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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 10 May 2012
Over the years "The Krotons" has come under fire from scornful fans, complaining that Troughton classics like "Fury From the Deep" were wiped while this story still exists. That's unfair for several reasons. Firstly, when a story no longer exists it can gain an element of myth. Secondly, this story is actually a lot of fun. Whereas "The Dominators" is a truly dull drag only raised by the main cast, this is a flawed but enjoyable little self-contained story. It's also the first story by Robert Holmes, classic Who's finest writer. He's still finding his feet but gives us an intriguing mystery along the way.

As always the three leads are a joy, particularly when the Doctor and Zoe have a go on the learning machines. The Gonds often get a slagging but they're okay really - Philip Madoc's deliciously evil eyebrows make their Who debut in this story. Then there's the Krotons themselves. Again they get mocked by fans, but with their unusual crystalline heads and roaring voices they're actually quite effective. Admittedly in long-shot with their skirts showing they are a bit lumbery, but in their lair they are better than many Who man-in-a-suit monsters.

For the time being, this is the last Troughton story to be released on DVD. I hope that like many other classic Who stories its reputation gets a more generous re-appraisal. It starts here - I openly admit my love for "The Krotons"!
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on 30 January 2012
The Krotons was written by Doctor Who's most well known and prolific writer, Robert Holmes. Although The Krotons is not his finest hour, it is still a solid 4 part Troughton story with a stella cast and great performances. Robert Holmes was to script nearly 20 Doctor Who serials in the 20 year association he had with the programme, as well as one of the finest writers to work on the show, Holmes script edited the greatest 3 years of the series to date, the Philip Hinchcliffe era with Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen. Here, Holmes pens a interesting tale of science and slavery. The Gonds in this story are slaves of the Krotons, an alien menace that landed on this unnamed world thousands of years ago and are now controlling the primitive gond populace, I say primitive because the Gonds are only taught what the Krotons teach them, they lack any kind of curiosity and skills in any other area they have no knowledge of, which is quite alot. This in effect makes them a slave people, who send their brightest learners to be the companions of the Krotons in their ship, the Dynotrope. We later find out that these companions are harvested for their mental power and then destroyed. Nothing less, nothing more.

As usual, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe intervene and stop these Krotons from exploiting the defenceless Gonds. In the end of course, with a rocky ride as ever, the crew of the time-space vessel succeed in destroying the evil Krotons and restoring peace to the planet of the Gonds. Although The Krotons is never high up in any fans opinion polls, it is still a great little fast paced adventure that still exists in its entirety. Lets be grateful for that at least.

Another point worthy of mention is the casting by director David Maloney, {himself a great and well known Doctor Who director} such great performances come from Philip Madoc {a well known Doctor Who villain}, James Copeland as Selris and Gilbery Wynne as Thara, I particulaly enjoyed his performance as leader of the revolution Thara. The one thing I cannot fault the Krotons on is the acting, the story is very well performed and does not disapoint.

I look foward to the BBC DVD release of this story some time in 2012 / 2013, as currently it exists only on video, and in appauling quality, very much in need of a restoration from the team. So until then, I would hold off buying the video, which is expensive enough, until the BBC release this classic Patrick Troughton adventure on to DVD. Highly Recommended.

Many thanks for your time.

M.B.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 July 2016
The Doctor’s intelligence gets him and his friends out of trouble week after week. But this time his cleverness lands them all in the soup - with the Krotons. Can he scoop them out again - or are they toast? 4*

It’s fair to say this isn’t the most popular Second Doctor story, but it’s much better than its reputation and I enjoyed it. There are certainly off-moments (the main one being the Krotons, unfortunately) which tend to overshadow the rest, but there’s also a clever, satirical science fiction plot, some great acting among the guest cast and Patrick Troughton at his typical best.

If you are new to this Doctor then I wouldn’t start here because there are many better stories, but if you already know how fabulous he is, then dive in with the Krotons and float on a soup of Sixties social satire and the Second Doctor at his most playful –and most ruthless; in the end, it’s the Krotons who are toast…

Robert Holmes would go on to write many of the greatest (I’d say *the* greatest) stories in the classic era, but this was his first. If it sometimes seems like standard science fiction plus the Doctor, that’s because (according to the Notes) it began as a (rejected) non-‘Doctor Who’ script, but was spotted by Terrance Dicks and used to plug a gap in the Doctor’s busy schedule. The Krotons=croutons and soup jokes are as old as this story and I’m guessing Robert Holmes intended it so from the beginning; exactly why, you will discover as the story unfolds.

