“You have no value.”
Sadly, much of Patrick Troughton’s era was erased for saving a few pounds. Perhaps even sadder is that much of his greatest episodes are lost and some of the more pedestrian ones did not suffer the same fate. No crying over spilt milk. It does mark the beginning of a relationship that will flower in later years.
The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazier Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) arrive on the planet of the Gonds, who are ruled and taught in a form of self-perpetuating slavery by the mysterious, unseen Krotons. When the time travelers arrive they witness a native stumble out of a doorway and vaporized. Entering into the city, they witness a similar doorway and a ceremony. Periodically, the two most brilliant Gond students are received into the doorway, apparently to become “companions” of the Krotons.
Vana (Madeline Mills) has been chosen to become a companion, but leader Selris’ (James Copeland) son Thara (Gilbert Wynne) loves her and violently opposes her going behind the foreboding door as no one ever returns. The Doctor recognizes the outfit of Vana as being the same as the boy they saw vaporized before she goes into the Kroton’s door. The Doctor and company go to the exit door and rescue the comatose Vana before annihilation, but they now have to discover the secret of the Krotons to restore her mind.
The Krotons marks the first contribution of Robert Holmes to Doctor Who. It would be a fruitful relationship that would stretch across five Doctors. The Krotons, to my modern eyes, plays like many a Who episode as a society discovers that their benefactors might not be as good as they thought. However, I’m also wondering if this isn’t the first(ish) time this may have been covered in the series. That being said, the Krotons isn’t such a bad romp with Troughton playing a forgetful tramp that is really hiding his intelligence. He’s joined in camaraderie by the fine team of Jamie and Zoe, Zoe the on occasion smarter than the Doctor and Jamie the dedicated and loyal muscle.
The Krotons may have been trying for a Dalek replacement, but they’re bulky and stumble around a lot. When they encounter a problem their heads spin so that I expected steam to come out of their ears… if they had any. They’re also saddled with a skirt to hide the legs of their operators. Not a good look for them. Perhaps it’s just the familiarity of the storyline (Doctor and company discover a society with sinister leaders and then save the day) but Holmes was just starting out in the show and the best was yet to come from the writer. It is lifted by Troughton though.
I shant sacrifice the Krotons as I was entertained but I might still trade it for some of the more expansive and wanted second Doctor stories.
The Krotons is presented in fullscreen. Special features include a commentary with actors Phillip Madoc, Richard Ireson, and Gilbert Wynne, assistant floor manager David Tilley, make-up designer Sylvia James, costume designer Bobi Bartlett, sound designer Brian Hodgson, and moderation by Toby Hadoke, a pop-up trivia track, the 52 minute “Second Time Around” that looks at Troughton’s time as the Doctor, the 17 minute “Doctor Who Stories: Frazier Hines (Part 1)” that has the actor telling tales form his time in the TARDIS, the 7 minute “The Doctor’s Strange Love” that looks at the episode from the fan’s eyes, a photo gallery, and the Radio Times Listings on DVD-ROM.
The Krotons might not be the most loved or sought after of Doctor Two’s era, but it is an entertaining romp. What does make it very nice is that there’s a wonderful look at Troughton’s era in the special features that does make you long that maybe one day Evil of the Daleks or many of the others show up one day.
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