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Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll (The Key to Time Part Five)

"I tried to persuade Ranquin that only Rohm-Dutt deserved to be punished by the seventh ritual, that you others should die by the first. That's very easy, they just throw you down the pit and drop rocks on you."

Ever wondered what Avatar would look like if it featured a giant squid monster and was made for the cost of a Mars bar? Then look no further than 'The Power of Kroll'.

'The Power of Kroll' is Exhibit A in the case that not everything that comes out of Robert Holmes’ typewriter turns to gold. The man himself pretty much disowned it. This one is staggeringly bad. I can hardly believe that Holmes actually wrote this garbage. There is not one decent guest character, no loveable double-acts, and the dialogue is for the most part bland. There is just nothing that indicates this was a Robert Holmes script.

Just like James Cameron's visually stunning but shallow blockbuster, this risible story sees a bunch of evil human capitalists out to exploit the resources of planet x. The colourful locals (instead of state of the art CGI blue aliens we have embarrassingly bad alien natives spray painted green) stand up to them with the help of some outsiders (The Doctor and Romana). Then a giant monster shows up for no real reason.

Basically, it's just four episodes of Tom and Mary running around the marshes, being chased by guys in green paint chanting "Kroll! Kroll! Kroll!" all the time with the occasional appearance of a rubbish giant monster, forcing the actors embarrass themselves by having to "wrestle" with rubber tentacles. This show struggled to create normal sized monsters that looked credible, what made the producers think they could do better with a giant one? Honestly, if I had the time and the power I’d gather up every copy, shoot them into a sun and then have the sun collapse into a black hole just to be sure.

Name Drop Alert

The Doctor implies he learnt his high-pitched singing technique from Dame Nellie Melba.

Notes and No Quotes

--The actors playing Swampies were coloured green with a special water-resistant dye ordered from Germany. Unfortunately, the make-up artist failed to order the special dye remover, with the result that many of the actors had to take chemical baths to get the green dye off, and many had a green tint for a long period after production was finished.

--When Romana was tied up like Fay Wray and made to scream at those terrible (and not in a scary way) claws of "Kroll", Mary Tamm was probably thinking to herself that it was time to start looking for another job.

--Around this time, producer Graham Williams fell ill and his duties were taken on by Anthony Read and production manager John Nathan-Turner, who would succeed him as producer in 1980.

--This was Philip Madoc's fourth and final appearance on the series after 'The Krotons', 'The War Games' and 'The Brain of Morbius'.

--John Leeson, the voice of K-9, appears in this story as Dugeen, his only on-screen appearance in Doctor Who. He was given the role due to the fact that K-9 doesn't appear in this story.

Fenner: "Tell me. Would you let a small band of semi-savages stand in the way of Progress?"
The Doctor: "Well ‘progress’ is a very flexible word. It can mean just about anything you want it to mean.”

Romana: "Doctor. Sometimes, I don’t think you’re quite right in the head.”

One out of four monsters named Kroll.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, this one isn't great. It's another one 12 year old me loved (giant monster!!), but adult me is not so enamored with. Philip Madoc was apparently originally meant to play the Thawn role, but ended up in the smaller role of Fenner.

    I would not at all be surprised that this story was the one that convinced Mary Tamm to move on; a bad combo of too much damsel in distress, subpar monster (even for classic Who), and poor story.

    I would rate it slightly higher than a 1, probably a 1.5 or so, but it's not good although like many of these less than great Doctor Who stories, the concept isn't terrible but the execution was.


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