Doctor Who #500: The Power of Kroll Part 3

"I like to get things straightened out." "Must you use expressions like that?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.6 1979.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Romana get stretched, but escape, and Kroll rises again.

REVIEW: Seeing as the reprise is so long, and the episode so short (Part 4 is even shorter), we shouldn't be surprised that not a heck of a lot happens in this one. The heroes are basically put in a trap for the entire episode and get out of it near the end, when Kroll reappears just as in the previous episode. In other words, Part 3 could have been almost entirely excised from the serial. What redeems it is that the trap is fairly clever and unusual, and though on their backs, the Doctor and Romana keep advancing the plot by asking the right questions, to the Swampies sacrificing them (the symbol Kroll swallowed is undoubtedly the fifth segment of the Key since it had precognitive powers) or to fellow victim Rohm-Dutt (he's really working for Thawn to give him an excuse to exterminate the Swampies). The gunrunner probably shouldn't have blabbed his secrets, because as soon as their out of there, he gets eaten by Kroll. You need to stay important to the larger plot if you want to stay alive, see. Just look at Harg who served no purpose at all. With a name like that, he really was bound to end his days screaming.

So the trap... A variation on the "rack" using vines that stretch their victims as they get dryer. Interesting, and a good opportunity for the Doctor to make jokes of the chiropractic kind. A sudden rainstorm may seem fortuitous, but we're talking about an extremely wet planet. Less justifiable is the Doctor using his own voice as a sonic screwdriver, pitching it as if his vocal chords were electronic, and breaking the window to let the rain in. I call shenanigans, even though the water effects are well done. The Doctor also addresses the problem I had in Part 2 with the serial's incoherent design, but his calling the architects rubbish doesn't really fix the problem. Similarly, Bob Holmes explains why the Doctor doesn't hypnotize everyone all the time by telling us people with beady eyes are immune to his techniques. A script may be in trouble when it feels the need to constantly explain inconsistencies. Or, for that matter, when it commits to various double entendres about itself. Fenner's "Anything fresh?" comes off as an indictment of the script's originality.

The guest cast continue to look at scanners, frown and/or sacrifice people to their god, and I keep drifting off. It's almost interesting that the Swampies aren't sadist and don't like to watch their various sacrifices (there WAS a shrubbery gate in front of the first sacrificial site), and Fenner has one foot in a gray area when he says he neither likes nor hates them. The only one I don't want to see eaten by the big monster is Dugeen, and that's because he's played by the voice of K9. He's innately sympathetic, but that doesn't have a lot to do with the character itself.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I wish my 500th daily review had been of an awesome episode, but it isn't. Though Tom Baker is entertaining, and so is the trap he's in, there's very little here that's necessary to the overall plot.


snell said...

I think you'll find the episode more bearable if you constantly sing The Power Of Kroll theme song to yourself...just take Huey Lewis's "The Power Of Love" and replace "love" with "Kroll:

The power of Kroll is a curious thing/
Make a one man weep, make another man sing/
Change a hawk to a little white dove/
More than a feeling that's the power of Kroll

See, the episode is better all ready!!

It's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes/
But it might just save your life/
That's the power of Kroll/
That's the power of Kroll

Siskoid said...

Yep, it's already loads better! Brilliant!


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