The Krotons is the fourth serial in the sixth season of the classic British series, Doctor Who. Originally aired in December 1968 and January 1969, this four-part serial featuring the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) has just been released for the first time on DVD.
In The Krotons, the Doctor and his companions, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury), land on a planet inhabited by two races, the Krotons and the Gonds. The Gonds are treated as inferiors, being taken care of by the Krotons. In exchange, the Gonds hand over the smartest of their people to be companions for the Krotons. This arrangement is mostly fine, though one Gond, Thara (Gilbert Wynne), who happens to be the son of the Gond leader, Selris (James Copeland), begins to speak out against the deal.
The truth of the situation is far graver, as the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe soon find out. The Krotons are executing the bright Gonds, not using them as companions. This keeps intelligence limited and the Gonds subservient, never allowing them to find educated enough leaders to do any in-depth investigation, or to try to shake up the system. That is, until now, as the Krotons’ real actions are exposed publicly. Though even then, the Gonds are not in agreement over how to proceed.
The Krotons is a post-invasion tale, in which life goes on after the aliens take over. Generally, stories of this nature happen at an earlier place on the time line, but it’s cool to see the “new normal” post-take over, and the rebellion as it develops.
The Krotons are not all powerful, as one might think at first. If they were, they would leave the planet and move on. They need the Gonds, though the Gonds don’t need them, and are actually hurt by their presence. In this, the Krotons are like a parasite. Even worse, the Gonds don’t see the truth because of the reality the Krotons have been perpetuating upon them.
But any deal of this nature will eventually crumple, and when it does, it’s quite entertaining at a television show. Hence why The Krotons works so well as a Doctor Who serial. Now, this desperation story is not something new. But, as usual, Doctor Who presents it in a way that seems fresh and different, compelling to watch.
It’s easy to feel sympathy for the Gonds, and to demonize the Krotons. Perhaps the Krotons were doing whatever they had to to survive, but does that excuse treading on the rights of others? Most people would say no.
Doctor Who The Krotons has had both the picture and sound remastered. Still shown in the original black and white, the presentation is pretty crisp for a serial so old. It’s far from perfect, of course, but a huge improvement over the earlier VHS tape, so this DVD should be well appreciated by the fans.
The DVD extras on this single disc release are plenty. Toby Hadoke once more moderates a panel for the audio commentary, this time including costume designer Bobi Bartlett, special sounds designer Brian Hodgson, assistant floor manager David Tilley, make-up designer Sylvia James, and guest actors Richard Ireson, Philip Madoc, and Gilbert Wynne. There are also the usual PDF materials and photo gallery.
As far as featurettes go, a handful suffice. There is a seven-minute one called “Doctor’s Strange Love,” which features fans’ points of view. Part 1 of a Frazer Hines interview from 2003’s The Story of Doctor Who, running seventeen minutes, is included. Most importantly, there is a fifty-two minute documentary focusing on Troughton called “Second Time Around.”
In short, as with most Doctor Who releases, this one gets my recommendation. It is well written, enjoyably acted, looks good, and includes enough extras to satisfy. Doctor Who The Krotons is available now.