C047 The Krotons


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A society comprising myriad chaps with matching axes and one single woman faces off against homicidal moka pots who secretly attempt to mate with their brain waves



Doc and JayZ arrive on the planet of the Gonds, where the cleverest members of society are Logan’s Run’d to become companions of the titular Krotons.

We soon learn that these companions are merely drained of their mental energy and subsequently dispersed, i.e. disintegrated.

The Doc and JayZ with their imperial forthrightness campaign to break apart the longstanding traditions of the Gonds, and socio-political intrigue and genocide ensue.

 

6 Responses to “C047 The Krotons”

  1. Stephen | @sgamer82

    The opening of the serial made me wonder if the word “companion” had entered the Whovian lexicon by this time. It’s actually a bit jarring to hear “Companion of the Krotons” bandied about given what that word “companion” would eventually come to mean to every Whovian.

    I’ve commented before in episodes like The Macra Terror about times where the local civilization unquestioningly obeys an unseen force that gives them commands. It’s actually refreshing to see the Gonds questioning this early on and having a very simple reason to obey: the Krotons will kill them if they don’t.

    Like the Quarks before them, the Krotons were an attempt to replace the Daleks that never went anywhere. Still, they weren’t bad as a one shot villain. My main issue is they seemed more like robots, talking of procedure and functioning, than the non organic life forms they were advertised as. That and the loud, blaring noise that followed their robo-eye.

    I feel Jamie didn’t get a lot to do in this story, and wonder if his badassery in episode 1 is meant to make up for that or make it less obvious.

    The scene that most stood out for me is in episode 2, when Zoe completes her test with the highest score ever, and she has this super smug grin on her face as the Doctor explains she’s a genius. Perhaps my favorite Zoe moment.

    I feel the episode falls into “good-but-not-great” territory, and ultimately rate it a 3.1.

    One last note, separate from the review and in case it doesn’t come up on your own discussion, the HADS actually appears in New Who the Eleventh Doctor/Clara episode “Cold War.”

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  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    Hello, Podcast Land! I’ve returned once more to bless you with another listener mini. Today on the chopping block, we have Robert Holmes’ first serial for the show ever, The Krotons. So, without further ado, here we go.

    The Krotons has long suffered a reputation as a bit of a stinker, even among those who worked on it. Frazer Hines called it a “horrible story” with monsters like “cardboard cut-outs”, while David Maloney remembered it as “a disaster” for which he, as director, was held responsible. But surely nothing with Maloney’s name on it or that of Robert Holmes (two Doctor Who greats) can be all that bad. Can it?

    Well, while I wasn’t the biggest fan of this serial, I’ll cut it some slack. It was, after all, Robert Holmes’ first commision. And he did write it to be a stand alone series. It was reworked so heavily, such as The Dominators was three serials prior. And not only that, but this script was a backup script for an abandoned serial called “The Prison in Space”, a more comedic serial. Just look up the script book, you’ll see what I mean.

    As for the Krotons themselves, well they do look like they were a rip off of the robot from Lost in Space. They looked so bad that the myth arose that they were designed in a Blue Peter contest. And if your monster looks like a Blue Peter design, then you might have done something wrong. And they were defeated so simply. Poison their water tank is all the Doctor had to do. But I’ll give them one thing, and when their heads spin, it does look kind of cool from a 60’s perspective. And their buildup was fantastic! Roy Skeleton does great voice work as always.

    As for our main cast and guest cast, they were fairly average. The Doctor and Zoe were maybe the highlight of this serial, Frazer Hines is outstanding as Jamie, getting a surprisingly rare hand-fight and lots of moments to himself. Despite his antipathy, Hines sells his interaction with his ridiculous captors, the Krotons. Most of the Gonds are great, but their leader was possibly the worst of the lot.

    This serial did achieve the highest amount of viewers for a Troughton serial as it was around Christmas when this began airing. And it may have also had to do with the previous serial’s massive scale. This serial still suffers from so much, which really drags it down. It may have gotten views, but this serial just tastes of stale Christmas Turkey. So, I’m gonna give it a 2.7/5. This serial was okay, but it wasn’t anything special. And as for the other script Robert Holmes had set for Season Six, well… we’ll get there when we get there.

    Next time, the TARDIS arrives on Earth, where the T-MAT System has totally taken over transportation on the planet Earth. But, when things begin to go wrong at the T-MAT Control Center on the Moon, the Doctor must face another old foe, and stop them from bringing death to the world. Next time, “The Seeds of Death”.

