The Power of Kroll

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102 – The Power of Kroll
Doctor Who serial
Power of Kroll.jpg
Huge and powerful, Kroll looms over the swamp as the Swampies' leader, Ranquin, offers up prayers to it.
Cast
Others
Production
Writer Robert Holmes
Director Norman Stewart
Script editor Anthony Read
Producer Graham Williams
John Nathan-Turner (uncredited)
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code 5E
Series Season 16
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 23 December 1978 – 13 January 1979
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Androids of Tara The Armageddon Factor

The Power of Kroll is the fifth serial of the 16th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 23 December 1978 to 13 January 1979. It is the fifth and penultimate story in the Key to Time story arc.

Plot[edit]

The Fourth Doctor and Romana have arrived on the third moon of Delta Magna, searching for the penultimate segment of The Key to Time, finding themselves caught in the middle of a dispute between the crew of a Methane Refinery and the natives (known as 'Swampies'). The Swampies claim the crew have disturbed the waters, and will incur the wrath of Kroll. It turns out Kroll is a giant squid which surfaces every few centuries. Once of normal size, it ingested the fifth segment of the Key to Time and began to grow and became a god-like figure to the Swampies and their descendants.

After Kroll awakens and begins to attack both the Swampies and the Refinery indiscriminately, the Doctor uses the tracer to eliminate Kroll and retrieve the segment of the key, saving the planet's inhabitants in the process. Both he and Romana go back to the TARDIS and set off on their next adventure.

Production[edit]

When script editor Anthony Read asked Robert Holmes to write the story, there were two requirements: that it include the largest monster in series history and that Holmes minimise the humour that many scripts from the era were known for. This second requirement was a request from higher up at the BBC. Early titles for the story were Moon of Death and Horror of the Swamp. Holmes said that he considered the idea of a large monster a mistake given the budgetary constraints at the BBC and named The Power of Kroll as his least favourite Doctor Who story.

Extensive location filming took place in Snape, Suffolk around the River Alde from Monday 18 September 1978 to represent the marshes featured in the script. Nine days of location filming were afforded to the serial, including two night shoots, more than is usual for a Doctor Who story. Studio sequences were taped during October 1978.[1] The serial was directed by Norman Stewart, who had directed the Underworld story a year previously. This was his final assignment on the programme. The actors playing Swampies were coloured green with a special water-resistant dye ordered from Germany. Unfortunately, the make-up artist failed to order the special dye remover, with the result that many of the actors had to take chemical baths to get the green dye off, and many had a green tint for a long period after production was finished. Costume designer Colin Lavers re-used the Doctor's grey coat, last seen in The Sun Makers and added four flying ducks to the lapels. Around this time, producer Graham Williams fell ill and his duties were taken on by Anthony Read and production unit manager John Nathan-Turner, assisted by Blake's 7 producer David Maloney.[2]

Among the cast were a number of actors who had previously appeared in Doctor Who playing other characters. The most notable of these was Philip Madoc who had previously appeared in The Krotons, The War Games and The Brain of Morbius. He had initially been invited to play Thawn, but the role was given to George Baker, who then pulled out. Madoc agreed to play the part of Fenner when Alan Browning, who was slated to play Fenner, fell ill before the start of production, but was dissatisfied with the role. John Leeson, best known as the voice of K-9, appears in this story as Dugeen. This is his only on-screen appearance in Doctor Who and was given the role due to the fact that K-9 doesn't appear in this story. (The role had previously been offered to Martin Jarvis.) Neil McCarthy previously played Barnham in The Mind of Evil, while John Abineri previously played Van Lutyens in Fury from the Deep, General Carrington in The Ambassadors of Death and Richard Railton in Death to the Daleks.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 23 December 1978 (1978-12-23) 23:16 6.5
"Part Two" 30 December 1978 (1978-12-30) 23:57 12.4
"Part Three" 6 January 1979 (1979-01-06) 21:56 8.9
"Part Four" 13 January 1979 (1979-01-13) 21:58 9.9
[3][4]

The story was transmitted over the Christmas and New Year period 1978/1979, leading to higher than normal viewing figures for episode two, transmitted on 30 December.

In their book The Discontinuity Guide (1995), Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping wrote that The Power of Kroll was "very slow" with little humour, and "horribly acted" aside from Madoc and Abineri. They also criticised the "unconvincing" realisation of Kroll.[5] In 2011, Mark Braxton of Radio Times gave a negative review of the serial, describing it as uninteresting with poor effects, "tepid dialogue and dull characters". However, he felt that some parts were "enlivened by Tom Baker's sprightly performance".[6] DVD Talk's Justin Felix gave the story two and a half out of five stars, calling it the "least inspired" story of The Key to Time. While he praised Baker and Tamm and their dialogue, he criticised the "flimsy" concept and the Swampies.[7]

The Power of Kroll was voted at #174 by readers of Doctor Who Magazine in a 2009 poll of the top 200 stories — the fifth lowest of any Tom Baker story.[8]

Commercial Releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll
Series Target novelisations
Release number 49
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
ISBN 0-426-20101-9
Release date 26 May 1980

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in May 1980.

Home media[edit]

The Power of Kroll was released on VHS in June 1995. This serial, along with the rest of season sixteen, was released as part of the Key to Time box set on region 2 DVD on 24 September 2007,[9] it was released in region 1 on 3 March 2009.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Power of Kroll DVD Production notes, BBC DVD, 2007
  2. ^ Doctor Who Magazine #312, 9 January 2002, "Archive: The Power of Kroll" by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
  3. ^ "The Power of Kroll". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Power of Kroll". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Power of Kroll". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  6. ^ Braxton, Mark (28 January 2011). "Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Felix, Justin (3 April 2009). "Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll". DVD Talk. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Mighty 200". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (413). 14 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "DVD News". BBC. 18 May 2007. 

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Fourth Doctor at Wikiquote

Fan reviews
Target novelisation