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Doctor Who: The Key to Time (Limited Edition Numbered Complete 7 Disc Box set) [DVD]

Tom Baker , Mary Tamm    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Lalla Ward, Valentine Dyall, Philip Madoc
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Sep 2007
  • Run Time: 650 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000R27JRS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,123 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Uniting six complete stories across a full series of Doctor Who in one quest, the Key To Time saga is an ambitious, sometimes too ambitious, piece of television that nonetheless has plenty within it to recommend it.

Starring Tom Baker as Doctor Who he's given a quest by the White Guardian to track down the six constituent parts of the Key to Time. Thus, each of the six stories sees the Doctor and Mary Tamm's Romana hunting down one of the segments.

In many ways showing the highs and the lows of Doctor Who in the late 1970s, the Key To Time has some very distinct highlights. The Pirate Planet, for instance, is a cracking story in its own right (written by Douglas Adams), and we're also fans of The Androids Of Tara and the story that wraps the saga up, The Armageddon Factor. Ironically, it all gets off to a low start with the tepid The Ribos Operation, while The Power Of Kroll is just silly. Even by Doctor Who standards!

Nonetheless, this is a significant and very worthy entry in the Doctor Who canon, with both Tamm and Baker on top form. There's also some cracking episodes within the Key to Time, and a real feeling of risks being taken with a long-running property. --Jon Foster

Product Description


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By John
It was rather salutary watching these stories after ploughing through Time-Flight & Arc of Infinity recently. The Key To Time stories have a rather tatty, dashed-off quality, in terms of both writing & production, but what struck me in comparison with the confused, bickersome Davidson/Nyssa/Tegan team-up was how witty, charming & stylish they are. Tom Baker & Mary Tamm (& K-9) play off each other in a continually entertaining way & the writing manages to be adult, sharp & funny while being accessible to children (the reverse of the Arc of Infinity, which had childish dialogue & was incomprehensible in its premisses).

The Ribos Operation was the story I had least fond memories of, being studio-bound & faux-medieval & essentially slight, but the restoration team have really given it a pleasing visual tone: it came across as stylised & quite richly textured & coloured rather than something cheaply shot on video. There's a sense of fun to the whole thing, though there's definitely a sense that everyone - particularly the excellent Ian Cuthbertson - has only the barest grasp on his or her lines, & is stumbling through getting them right for one take.

The Pirate Planet is the most intelligent story, & the most science-fictional. The restoration team went back (I think) to the original negatives for all the exterior footage, shot on film, with the curious result that the drab, muddy & nondescript bits of moorland suddenly look rich & lively, instead of letting the whole thing down.
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Season Long Story 7 Jun 2007
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
The Key To Time season was the idea of Graham Williams, the producer of Doctor Who to do something that had never been attempted before on the series, that was to essentialy have an entire season length story of 26 episodes but divided into six seperate, but loosely linked narratives.

The William Hartnell era of the show regularly had stories link into one another but prior knowledge of the previous story was not necessary, with The Key To Time season however, it is necessary to a certain extent.

The format for the season is a variation on the 'Quest scenario' for an enormously powerful object that has been split into six segments and scattered throughout time and space, each of the six stories is the Doctor's attempt to locate one of the segments and reconstruct the Key.

The Doctor is sent on his quest by the White Guardian one of the two controlling higher beings of the cosmos, the White Guardian is the Guardian of light in time and is essentialy there to maintain the balance between good and evil, he has an opposite number the Black Guardian who is of course the embodiment of all that is evil and dark. The balance between light and darkness or good and evil is slipping out of phase into the favour of darkness and the White Guardian needs the key to restore the balance, the two Guardians are forbidden to directly involve themselves in universal affairs and must recruit agents whom they can manipulate and carry out their will, thus the White Guardian has recruited the Doctor and the Black Guardian, who also requires the Key, has agents placed in position to prevent the Doctor from carrying out his mission and seize the Key themselves.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Hector Lerbioz VINE VOICE
I was not really looking forward to the materialisation of this boxset, thinking that I was already too familiar with these 6 serials from 1978. Isn't it lovely to be wrong sometimes? This is one of the best old-school DR WHO DVD releases this year and not just because the extras are so great(more on them later). From the moment the Doctor is hired by Cyril Luckham's godlike White Guardian to search time and space for the all-powerful Key to Time, this sequence of 6 stories is never less than fun, if occasionally silly.

