The Krotons (1969)

The Krotons has the rather unenviable responsibility of following the highly impressive The Invasion which was eight episodes and for half of it included the Cybermen and had the wonderful Tobias Vaughn in it and was dramatic and had characters that were interesting and this story has none of that. I think that people are down on it for the right reasons. The only thing of interest is that it’s written by the fantastic Robert Holmes. One of the finest writers ever to pen a story for Doctor Who. This however wasn’t his finest offering. The story sees the Doctor arrive on a world that has a stifled colony where they are ruled by powerful Krotons. It’s the Doctor who leads a rebellion against them after they get the smartest people and then they get killed.

The problem with this story is that like The Dominators, the inhabitants are very dull. I really couldn’t care about any of them. Only Philip Madoc is of any interest and that’s because he’s Philip Madoc. All the humans are fairly wet and there is nothing about them that makes you want them to over throw the Krotons. In the Dominators I wanted the baddies to win but in this I didn’t want either to win. The Krotons are visually very good creatures though they have that idea of what a robot from the future would look like in the 1960’s. However what lets them down is the voice. Now I take no pleasure in saying this because its voice by Roy ‘Voice of the Daleks, Zippy and George’ Skelton and even though I never met him I imagine he’s a thoroughly nice man and just does the best he can with what he is given.

The stories not all bad. It’s only four episodes long which is surprisingly short for a Troughton adventure so it moves along at a fairly steady pace and I wasn’t as bored as I was when watching The Dominators. The threat between good and bad was better handled that in the Dominators. Also the costumes that the humans had to wear was more appropriate and didn’t look like the cast had come from some stupid nightwear commercial. Also Philip Madoc is very good in this as Eelek, it’s not his best performance (that will come in The Brain of Morbius) but there are glimmers of what is to come and why he is such a good actor. As this story is written by Robert Holmes, it is easy to be overly critical of this story when you compare it against other stories that he would go on to write but after spending around a decade writing for other more straight forward drama it was always going to be a difficult job changing his writing style. The story is helped as well by the director, David Maloney. He is one of the best directors that Doctor Who ever had and worked on some of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever and that isn’t down to luck, its down to bloody good skills as a director. There are some scenes in this story which are very unusual because they show the regulars being harassed by the Krotons and it’s done in a way which seems quite strange for Doctor Who in the 1960’s.

The Krotons isn’t as great story but its something that doesn’t quite work and shows that the production team were suffering from a severe lack of enthusiasm as this story doesn’t really have anything new or original to say and as change was only around the corner perhaps it was the beginning of the end and shows that the production team were putting all their eggs in the War Games basket. This story should be watched by new fans but it’s not a Troughton great.

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