Make your own free website on

16x1. The Ribos Operation
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: George Spenton-Foster
Script Editor: Anthony Read
Producer: Graham Williams

Synopsis: The Doctor is contacted by a being known as the "White Guardian," who enlists his help to locate the six segments of the Key To Time, an enormously powerful object that must occasionally be reassembled to prevent the universe from falling into chaos. A fellow Time Lord, Romana, is brought in to help him in this task, and they travel to Ribos, where the search for the first segment involves them in a complex web of political agendas and double-crosses.

Review: "The Ribos Operation" -- and, more broadly, the 16th season in general -- makes its mark by giving the Doctor a "mission" to complete ahead of time as opposed to having him just wander into a situation that somehow prompts his involvement. While he and Romana do side against the Graff Vynda-K, easily the most malicious and dangerous of any of the individuals involved in the situation, they remain focused on their priority of finding the segment, regarding the scheming of the con artists Garron and Unstoffe with relative indifference. It's also interesting to see that, perhaps in a slight echo of the conflict between the Second and Third Doctors in "The Three Doctors," the Doctor doesn't initially take well to the idea of having someone around who can match his perspective and intelligence (namely Romana). Rather than bickering with him, she takes a more aloof approach, making it clear that she's not all that impressed by his reputation, even mocking his academic performance during his time as a student on Gallifrey. Romana is a worthwhile departure from the "subordinate" role that companions typically play, and as is often the case in a Robert Holmes serial, there has clearly been some thought put into the background of the various guest characters and their civilizations. While it isn't as thematically rich as Holmes' very best efforts, it's still a solid start to the new season and to the Key To Time arc.

Rating: *** (out of four)

Back to the main Doctor Who Reviews page.