Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 238: The Krotons, Episode Four
As I've found several times over the course of this marathon, it really is best when you come to a story about which you know very little, and get to experience it fresh. I've already mentioned how I've spent years muddling up The Krotons with The Dominators and not really paying them very much attention (they're trapped in a period that's dominated by a large-scale Cyberman story and the return of the Ice Warriors, and the mere fact that they exist fully in the BBC archives makes them instantly less interesting than anything from Season Five), but once again, I've found myself completely bowled over.
I think it's fair to say that the thing to impress me the most has been the relationship between Patrick Troughton and Wendy Padbury. Just a few days ago I mused that I'd never really understood the love for the Season Six TARDIS team, but these last few episodes have really shoved it into a brand new focus. The pair are fantastic together - as good as Troughton and Hines at their height, potentially better - and it really does make me long to see the Doctor travel with Zoe just on their own for a while. I know I've said it a few times in the last few days, but the more we see of this pair together, the more it feels like the right move.
The absolute highlight has to be the way they bounce off each other while trying to stall the Krotons. 'You stand here, Zoe, and I'll stand there,' the Doctor suggests. 'But Doctor! I wanted to stand here!' she replies, and a minute of comedy gold follows on, including the Doctor trying (and failing) to put on one of the Kroton's brain machines. Brilliant stuff. I feel that I should also draw attention to Zoe asking to borrow the Doctor's braces, and snapping them back at him when he refuses. Brilliant stuff. EVen the Doctor admits today that he's forgotten all about Jamie - I think I fear a repeat of the Ian and Barbara situation coming on, where the character simply outstays their welcome in the TARDIS. A shame, perhaps.
It's not all songs and games, though. The more we see of them, the more I realise that the Krotons really do look bloody awful. Actually, I'm not sure that's entirely fair - from the shoulders up, they look alright (though there's a few shots of them with their heads spinning round, and I can't begin to tell you how much I was bothered by them spinning at different speeds!), but the more I see of the arms down, the less impressed I am. There's a shot of one exiting their spaceship today, and shuffling down the ramp towards the Gonds, and it just leaves me disappointed. Given some great robot designs, The Krotons could have become a real favourite.
It's always seemed like an odd choice for the Troughton story to be shown during the 'Five Faces of Doctor Who' repeat season in the early 1980s (though they didn't really have much of a choice - the usually longer lengths of tales in this period and the emptiness of the archives meant this was the only 4-part Troughton story in existence at the time), but actually, I can see it now as a great introduction to this particular incarnation. He's fun, he's intelligent, he's got some great companions at his side… what's not to like?