Seeing THE RIBOS OPERATION again after several years was probably the biggest surprise for me as I'd previously dismissed it as a bore. Yes, it's a little stagey, containing polystyrene snow and rubbery monsters but it's also a sweet little character study. There's an effective balance here of mildly amusing comedy, along with characters chasing each other around in corridors or catacombs looking like they actually mean it. Tom Baker appears to be enjoying himself, and his delight in the schemes of rogueish intergalactic con-man Garron, played by the excellent Iain Cuthbertson, mirrors my own. Written by popular WHO veteran, Robert Holmes, the show is really about long term working partnerships (or "Holmesian double acts", if you must).

THE PIRATE PLANET is a love it or hate it affair. I'm inclined to defend it as I've always liked Douglas Adams' humour and inventiveness. It also features the best monster of the season (sort of) in the form of Bruce Purchase's Pirate Captain, who's a blustering, bellowing, eye-rolling nutter with an interesting motivation. The fight between his robot parrot and K-9 is a highlight of the season and again Tom Baker looks like he's having fun but not at the expense of his performance - witness the blistering "then what's it for?!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I've got the key, I've got the secret...
Gorgeous limited edition set containing the famous 'Key to Time' season fom 1978 in its entirety.
Oft-maligned by 'fans', the season saw The Doctor and new companion, Timelady... Read more
Published on 20 May 2011 by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag of stories but a great boxed set
The Key to Time is a genuine rarity in DVD circles: a limited edition release that genuinely was limited and quickly sold out (although 2Entertain are apparently planning to... Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2009 by Trevor Willsmer
4.0 out of 5 stars " A Game of 6 Halves"
The Doctor is recruited by The White Guardian played charmingly in a sombre opening scene by an elegant Cyril Luckham, to locate 6 segments of the Key to Time. Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2009 by Bob Marlowe
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Season
Season 16, aka The Key To Time season, is one of the most enjoyable, wacky, imaginative and ambitious seasons in Dr Who's history. Read more
Published on 23 July 2009 by M. Evans
3.0 out of 5 stars It may be 'classic' Doctor Who but these stories aren't the best
Even if the rumours are false about the "Key To Time" series eventually being re-issued in an unlimited edition (at a reasonable price), I don't think the 100+ asking price on... Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2009 by Mr. Stuart Bruce
4.0 out of 5 stars The Highlight Of The Graham Williams Era
Creating a story arc as long as this in the 1970's was something which was fairly radical, and Williams should be applauded for being so brave in attempting this with the limited... Read more
Published on 24 July 2008 by Mr. I. Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars These DVDs are to re-issued
This is a great set but for all you Doctor Who fans that did'nt have the chance to buy this numbered edition box set don't fret as the doctor who restoration team(great site check... Read more
Published on 22 May 2008 by S. P. Ridley
4.0 out of 5 stars don't pay silly prices for this
In the latest issue of DWM it is reported that it will be re issued - but not in a ltd edition numbered set.
Published on 12 Feb 2008 by Me
3.0 out of 5 stars Mmm Better Than I Remember
I remember being hugely disappointed by this season when it was first shown, even though it followed one of the worst stories ever - The Invasion of Time. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2008 by Greg
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Brilliant!
This was a once off effort from Doctor Who, particularly in the classic era. A whole series dedicated to one overarching story arc. Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2007 by JA Fairhurst
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