Sunday 27 May 2012

552 The Keeper of Traken Part One

EPISODE: The Keeper of Traken Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 31 January 1981
WRITER: Johnny Byrne
DIRECTOR: John Black
SCRIPT EDITOR: Christopher H. Bidmead
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - New Beginnings (The Keeper of Traken/Logopolis/Castrovalva)

The Doctor & Adric are visited by the all powerful but ailing Keeper of Traken, ruler of the Traken Union. He explains how the evil Melkur was attracted to their planet but stands immobile calcifying in a grove where Kassia is appointed to tend it as it dies. Years later Kassia is appointed as one of the five consuls to the Keeper and marries one of her colleagues, Tremas, who shortly after is appointed Keeper nominate with his daughter Nyssa being given Kassia's previous duty of tending the Melkur which has lasted far longer than expected. Fearing the events that will occur in the run up to and following his death the Keeper asks the Doctor to come to Traken to aid them. Kassia, grief stricken at the prospect of loosing her new husband, pours her heart out to Melkur who unexpectedly responds. The Tardis materialises in the Grove and the Doctor & Adric are quickly arrested by the Fosters who tend it, already worried due to a recent murder. The Doctor tells his story to the five consuls: Tremas, Kassia, Seron, Katura & Luvic. However he is unable to corroborate it due to Melkur making the Tardis vanish from the grove. The Keeper is summoned to verify their story but as he materialises Melkur, unseen by anyone but the keeper, enters the chamber. The Keeper proclaims that their is evil among them and vanishes as the Doctor & Adric find themselves surrounded.

Oh that's rather good. Some fabulous design work beefs up what the script provides with the Keeper, an old bearded man in a chair, playing up to the stereotypical depiction of God and typical futuristic set & costume problems being solved by the use of stone effect sets & lavish period costume style clothing. This looks good, in a different way to how Warriors' Gate looked good. Warrior's Gate played with flashy visuals & effects but Keeper of Traken is much more lavish & solid.

Two significant figures join us in front of the camera for the first time here. Playing Tremas is Anthony Ainley. The son of actor Henry Ainley, the Godfather of third Doctor Jon Pertwee. By this stage in his career he was able to select work as he pleased, preferring to spend his time playing & watching cricket (he is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Doctor Who actor to have got his obituary in Wisden). His character's name is the first, but by no means the last, anagram to be associated with his time on the program. Playing Tremas' daughter Nyssa is Sarah Sutton. The role, initially just for this story, was liked by the producer and he decided to have it expanded into that of a new companion.

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