Enough talk of that other Baker, I've another story to get through and it's a 6 parter! The conclusion of the quest for the Key to Time is a somewhat dour and grim story for the otherwise fantastical and witty season 16. It does, however, boast a great opening line: "Men out there - young men - are dying for it!" Indeed. Coming at the end of the season, The Armageddon Factor unfortunately has the look of a show desperatley running out of money. Entirely studio-bound with bland grey featureless sets and lacklustre performances, this is easily the weakest story of the season although it's no-where near as bad as Underworld (that would be quite a feat!). We see Lalla Ward make her first appearance, not as Romana but as the rather wet Princess Astra. Ward gives little indication here of how engaging an actress she can be. The very wet Princess Astra is paired here with the even wetter Merak who seems to spend the entire story stumbling around pathetically calling "Astra! Astra!" Then we've got the bumbling Shapp who seems to play everything for comedic effect, the irritating cockney Time Lord Drax, and the Marshall, who spends most of the story staring at himself ina mirror. Behind this mirror we have the very sinister Shadow, possibly the best aspect of this story, a very memorable villain. And finally we get to see what the Black Guardian looks like - a nice bit of deception at the end as he pretends to be the White Guardian. The story feels far too long and padded out with ridiculous stuff like the Doctor being shrunk, the whole Drax subplot is unneccessary, but the main problem with this story is that it's supposed to be about two planets at war with each other, but from all the viewer gets to see it may as well be two small rooms at war with each other - there's just no sense of scale.
The conclusion to the story is also somewhat frustrating as the key to time gets scattered through time - so what was the point of the Doctor going about collecting them all? It seems nothing was achieved.
Ah, well, no more story arcs for a while now, back to good old stand alone stories and it's the Daleks back again next!