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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
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) !