Doctor Who: The Krotons (UK - DVD R2)
The Wilson Bros review the final complete Troughton story on DVD...
If there was a Doctor Who equivalent to the old adage that the good die young, then The Krotons would figure in it somewhere, as some of Patrick Troughton's naffest adventures managed to avoid vanishing into the televisual ether (we would also put The Dominators in with this), whist some that are regarded as being amongst the very best ( Fury From the Deep, Evil of the Daleks being two prime examples) suffered badly.
The Doctor, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) find themselves on the planet of the Gonds, a race that is suppressed by the Krotons, a group of crystalline creatures who were stranded on the planet after their ship, the Dynatrope, crash-landed after being damaged during an intergalactic battle. The TARDIS crew soon discover that the Krotons are educating the Gonds and the best and brightest of them are selected to enter the Dynatrope, seemingly never to return, only the trio find out that those selected are soon eliminated after having their mental power drained. When The Krotons discover that The Doctor and Zoe are of superior intelligence, they will stop at nothing to get their pincer-like appendages on the "high brains" to complete their mission...
This was the first story to be penned by a writer whose name would eventually become synonymous with some of Doctor Who's most revered stories, Robert Holmes. Holmes was a man who possessed a face that resembled a statue on Easter Island, but he also had a way with words, a deliciously sly sense of humour and an ear for obscure and unusal character names rivalled only by Dickens. Though there are some interesting themes running through the story, there is precious little of Holmes' wit in The Krotons - Holmes originally submitted this story idea back in the Hartnell era, but it was turned down because it was felt that the Kroton characters were too similar to a race of robotic creatures that were going to be featured in a forthcoming story, and were going to be seen as the next big merchandise cash-cow for the BBC - the Mechanoids! How'd that work out for the Beeb, by the way...?
This is one of those Doctor Who stories where The Doctor materialises in a society where everything is running relatively smoothly and orderly, only for our hero to begin to question things and ultimately ferment revolution. The Gonds were perfectly happy to be under the control of the Krotons (with only a small amount of resistance from certain quarters) and were unaware of what happens to their people who had been specially selected by the Krotons. The basic premise could be looked upon as the destruction of religion; The Doctor dislikes an established order that has been working for a very long time and even encompasses sacrificial rituals - The Doctor then begins to try and convince the believers that all is not as it seems and that they should start to question their gods (the Krotons) and their entire belief system. Ultimately, the gods are overthrown and the population is free to be self-governing and make up their own minds as to how to proceed - at one point, The Doctor even makes mention of evolution by saying that they came from the primordial soup - a statement that would instantly raise the hackles of any religious group that fundamentally believes that they were created by a god in his own image.
On another level, this story can be seen as a sly dig at the racial issue prevalent in South Africa at the time; the Krotons (who seemingly speak with South African accents) are the white rulers, who control the black majority with an iron fist and keep them subjugated with fear, whilst regarding them as mentally and biologically inferior. You could also drag analogies to Nazism by noting that the Krotons exterminate those who do not measure up to their levels of mental development, but that might be taking things a little TOO far...
On yet ANOTHER level, the student protests that were taking place in several countries around the time this story was written are reflected, as the younger Gonds are seen rebelling against the establishment by destroying the Learning Hall (being a pretty explicit reference to the destruction wreaked by students in France and in other parts of the world.
We could continue the student line and say that Holmes' script could be a sly dig at the state of education in the UK at the time - the best and brightest were selected and put though through the system and come out the other side mindless. The so-called "brain-drain" that was happening in various parts of the world - where people with knowledge, abilities or technical skills would emigrate and thereby deprive their home counties of their talents - could also have had an impact on Holmes when he was writing story, as he manages to confront it literally within a metaphorical context.
There are some interesting technical terminology and concepts in The Krotons, with scanners and facial recognition systems, where the machinery at the Krotons' disposal is able to recognise The Doctor, sending out a dubious-looking probe (a forerunner of the unintentionally hilarious protuberance in Tom Baker's Creature From the Pit).
It's a pity that The Krotons falls victim to a seriously annoying plot contrivance in the second episode, where the highly-intelligent, capable and all-round know-it-all Zoe conveniently decides to try out one of the computers in the learning hall; someone as logical as her would surely have known not to go anywhere near it, but she does so anyway purely as a lazy way of advancing the story. Despite this, Padbury projects a pleasing "girly-swot" type of enthusiasm, which helps to paper over this major annoyance - slightly...
