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The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe vs. the Krotons
I’m Tim Gond…and welcome to the planet of the Gonds!
‘The Krotons’ is a four-part story by Robert Holmes, who makes his first contribution to ‘Doctor Who’. This was the beginning for a ‘Doctor Who’ legend, who would make his mark as being one of the series’ most prolific and popular writers. It’s not a great start, but it all begins with ‘The Krotons’.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘The Krotons’ signed by Frazer Hines and the lovely Wendy Padbury at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea, September 2016. I’m pleased that they both signed the DVD cover of this story as I know it’s not one of their favourites but I greatly enjoyed them in it.
The TARDIS takes the Doctor; Jamie and Zoe to the planet of the Gonds. There, the Gonds are ruled and enslaved by the powerful Krotons who give them teaching machines and chose the brightest Gonds to join them as companions. The TARDIS trio soon realise that it’s more sinister than it seems.
This story was shown in 1968-69 and starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor with Frazer Hines as Jamie and Wendy Padbury as Zoe. I was looking forward to ‘The Krotons’ on DVD and I enjoyed seeing it. Although it’s not the best ‘Doctor Who’ story I’ve seen. Robert Holmes would get better.
‘The Krotons’ was actually a replacement for another ‘Doctor Who’ story called ‘Prison In Space’ by Dick Sharples. But there were problems with the scripts by the production team and director David Maloney wasn’t happy with it. Script editor Terrance Dicks however provided ‘The Krotons’ instead.
Robert Holmes submitted ‘The Krotons’ before, but he submitted it again in 1968 to Terrance Dicks. Terrance commissioned the scripts from Holmes as a spare in case of an emergency. Terrance soon gave the scripts to David Maloney who was happy to do ‘The Krotons’ instead of ‘Prison In Space’.
After seeing ‘The Krotons’ on DVD, it’s not a bad story. But it’s not as exciting and thrilling as I hoped it would be. It lacks pace and doesn’t have the action required for a ‘Doctor Who’ story as this. Also the Kroton monsters were unimpressive, despite from the waist up and the deep booming voices.
This story isn’t a favourite of Patrick Troughton; Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury who were looking forward to doing ‘Prison In Space’ instead. But saying that, ‘The Krotons’ has the Doctor; Jamie and Zoe at their best. They’re such an engaging TARDIS trio and are so lovely and fun to watch on screen.
Patrick Troughton is brilliant as the Doctor in this adventure. I like Patrick’s balance of comedy and drama in his performance as the Doctor. There are scenes when he shows how scared he is and that cliff-hanger he has in ‘Episode One’ was truly magical. I liked the scenes he has with Zoe in this story.
Frazer Hines is great as Jamie in this adventure. Despite not being as smart and brainy as the Doctor and Zoe are, Jamie is fiercely loyal and brave. Jamie ventures into the Kroton’s Dynotrope machine to rescue the Doctor and Zoe. He has his adventure facing the Krotons and gets himself into trouble.
Wendy Padbury is lovely as Zoe. Zoe gets to show off how clever she is when trying out the Krotons’ teaching machine, much to her disadvantage. She and the Doctor have to go into the Dynotrope and face the challenges put by the Krotons. I love the funny scenes between Zoe and the Doctor in this.
James Copeland guest stars as Selris, the leader of the Gonds. I remember seeing James Copeland in an episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ called ‘Operation Kilt’. Selris is a leader who is torn in his belief of the good from the Krotons to protecting his people who get mysteriously killed off when being chosen.
Gilbert Wynne guest stars as Thara, Selris’ son. Thara is very opposed to the Gonds’ way of living under the Krotons. He protests when his love Vana is chosen to join the Krotons as their companion. He’s pretty rebellious at times, but he turns out to be a caring man and a helpful ally to the Doctor.
Phillip Madoc guest stars as Eelek. Phillip is well-known for playing the U-Boat captain in the ‘Dad’s Army’ episode ‘The Deadly Attachment’ and many ‘Doctor Who’ villains. Eelek seems subservient at first to the Krotons, before he becomes a rebel leader, wanting power for himself to lead the Gonds.
Richard Ireson guest stars as Axus. Axus is a very belligerent and aggressive man who threatens and takes on Jamie in a challenge of hand-to-hand combat. He soon joins alongside Eelek in his gain for leadership amongst the Gonds. He shows no mercy and can mistreat someone whoever he wishes.
There’s also James Cairncross as Beta, a scientist amongst the Gonds and Madeleine Mills as Vana who gets chosen to be with the Krotons before she’s saved from death by the Doctor and friends.
The Krotons are, as I said, pretty unimpressive as monsters. They look good with their domed heads and their torso bodies, but they couldn’t do anything in terms of action. They were slow-moving; they couldn’t walk a lot and they had big guns which they kept dropping during behind-the-scenes.
I easily got confused with the Krotons as being robots. But they’re not robots at all. They’re actually aliens made out of hard crystal and can dissolve easily when attacked. They have very impressive voices done by Roy Skelton and Patrick Tull, which sounds scary and booming when you hear them.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a very special documentary called ‘Second Time Around’ focusing on the Second Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’. This includes behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews with Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling and Wendy Padbury. There’s a 2003 interview with Frazer Hines called ‘Doctor Who Stories – Frazer Hines – Part One’ with him looking back on his time in ‘Doctor Who’ (‘Part Two’ is on ‘The Ice Warriors’ DVD). There’s also ‘The Doctor’s Strange Love’ discussion on ‘The Krotons’ with writers Simon Guerrier and Joseph Lidster as well as a photo gallery of the story. There’s a commentary with Phillip Madoc; Richard Ireson; Gilbert Wynne; assistant floor manager David Tilley, make-up-designer Sylvia James, costume designer Bobi Bartlett and special sounds designer Brian Hodgson, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also an info-text commentary option. There’s a ‘Radio Times Listing’ PDF of ‘The Krotons’ to access on this DVD via a PC, as well as ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.
‘The Krotons’ was shown again on TV as a repeat in ‘The Five Faces of Doctor Who’ 1981 season on BBC2. The crystalline monsters also returned to ‘Doctor Who’ twice in a Big Finish audio called ‘Return of the Krotons’ with the Sixth Doctor and a BBC novel called ‘Alien Bodies’ with the Eighth Doctor.
‘The Krotons’ is not the greatest ‘Doctor Who’ story I’ve seen. But it’s far from worse. I enjoyed seeing the Doctor; Jamie and Zoe in this adventure and found it interesting in how the Krotons turned out as monster and how Robert Holmes’ debut story as writer in ‘Doctor Who’ turned out.
Robert Holmes would contribute more ‘Doctor Who’ stories in later eras of the show including the 70s and 80s. He would write classics in Jon Pertwee’s era including ‘Terror of the Autons’; ‘Carnival of Monsters’ and ‘The Time Warrior’ as well as being a script editor to Tom Baker’s first three years.
‘The Krotons’ rating – 6/10
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