31 July 2012

Manufacturer: BBC Worldwide Consumer Products

Written By: Robert Holmes

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 2nd July 2012

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 31st July 2012

The Doctor (Patrick Troughton, on top form) steps from the TARDIS into a planet inhabited by not very bright people. These people - The Gonds - are bred and taught to be two-legged cattle, no more and no less. They mill around and get on with their lives, quite happy with the fact that they've been feeding their best and brightest (a bit of an oxymoron considering) to a machine for the past couple of generations; in the mistaken belief that they will be "companions to the Krotons". What they've actually beeing doing is providing target practice for the inbuilt system that gets rid of thickies.

Together with Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and Jamie (Frazer Hines), The Doctor must pit his wits against the owners of the machine, The Krotons themselves; strangely accented giant vacuum cleaners with ideas above their station. The task they face is huge: defeat The Krotons, teach The Gonds how to fight back effectively, and reverse the conditioning and stupidity that the learning machines (another oxymoron) instil into the populace.

This four-part story, release as a single disc from BBC Worldwide, showcases Patrick Troughton's Doctor perfectly. From the moment he emerges from the Police Box exterior of the TARDIS he's obviously completely in his element. He takes charge of situations with ease, and you get the feeling that this is a very easy day for him; almost a distraction to stop him from getting bored. Zoe manages to cause a lot of trouble and needs rescuing, and Jamie... isn't given a great deal to do.

Notable for the only appearance to date of the TARDIS' H.A.D.S - a very clever idea; The Krotons is a fairly fast moving tale that entertains effortlessly, even if a few of the effects are somewhat less than special.

The usual magic has been woven on the story's audio and visual properties and is pin sharp as a result, and as happens with some of the older Who stories the black and white print works really well for the story, and lends a credence to the alien world and the Krotons themselves.

Special Features:

CommentaryToby Hadoke talks over the credits again to introduce the people around the table for The Krotons. On this occasion, they are: cast wise, the late, great Philip Madoc (Eelek in this story, and so many other roles in Doctor Who), Richard Ireson (Axus), and Gilbert Wynne (Thara). From the technical and behind the scenes department are Richard Tilley (assistant floor manager), Sylvia James (make up designer), Bobi Bartlett (costume designer) and Brian Hodgson (special sound guru, and the man who invented the TARDIS demat noise!)

Informative as ever and gently entertaining, and always kept in good humour by Hadoke, the commentary doesn't stand out as one of the most memorable in the DVD series, but it's certainly not bad. It might have possibly been helped by having one of the main cast - either Padbury or Hines, present to lend it some more humour and a different perspective for some parts.

Second Time Around - A look at the reinvention of Doctor Who into the Troughton era; both in direction and and portrayal. This behind the scenes look at the show's renewal has contributions from Anneke Wills (Polly to the First and Second Doctors), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Deborah Watling (Victoria), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Christopher Barry and modern era Doctor Who writers Rob Shearman and Gary Russell.  

An honest look that finally lays to rest the myth that William Hartnell chose to leave, and the ins and outs of the companions' entrances and exits and the transition from the historical adventure to the monster era of Doctor Who. It also covers the episode junkings of the 1960s, when the archive started being wiped for the sake of space. Informative, if a little talky, but entertaining and the narrative flows very easily.

Doctor Who Stories - Frazer Hines: Part One - With the usual animated beginnIng (albeit tailored to his run on the programme) Frazer Hines talks us through his time on Who. The footage used is not new, it's culled from 2003 and The Story of Doctor Who. It's fast and not terribly in-depth, but Frazer is always engaging and entertaining, so there's no chance of boredom creeping in.

For a short piece, the gentleness and informality of the extra turn it into something wonderful, and you can tell from first glance that Frazer still holds a great deal of affection for Jamie McCrimmon.

The Doctor's Strange Love: The Krotons - Oh. They're back. "Simon Gond" and "Joe Gond" (this time without "Josie Gond") are back in Sarah Jane's attic to discuss The Krotons. Unlike the other instalments of this extra series, this one's not actually bad at all; the duo seem to be a lot more positive about the story, and a decent discussion about the best elements of The Krotons ensues. A huge, quantum leap of an improvement on the previous editions as the sillyness and the constant barbing has been removed.

There's a lot to like in this little extra, and with the removal of the sneering tone, and a look at what's good, great, and works well in the televised story, this Doctor's Strange Love manages to go a long way towards redeeming itself.

Coming Soon Trailer - Do you like the circus? The Psychic Circus is certainly different to most others you might have visited: The Doctor, Ace, a robot from Rentaghost, a werewolf and the gods of Ragnarock. Robot ticket inspectors and sinister clowns. All coming soon to a DVD near you, as The Greatest Show In The Galaxy is the next release off the starting blocks.

There's Audio Navigation for those who many want or need it, and the usual helping of Info Text to give you facts and figures on-screen during the story included too. Add in the Radio Times Listings available in PDF format if you're viewing the content on a computer; and a Photo Gallery of publicity and behind the scenes stills of the story, and you have The Krotons on DVD.

Whilst the story itself may not be an all-conquering fan favourite, this DVD has plenty going for it. It's one of the few complete Troughton stories, and shows perfectly just what an amazing Doctor Patrick was. The Krotons, although hardly terrifying, are a decently realised adversary, and the story keeps a cracking pace through it's four episodes. The extras put on the disc, whilst hardly numerous, are some of the best produced (especially "Second Time Around") and with Mssrs. Guerrier and Lidster upping their game considerably this is a well rounded, great value release.

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