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Doctor Who - BBC Video Announces a Key To Time: Special Edition for North America


Available both as a 7-DVD box set, and as separate releases, this coming March

Posted by David Lambert
10/29/2008
 
    In a story arc that continues throughout Season 16, the White Guardian gives the Doctor a quest to find the six disguised segments of the Key to Time which, when assembled, will be used to restore the balance of the cosmos. To aid him he is given a new companion, a female Time Lord called Romana, and a tracer device.
Way back in October 2002, when there were only about seven or so DVD releases for Doctor Who in North America so far, BBC Video (and distributor Warner Home Video) released Doctor Who - Key To Time: The Complete Adventure, containg the entire 16th Season of the show, with stories 98, 99, 100, 101, 102 and 103. This classic year-long adventure of the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) was well-received among American fans, but - as I mentioned in my review at the time (back when I actually did reviews) - it wasn't *quite* as good as the other releases, and begged for an eventual upgrade to bring it up to the usual standard. Six years (and some 60-odd more releases) later, the BBC has announced that we're going to get just such an upgrade!

This morning BBC/Warner revealed that March 3, 2009 will see the release of Doctor Who - Key To Time: Special Edition. This new 7-disc set contains all six serials (4 episodes each, except for the last one which has 6) in one big package, or you will be able to get each serial separately. The pricing of the box set is $99.98 SRP in the USA (CA$124.98 SRP in Canada). The first five serials, each with one disc, are available individually for $24.98 SRP in the USA (CA$30.90 SRP in Canada). The sixth serial in the set, The Armageddon Factor, is a two-disc set that will be available separately for $34.98 SRP in the USA (CA$43.98 SRP in Canada).

There are over 450 minutes worth of new extras included in this title. These installments are all newly remastered for this release by the Doctor Who Restoration Team, and according to their website will contain the following bonus material (episode descriptions are provided by Warner):
  • Doctor Who - Story #098: The Ribos Operation: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 98 mins)
      Having left Leela on Gallifrey, the Doctor and K9 Mark II dont remain footloose for long. The TARDIS is soon intercepted by the White Guardian. The White Guardian sets the Doctor on an urgent mission to locate the six segments of the Key to Time, which are well disguised and hidden in odd corners of time and space. Once assembled, the Key will allow the White Guardian to restore balance to a universe descending into evil and chaos. To assist the Doctor the White Guardian has appointed Romana, fresh out of the Time Lord Academy and none too well traveled. Despite an initial bout of "negative empathy," the Doctor and Romana trace the first segments signal to Ribos, a remote, backward planet that suffers from 32-year winters. There they are surprised to meet other interplanetary travelers, who include two conmen, Garron and Unstoffe, and the Graff Vynda-K, a warlord in the market for an inexpensive planet.
      • Commentary with Tom Baker and Mary Tamm
      • A Matter of Time - A new 60-minute Documentary
      • The Ribos File - Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of this story
      • Continuities - off-air continuity links from the story's original BBC1 transmission
      • Season 16 Trailer - BBC1 trailer for the forthcoming season
      • Photo Gallery


  • Doctor Who - Story #099: The Pirate Planet: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 100 mins)
      As the Doctor, Romana and K9 head for the planet Calufrax in search of the second segment of the Key to Time, they are in for a surprise when the TARDIS brings them to Zanak, an entirely different planet occupying the same space coordinates. Did Romana take a wrong turn when she navigated by the book? No, the tracer registers that the segment is near. Nothing is as it seems in this story by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). The populace of Zanak lead affluent lives, thanks to the mysterious mechanizations of the Captain. He regularly announces a new age of prosperity, and most of the people accept the extraordinary turn in their fortune without further examination. Little do they imagine that their benefactor hidden on a forbidden mountaintop is a roaring space pirate whose best friend is Polyphase Avitron, a cyber-parrot that brings death to anyone who displeases its master. All these elements will come together to reveal the greatest crime in the galaxy and the second segment of the Key to Time as well.
      • 2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
        • Commentary with Bruce Purchase and director Pennant Roberts
        • Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and script editor Anthony Read
      • Parrot Fashion - Documentary that includes old and new interviews, including Douglas Adams
      • Film Inserts, Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
      • Weird Science - A funny look at the science seen in The Key to Time
      • Continuities - off-air continuity links from the story's original BBC1 transmission
      • Photo Gallery


  • Doctor Who - Story #100: The Stones Of Blood: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 95 mins)
      The search for the third segment of the Key to Time leads the Doctor and Romana to the English countryside and an ancient stone circle called the Nine Travelers. There they meet Professor Amelia Rumford and her friend Vivien Fay, who are conducting a new survey of the stones. Curiously, the number of stones has not been consistent in the historical sources the professor has researched. The circle is also sacred ground to a cult of druids. Dismissed as harmless crackpots by Vivien, they are in fact deadly serious in their worship of the Cailleach, the Celtic goddess of war, death and magic. Some practitioners are willing to resort to human sacrifice to serve the goddesss ever increasing demand for fresh blood. Though the tracer has led the Doctor and Romana to the Nine Travelers, none of the stones actually registers as the segment. Before that mystery is solved, the Doctor will need to explain why he drove Romana over a cliff and how enormous boulders are able to move about the countryside at will.
      • 2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
        • Commentary with Mary Tamm and director Darrol Blake
        • Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Susan Engel and writer David Fisher
      • Getting Blood from the Stones - Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of this story
      • Hammer Horror - Featurette about the influences of horror films on Doctor Who stories
      • Stones Free - Mary Tamm visits the Rollright Stones location and talks to local experts
      • Deleted Scenes
      • Continuities - off-air continuity links from the story's original BBC1 transmission
      • Excerpt from 'The Model World of Robert Symes'
      • Blue Peter segment about the 15th anniversary of Doctor Who
      • BBC's Nationwide news program segment about the 15th anniversary of Doctor Who
      • Photo Gallery


