various locations. There is even a section in Keys Of Marinus where they visit an ‘ice-world’ region, similar to The Ribos Operation.

Each Key-To-Time episode, covered the Doctor retrieving a different segment of the Key; which was usually disguised as something – or someone.

The Doctor was given a handy device, by the White Guardian, to detect; where the Key segments actually were. In The Ribos Operation, it was an ornate stone called a “Jethrik”, which the Doctor has to retrieve from the Ribos’ crown jewels.

“My name is Romanadveratnalundar!” Romana

“Well I’m so sorry about that, is there anything, we can do?” The Doctor

The Ribos Operation is also noticable, for the arrival of new companion; Romana (Mary Tamm). Romana was a (lady) Time Lord, sent as an aide to the Doctor; this version of Romana was not to – every viewer’s liking.

She was highly stand-offish, snooty and intelligent – and not in the least bit phased – by the Doctor’s own standing. Qualities which played brilliantly off of Tom Baker’s Doctor and created a wholly different dynamic, compared to – any of the Fourth Doctor’s other companions.

In terms of the story itself, after the Key-To-Time setup and introduction of Romana, The Ribos Operation – is a tale of greed and double cross, set on the ice-world of Ribos.

Merchant-Baron type’s, bicker, deceive and kill – in the name of greed. Infact, the Doctor himself swaps the Jethrik stone for a quantity of explosive and leaves the hapless Graff Vynda-K to wander off and explode everywhere.

Its not a bad story in itself, it actually plays well enough – as a warm up, to the new series but better episodes – are to come.

???⚪⚪ (3/5)

Old Doctor Who

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