Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 518: The Power of Kroll, Episode Two
I don’t have a favourite movie. Truth be told, I don’t even really like films - I much prefer television as a format, for the way that it tells story, the intimacy that it brings, and the fact that I can stick on a series of something and just enjoy it episode after episode (I’m currently working my way through the first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show as well as re-watching the fourth series of Big Brother for the first time since broadcast, one episode a night). But the way that the world works, you’re expected to have a ‘favourite’ film. I simply don’t. There’s a lot of films that I like, sure. Frankenstein, the Boris Karloff version. Singing in the Rain. A Man With a Movie Camera. The Harry Potter films, or The Lord of the Rings. I like all of these, but I’d not class any as my favourite.
It’s not easy to explain that every time you’re asked the question, though, so I tend to simply plump for a film to answer with, and I always choose one that no one ever questions, they just nod and agree: Jaws. I can distinctly pin-point the first time I saw Jaws. Because I’ve never been a big fan of films, I didn’t really watch many as a kid, so it wasn’t unusual that I didn’t see this one until I was 14, and at school. For the record, I haven’t seen other Spielberg classics like E.T. or Jurassic Park even to this day. It’s almost quite a fun game, when Emma talks about a film and I simply point out that I haven’t seen it.
Anyway. Jaws. It was a film studies lesson at school, and we were watching Jaws so that we could learn about suspense and build up in directing a film. It’s a brilliant example of that. You get plenty of Point Of View shots. There’s the odd glimpse of a fin, or the ripple of the water. You even see the shark on several occasions, but the real reveal, the big ‘It’s The End Of Episode One And Oh Look It’s A Dalek’ moment comes towards the end of the film, with the three men out on a boat, shovelling bait into the water, when Quin turns back… and the shark lurches at him! Despite the bits of him you’ve seen before, that’s the pay off, and it’s brilliant.
So, you might ask, what does this have to do with The Power of Kroll? Well, not a lot, admittedly. But also, everything. I mused yesterday that a giant squid might be the production team over-reaching themselves somewhat, but I was still keen to see what they’d do with it. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to tease us with the appearance of the monster - just like in Jaws - before revealing it, probably at the end of Episode Three. And you know what? They’re doing a good job!
We hear tell of this giant squid that the locals all worship, but then we discover that no one has actually seen the creature in living memory. And, actually, the ‘monster’ menacing Romana at the end of the last episode is a man in a costume. You almost start to relax… but then the scanners are picking up strange movements, miles and miles across, the entire bed of the marsh shifting. The cliffhanger features a tentacle attacking which is actually - I’ll admit it - rather effective! You could really build up the suspense here, and while the squid may not quite live up to it, at least you could enjoy the ride…
But then, about two-thirds of the way through the episode, the squid just pops up - literally - in the middle of the marsh. You almost want to over-dub it with him saying “hellooo!” to everyone, and asking what he’s missed during his nap. I’m only banging on about this so much because it came as such a massive let down. The effect of the squid actually looks alright, I think, but I’m not paying all that much attention because I’m too busy being annoyed that they’ve wasted any sense of suspense and drama by bringing him in so suddenly and with no fanfare or excitement.
Really, I’m just bitter today, I think. I’m also annoyed by the whole “Doctor, I dropped the Tracer out there in the Marsh and we may never find it again…” / “oh, don’t worry, I picked it up” exchange, because I thought that was going to provide us with some interesting drama over the next few episodes, as they tried desperately to find it while a war broke out around them, and a giant quid lingered on the horizon. As it is, I’m not really sure what they’re planning to do for the next two episodes, besides paint themselves green and run around a bit.