I first saw this story in a (very rare) repeat season early in the 1980s and it was like watching through fog due to the quality of the surviving recording. It wasn’t an impressive experience. But the great news is that now we can see the story properly for the first time thanks to this excellent DVD release. It’s clear, contrasty and sharp and looks and sounds far better than it could possibly have done when first broadcast on the televisions of the late 1960s.

On the surface the story is quite simple; the Gonds are ruled by convention and the orders of their (unseen) masters, the Krotons, who teach the Gonds all the knowledge they *are told* they need. All other knowledge is forbidden. At intervals, the cleverest Gonds are chosen to join their masters in the vast machine which is their home – and are never seen again… The Doctor and his friends turn up just as revolt is stirring and make events boil over into crisis, before defeating the Krotons through knowledge they had denied their repressed subjects.

As always with Robert Holmes there’s more to the story, which seems to be full of social comment on the 1960s, showing a society undergoing far-reaching change. ‘The Krotons’ depicts youth protests, demand for freedom of thought and education, a hereditary leadership under threat but adapting and surviving and a revolutionary leader who turns the freedom movement into a personal power-grab, before being defeated.

There are also very good science fiction ideas, moments of pure science and pure comedy and a great twist as the Doctor makes things much worse, before he can make them better. Some of the elements don’t always live up to the script’s intentions but the regular stars and the lead guest actors are excellent.

Patrick Troughton is very possibly at his best, given the impact he makes in this relatively unspectacular story. From the moment he steps out of the TARDIS twirling an umbrella and prances off across the boulders of another (impressive) quarry, you can’t take your eyes off him. It’s a magnetic performance of sheer brilliance, from his shaking up of Gond society, to his ruthless scientific scheme to defeat the oppressive Krotons, to perfectly timed comedy with loyal companions Jamie and Zoe.

Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury are definitely part of a team of three in this story, their characters playing off each other perfectly and very well written, especially considering this wasn’t originally a ‘Doctor Who’ script. The Doctor’s and Zoe’s genius-level minds are part of the problem (as well as the solution) while Jamie’s steadfast loyalty is also central to the plot. The Doctor and Zoe share two splendid comedy sequences and a moment when Jamie thinks his friends have left without him really grabs the attention.

For me, four excellent performances stand out in the guest cast. Philip Madoc plays his first ‘Doctor Who’ villain of many, as a seemingly ordinary man who seizes power for himself, while claiming ‘democracy’. James Cairncross is the honest Gond scientist Beta, surely a rather biting name given by Robert Holmes to emphasise that Beta is clever, but not the best – if he was ‘Alpha’, the Krotons would have taken him. (He has a great comedy chemistry lab scene with Jamie where they’re trying to follow the Doctor’s instructions without either of them really knowing what they’re doing!) James Copeland plays the Gonds’ hereditary leader, upholder of societal conventions but noble and good, while Gilbert Wynne plays his son, who offers a renewed but stable future when the Krotons’ control has been defeated.

This wasn’t a cheap story; per episode it cost more than ‘The Invasion’ and has good sets and good effects within the limits of studio television, made almost ‘as-live’. The production subtitles are full of information as always and only by reading them will you realise how technically (as well as artistically) excellent Patrick Troughton and co. had to be to fit the multi-camera technique. This was one of director David Maloney’s earliest ‘Doctor Who’ stories and you can see why he also directed some of the all-time classics.

Unhappily, the one place where for me this story fails badly is – the Krotons. They are crystalline creatures based on tellurium (for very good plot reasons) and Robert Holmes’ script envisaged glittering humanoids, presumably not unlike one of the forms of Eldrad in the much later ‘Hand of Fear’. It’s said the budget wouldn’t stretch to it, so we got (in the words of Terrance Dicks, who actually script edited this story) “possibly the worst monster in the history of ‘Doctor Who’”! And they are on screen and very visible for long periods. Would it really have cost more or been worse to have had two large actors with masks and close-fitting suits sprayed with heavy glitter and some ‘crystals’ stuck on?

Their voices don’t help either; they sound too much like Daleks and one (but, bizarrely, only one) has a South African accent, adopted by the actor (according to the commentary) to make a personal political comment against apartheid! I sympathise with the intention but it wasn’t in the script and in this context it sounds faintly ridiculous.