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  3. Peter Zunitchgond

    The Krotons is a simple story with some interesting concepts. I know it’s not one of the more popular stories, but there’s really nothing majorly wrong with it either. The robots themselves were a favorite of mine for a long time. The gemstone shaped heads that spin fascinated me. I’m just glad there’s only a brief instance where we see the skirt that is used for the lower half of their bodies. It’s a shame that made it into the shot. It’s just another symbol of the simple sets and costumes that show how small of a budget they must have had this time around.
    The technology explored in the story is rather unique on many levels here, and there are quite a few role reversals to our human perception of life. Robots are grown, not built. Instead humans are programmed their intelligence, and are discarded when their usefulness to the Krotons is at an end.
    The Doctor makes an interesting decision here that contrasts his methods in other stories. We’ve seen in episodes both past and future that despite a foe acting maliciously, he still offers to help them if they stop. In this story however he could help the Krotons go home with no further violence, yet he chooses to destroy them instead. Does he perceive that they are lying and will kill everyone regardless? Does part of him want revenge for all the pointless Gond deaths? Sadly this is never quite explored.
    This is perhaps the biggest issue for the story. At the end we are left with many questions unanswered and many paths unexplored. Typically this is what a good story should do, but in this case perhaps there were too many unanswered questions, and just a few too many paths left un-challenged. As a result we don’t connect with the natives on a level that we should.
    Could we retro re-write the story, I would suggest that less emphasis be placed on all the in-fighting of the Gonds over how to stage a revolution, as it really didn’t do anything for the plot as a whole. Instead, more emphasis should have been placed on the internal and personal conflicts, the strange culture that must have grown out of such a society, and the technological gaps between the two races.
    As with recent previous stories, I would love to see the Krotons explored further in a modern Who episode. This series only scratches the surface of what could be a much larger story. I know there’s an audio drama, but I have yet to experience it, and more depth is what’s missing here. Overall The Krotons does have re-watchability, but there are other episodes I’d watch first. I give it a Dynotropic 3.1

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  4. Hi guys, just a follow up after listening to the podcast, because I think you missed a few key points.
    – the gonds do go outside all the time. There’s a throwaway line in ep 1 or 2 that says their main village is outside. However there is a forbidden zone where they are never allowed to go. This is where the exit leads and people are dissolved (hence why the gonds aren’t allowed to go and see what’s there).

    – the protons are a biological gestalt with each other and their ship. In physical form they constantly need energy from the soup, through their ship. The ship also needs that energy to function. When it reached a certain level they could repair the ship. When there’s even more energy, they spare some to create the robots. If it reached critical mass the ship could take off. Note that they feed on the mental intelligence of the gonds, not just the life force of the victims.

    – in the battle, the gonds were bombed back to the stone age. They are also forbidden from any technology that might make them strong fighters. They are otherwise free to learn.

    – Because they ‘live’ so long, this wait for societal rebuild means nothing to them. Think of them as the Borg. They only live to serve the whole.

    The krotons don’t exist as the soup, that’s why it doesn’t require energy when they are dissolved. The robot “consciousness” is an extension of the ships intelligence and is piecemealeded out I to the robot bodies only as needed. The dynotrope is the true kroton hivemind for this group, and several dynptropes make up the greater consciousness.

    There’s more but you get the idea. Don’t feel bad, it’s taken me 4 viewings just to figure out this much. Again, things should have been better explained.

    I hope this helps.

    Reply
  5. Very Mini as I try to catch up with you guys:

    Pros:
    The Plot – Like Macra Terror, but not as well done in my opinion
    The Science – melting everything was interesting
    Zoe – She is really coming into her own as an important part of the team
    The robots

    Cons:
    The one-off characters were not very likeable
    Not enough Jaime

    2.2 – Not bad, but I gave The Wheel in Space a 2.1 so I had to go higher, but not by much.

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  6. Paul Fauber @wordsmithpaul

    Varna and Abu Gond were selected as “Companions of the Krotons” according to the “Law of the Krotons”. Abu entered, passing beyond a door following a ceremony, but Chief’ Gond’s son objected to Varna going. The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrived on the planet with twin suns and an atmosphere of sulfur and ozone and explored until they witnessed Abu Gond’s death as he emerged from a door on the other side of the machine chosen Gonds entered. Varna was entering the machine the TARDIS trio arrived and learned Gonds have followed the Krotons’ laws for a thousand years, after an attack created the poisonous wasteland, in which the TARDIS landed. The Doctor realized they would need to hurry to rescue Varna and persuaded the Gonds to cross the wasteland to rescue her, which they did. The Doctor hypnotized her into sleep. Everyone leaned young Gonds were destroying the teaching machines the Krotons used to give the Gonds their knowledge. The Doctor’s group and Chief Gond tried to stop the destruction and a voice warned the Gonds to leave, but they did not, wanting to draw the Krotons from their machine. Instead, the automated ship’s defense homed in on the Doctor’s face and attacked with a deadly, telescoping tentacle.

