Doctor Who #498: The Power of Kroll Part 1

"Well, progress is a very flexible word. It can mean just about anything you want it to mean."
TECHNICAL SPECS: This story is available on DVD and in a Special Edition boxed set. First aired Dec.23 1978.

IN THIS ONE... The TARDIS lands on a swampy moon, the Doctor visits a refinery and Romana is sacrificed to the Swampie god.

REVIEW: The Key to Time season had avoided it until now, but here it is, a bog-standard (pun intended) stainless steel future. It's perfectly functional, but uninteresting. There's none of the color or idiosyncrasy of the last few serials, unless we're talking about the violently garish green of the Swampies' skin, or their terrible woolen wigs. The design work is ordinary at best and a little embarrassing at worst. The Swampies are the worst of it. I'm impressed by the number of extras they've got in loincloths there, but watching them chant in almost-unison like they're at a beer-chugging contest is a low point of the season. The locations help elevate the episode, even though they're necessarily dreary, but we haven't really seen wetlands on the show before. It almost gets Pertwee-esque in spots with the use of hovercraft, canoes and kayaks.

The human cast is more interesting than the green natives, with John Leeson playing a human role for once as K9 is rubbish in marshland, and Philip Madoc being, as usual, a highlight as the pragmatic sadist Fenner. He's underplaying everything. Neil McCarthy (Thawn) has a great face, and Rohm-Dutt the gunrunner has some roguish charm in his scene with Romana. And there's Mensch the native servant at the refinery whose loyalties are certainly questionable. Good characters, though they're trapped in something that feels slightly old-fashioned. The program used to do these Empire/Colony stories a lot earlier in the decade, but I'm not sure there's anything original to say about the subject in The Power of Kroll. The imperialists (invoking a corporation rather than an empire, but still) are callous, cruel and disrespectful to the native population (AND planning a good old-fashioned massacre), and no one doubts that they'll pay for it.

Romana is a "difficult guest" of the Swampies, as the Doctor puts it, but doesn't get a heck of a lot to do (there's no real question as to why Mary Tamm left the show after a single season, as her character descends into standard companion situations as we get closer to the end). The Doctor does much better. He's playing a lovely song on a reed (still has his 2nd self's skills), impresses with his wide knowledge of the specific type of refinery (surprisingly, they don't put him to work on some problem, and blather on as if industrial espionage is no longer a concern), gets shot in the hat (that's two hats ruined in as many serials), and gets a number of digs in about colonialism. Baker is a strong as ever, even if the production flags in other areas.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A disappointing start for a Bob Holmes serial. It's not bad or anything, but it certainly doesn't have his trademark wit.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (54) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (31) Avengers (59) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (680) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (61) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (20) Buffy (6) Canada (72) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (57) Cat (156) CCGs (60) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (3991) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (78) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1688) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (87) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (771) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (61) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (442) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (87) Hawkman (40) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (16) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (97) JSA (26) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (202) Kung Fu (100) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (130) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (457) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (9) Nightmare Fuel (22) Number Ones (60) Obituaries (42) oHOTmu OR NOT? (80) Old52 (12) One Panel (301) Outsiders (167) Panels from Sheena (6) Paper Dolls (7) Play (77) Podcast (500) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (16) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (540) Sandman (23) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (371) Siskoid as Editor (35) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (21) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1727) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (39) Supergirl (90) Superman (1062) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (24) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (85) That Franchise I Never Talk About (54) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (103) Who's This? (212) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (84) X-Files (246) X-Men (103) Zero Hour Strikes (27) Zine (5)