“The Krotons” an adventure of the sixth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired between the end of 1968 and the beginning of 1969. It follows “The Invasion” and it’s a four parts adventure written by Robert Holmes and directed by David Maloney.
For millennia, the Gonds have sent some selected young people to the Krotons to be their companions. No one has ever seen them anymore but almost everybody consider it the highest honor possible among their people. The Gond leader’s son is one of the few who opposes that practice but can’t prevent other young people from being sent to the Kroton.
The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) arrive on the planet of the Gonds in time to see one of the young men sent to the place where the Krotons live whhen he’s killed. The travelers can save only the girl selected with him, who followed him a short distance. They bring her back to the Gonds, where they start discovering the relationship between the Gonds and the Krotons.
This DVD contains a decent amount of extras. There are typical contents such as production subtitles, a gallery of pictures from this adventure, the Radio Times Listings and a promo of the “Doctor Who” DVDs soon to be published.
There are various comments in the adventure alternative audio track by protagonist actors Philip Madoc, Richard Ireson and Gilber Wynne, floor assistant David Tilley, make-up creator Sylvia James, costume creator Bobi Bartlett and sound effects creator Brian Hodgson moderated by Toby Hadoke.
Second Time Around. A documentary little more than 50 minutes long about the the Second Doctor era. A nice documentary focused on the changes at production level that occurred during those years and their influence on the show.
Doctor Who Stories – Frazer Hines (Part One). Actor Frazer Hines recalls his experience in “Doctor Who”. This is the first part.
The Doctor’s Strange Love. A chat about this adventure. I don’t particularly like this type of extra but in this case I thought it was done well.
Robert Holmes had started writing television scripts in the late ’50s. In 1965, he submitted an idea for a science fiction story to the BBC but was told it wasn’t the type of program they were interested in producing. However, he was suggested to submit his idea to “Doctor Who” production as an adventure for that show.
Initially, the “Doctor Who” staff wasn’t interested either but in that case the problem was due to the fact that the aliens looked too similar to the Mechonoids who were to appear in the serial “The Chase”, then in production. For this reason, three years passed before Robert Holmes decided to submit his idea again, finding more interest this time.
The screenplay that became “The Krotons” was completed quickly but was supposed to enter production in the seventh season. However, due to problems with the development of an adventure originally scheduled for the sixth season it was decided to replace it with the Robert Holmes’ one.
“The Krotons” is basically the story of the exploitation of the Gonds by the Krotons. From the beginning we realize that the Gonds are somehow subservient to the mysterious Krotons. The details of this relationship are provided in the course of this adventure as long as the Doctor discovers them while trying to change that situation.
For millennia, the Gonds have obeyed the Krotons considering them as their benefactors and sending their smartest young people to be their companions. When the Doctor arrives with his companions and they bring a girl after they prevented her from being killed, the situation changes radically. The traumatic discovery of the truth leads the majority who worshiped the Krotons to rebel but things aren’t so simple.
The Doctor and his companions look for ways to help the Gonds to free themselves from the Krotons and this also offers a way to exploit the relationship between the Doctor and Zoe. Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury worked very well together so the moments when their characters were acting together were generally among the best.
A typical element of the stories of Robert Holmes were his double acts. “The Krotons” is mostly an adventure with tones dramatic but there are also light-hearted moments in which the Doctor and Zoe compete to show who is smarter. They’re also further proof that already in the ’60s there were companions who could do more than scream.
Jamie has a chance to shine only in some parts of “The Krotons”. For most of the time he has a secondary role but in some cases he acts on his own. He also gets into trouble as it’s normal for him and manages to have some moments of action when he does something useful.
Another of the strengths of “The Krotons” is given by the different reactions that the Gonds have after discovering that they have been exploited for millennia. This leads to conflicts between them that in the second part of this adventure become a major element of the story.
A weak element is in the Krotons look. There was a willingness to make them look really alien, unfortunately the production values were too limited to do it. The result is that they look quite ridiculous and it’s a shame because their story and their motivations make sense though their plan seems to have some flaws.
The Krotons helped diminish this adventure’s reputation, which I think has more strengths than weaknesses. I think that it’s not a coincidence that for Robert Holmes this was the beginning of a collaboration with “Doctor Who” production that led him to be even script editor for some time and perhaps the most important author in the classic series.
In my opinion, “The Krotons” is overall a good adventure. There are few extras on the DVD but particularly the documentary about the Second Doctor era is really interesting. For the characteristics of this edition, I recommend it particularly to “Doctor Who” fans and those interested in the Second Doctor.