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Friday, March 4, 2011
The 1978 series of Doctor Who experimented with a new format, with a story arc running throughout the six stories which made up that year’s crop of adventures. Instead of his usual bohemian wanderings, the Fourth Doctor found himself in the employ of the all-powerful White Guardian, a force for good and order which even the Time Lords of Gallifrey respected. His mission: the trace and reassemble the six segments of the Key to Time, a device which maintains the stability of the entire universe.
Aided by his newly appointed companion, the Time Lady Romana, and old friend K9, the Doctor sets after the first segment on the medieval ice planet of Ribos, where monsters roam the catacombs, the machinations of two sinister adversaries threaten their search, and nothing is really as it seems…
A refreshing change for the long-running series at the time of its original broadcast, the Ribos Operation also holds up well as a self-contained story thanks to the strong script by Who stalwart Robert Holmes, which features his characteristic grasp of what makes the show tick, as well as his penchant for memorable double acts.
Ian Marter’s novelisation admirably makes the most of the excellent dialogue and plotting, whilst embellishing both with atmospheric descriptive touches. The reading by K9 actor John Leeson does it justice, and sets up the ongoing story arc well for future instalments later this year.