Whatever issues there are with the story in general, The Krotons highlights just how great the three leads worked together, as the chemistry between Troughton, Hines and Padbury is undeniable; the trio play off each other wonderfully, with all of them able to add unscripted moments that they had thought up, which served to make them even more appealing. Even when sticking to Holmes' script, they are able to bring it off the page in a way that even the author could have imagined - the best example comes when The Doctor refers to Zoe as "something of a genius... very irritating at times" - the mild irritation of Troughton's face and the glee on Padbury's is just wonderful. The chemistry between them almost harks back to the days of Musical Hall (or Vaudeville - the American equivalent) and Troughton, Hines and Padbury were fabulously proficient at this. It should be noted that most (if not all) of the humour in The Krotons came about through unscripted improvisation from the three leads.
During The Krotons, it had been revealed to the general public that Patrick Troughton had decided to leave the series. The almost relentless schedule was taking its toll upon him, not to mention the fact that he always regarded himself as a jobbing actor, rather than a leading man meant that he didn't want to get typecast. Troughton's decision to leave the series was a wise one on his part, as he went on to play numerous parts on film and television and was (it could be argued) the only actor to play The Doctor who managed to avoid being typecast. Regardless of his decision to leave Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton was throughly professional right til the end of his time on the show and turns in yet another wonderful performance in this story.
Much of the dramatic weight is put onto the shoulders of Frazer Hines during episode three, as Troughton and Padbury only seem to appear in filmed inserts during the first half, almost making you think that they were on holiday that week, but they pop up in the studio for the latter half of the episode. Hines does well during his fifteen minutes of leading man status and shows that he was capable as being more than a slightly slow-witted foil for Troughton.
There is no getting around it, Wendy Padbury is SERIOUSLY cute in this story. Padbury's clever-clogs demeanour has always been appealing, but when this is coupled with the very fetching PVC minidress Zoe wears in The Krotons, she's simply irresistable, showing off her fine pair of pins. Asthetic values aside, Padbury looks like she's having the time of her life in this story, especially when Zoe is finding ways of thwarting the oppressive regieme of the Krotons. The unscripted playing for time between her and Troughton near the end of episode four is wonderful stuff and endears her to an audience more than anything else.
Philip Madoc is very good in this story; Eelek seems to be about the only member of the Gonds to have anything that resembles a backbone, even if he has something of a callous streak running through him. Madoc gives a typically compelling performance, but the character is sadly underutilised. Madoc's magentic personality really draws you to him and his commanding voice is unmistakably that of an actor who knows just how to grab an audience by the throat. Sadly, Madoc passed away recently and it's fairly depressing that out of so many wonderfully rich and varied performances during his long career, he will be known to many for his "your name vill also go on ze list" U-boat captain in Dad's Army.
The Krotons themselves are pretty crappy-looking, with large, cumbersome bodies that look like they could tip over any minute and heads that look remarkably like lemon-juicers. There are times when a blank visage, coupled with a suitably menacing voice, can be very effective in presenting a faceless force of evil, but the Krotons fail because they are the sum of their parts, a shuffling, box-like body with a spinning lemon-juicer for a head; the Afrikaans-like accents (provided by Patrick Tull and Doctor Who semi-regular Roy Skelton) just add to the unintentional hilarity.
Even if the design of the Krotons is particularly naff, you have to admire the firepower they wield - they seem to possess a form of smart-weapon technology, as one poor sod cops it in episode four and he is standing at the back of the room, with several other Gonds standing in front of him (including Philip Madoc - but you would imagine him being impervious to such things anyway); the Gond snuffs it and nobody in front of him appears harmed. Smart weapons, indeed.
It is eventually discovered that the Krotons can be thwarted by the use of sulphuric acid, which our protagonists try to manufacture themselves. It would be too easy to make jokes about The Doctor, Zoe and the Gonds experimenting with acid, but this was the late sixties and everyone was at it...
