Doctor Who – The Power of Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll

Doctor Who Story 102 – The Power of Kroll

Who Wrote It

Robert Holmes

What’s It About

In their ongoing search for the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana arrive on the swamp moon of Delta Magna. In order to find the Key, the must navigate the violent designs of the natives and the colonial prejudices of the refinery workers. But lurking beneath the waters of the swamps is an ancient beast that hungers.

It’s atrociously writ.
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Kroll R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! (Source: Wikipedia.)
Ia! Ia! Kroll fhtagn! (Source: Wikipedia.)

It is inevitable that I would think of Cthulhu while watching this story. I have been steadily reading through the works of H.P. Lovecraft for over a year now and any cyclopean, tentacled water creature is going to cause my mind to wander toward cosmic dread. I don’t know that Lovecraft had any influence on this story at all; there seems to be little evidence that Robert Holmes read his stories. The mythos hardly strikes me as stories Holmes would enjoy. The similarities are extremely superficial. But the disappointment over what could have been, a story involving an ancient, cosmic creature with complete indifference to its worshippers, would have been a fascinating story. It also would have been completely contrary to the BBC’s mandate to Graham Williams. The story would have been much too dark—on the level of Image of the Fendahl.

The second area of disappointment I felt while watching this story was how uneven it was. Robert Holmes opened the season with a magnificent story. The characters were fun, the story was intriguing, and it was truly an example of everything Robert Holmes (and by extension, Doctor Who) does so well. Kroll, also by Holmes, lacks everything that The Ribos Operation had. The characters seemed underdeveloped. The pace is uneven. I almost wonder if Robert Holmes even cared.

This is a shame, I think, because the visual effects for Kroll look quite good. No, they aren’t perfect, but Kroll is one of the best-realized monsters of Doctor Who. The monster itself looks magnificent. But the story is half-hearted. The themes lack any significant punch (honestly, they were done better in Colony in Space). Even Philip Madoc is wasted in a secondary role (but he is still excellent). The Power of Kroll doesn’t quite get off the ground, even though it has so much in its favor. Robert Holmes was one of the great writers of classic Doctor Who. Even when his heart wasn’t in it, the stories had interesting elements. Unfortunately, when they are wasted in a story that doesn’t seem to care, watching a Holmes story can be incredibly disappointing.

My Rating


Doctor Who – The Androids of Tara

Doctor Who Story 101 – The Androids of Tara

Who Wrote It?

David Fisher

What’s It About?

Continuing their search for the segments of the Key to Time, The Doctor and Romana arrive on Tara. Romana goes in search of the segment; the Doctor goes fishing. But both soon become embroiled in local politics as the evil Count Grendel has a master plan for deposing the good Prince Reynart.

Would you mind not standing on my chest? My hat’s on fire.

ImageSpring Break and Spring Holiday are over. I’m in the down-hill stretch of my semester, which has really interfered with my blogging pace. Papers on redaction criticism and comparative criticism have dominated the past couple of weeks, and the next two weeks have two document design projects which are demanding my attention. And I was making such good progress in “The Key to Time.”

I finished “The Androids of Tara” two weeks ago, but I didn’t have a lot to say about it. While the first three installments of the “Key to Time” season had some interesting, and often masterfully-handled thematic material, “The Androids of Tara” is just flat-out fun. It is an adventure story. In fact, it could be argued that “Tara” is a retelling of “The Prisoner of Zenda,” an argument that I’ll let others engage in since I have never read or watched “Zenda.” But the bottom line is that this story is fast-paced and a lot of fun. In atypical Doctor Who fashion (atypical at this point in the show’s history, at least) this is a story where monsters are not important; only one monster appears—the dreaded Taran bear—but it is entirely incidental to the plot. The real monster is Count Grendel, a thoroughly human character. He is plotting to seize the Taran throne. Thus, “The Androids of Tara” is a swash-buckling adventure story. It is full of humor and the pace is tight, making it a good story to introduce new viewers to Doctor Who. “The Androids of Tara” is a fun romp and a nice break from some of the heavier thematic material this season.

My Rating