"Any secondary plotting would have been irrelevant."

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Well, yes, undoubtedly it's a dog. But even so, The Power of Kroll didn't bark as loudly as we'd expected.

It's certainly an I Can't Believe It's Robert Holmes story. He wrote it against his better judgment, and it shows. The plot, while it does resemble Holmes' own Caves of Androzani, is also eerily reminiscent of Colony in Space, plus the other million SF stories you've seen with Earth colonists and downtrodden natives. And the dialogue is virtually devoid of Holmes' trademark witticisms. Not a good look.

The story is groaning with cliches. In the refinery: the captain who starts off disbelieving and ends up going wacko. The subordinate who stands up for his principles and gets shot in the back. The red-shirt extra who gets offed by the monster. Two, count 'em, two countdowns, one of them ending, in approved fashion, on 3. The base under siege. The Doctor being suspected of nefariousness. The Doctor trashing a control panel and touching two wires together. And a big red button.

In the swamps: a "primitive" people keen on blood sacrifice and monster-worshipping. An evil gun-runner. The Doctor suspected of nefariousness. Romana suspected of nefariousness. The Doctor and Romana in various combinations being captured for sacrifice and escaping. On the bright side, though, at least the Swampies aren't wearing robes with hoods.

The Power of Kroll looks awful, too. The scenes inside the refinery are cookie-cutter Futuristic Space Station. The swamps are enjoyably soggy, but are ruined by the regulation-loinclothed Swampies with silly green makeup and teacosies on their heads. As for the monster - the horror, the horror. What were the production team on to think that was going to look good? And the refinery's sad as well, looking far too much like a model in a puddle.

The plot developments, such as they are, are signalled at every turn. The sacrifice, the other sacrifice, the squid attacks, the various deaths, the dollops of moralising - they're all utterly predictable. This seen-it-all-beforeness isn't helped, either, by the fact that virtually every scene in the refinery seems to start with everyone peering intently at monitors.

Characterisation is so one-note that it's hard to tell whether the actors are doing a good job or not. Philip Madoc, so miffed at not being offered the captain's role that this was his last appearance in Who, gives an understated and believable performance - it's much more suited to this character than it was to Solon.

As for the others, they're undistinguished, but then you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. It's interesting seeing John Leeson instead of just hearing his voice, though. (Intriguing that they wanted Martin Jarvis for the part, as when we first glimpsed John Leeson as Dugeen we thought he was Martin Jarvis.)

As for the regulars, there's no K9, so that's a plus, but it's a terrible story for Romana. She does her best with what she's got, but given that she has zero to do that makes any difference to anybody, it's an uphill battle. She even has to scream. Shudder.

Despite all of this combined awfulness, though, we enjoyed this story a lot more than it deserved. Unlike with some others, like The Stones of Blood it follows and Holmes's The Sunmakers, we were consistently entertained, and that's for one reason only: Tom Baker. In defiance of its unpromising setting, his performance is magnetic. His Doctor absolutely drips charisma, and we can't take our eyes off him. This man is the Doctor.

Tom: 10. Mary: 10 (for effort). Everything else: 1 1/2.

MORAL: Pick on someone your own size.



Tom makes a pretty pathetic stab at playing the grass flute, or whatever that thing's supposed to be. He's not even wiggling his fingers!


If we had to hear the word "dryfoot" one more time...


Hate those flying ducks on the Doctor's lapels. They went far too far down this route, what with the stupid question marks and celery and all.


We see Tom paddling the boat, but we never actually see him getting out of it. We'd give a lot to see that footage.


The Doctor rips off the Swampy's Kroll head, but when we next see the Swampy on the ground, the rest of his Kroll costume has disappeared too.


Romana calls Rohn-Dutt "Ron Dutt". (Why give him such an appallingly unsayable name, anyway?)


We're probably supposed to be profoundly moved by the political allegory, but lines like "Because he's a Swampy-lover!" just make us giggle.


There's not much, but it's worth cherishing when it does appear: all that stuff about the seven punishments ("That's very easy, they just throw you down the pit and drop rocks on you") is hilarious.


Around the time Rohn-Dutt is saying "They believe colonising the planet is a mistake", there's some noticeable camera jiggle.


The Doctor is remarkably unmoved by Rohn-Dutt's death, which is refreshing.


Since the Doctor says the squid hunts by detecting movement, why does it take the Swampy from the shore and ignore the boat? The boat's moving, isn't it?

OH, F-

Most of the line fluffs in this come from other characters, but the Doctor does say: "Well, I f- I remembered I forgot to say goodbye", and Romana trips on: "Ah, they thought- because they thought...".


There's a lot of supposed dramatic tension at the end as the Doctor in the grip of the tentacle struggles to reach the body of the Kroll with the Key detector. But why doesn't he just use it on the tentacle?

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