So while drawing I went ahead and skipped The Power of Kroll -- yeah, that's right, I skipped it, whatcha gonna do about that? Nothing? I thought so -- and went straight to the final story of the Doctor Who Key to Time sequence, The Armageddon Factor. And I have to say... Arma-geddon tired of these cheesy plotlines!! ROFL LOL LOL LOL!!
No, no, I'm kidding. It wasn't too bad. Which is to say that it admittedly wasn't good, precisely, either. The story gets off to a rollicking start, with a full-blown nuclear war going on between two formerly friendly planets, Atrios and Zeos. What's the story? How did the war start? Will the brave Princess Astra, played by the totally hawt Lalla Ward in her initial appearance on the show, be able to use her diplomatic skills, love of peace, and total hawtness to bring about an end to the war? Mystery piles upon mystery when it turns out that nobody has seen a live Zeosian since the war began. Is it shocking when Zeos turns out to be abandoned, its whole war effort running under computer control of a mysterious third party? Could this third party be in the employ of the Black Guardian, manipulating everything as part of an epic scheme to draw in the Doctor and seize the rest of the Key to Time?!!!
Well, yes, of course it could be. Unfortunately, while the first half of the story cooks along nicely the rest of it is terribly flabby. There is way too much of people accidentally blundering into the conveniently located transmat which zaps them between Atrios, Zeos, and the bad guys' base on the Planet of Evil whenever the epically meandering plot dictates. (As an aside: The Black Guardian's cats-paw is called The Shadow, and he lives on a space station called the Planet of Evil. Chortle: not exactly subtle, is this guy?) Fully five episodes into the story we get introduced to an old classmate of the Doctor's who happens to be stranded on the Guardian's base, and then there's this whole crazy thing with a shrink ray and... Man, they really needed to start learning that an hour and a half of the way into the story is a bit late to start adding plot points.
Also, I'd entertained the hope that Romana would make it all the way through at least one entire story without getting kidnapped. No such luck, sadly.
Folded into four episodes this would have been a decent conclusion to the Key to Time; there's a lot of good elements here to play with. But as it is, there's simultaneously too much story and too little. In particular, while we're messing around with the usual running through corridors, getting captured, and whatnot, we never actually learn what the deal is with Zeos. The planet is many years abandoned and the war running under computer control: where did the Zeosians go? Did the Shadow kill them all? I suppose one can make that deduction, but the story never says. It's a giant missing spot, and all the more curious because it would have highlighted the utter evil of the guy we're supposed to be hating here. Exterminating an entire planet through biological warfare, seizing control of its military forces, and using them to start an atomic war against its closest ally, all to manipulate some innocent guy you've never even met? That's just rotten, but it gets very little attention through all of six episodes.
Ah well. While I do go on like a whiny fanboy sometimes, I didn't hate this story. And I will also admit that the low-cut gown Mary Tamm was wearing was extremely good at distracting me from the holes in the plot. Oops, I don't think I was supposed to say that part out loud.