For all that, I’m still giving ‘The Krotons’ DVD four tellurium crystals. The script has a lot to be said for it with its theme of freedom of thought against ‘forbidden knowledge’, the regulars are superb, the leading guest actors give it the same respect and quality they would have given Shakespeare, there’s a great DVD Extra and the restoration is excellent.

It certainly could have been worse – in fact, it almost was: this story was a last-minute replacement for the planned ‘Prison in Space’. But even in 1968 they decided a ‘comedy’ about men imprisoned on a planet ruled by domineering women (wearing eye-catching costumes) might just possibly be out of order for ‘Doctor Who’… Thank ‘The Krotons’ for forbidding us that knowledge! 4*

DVD Special Features:
An interesting commentary looking back at this story and the classic era in general, thanks to the wide range of contributors including long-time ‘Doctor Who’ villain Philip Madoc and several leading members of the production team covering costumes, make-up, sound etc.
‘Second Time Around’ (52 min) – a superb feature about the whole Patrick Troughton era from his casting to his departure in ‘The War Games’. With contributions from Anneke Wills, Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling, Wendy Padbury, Christopher Barry, Derrick Sherwin, Terrance Dicks and more, plus insights from BBC memos etc. giving the views of those key production team members who are no longer with us. It’s fascinating viewing for Troughton fans but it will inevitably leave you fuming (along with some of the contributors) that the tapes of so many of those great stories were needlessly destroyed. Thankfully, several more episodes were, near-miraculously, found after this documentary was recorded in 2011.
‘Doctor Who Stories – Frazer Hines (Part One)’ (17 min) – fun as expected, from an interview recorded in 2003. Part Two is on ‘The Ice Warriors’ DVD.
‘The Doctor’s Strange Love – The Krotons’ (7 min) – ‘Doctor Who’ writers Simon Guerrier and Joseph Lidster discuss the many good points of this story – and the slightly less good points too.
‘Photo Gallery’ (5 min)

SPOILER NOTE:
At the start of this adventure, the Krotons don’t actually exist and are later ingeniously formed out of a chemical ‘soup’ using mental power taken from the Doctor and Zoe. Hence (at a guess, given the writer was Robert Holmes) the croutons.
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on 28 February 2014
Previously only available in 1990s scratch o vision on VHS this story looked like it was 450 years old not 45. Even when shown on BBC2 13 years after its original broadcast it looked awful. Now fully restored it looks and sounds marvelous. The Restoration team has worked its magic on the once rackety prints to bring us a great looking slice of late 60s Who.

I never enjoyed the Krotons in any of its previous iterations but did on DVD thanks to this transfer.

Its not the best the show has to offer but its now certainly not the worst. From the days when there was no need for the Doctor to snog every companion or be the centre of years' long arcs, The Krotons tells its story and gets outta here. As it should be
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on 16 June 2016
A nice try but the story and the villains, the Krotons we two bad aliens. A forerunner to the Cybermen. The Krotons were in fact very useless as villain even though their head spin and they did use gas to kill people. I recall see them as a child and copying them, as the first robots. They had very good voices.
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on 25 February 2015
Standard '60s Who, and perfectly compelling. The sets, villains and overall presentation are lacklustre, but the pacing is consistently strong and fellow Who viewers will know only too well what a rare and beautiful thing that is. It's engaging and the '60s robots have a certain caustic, primitive charm of their own. A good friend of mine describes old Doctor Who as being made out of "papier maché and good intentions." Buy it, watch it, enjoy it. It's not a classic, but it's not too bad at all.
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This is a classic Troughton era Dr Who story and is wonderfully restored to a standard that is enjoyable today.
The plot is excellent for its day and still wears well now. The Krotons were real behind the sofa stuff in their day, and with the budget given the BBC did a good job with this story. No collection is complete without this DVD
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on 12 February 2004
In my opinion this is Doctor Who at his best and got me into Patrick Troughton. It explores the idea of slavery and the effects of a society not allowed to progress with a civilisation, the Gonds, forbidden to study science and acting as "brain food" for the mechanical Krotons. It also has that BBC 60's style about it where script dominates over visuals. A classic!
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on 6 July 2012
This DVD includes a fabulous 50 minute extra covering the Patrick Troughton years. It is worth the money just for that alone. There is also a piece featuring Fraser Hines and his catchphrase as Jamie "Look at the size of that , Doctor"
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on 19 August 2012
I love 60s Who and i note that reviews have been positive about this release. I enjoyed the story and love Troughten but....The Gonds are the most boring people ever; are the Krotons subtly taking the mick out of them by putting on a comedy Brummie accent every time they talk???
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