The "as-live" method of recording had it's pros and cons - the pros were that there was more interaction between the actors and performances could flow and the cast could bounce off each other, making a more cohesive performance, but the main con was that short of a major technical gaff or one of the cast fluffing in a spectacular manner that involves four-letter expletives, the recording carried on (this would prove to be William Hartnell's nemesis, as most - if not all - of his fluffs were transmitted). There are a couple of technical clunkers in The Krotons, with a serious camera bump as it rolled over a peice of set dressing in episode two, and there is a moment when Troughton and Padbury can be seen on a monitor motionless for a second as they wait for a cue to walk through a shot.
The first and most overriding thing to say about the image quality on the DVD copy of The Krotons is that it is simply jaw-dropping.
We might be sticking our necks out here, but it's quite likely that this is the best-looking sixties-era Doctor Who title to be released on DVD and it almost certainly going to be the transfer that most resembles what was transmitted on television screens during the black and white era of the show. The 35mm negatives of the telerecordings all exist and served as the basis for this wonderful transfer.
Black levels are fabulous, the image detail is surprising high for sixties Doctor Who (the show had switched over to higher resolution by this point) and the image is a steady as a rock, with none of that wavering that is symptomatic of a duff telerecording.
On the sonic front, the mono 2.0 soundtrack is also pretty good, with clear dialogue and Brian Hodgson's atmospheric sounds are pleasant on the ear, with no discernable distortion.
Second Time Around: Now we come to the feature on the disc which Troughton fans have been waiting for in stewing silence for years - a documentary covering the entire reign of the Cosmic Hobo, and this is as comprehensive as the ones which have been afforded some of the other Doctors. Containing contributions from all surviving companions during the three-year tenure, you’ll be truly ecstatic to hear thrilling stories from the shooting of the lost tales, as though some shift in the space/time continuum prevented them from ever being wiped. Are you excited yet? You should be!
Anneke Wills has a lot of praise for the replacement Doctor, and fondly remembers that he used to call her and Michael Craze “…his reality check” during the early days of his run, and also how she was instrumental in the iconic hairstyle that came to define the character. Turns out that after fart-arsing around with outlandish looks and wigs, Wills borrowed a comb, gave him a Beatles-like “do” and the legend was born! It always looked more like Moe Howard to us, but hey-ho…
Even though Wills swears blind that she, Troughton and Craze felt no animosity towards the newcomer into the fold, Frazer Hines tells of his feelings of being an “interloper” into the Doctor Who cast, something not helped when he was appropriated a number of Craze’s lines in order to shoehorn Jamie into scripts written before it was decided to keep him on after The Highlanders - which turned out to be the last of the original historical stories on which the show was born.
What better way to usher in a new era of Sci-Fi writing for the show than starting with a strongly-written tale to show the direction it was now heading in. Yeah. Instead we got something which smelled distinctly fishy, and certainly wasn’t going to have legs of any kind. At this point, you really have to admire Robert Shearman’s ability to be a cheerleader for Doctor Who, even in the face of some particularly crappy stories. He enthuses about The Underwater Menace more than anyone with pubic hair or taste really should: “I think it’s great fun,” he enthuses “it’s very different to almost anything else that went out at the time… they know it’s a comedy and they’re playing it for laughs, and sometimes the laughs are there, sometimes they’re not.” Rumour has it that Shearman was next on O.J. Simpson’s list if Johnny Cochran wasn’t available…
Gary Russell crystallises just why many of Troughton’s stories were so very sluggish, almost akin to wading through treacle. With the success of The Tenth Planet, producer Innes Lloyd and writers Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis found that they had hit upon a formula which worked, and this was the classic “base under siege” format, as typified by the John Wayne movie, The Alamo, which they rolled out with gusto in The Moonbase. “It’s a secluded place” he summarises, “You can’t get away from it. You are trapped in there. You have a limited amount of air, water, resources, gunfire, whatever, and approaching you from every single angle, in this case, were a bunch of Cybermen.” Shearman - once again - accentuates the positive when noting that: “It’s a show actually which becomes a bit more predictable, but is also rather more fun. You can sell it upon the monsters.”
As with a few of the others playing The Doctor, fellow thespians seem to have gotten on with Troughton better than those on the production side, but Power of the Daleks director Christopher Barry breaks the format and pays one of the highest compliments to the man behind the Cosmic Hobo with words which may not seem that much outside the “biz”, but there are thespians able to attain them, “You never saw acting showing on him… it was all so internalised that it came out as a very real characterisation.” The expected side comes when Derrick Sherwin spills the beans on the moment when the proverbial straw broke the camel’s back, and Troughton made up his mind to leave, this occasion being when he was reading through a particularly mediocre script, indicative of the latter part of his run. It’s damn interesting to note that his decision to quit was met with the same unexpected indifference from the producers that greeted Tom Baker when his moody ways left them glad he was going. Never before have the words: “we can replace you” carried so much weight during the run of a TV show!
