DVD Review: Doctor Who - The Krotons / Cert: PG / Director: David Maloney / Screenplay: Robert Holmes / Starring: Patrick Troughton, James Copeland, Terence Brown, Frazer Hines / Release Date: July 2nd
Originally, this story was broadcast between 28th December 1968 – 18th January 1969 but was actually a late replacement for a completely different tale – Prison in Space, a risqué effort that had leather clad women running a top security establishment and contained a scene with the Doctor spanking Zoe to break her of mind control/feminism.
Robert Holmes was drafted in to fill the gap and provided us with our first view into Doctor Who as seen through his eyes.
The basic plot treads a familiar path, the TARDIS arrives on a planet that looks like a quarry, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe discover a world ruled/enslaved by unseen forces and set about changing the status quo. Making the locals rise up and carpe the living diem out of the invaders. All, standard, run of the mill stuff.
In this world, the brightest locals (Gonds) are always chosen to serve as ‘companions’ of the Krotons - and are never seen again. A sort of parallel with the national curriculum, but, rather than a one way trip to university; the brightest children are absorbed into the alien ship – if you want to see a subtextual comment about the nature of working for a living, then feel free. We are here simply to discuss Doctor Who.
Zoe and The Doctor shine in this story and are given some wonderfully quotable lines and watching the imp-like second Doctor in full flow it is easy to see echoes of his portrayal in evidence in the Smith Doctor of today.
As Monsters go, the Krotons themselves are rubbish and would have been better suited to an audio realm, if it wasn’t for their ridiculous South African accents. Their lumbering form and spinning heads do little to convince us of their apparently crystalline structure and yet Homes still manages to give them both menace and motivation.
Yes, this story has parallels with the student uprisings of 1968 and even with certain episodes of the prisoner but it is still a fun story and not even remotely as dull as The Dominators.
As is the norm this story comes with a commentary track with actors Philip Madoc (Eelek), Richard Ireson (Axus) and Gilbert Wynne (Thara), assistant floor manager David Tilley, make-up designer Sylvia James, costume designer Bobi Bartlett and special sounds designer Brian Hodgson. A revolving door commentary moderated expertly by Toby Hadoke. It is the late Philip Madoc who both illuminates and dominates the commentary and it was a tear in the eye that you hear him offering to attend American conventions the moment that he is asked.
Also on the disc is a lovely documentary called Second Time Around. When faced with William Hartnell’s deteriorating health the Doctor Who production team hit on the idea of ‘rejuvenating’ the show’s hero and giving fresh life to an already popular show. This mini documentary takes a candid look over Patrick Troughton’s time as the Second Doctor. And is so much better than a ‘making of the Krotons’ would have been.
Also included is Doctor Who Stories – Frazer Hines (part one) where actor Frazer Hines reminisces about his time on the series in an interview originally recorded in 2003 for the BBC’s Story of Doctor Who. It is important to note that this is the last full Troughton story to be released so Part Two will logically appear on a future ‘Regenerations’ release.
Rounding off the disc is another episode of The Doctor’s Strange Love, where writers Joseph Lidster and Simon Guerrier take an overly affectionate look at The Krotons. The usual suspects of Radio Times Listings and programme subtitles finish off this lovingly restored old master.