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Doctor Who - The Power of Kroll

episode 102

UK 1978/1979
produced by
Graham Williams for BBC
directed by Norman Stewart
starring Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Neil McCarthy, Philip Madoc, John Leeson, Glyn Owen, John Albineri, Carl Rigg
written by Robert Holmes, music by Dudley Simpson, script editor: Anthony Read

TV-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), Key to Time storyarc

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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On some faraway moon of some faraway planet you've never even heard off live the Swampies, humanoids of a green complexion who, well, live in the swamps (hence their name) and worship a giant squid called Kroll. But now colonists from earth have found out the planet is rich in methane and want to exploit it using a methane catalyzing refinery - looking pretty much like an oil rigg -, and the Swampies don't like that one bit, so with the help of an ecological foundation, the Sons of Earth, they have hired gunrunner Rohm-Dott (Glyn Owen) to supply them with sufficient arms to fight the earth invaders ...

Doctor Who (Tom Baker) and Romana (Mary Tamm), on their search for the fifth segment of the Key to Time are thrown into this mix, and soon enough, the earthlings from the refinery, led by Thawn (Neil McCarthy), think they are in cahoots with the Swampies and Rohm-Dott while the Swampies, led by chieftain Varlick (Carl Rigg) and high priest Ranquin (John Albineri) think they belong to the refinery. The usual to and fro follows which includes blood sacrifices (or rather almost-sacrifices), chases through the swamps, dancing natives and the like, and of course an appearance of Kroll, a very giant squid that kills humans and Swampies alike.

The ending has the Doctor stopping a missile that would have blown up the whole planet, the Swampies attacking the refineryy, Kroll attacking the refinery, and the Doctor taking on Kroll single-handedly, having figured that the creature itself must be the segmet of the Key to Time - and of course he's right.

The whole thing ends with the moon being freed of Kroll, the main baddies of the piece - Thawn and Ranquin - dead, and the Swampies living happily ever after, since without Kroll, there is no methane, and without methane, there are no more human invaders ...

By the way, for once in the series, John Leeson is not reduced to being the voice of the Doctor's robot dog K9 (who doesn't appear in this episode) but plays one of the refinery's crew.

 

During Tom Baker's long tenure as Doctor Who, the direction of the stories he was invaried widely, from gothic horror (with a sci-fi twist) and period pieces via clever satire and light comedy to intelligent science fiction and the occasional piece of trash. The Power of Kroll falls into the last category, it is a (loveable) piece of sci-fi trash full of pulpy genre mainstays like the bug-eyed monster, the dancing natives, blood sacrifices and the like, but all thrown together in a rather charming way and beautifully carried by Tom Baker who hams it up in his trademark tongue-in-cheek way. Of course, the episode has several shortcomings, like silly looking green natives, a very disappointing and totally unconvincing miniature of the refinery and the (quite impressive) creature only sloppily copied into several shots, but by and large, the whole thing is a good-natured laugh - provided you don't take the whole thing at all seriously.

 

By the way, if you have this episode on American DVD, do yourself a favour and listen to the commentary track by Tom Baker and John Leeson, it's even funnier than the episode itself (and usually I refrain from recommedning commentary tracks) !

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD