Thursday, December 10, 2009

5E4 - The Power of Kroll 4

And thus ends what is one of the weakest scripts from Robert Holmes's staggeringly impressive oeuvre (and, thus, just a standard story for a normal Doctor Who writer). The Power of Kroll isn't that bad, nor is it particularly exceptional at anything. At best, it is merely functional - a fifth segment of the Key to Time had to be found and retrieved, and that's exactly what happened over the course of the four episodes.

However, after three prominent roles in a row for Romana, culminating with a pivotal function to the plot of The Androids of Tara, The Doctor's companion here is as useless as any companion has been for some time. Romana is either the damsel in distress or the cabbage on Tom Baker's shoulder, there to ask questions and have the plot explained to her. It's a rare dip in quality for what has been a strong season for female roles, but it was likely enough to prevent Mary Tamm to want to return to the role the following season.

There's also more unintended hilarity in the scene where Ranquin is sucked into the pipeline by a limp tentacle. The actors try their best, but the scenery flops around alarmingly, and the total lack of mood in the lighting of the scene fails to produce any menace. Once again, the effect of late 1970s inflation can be seen quite clearly in Doctor Who...

But the saddest thing about Kroll is that it would be Robert Holmes's last story for several years after being involved with the program fairly steadily since 1969. With this story, though, the unthinkable was achieved: Robert Holmes wrote an average Doctor Who story. Perhaps it was time for Holmes to fade into the sunset, but perhaps he has at least one more classic in him yet...


Robert Konigsberg said...

Wow I disagree with your assessment. I really loved this story. As in, ready to watch it a second time. At first it felt similar in circumstance to Kinda but then took off in an interesting direction. The only thing I found laughable, which you didn't mention, was the tacky swampie chanting and dancing at the end of part 1.

Of course we can just have different opinions, but for me, this was damn fun. Much more so than Timelash, (which I commented on earlier today.)

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