Deborah Watling confirms that any doubts she had about coming into the fold were misplaced, but she we rather unsure about the actions of a certain actor wearing a kilt. “I knew Pat was on my side,“ she notes, “I wasn’t quite sure about Frazer, ’cause he had a roving eye and I knew that. At the [vis-à-vis] party, he was looking all the ladies up and down…” In spite of chasing anything in a skirt shorter than the he wore on screen, Hines turned out to be just as welcoming as everyone else. She seems to have mellowed in recent years, with warm memories about the filming of Doctor Who, not least of which the times spent with the regulars and her father on the filming of The Abominable Snowmen.
Terrance Dicks’ casual dismissal of The Mind Robber is pretty annoying, casting it aside because of his hatred of all things “fantasy”. There are plenty of others ready to rightly leap to its’ defence, with Shearman going on record as saying that the first part in particular is superlative, calling it “…maybe the most brilliant episode… transmitted in the 1960s.” On the flipside is his bizarre defence of The Krotons as a whole, in spite of having: “…possibly the worst monster in the history of Doctor Who.” Wendy Padbury agrees that the design of the titular baddies ended up rather flawed: “Probably on paper, they sounded great”, the perky actress recalls, “…the reality was they really didn’t do it for me…they were not my favourite.”
Covering a couple of years worth of episodes is not any easy thing to cram into under an hours, but is done so with aplomb, and it couldn’t be aptly labelled exhaustive without the contribution of Victor Pemberton, and his participation makes this another fascinating look at a bygone era through the voices of the living and the dead, the latter represented by quotes, memos and reportage from the time. The whole thing feels as though it’s an honest exaltation of a neglected period of Doctor Who, but is so very smart not to see it though rose-tinted glasses, with more flaws and unrest pointed out than blind adoration would ever allow. Doctor Who fans will love it, Troughton fans will be ecstatic and causal viewers will be engrossed. It is the last word on the reign of the Second Doctor, and a pleasure to watch. By the way, does anyone else think that Dr Zaroff looks a lot like Sydney Newman?
Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines Part 1: Everybody’s favourite companion in a skirt is the subject of another entertaining look at the bedrock of Doctor Who’s popularity. With nothing to prove and in distinct repose, Hines talks candidly and with fondness about his time on the show, from how he was cast, going beyond a single story, what hit and what didn’t even stay in the board.
We get his thoughts on why monochrome is “scarier” than colour, with sound reasoning from Hines, including one aspect which has been a bugbear with us for ages: seldom does something in colour get the hue of blood correct, but it is never an issue with black-and-white, possibly making the imagery all the worse for keeping it so very dark. Topically, he describes The Krotons as “…one of the worst ones we ever had” and is quick to explain just why is was so weak to begin with. As we all know, it was a replacement for a rather sexist tale about a feminist prison in space, but ol’ Frazer admits that he gets “all nostalgic” about the aborted story just remembering it.
He puts the famous story of the “big one” running gag which he and Troughton were always trying to put in wherever they could in to scripts. Complete with excellent impression of the Cosmic Hobo, and the method they uses to get it past the dreaded “producer’s run”. It’s a joy to get this fan-favourite anecdote on DVD for posterity. There’s still bags of time to detail just how he and Troughton used to mercilessly tease Deborah Watling, including when they stole her miniskirt whilst on hallowed ground, leaving the actress wearing only a panties and a pair of Mary Quant boots. Naturally, the local vicar walked in on the high-spirited behaviour…
The most surprising aspect of this footage is that Hines mentions a time when he was going around London with Troughton one evening and dropping off wads of cash to some of the houses where his marital - and extramarital - acquaintences dwelled in a very casual manner. We thought that his playboy-like dalliances were only revealed in the recent book by his son, Michael, so it was interesting to hear that Hines was happy to talk about it in front of the camera a decade ago (even if it didn't make it into The Story of Doctor Who for obvious reasons).
