At long last the BBC has released the last complete Patrick Troughton
Doctor Who serial that hasn't already
made its way to DVD. The Krotons is a
four-part story that's very average, but still has some interesting
one very notable aspect (more on that later).
It's a fun, if largely forgettable story that will please Who
problaby won't win many converts.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe land on a desolate planet and
decide to have a look around. They
discover a single city that's inhabited by the Gonds, a human-like race
seems to be trapped at a medieval level of technology.
That's because for the last thousand years
they have been ruled by the Krotons, a race they've never seen. All they know is that their ancestors tried to
fight their overlords when they first landed on the planet and the
killed most of them and created the wastelands that surround the city
Not the Krotons guide the Gonds. They have
installed learning machines that
teach the young, but only what the Krotons want them to learn. Many areas of inquiry, such as chemistry and
presumable all other sciences, are forbidden.
In addition to that, periodically the Krotons summon two Gonds
to them, always the smartest of their generation.
As they approach the city, the Doctor and his companion see
one of the latest crop of 'servant' Gonds being executed, and manage to
the second one. Presented with proof
that the Krotons have been killing the best and brightest Gonds for the
millennia, the people rise up in anger.
But how can a people armed with spear and slings defeat
robots that have discovered the secret of space travel, especially when
can't even get at them? The Gonds do
have one advantage though: The Doctor is
on their side.
This is a decent and fun serial, even if it's not very
memorable. The Krotons are a bit weak as
far as villains go. The director, David Maloney, wisely shot them from
waist up and in close-ups so that viewers rarely got a complete picture
silly they look. Even shot as they were,
they're not that menacing. For starters,
they're blind. That's an amazingly huge
flaw and you'd think that their creators would have noticed. As it's the key to an escape that The Doctor
and Zoe make though, it's a good thing no one did.
They're incredibly stupid too; based on the
conversation the two surviving Krotons have though the serial.
But even with a weak villain, the theme of this story is
good. It all revolves around intelligence
and how brains can overcome brawn. The
Krotons keep the Gonds in an underdeveloped state because they fear
happen if they invented acids and powerful weapons, yet they need some
intelligence to power their crippled craft.
After the Kroton's cruelty has been revealed, there's a struggle
two faction in the city, one that wants to rush in and fight the
another that wants to wait until they can develop stronger weapons. Of course The Doctor and Zoe tip the balance
of power, but they council caution too.
While the story does have its flaws (if the Krotons needed
raw intellectual power, why did they kill off the smartest Gonds
nurturing their intelligence?) it's still makes for an enjoyable
afternoon. That's largely due to the
three main actors who have a wonderful amount of chemistry together. They feel like a family or a group of friends
rather than a student and his pupils, as is often the case in the
series. Troughton also shines, as he
usually does, playing the buffoon while really being the smartest one
room (or on the planet, as is often the case.)
This serial is also auspicious because it marks the first
time that the great Robert Holmes (Spearhead
from Space, Terror of the Autons, The Ark
In Space, The Brain of Morbius, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and many
penned a script for Doctor Who. It's his
freshman effort, so it's natural that it doesn't reach the peaks that
stories would, but there's still a bit of humor and giddiness to be
you look for it.
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the
generally crisp and clear and there is no background noise, tape hiss,
distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
The Restoration Team has worked their magic once more and the full
B&W image looks amazing. I was
really impressed with the sharp and clear picture.
The level of detail is excellent, the blacks
are deep, and the image is stable. This
is one of the best looking black and white episodes of Doctor
Who to be released.
You'll be pleased.
This single-disc release has some nice extras.
First off is a commentary track featuring actors Philip Madoc
appear in a few later Doctor Who
serials), Richard Ireson and Gilbert Wynne, assistant floor manager
Tilley, make-up designer Sylvia James, costume designer Bobi Bartlett,
special sounds designer Brian Hodgson. They
all appear on different episodes, but the one constant is moderator
extraordinaire Toby Hadoke. I really
enjoy this 'round robin' approach to the commentary tracks. Each person might not have enough to say to
fill up the entire serial, but together they come up with enough trivia
amusing anecdotes to make the time fly by.
The video extras start off with a great overview of
Troughton's tenure on the show, Second
Time Around. It successfully puts
Troughton's time on the show into perspective, reminding viewers just
and risky it was to replace the well-loved actor playing the title role
popular show. With quotes from the crew
and staff of the show who are no longer with us and ample interviews
that are, the nearly hour-long documentary traces the second Doctor's
adventures though his two seasons. It's
an excellent tribute and, dare I say it, better than serial on this
Next up is Doctor Who
Stories: Frazier Hines (Part 1), a talk with the actor who played
about his time on the show. It's an
interesting interview and well worth watching.
That's followed by another discussion with fans, The
Doctor's Strange Love. I
actually like these segments, even though I've heard mixed comments
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It does give some dry
statistics, like how many people viewed each episode, but there are
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
with, a couple of photo galleries, and the listings from the Radio
While this isn't a great story, it's not bad either.
There are some plot holes and the villains
are pretty forgettable, but it's great fun watching Jamie, Zoe, and The
save a civilization. Those three have a
lot of screen chemistry and the show was never dull when they were on