  • Doctor Who - Story #101: The Androids Of Tara: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 97 mins)
      Getting the fourth segment of the Key to Time is the easiest part of the trip to the planet Tara, whose idyllic atmosphere lulls the Doctor into a mood to go fishing and leave the segment-tracing to Romana. She locates it after a short walk on a beautiful day, but her luck changes when she meets the courtly Count Grendel. Contrary to appearances, Tara is a hotbed of political intrigue, and beneath its Old World veneer lies a surprising advanced level of technological development that includes lifelike androids and electric swords. Count Grendel mistakes Romana for an android double of Princess Strella, and carries her away for future use in his plot to wrench the crown from its rightful claimant, Prince Reynart. Meanwhile, the Doctor arouses suspicion when Prince Reynarts men discover him fishing on the princes estate. Before he and Romana are reunited, the Doctor will be unwillingly thrust in the roles of android repair-man, king-maker and ultimately, swordsman when finds himself locking swords with Grendel, the finest swordsman of all Tara.
      • Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and director Michael Hayes
      • The Humans of Tara - Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of this story
      • Now & Then: The Androids of Tara - compares and contrasts present day locations as they are now with how they appeared in the story
      • Double Trouble - a brief history of 'doubles' in other Doctor Who stories
      • Photo Gallery


  • Doctor Who - Story #102: The Power Of Kroll: Special Edition (1 DVD; 4 episodes; 90 mins)
      The search for the fifth segment of the Key to Time brings the Doctor and Romana to the swampy terrain of the third moon of the planet Delta Magna. Almost immediately, they become separated. The Doctor draws fire when he is mistaken for Rohm-Dutt, a notorious gunrunner wanted for supplying firearms to the Swampies, an aboriginal people who were displaced to the marshy moon when human colonists took possession of Delta Magna. A small team from Delta Magna are now developing a refinery in the Swampies' promised territory, but the Swampies are confident that, properly armed, they can drive the humans away. Meanwhile, Romana has been captured by the Swampies and prepared as a sacrificial offering to their god, the mighty Kroll. Thwarting the sacrifice (in which the god was nothing more than a Swampie priest in fancy dress), the Doctor and Romana have incurred the wrath of Ranquin, a fanatical high priest to Kroll. Legendary or not, something is stirring beneath the swamp floor and, if the refinery's instrument readings are correct, it measures five miles across!
      • Commentary with Tom Baker and John Leeson
      • In Studio - a glimpse inside the studio during recording of the story
      • Variations - a BBC local news programme visits the story's location during filming
      • There's Something About Mary - Mary Tamm looks back at her single-season starring role as the Doctor's companion
      • Philip Madoc: A Villain for All Seasons - Madoc looks back on his numerous roles as a Doctor Who villain down the years
      • Continuities - off-air continuity links from the story's original BBC1 transmission
      • Photo Gallery


  • Doctor Who - Story #103: The Armageddon Factor: Special Edition (2 DVDs; 6 episodes; 147 mins)
      The last stretch of the quest for the Key to Time brings the Doctor and Romana to the planet Atrios in the last days of a nuclear war with its neighboring planet Zeos. The Atrian ruler, Princess Astra, presses for peace, but the Marshal insists that his forces can win the war. Those near the Marshal fear that his judgment is suffering from the strain of command. He has taken to making most of his decisions following meditations before a strange black mirror. The Princess has disappeared, and the Marshal now rules unopposed. Have the Doctor and Romana arrived too late to complete their mission before Atrios is destroyed? When the Doctor learns that no living Atrian has ever met a Zeon, he proposes to travel to Zeos to negotiate for peace and the return of Princess Astra, who seems to be linked in some way to the sixth segment. He finds the planet deserted. There are no living Zeons, but they left the computer running, and its programmed for Mutual Assured Destruction.
      • 2 Audio Commentary Tracks:
        • Commentary with Mary Tamm, John Woodvine and director Michael Hayes
        • Commentary with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and John Leeson
      • DVD-ROM: 1979 Doctor Who Annual in Adobe PDF format
      • Defining Shadows - Cast and Crew Interviews about the making of this story
      • Alternative / Extended Scene
      • Directing Who - Michael Hayes looks back on his directing career on Doctor Who
      • Rogue Time Lords - a potted history of errant Time Lords
      • Pebble Mill at One - Tom Baker interview from 1978
      • Radiophonic Feature - a Pebble Mill at One interview looking at Radiophonic music and effects in Doctor Who
      • The New Sound of Music - Dick Mills talks about creating Doctor Who sound effects
      • Merry Christmas, Doctor Who - a special Christmas sketch, recorded on the set of 'The Armageddon Factor' for the BBC Christmas Tape that year
      • Continuities - off-air continuity links from the story's original BBC1 transmission
      • Photo Gallery
      • Late Night Story - Tom Baker reads five spine-chilling stories from this 1978 series:
        • The Photograph by Nigel Kneale
        • The Emissary by Ray Bradbury
        • Nursery Tea by Mary Danby
        • The End of the Party by Graham Greene
        • Sredni Vashtar by Saki (never broadcast)
      • Easter Egg

Adding up the running times provided by Warner gives us 627 minutes for the box set. All episodes are presented in full frame video, with the original English mono audio and with English subtitles. Package art isn't available yet for the Special Edition individual releases, but here is the package art for the Doctor Who - Key To Time: Special Edition box set:

Doctor Who - Key To Time: Special Edition box art
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