Another excellent redux from the Story of Doctor Who interviews and packed full of charm, this might well be the last time Hines reaches out to such a wide audience, so it’s a treat to have something so enjoyable for younger fans to eventually watch to find out all about one of the most endearing companions the show will ever see. Oh, and be sure to stay ‘til after the credits for how Hines deals with tricky questions at conventions!
The Doctor’s Strange Love - The Krotons: Simon Guerrier is back to delve into the junk pile of Doctor Who, looking at the one surviving Patrick Troughton story which seems to have been watched by the most amount of people. Unusually, this is a one-on-one situation, where Joseph Lidster returns to try and explain his emphatic love for The Krotons, and we have to say that a few very valid points are made. Whilst it helps that Gurrier shares a lot of the same affection, the general opinion of the show is so low that this will be a one-sided battle, but our man here is aptly named for such a fight.
Troughton’s ability to sell even the most shaky of cliff-hangers, and Bob Holmes’ trust in the audience to understand the actions and dynamics of the main characters so as not to spoon-feed them what is going on. It is the taciturn nature of the script which underpins their love of the story, also used for the central premise of The Krotons, where The Doctor wandering in from the forbidden outside causes the population to question the rules they blindly obey, and all this without spelling it out to viewers.
Certain aspects of the production design garner the least praise, with the Krotons themselves being charitably described by Lidster as “…looking good from the waist up“ with Guerrier chipping that he loves their spinning heads. Lidster encapsulates just why even the worst of the Troughton stories are eminently entertaining, in spite of all the average scripts which would dog the era, and that is the camaraderie of the three leads: “I could watch those three…pratt about in a quarry for an hour, ‘cause they’re just great.” Can you put it any better than that?
The bottom line is that even the most unspeakably awful work of fiction will have it's share of rabid fans - there are people deeply in love with Andrea Bianci’s zombie incest-fest Nights of Terror, something so dreadful that it inspires laughs, yet fans still defend it. The points put forward here are good ones, and made with passion and humour by our likeable hosts. We won’t give it all away, so just sit back and allow these guys gnaw away at your brain as surely as a Kroton trying to get a some sustenance. When trying to sell older Doctor Who to the “meh” generation, more weapons of The Doctor’s Strange Love’s calibre might well turn the tide. Excellent stuff, once more.
Audio Commentary: Tobe Hakoke is captain of the ship once more, and leads an ever-changing line-up through the four parts of The Krotons, with plenty of laughs and warm memories to offset the more ridiculous elements of the story. There are actors and various members of the crew, including the recently-deceased Phillip Madoc and a couple of the women working behind the scenes during the monochromatic era of Doctor Who, with this being recommendation alone for listening in. You know it’s going to be another shot of good fun when Hadoke chips in at the start of the first episode: “As a door gets stuck on the opening shot…”
The man that was Axus, Richard Ireson, is really good for a laugh, almost as though he and Hadoke are engaged in one-upmanship when it comes to getting the biggest chuckles. While the late sixties yielded some rather unforgivable fashion crimes on Earth, it was clearly nothing compared to other parts of the galaxy “The strangest things are the costumes,” he exclaims, “I can only imagine that we thought they were very cool, but they seems to have got stripes like football socks round their legs. What a weird and interesting costume. Did we think it was trendy at the time?” Madoc gets in on the gag, and opines that he thought they “…were quite attractive.”
Gilbert Wynne might well be the coolest of the guests, going from Softy, Softly to the UK’s favourite family show with none of the usual thespian grousing about such work being beneath him, although the brutal schedule of Doctor Who took him by surprise “We had very little time to do it, of course, but we didn’t have a lot of time on Softly, we used to turn it over in ten days, and three of that was filming down in Bristol, but I loved every minute of it. Someone [in the booth] said it was the show to be in… at home in Wales, my cred went up like this - it didn’t matter about two and a half years in Softly, but it was Doctor Who that did it!”
Special Sound supremo Brian Hodgson remembers that this was one of the first one where it was strictly his show, with no incidental music to get in the way. Not always through artistic design, he recalls the time when his abilities were really put to the test when the BBC’s purse was a little light, “I remember getting one frantic phone-call, saying that [they] hadn’t got any money for a set for this story, so we are going to do it in the TARDIS surrounded by black velvet with sequins on to look like stars,” leaving him to create an atmosphere throughout the entire thing to paper over the budgetary cracks.
