Doctor Who #233: The Krotons Part 4

"You're getting old Selris, your arguments make no sense."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.18 1969.

IN THIS ONE... The Krotons are dissolved in acid.

REVIEW: Some of the effects in Part 4 are disappointing, in particular the great Kroton machine dissolving from the top when acid is poured at its bottom, never mind that we never get enough establishing shots to recognize it when we see it. But it's really the story logic that's most to blame for this messy conclusion. The Gonds continue their in-fighting, but really aren't clear on what makes someone a "traitor". The guy responsible for a coup that interrupted a millennia-old family line really shouldn't be calling others names. The Krotons are just as confused, their threat to destroy all the Gonds unless the "high brains" are delivered is both impossible with the power they have left AND would leave them without ANY brain power at all, because it would mean they DIDN'T have the high brains. Worse still, Jamie was given important information in the previous episode, and it doesn't figure in the defeat of the Krotons. Instead, we get yet more exposition that details the Krotons' plight as Jamie hangs with the Gonds and their chemistry experiments.

What makes the episode at all watchable is the Doctor-Zoe team, which turns out some wonderful scenes. Zoe tries to take the Doctor's suspenders (sorry, braces) for some field medicine, but he won't let her. She shows respect for Jamie by saying his mind is "untrained" - a kind euphemism - showing she may be the science elite, but she's no snob and values Jamie's cleverness, despite his lack of knowledge. Clowning around to delay the Krotons, they do a very humorous routine about where they should stand, and some slapstick clumsiness besides. These two play very well against each other, as well as the Doctor and Jamie used to (and I hope, will again).

In the end, the Krotons are corroded and the rest is left up in the air as the TARDIS dematerializes. Does the town fall into a sinkhole? Did they evacuate in time? Did they forge ahead in all those new sciences once denied them? Does Eelek get his comeuppance? And more importantly, who cares?

VERSIONS: The Target novelization does not deviate from the broadcast episodes in any meaningful way.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Doctor and Zoe, and to a lesser degree Jamie, are in good form, but the story, like the Kroton ship, falls apart at the end.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I was impressed at how much comedy the regulars brought to this story, even more so than they did in The Dominators, but unfortunately, Robert Holmes' first Doctor Who script is a bit of a bust. The aliens not looking right is the least of the story's problems. Burdened with exposition, it rather proves to have a notable lack of logic and a dull cast of guest humanoids.

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