Monday, February 23, 2015

The Cult-TV Theme Watch: Keys

A key is an instrument that is utilized to lock or unlock a door.

Keys have figured prominently in many cult-television series over the years, often as the object of a heroic (or villainous) quest.

A First Doctor (William Hartnell) Doctor Who serial “The Keys of Marinus” involves the Time Lord and his companions (Ian, Barbara and Susan) going on mini-quests for the five keys of Marinus in a time of strife on that world.  The keys must be kept from the invading Voord, and used by a warlord named Yartek to control the Conscience (a computer…) of Marinus.

Much later in Doctor Who history, Season 16 of the series was to devoted to another quest for a key, this time The Key to Time.  The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), Romana (Mary Tamm) and K-9 went in search of the pieces in such serials as “The Ribos Operation,” “The Pirate Planet,” “The Stones of Blood,”  “The Androids of Tara,” “The Power of Kroll,”  and “The Armageddon Factor.”

In the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series Space: 1999 (1975 – 1977), high-tech keys called commlocks were utilized by the personnel of Moonbase Alpha.  These instruments, which were also phones and computer interfaces, could open and close the doors to various sections of the lunar facility, as seen in such episodes as “Earthbound” and “The Beta Cloud.”

In Otherworld (1985), a short-lived series about a family -- the Sterlings -- trapped in an alternate universe, the key or access crystal belonging to a Zone Trooper, Commander Nuveen Kroll, was used to access information about various Provinces.

The same year, V: The Series (1985) saw two gold keys as the activators for the mothership self-destruct sequence.

More recently, a Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) was introduced as Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) sister on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003). The truth, however, was that she was not a normal child, but rather a supernatural “key” that a group of monks had hidden with Buffy on Earth, in human form, to keep her from a demonic God-being called Glory (Clare Kramer). 

If Glory could access and utilize Dawn -- the Key – she could open a supernatural portal, making the walls between universes fall in the process.  Once opened, only the Key’s blood (or the blood of the Slayer…) could seal the rift.

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