    The Doctor realized he could confuse his attacker by hiding his face before a Gond attacking with an ax was killed. After the tentacle retreated, the Doctor returned to treating Varna and gave Jamie pills for her. He, Zoe, and Chief Gond returned to the learning hall, where the men explored the underhall and learned the Krotons’ machine had a root structure. Zoe, bored, tried one of the teaching machines, scored well above the smartest Gond, and was summoned to be a Kroton companion. The Doctor decided to enter the machine with her and. in a hilarious scene. used a teaching machine to be selected as a companion himself . Inside, the Doctor and Zoe’s mental energy animated the crystalline Krotons who distinguished between Gonds and the TARDIS Trio while the Doctor and Zoe escaped their machine. They decided to let Jamie, who heard Varna talk about a light burning her mind after she recovered, inside as he tried to get in. When they realized he isn’t a “high brain,” they announced their procedure would kill him.

    The Krotons decided to question Jamie and learned only about the TARDIS, which they saw the Doctor and Zoe enter. The Gonds, meanwhile, were having a power struggle. The youngsters wanted to attack, but Chief Gond and Science Gond knew doing so would be suicide. Leaving the TARDIS the Doctor explained the Krotons’ ship was made of tellurium as he gathered sulfur to give to Science Gond along with instructions. Before he could, though, a Kroton ordered him and Zoe back to their machine. The outside Kroton needed almost constant direction from inside and Jamie was distracted the Kroton Commander, who knocked him out and refocused on his task. The Doctor and Zoe escaped the handicapped Kroton, who attacked the TARDIS, which vanished. When Jamie recovered, he pretended to remain knocked out. After the Kroton moved off, the Doctor explained the TARDIS defenses enabled it to disappear and reappear. The Doctor was dismayed upon learning the Gonds planned to attack the Kroton ship’s root structure. Upon arriving with Zoe to stop the attack, he was buried beneath falling debris.

    Zoe persuaded the Gonds to find the Doctor before they abandoned their attack, which caused a tremendous vibration, damaged the Krotons’ ship, and enabled Jamie to escape. After stabilizing it, a Kroton emerged. He and the Gonds agreed the Doctor and Zoe would return to the ship in exchange for the Krotons leaving. Jamie was helping Science Gond make sulfuric acid, with cloths over their mouths to guard against the fumes. The Doctor gave Varna a bottle of acid she gave to Chief Gond, who followed the Doctor and Zoe into the ship and was killed. The Krotons explained they were the survivors from an ancient war and put emergency procedures in place to return to their world. The Doctor gave Zoe the acid and explained defeating the Krotons entailed contaminating the bubbling tank they were standing beside. She dropped the open bottle in and they stalled, avoided being killed, and escaped to rejoin the Gonds, who were pouring sulfuric acid over the Kroton ship’s roots. The TARDIS trio slipped away as the ship dissolved and Gonds anticipated their immediate politics.

    Writer Robert Holmes first story replaced Dick Sharples’ story “Prison in Space”. In the abandoned, comedic story men were second class citizens. So, the Doctor and Jamie were imprisoned and Zoe was brainwashed. Director David Maloney was concerned the notoriously fun loving cast would send up the material. In the story that aired, a tribal society had been ruled for a thousand years by alien Krotons capable of transforming mental energy into power before the TARDIS trio arrived. The Krotons may have been the most alien aliens since the Daleks. They were crystalline, had spinning heads, and had pincers in place of hands. Their costumes were so enormous they could barely walk, which tended to confine them to their living spaceship. Script Editor Terrance Dicks claimed Krotons could do little more than wobble menacingly. Their vocabulary was alien, too. They called their ship a “Dynatrope” and their method of disposing of waste matter was “to exhaust”. Unfortunately for the Gonds, the biological leftovers after the Krotons’ power transfer were exhausted. Also, after a thousand years of conditioning, Gonds were neither curious nor daring enough to venture into the forbidden wastelands to learn the truth. The TARDIS trio met the Gonds and immediately decided to free them from the Krotons. Zoe drove the story by using the teaching machine and being summoned by the Krotons. The other thing about her character was she no longer wore her fantastic sparkly catsuit. Her dress, though, enabled us to see actress Wendy Padbury’s legs, which were covered in some fashion in her other serials. In the first and last episodes of this story, the TARDIS trio’s goal was to enter the Dynatrope and in the middle episodes their objective was to get out alive. Jamie followed the Doctor and Zoe, whom the Krotons regarded as “high brains”, out of loyalty but was useless to the aliens. Only the Gonds’ attack on the ship, which caused a vibration that upset the balance the Krotons monitored constantly, distracted them enough to let Jamie escape. Overall, the story is solid, though not highly regarded. It’s also atypical for a Patrick Troughton’s story, but one of the shortest complete serials that still exists in its entirety.

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