Assistant Floor Manager David Tilley brings along one of the camera scripts, and both he and a fascinated Hadoke note that everything in it conforms exactly to what ended up in the finished show. When asked if he kept all everything related to the show (either for profit of posterity) a somewhat coy Tilley plays it rather innocent: “Well… I tend to sort of take them home after I have worked… and they ended up in the attic, so it is quite useful to bring them down.” God knows how much a copy of one of those things - complete with Tilley’s handwritten notes - would fetch when thrust in front of a crazed Troughton fan. We’ll have to ask one for reference…
Costume Designer Bobi Bartlett echoes one of the problems which was brought up in another commentary recently, that being when the responsibility for an elaborate alien form is dumped into the lap of wardrobe personnel rather than the effects department: “The Krotons, there, were classed as a costume, where when you think of the Daleks... were a special effect”, she reasons. Bartlett admirably defends one of the most derided aspects of the titular creatures’ design, that being a skirt to rival Jamie’s one, “In theory, they were meant to glide up mountains…[using the design] like the skirt of a hovercraft.” Into the recoding booth, Bartlett brought her portfolio, where she shows everyone pictures of Padbury’s costume with the added benefit of colour. Realising it doesn’t translate too well to an audio-based medium, Hadoke gets to describe the different hues for the rest of us.
Keeping the female end up, Make-Up Artist Sylvia James brings to light an important problem which occurred during the tricky time when monochrome was being phased out: “We always maintained that we worked in colour anyway, which we did, really. So when we had to do our Colour Realisation course, [chuckles] we came across problems. People couldn’t drink, as their faces would flush and become magenta-looking”, Hadoke seizes the opportunity to suggest that certain actors could only play embarrassed characters after lunchtime.
Recurring Doctor Who actor Phillip Madoc‘s recalls his chance to William Hartnell in the BBC bar a few years later, but it wasn‘t exactly what he was expecting. Staring blankly off into space, Hartnell slowly faced Madoc, scrutinised his face, and eventually proclaimed: “You’re a very good actor…” and turned back round and continued to gaze into nothingness - “His face didn’t change at all”, remembers Madoc, somewhat disillusioned by the experience. Still, it’s nice to know that he came away from re-watching The War Games with a newfound appreciation of it, and that his time on the show wasn’t either wasted or forgotten.
This is a fun track, somewhat tainted by the recent loss of Phillip Madoc, but the shows he and the others were involved with are getting on for fifty years old, and time is a total bastard with no respect for anyone. It’s a treat that the thoughts of Madoc and all those before and to come after are now preserved to remember them for more than they were in front of the camera, and with a lot of good cheer and excellent moderation by Hadoke, this is a lot of fun, and has the power to warm the heart like a good slug of brandy.
Information Subtitles: They say that if you give an infinite number of monkeys and infinite number of typewriters, they would eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. There are few silly enough to dispute such a thoughtful look at infinite possibilities, but shortly before they finish up on ol’ Bills entire oeuvre, somewhere between “The play is the thong” and “Now is the wanker of our discontent” would be a perfect facsimile of a Doctor Who information track. That the colossal collection of minutia can be gathered up by so few is astounding, and we’re pretty sure that those involved only throw faeces when REALLY angry!
The ocean of changes in dialogue from script to screen are all faithfully recorded, with some nixed material being of particular interest. Discussion about the nature of the Venus Fly-Trap between Troughton and Padbury gives us the information that not only is Venus without the famous insect-eating plants, but there is no actual life on the planet. This pokes a huge hole in a certain aspect to Jon Pertwee’s incarnation of the character, and tosses credibility aside as though using a rather camp martial art from somewhere in our solar-system.
Explicit not only in altered dialogue, but also the technical requirements of the script, such as exactly what they wanted with the “identikit” photo of The Doctor. The keen eye examining The Krotons isn’t only reserved to point out the positive side, as it is only too keen to let us know when things go wrong, such as just which camera can be seen reflected in the head of a Kroton in a close-up. Speaking of which, even which camera is shooting what and the angle used is here for your technical enjoyment!
Where else can you get an exact number of people brought in to play Gonds, both those with dialogue and the others there to stand around and look pretty? Being true to untouchable form, every single one of these guys and girls in listed by the Information track when the titles role, including the extras who were unable to appear! Also listed are all the uncredited members of the production team - one of whom is pointed out when they accidentally appear for a split second behind the door as Vana stumbles out into the sunlight.
