Doctor Who #232: The Krotons Part 3

"What goes in must come out."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.11 1969.

IN THIS ONE... Jamie and the Krotons mutually interrogate each other, the TARDIS HADS itself out of danger, and the Gonds try to bring down the machine from below.

REVIEW: There is a scene in this episode in which Jamie interrogates his Kroton captors and they spill the beans about how they can be defeated, among other things. That's what's wrong with this story overall, I think. It's far too concerned with explaining its two starring cultures (Gonds and Krotons), and does so awkwardly through exposition. A story with real verve and wit would have allowed the viewer to let the design cheapness slide by. But here, we're very aware that the cool brain-drain machine is just a spinning lamp fixture, and the Krotons hobble around, their feet hidden by skirts (for once, Jamie isn't the only one with a kilt), clumsily operating controls with primitive claws. The director seems to know this and opts for their POV when possible. There are still some good things on the technical side of things, like their freakish spinning heads, their weapon attachments (left where Jamie can use it against them), and the exciting roof cave-in at the end. However, the script conspires to make them dumb no matter what they look like. Not just because Jamie outwits them (they put too much stock in pure brain power and don't understand street smarts, but should still know better than to explain their plans and weaknesses while their backs are turned), but also send a Kroton blinded by light to look for the Doctor while another directs it. They're laughable instead of dangerous.

The Gonds are a mess too, a bunch of arguing men in short-sleeved science fiction shirts who live in mud huts where they brew potions and wield stone axes. I know that's the point - that they technology is what the Krotons gave them and nothing more, but it still looks clumsy and patched together from production stores. I find myself completely unengaged in their political struggles, perhaps because none of their accents or acting styles match, or maybe because the young people who represent change all look middle-aged. At least Selric looks to be smarter than he seems, knowing to attack unseen by ripping out the support roots out from under the machine (even if it's at odds with the Doctor's solution).

It's up to the regulars to once again save us from an ordinary SF story. The Doctor has a good time collecting chemicals and testing Zoe on her knowledge. He under-reacts to the TARDIS vanishing under Kroton guns as we're introduced with the ship's HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System), which when set (and the Doctor forgets to more often than not), allows the TARDIS to dematerialize to protect itself and rematerialize a few seconds later in a different spot. It's a feature used all of once across the entire canon of the series (and mentioned as NOT being set in the 7th Doctor's first story). Nice try though. Zoe is just the Doctor's assistant in this one, and gets some very clichéed things to say like she's feeling like they're being watched. And there's Jamie, who you really want to see defeat the "intellectually superior" Krotons.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - The Gonds are now tedious, the Krotons now silly, and the TARDISeers not in enough scenes to save the day. The HADS is often mentioned by fans in discussions about the TARDIS, but its inclusion will only make you wonder why it never showed up again (on screen).



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