Friday 8 July 2011

228 The Krotons: Episode One

EPISODE: The Krotons: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: 28 December 1968
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who: The Krotons

WARNING! Do not put Krotons in your soup!

Gosh it's video time. This is the only complete Troughton story that we'll watch on VHS.

Abu Gond and Vana Gond have been selected to become companions of the Krotons. Abu goes through the doors into the machine first but Thara, Vana's love, objects to her going and delays proceeding. The Tardis lands on the Gond planet. Finding the back door to the machine, they see Abu disintegrated by gas guns. Travelling to the Gond city The Doctor, Jamie & Zoe arrive as Vana goes into the machine, quickly working out what will happen to her. The Gonds tell the travellers that the Krotons are in machine. The Time Travellers return to the wasteland with Thara and rescue Vana as she leaves the machine, but the Doctor's favourite umbrella is destroyed to his distress. Selris, the Gonds' leader, explains to the travellers that the Gond's two best students are selected to enter the machine to join the Krotons. No living Gond has ever seen the Krotons. Years ago silver men came from sky, killing the Gonds and creating the poisonous wasteland that nobot had been in till the Doctor walked out of it. While they talk Thara and his friends sneak into learning hall to smash the teaching machines. Since the war the Gonds have lived in peace with the Krotons with their best 2 students of every class going into the machine to be their companions. Having seen what happens to the companions the Doctor decides to stop the Krotons. Beta reposrt to selris what Thara is doing. They go to the learning hall to stop it. Inside the machine a device in a control roomn observes what is happening. A voice booms into the learning hall telling the Gonds to leave. The Doctor tries to get Gonds to stop as an eye on a stalk emerges from the machine and observes the Doctor pinning him to floor......

I like that: The Doctor shows up, takes one look at what's going on and decides that's got to change. OK yes, people are dying, so it's obvious it needs to stop but the Gonds have been living this way for a long time, unaware that their brightest and best are going to their dooms. The element of the best being taken reminds me of how the fittest/most beautiful are taken away to the city by the Tripods in John Christopher's The Tripods Trilogy to serve the unseen Masters. But as we'll see the author of this story will be not be averse to filing off the serial numbers and sticking to Malcolm Hulke's maxim that "All you need to work in television is a good idea. It needn't be your own"....

And that brings us quite nicely to this stories author, on Who debut here so Ladies & Gentlemen please welcome Robert Holmes. Saying he's a former army office, policeman and journalist doesn't do justice to it so read his Wikipedia entry. Holmes had started writing for television in the late fifties. He submitted a story, the Trap, to the Doctor Who office in 65 where it was rejected. He resubmitted it in 1968 and Terrance Dicks decided he liked the look of it and developed it as a "reserve story". When the scripts for season six started going Tango Ultra - two stories had previously held the Krotons slot - the story was pressed into service. Robert Holmes had found Doctor Who and Doctor Who had found him. The two would only really be parted by Holmes' untimely death in 1986 while writing the concluding instalments of The Trial of A Timelord. Get used to his name, you'll be hearing a LOT more about him. Holmes was always very good at finding interesting ways for people to die: disintegrated by gas is just the start!

This episode survived as a 35mm transmission print in the BBC Film & Video library. I'm obviously spoilt by DVD as this looked nowhere near as good as I expected it to.

During a fight in this episode Jamie can be seen wearing a wrist watch. It's not so much an anachronism as he's been travelling in the Tardis for a while but it does jump out at you!

Come back tomorrow when I'll talk German submarines and finally, 225 episodes since I last mentioned it, get back to that 1981 repeat season!

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