Written by: Robert Holmes.
Companions: The Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot.
Brief Synopsis: The Gonds have been enslaved by the crystalline aliens, the Krotons.
The Krotons is, to my recent memory at least, the dullest Doctor Who story of all time.
I was excited to be joined by my good friend Ed Blagrove for this next viewing in my epic Doctor Who pilgrimage. We we're both pleased to see that this was the great Robert Holmes first script for Doctor Who. Holmes would go on to write what are considered to be some of the very best episodes or Doctor Who ever including: The Talons of Weng Chiang, The Cave of Androzani, and the Time Warrior to name but a few. I explained to Ed that The Krotons was actually a last minute replacement for an abandoned gender swap satire called The Amazons and later The Prison in Space by writer Dick Sharples, which has recently be remounted in audio form as part of the Big Finish Lost Stories range.
As The Krotons has not yet been released on DVD I gave Ed the option of the Itunes download version or the crackly characterful VHS. With my agreement he chose the VHS; in all it's dated glory. We sat down in my living room in front of my massive 52" screen and began. Ed's first observation was "The Krotons was never meant to be watched on a tv this big!" We both gave a sigh of nostalgia as we saw the old 1988-91 BBC Video ident but it was all down hill from there.
The plot of the Krotons is practically non-existant. The Gonds are ruled over by the organic crystalline beings, the Krotons; which no one has ever seen. Their ship, the Dynatrope crash landed on the Gond's planet leaving them powerless. In order to reform themselves and take off they need to harvest mental power, unfortunately the Gonds ain't the brightest bunch. Periodically the Gonds are tested and the two brightest people are welcomed to become "Companions of the Krotons." In truth they have their mental energy drained, after which they are killed. When the TARDIS arrives the Doctor and Zoe use the Kroton's teaching machine and have sufficient mental power to substantiate the Krotons. After learning what the Krotons have been up to the Gonds rebel, but it is the Doctor who manges to destroy them and their ship by using an impure form of sulphuric acid.
|Troughton and Padbury make an excellent comic duo.|
At the end of the first episode we don't really say anything. We both agree that James Copeland is pretty awful as Selris, the Gond's leader. The only joy to be found in this story is in it's comic moments between the Doctor and Zoe. There's a lot of fun when they both take the Kroton's test, and Zoe does better than the Doctor.
|Nice skirts Brummies.|
Once the Krotons stop being all crystalline slurry they form into what looks remarkably like taller versions of the Quarks. The hexagonal based designs of the ship and these odd beings are actually pretty cool. Unfortunately the budget must have run out around about the actor inside's knees as we get a sort of metal looking skirt. The Kroton's are famous for having the rather unusual disposition of a Birmingham accent (Does every planet have a Midlands??). The Kroton's voice artists Roy Skelton and Patrick Tull were actually going for a South African lilt, to tie the story in with the serious then-current issues of apartheid, unfortunately it just sounds like some a couple of Brummies trying to take over the world.
Ed and I both agree that this isn't a bad story it's just very very dull. We do, however, both like Zoe's new costume, or lack there of. At one point in the story, my flatmate RJ who was also in the room, chimed in with, "Wow, this really backs up all the stories you hear about Doctor Who and people running around quarries in silly clothes."
At one point a Kroton seems to destroy the TARDIS and Ed and I both awoke from our vegetative state, but oh, no don't worry it's just moved. The Doctor had set the HADS. The Hostile action displacement system.
The most exciting thing that happened in the whole viewing process was after we stopped for a loo break, came back and the VHS got all speeded up and wouldn't play. I had to take it out and blow on it and give it the old lucky tap. (Ah, how I love earth technology.)
|Philip Madoc as Eelek.|
With Robert Holmes at the pen, Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and the excellent Philip Madoc making his first appearance in Doctor Who this just should have been better. The story finally picks up in the dwindling minutes of the last episode, but it is too little too late.
Ed scores The Krotons with a generous 2/10. Explaining one point is for Patrick Troughton and the other is for Zoe's skirt. We discuss briefly how there are so many missing stories especially from Troughton's era and yet this remains. I gave The Krotons 0.5/10 which is the lowest score I have yet given; beating even The Web Planet which I gave 1/10. I didn't like that one but at least it had some sort of originality to it. I finish our little fest by stating, "I almost wish it was lost." Ed laughs, but I don't.
To make up for this wholly disappointing story we decided to watch something else. So we set off to watch the film Moneyball, which by the way is well worth a look.
Join me next time for something hopefully a little more interesting, The Seeds of Death.