The influences over the Bob Holmes’ script be them political or from other literary works are all faithfully listed, bringing The Krotons greater scope and depth to those who see it as just a story where a couple of crappy-looking robots curiously rule over a race possessed of greater physical dexterity.
Laced through the whole shebang is the always-welcome streak of humour, turning a seminar something which would be revolutionary if implemented in schools. Far too many areas of science-fiction are lacking self-deprecation, but even the most ardent of fans will get more than a few chuckles to leaven their edification. At one point, everything stops when the Information track asks: “Q: What colour is the sky on the planet of the Gonds?” A valid question, given that the monochrome nature of the material allows for individual interpretation, but we get in reply: “A: Light blue (try not to be too disappointed).”
Our favourite moment among the many gems to be found has to be on the subject of how Frazer Hines has to exit through a hatchway on one set and get into position ready to emerge onto another, all during a live taping session. It reads thusly: “Now remember the studio layout, with this exit door split between two sets? Jamie now has exactly 16 seconds to get across the studio and into position behind the other side of the door. There’s no recording break, not even a pause to cover the repositioning, so it’s a race against time for Frazer Hines…”, cut to shot of Jamie coming out of the hatch: “He made it!” Quietly witty, informative and the perfect balance.
This is the last of the complete Troughton releases, and is the final Information Text to accompany the adventures of the Cosmic Hobo, and the standard is not only upheld, but they might even have bettered their own incredible achievements. This is the business, and when it comes to fact-tracks, there is no business like it, no business we know, being factual entertainment of a gold-standard so pure that you could grate it and kill a Cyberman with it. Watch, learn and enjoy!
Photo Gallery: Well, there are more photos from The Krotons around than we thought, with a number of them ones we recognise from the pages of Doctor Who Monthly, and each one is damned cool in its’ own way. We get lots of shots with an umbrella-carrying Troughton, along with lots of picture of the Three Stooges, and a rather nice combination of stills, production photos, a sketch of the Kroton suit and set-design photographs. It’s proof positive that the Krotons themselves look better when they are not moving, and from the waist up, as the overlords look rather splendid when such criteria is fulfilled. Accompanied by Brian Hodgson’s terrific “Theatre of sound”, this is another reliable look at Doctor Who in still-life. It’s just a pity that any of them aren’t in colour, as a look at Padbury’s dress would have been most welcome…
PDF Materials: As sure as the sun rising in the morning, and as nostalgic as thinking of Cabana bars or Skydivers crisps, the Radio Times Listings are faithfully reproduced for your edification. It really is a kick to see these things, and let’s hope that the supply keeps going until the end of the run!
Coming Soon: Role up, role up, for The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, and we all know what that means, kids! Not only did it show just where Sylv was headed with his Dark Doctor persona, but you get one of the best stories the original show ever produced. This is a damned cool trailer, and we can’t wait to see it again after all these years, especially looking better than ever, sporting one of the last Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes for a Doctor Who release. Bet you can’t, either!
This is the final complete Patrick Troughton story to be released on DVD - after this, all there is left is the recently-discovered episode of The Underwater Menace, and the incomplete six-parter, The Ice Warriors (of which rumours persist that the missing two epsiodes might be animated). The Krotons may be the weakest surviving story of Troughton's time on Doctor Who, but it's still a pleasure to see such a great actor firing on all cylinders here, as he seems to be having a ball. Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury complete a trio that could arguably be seen as the definitive Doctor/companion combination.
The documentary giving an overview of Patrick Troughton's tenure as The Doctor is welcome and almost seems to close the door on his stories being released on DVD. Troughton has long been our favourite actor to play the character and it's a little sad to see that his last remaining story is coming out on DVD. As The Doctor himself says at the end of this story...
"Let's get away - I don't like goodbyes."
Review by Wilson Bros
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 2nd July 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: Audio Commentary, Second Time Around, Doctor Who Stories - Jamie Part 1, The Doctor's Strange Love, Info-Text, Photo Gallery, Coming Soon Trailer, PDF Materials
Easter Egg: No
Director: David Maloney
Cast: Patrick Troughton, Fraser Hines, Wendy Padbury, Philip Madoc
Length: 98 minutes
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