We've not forgotten our Key to Time quest dear readers and indeed have now watched up to the end of The Pirate Planet, but as I'm sure you know how it is; real life gets in the way from working late at the office or getting delayed home when the transport system grounds to a halt.
But enough of that. The Ribos Operation was a pretty good story overall. My first introduction to this story was Ian Marter's novelisation which I've never finished because frankly it's extremely dull and turgid. Thankfully it's screen counterpart was nothing of the sort and full of a breezy energy. All the guest stars are really giving it their all and Robert Holmes is the master of painting larger than life characters. The warmth with which Iain Cuthbertson plays Garron makes him a loveable rogue who deserved to come back and is definitely a precursor to Glitz (and a superior one at that, Tony Selby made Glitz too cuddly when the character was supposed to be far more morally ambigous).
It's Nigel Plaskitt however who really shines. Overshadowed a bit in the first episode he comes his own in the rest of the story and contrast the comedic way in which he plays a Riban bumpkin with the scringe stone to the compassion he shows to Binro the Heratic when on the run from the authorities. Whilst the introduction of Binro could seem like padding, especially as it doesn't really impact on the plot overall, it's masterly in fleshing out a convincing history of Ribos in a way that other info dumping stories can only envy. No "It was on the planet Ribos when my old enemy the Black Guardian...." nonsense here.
I take back my criticism of the Shrivenzale from the previous entry. In the scenes in the catacombs the suitably dark atmosphere means they're not so obviously plastic and rubbish and they do seem like quite the formidable critter and could probably hold their own against a Magma Beast.
I won't spoil the ending for those who've not seen this story yet but if you thought the Seventh or Tenth Doctors were the ones to be scared of, think again.
More The Ribos Operation reviews over at The Patient Centurion Blog