selected from TV Zone #113

Kathy sets up camp

Martin Rayner is a) Dr Chaotica! and b) interviewed in this issue!
Martin Rayner is
a) Dr Chaotica! and
b) interviewed in this issue!

Voyager accidentally gets held captive by photonic invaders who believe the characters on the holodeck – namely Tom Paris’ Captain Proton programme – to be real, and the ship itself to be fictitious. This is compounded by the evil Doctor Chaotica zapping at the aliens with his death ray. It is down to Captain Janeway to enter the program and get her ship back. She must become Queen Arachnia of the Spider People.

Bride of Chaotica! is the biggest piece of camp nonsense I have ever seen, and it is just wonderful. Taking the essence of 1930s Science Fiction and running it through the Glitter-O-Matic, we have the screaming secretary, the death rays, the fortresses of doom and a delicious robot who’s hindered gait is used to great comic effect. It’s pure parody in the line of DSN’s Our Man Bashir – self aware and so very indulgent.

One minor gripe is that it takes half an hour to get going, but without all the technobabble scenes, we wouldn’t get the glorious look off Janeway when she’s first informed of her mission, and then later her costume. Kate Mulgrew is clearly having a ball playing the ultra-camp Arachnia, and manages to walk the fine line between resent of having to do this and sheer enjoyment of the experience for, oh, 10 seconds. From here on in it’s pure high camp, with melodramatic gestures, looks and plots.

Episode E12
First Aired: 27 January 1999
Reviewed by Dan Ranger

Gasp! at Arachnia’s fabulous melodramatic gestures! Scream! with delight at Martin Rayner’s marvellous Chaotica! Thrill! at Bride of Chaotica! A joy from start to finish.


“This is a six week game… automatic lock-in”

Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus

Ever watched the Crystal Maze on a black and white television through a net-curtain? Almost certainly not, but if you have seen UK Gold’s murky copy of The Keys of Marinus you have undergone the nearest comparable experience. This video release effectively removes the net-curtain. The team has done a marvellous job of restoring the masters and the image quality is now the definition of clarity. If you happen to like this story, and don’t mind forking out for two videos when the material could comfortably fit on one, then don’t hesitate to buy it.
It’s a big ‘if’ though...

This very early Doctor Who story could tactfully be described as ‘leisurely’. The tale features Arbitan, who dwells in a pyramid on a glass beach, surrounded by a sea of acid and with only the super-computer ‘Conscience of Marinus’ for company. Unfortunately the computer will not function without its five micro-circuits, the eponymous ‘keys’. In Richard O’ Brien fashion, Arbitan dispatches the doctor and his companions to face challenges on some unfeasibly disparate planet zones, in order to fetch the micro-circuits before the renegade Voords – looking suitably menacing in their wetsuits, flippers and Teletubby antennae – can get to them.

Each of the intervening episodes focuses on a different combination of characters. In the splendid Velvet Web the regulars are imprisoned in an illusionary Neo-classical palace. The Screaming Forest sees Ian and Barbara confronting murderous fast-growing vines and an old man’s collection of cardboard booby traps. In The Snows of Terror Barbara escapes from a randy trapper’s advances only to inadvertently defrost some guardian warriors. Finally, in the tedious Sentence of Death, Ian is fitted up for murder in a state with an inverted judicial system.

BBC Video, U cert
Reviewed by Gareth Thomas
Price: £16.99
Out now (PAL)

Watched in a single sitting, The Keys of Marinus can only be recommended as a soporific. It is best treated as a miniature precursor of the Key to Time season, as a story arc of three adventures linked by the Arbitan narrative. On this condition, and that each adventure be judged on its particular merits, The Keys of Marinus can be cautiously recommended.

also reviewed in this issue: new episodes of Buffy • The X-Files • LEXX • Deep Space Nine • Highlander: The Raven plus books and videos for Star Trek • Merlin • The Simpsons • Red Dwarf VII • Robot Wars and Willo the Wisp

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