Sunday, 30 December 2018

497 The Power of Kroll: Part Two

EPISODE: The Power of Kroll: Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 30 December 1978
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 12.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"Well, does it matter? Hmm? Does it really matter? You know what I think? I think that Kroll's still around and he's just about due for his fourth manifestation!"

Romana is saved from the creature by the Doctor who exposes it as a disguised Swampie. Dugeen detects movement at the bottom of the swamp. The Swampies receive word from within the refinery that they will be attacked at dawn. Romana admits she's lost the Tracer but the Doctor reveals he's picked it up. The Doctor finds an underground passage from the Swampie temple. His disappearance is noticed at the refinery with Thawn believing he's in league with the Swampies. The Doctor finds a history of the Swampies and, after reading it, believes Kroll is due to return. The Swampies prepare ton attack Thawn but Rohm-Dutt's weapons misfire. Thawn's Swampie helper is grabbed by a tentacle as Kroll rises from swamp. Returning to the base Thawn plans to wipe out the Swampies and destroy Kroll with depth charges. Romana deduces that Kroll is producing the methane that Thawn's men are harvesting. They and Rohm-Dutt are captured by the Swampies. The Doctor, Romana & Rohm-Dutt are sentenced to death by the Swampies, who speak to hem of Kroll's appearance. In the refinery, Harg is dragged into the pipes by one of Kroll's tentacles.

Things move on somewhat this episode, but it's mainly a whole lot of talking.

The Doctor's discovery of the history of the Swampy tribe buried in a shaft provides some new information for us:

ROMANA: What's that you've got?
DOCTOR: I think it's an illustrated history of the tribe. A sort of Bayeux tapestry with footnotes.
ROMANA: Oh, a sort of Holy Writ.
DOCTOR: I think it's atrociously writ, but the pictures aren't bad. Look. That shows them being evicted from Delta Magna.
ROMANA: Where they originally came from.
DOCTOR: That's right, yes. They were given this moon as a sort of reservation. Look, there you are. There's Kroll in his aquarium. What did I tell you? Sucker marks.
ROMANA: What's the footnote?
DOCTOR: Hmm? Let me see. And Kroll. When Kroll awakened, he saw that the people were fat and indolent, and then Kroll became angry and he struck them down, swallowing into him the symbol of his power and killing all who were in the temple, even Hajes the priest. Great was the lamentation of the people but Kroll returned to the water and slept.
ROMANA: Oh, I like a book with a happy ending.
DOCTOR: Thus was the third manifestation of Kroll. Well, he's obviously one of those monsters who's not always about the place.
ROMANA: No, just pops up every couple of centuries.
DOCTOR: Yeah. Still, a dormancy period of that length would indicate a creature of massive size.
ROMANA: You think Kroll really exists?
DOCTOR: Well, does it matter? Hmm? Does it really matter? You know what I think? I think that Kroll's still around and he's just about due for his fourth manifestation.
ROMANA: Well, if we had any sense, we wouldn't stay.
DOCTOR: Yeah. Let's get out of here. Come on!
Though I do wonder about him dropping it back down said shaft into water when he's done with it.

Sure enough Kroll does show up and he's HUGE, dominating the horizon. In the process the swampie working at the refinery, Mensch, gets killed by it.

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A visibly shaken Thawn witnesses Kroll's appearance and immediately seizes on it as an opportunity to deal with the Swampies:

FENNER: So, was Mensch killed?
THAWN: I think so. I didn't stay to watch. Oh, the size of that thing was unbelievable.
HARG: Why haven't we come across it before, sir?
THAWN: It's probably a deep water thing.
HARG: Even so, it's odd we haven't spotted it before now if it's as big as you say it is.
FENNER: You saw nothing of the Doctor?
THAWN: No. He'd obviously arrived there already. The Swampies were waiting for us.
FENNER: So he did warn them.
THAWN: And they were armed!
FENNER: The Swampies with guns?
THAWN: Yes! Rohm-Dutt was with them, so they're obviously all in this together.
FENNER: Yes, so they were the Doctor's friends.
THAWN: Yes, they must have arrived in the same ship. And it's got to be the Sons of Earth who are behind this. They're the only people with the resources or indeed the motive.
HARG: Shouldn't we send for reinforcements, sir? A police unit?
THAWN: No! The authorities are far too soft. Besides, once they start interfering, you can never get rid of them. We'll handle this one by ourselves, and in my way.
FENNER: Your way?
THAWN: Final! We get rid of the problem once and for all.
THAWN: It's the only way.
HARG: What about that, that creature, sir?
THAWN: Well, we've got to deal with that first, that's obvious. It's out there lurking somewhere, so once we've located it we can then finish it off with depth charges.
FENNER: I'll see what the underwater scanners are registering.

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Sure enough something is down in the lake.....

DUGEEN: What's the problem?
FENNER: Scanners twelve and fourteen are not registering anything.
DUGEEN: Well, they were all right when I left them.
FENNER: They're not now.
DUGEEN: They're still functioning.
THAWN: Then why aren't we getting an image?
DUGEEN: Because, because something is blotting them out. Look, I'll try a transverse. There.
FENNER: What do you make of that?
DUGEEN: Well, that's what's covering the scanners. It's probably just a mass of sediment thrown up when the lake bed moved.
THAWN: That's what I saw.
FENNER: Those scanners are four hundred yards apart!
THAWN: I tell you that is what I saw! That thing is alive!

John Abineri, playing the Swampie leader Ranquin, was previously in Fury from the Deep as van Lutyens, The Ambassadors of Death as General Carrington and Death to the Daleks as Richard Railton. He has an Out of the Unknown to his name playing Colonel Chalmers in Thirteen to Centaurus which you can see on the Out of the Unknown DVD Set. He's been in both of Terry Nation's BBC sci fi series playing the recurring role of Hubert Goss in 17 episodes of Survivors and Ushton in the Blake's 7 episode hostage. He was in Gangsters, by future Sixth Doctor story write Philip Martin and featuring Lytton actor Maurice Colbourne, as the Consortium MD in Incident Six and The Moon Stallion, by former Doctor Who writer Brian Hayles and starring future companion Sarah Sutton, as Sir George Mortenhurze. People of my age would recall him for playing Herne the Hunter in Robin of Sherwood and would have seen him as Rimmer's Dad in the Red Dwarf episode Better Than Life. But Abineri has probably been seen by most people as the Ambassador's Butler in the original Ferrero Rocher advert!

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Playing Rohm-Dutt is actor Glyn Owen. He was in the late 1950s adaptation of The Invisible Man playing Ronald Smith in The Rocket and goes on to appear in Out Of The Unknown's predecessor, Out of This World playing Frank Nelson in Impostor. He also does the double of Terry Nation series appearing in Survivors as Bernard Huxley in The Future Hour and Blake's 7 as Commander Leylan in Space Fall & Cygnus Alpha. He was in The Sweeney as Wally Hough in Money, Money, Money and The Professionals as Barry Martin in Rogue. He's most famous for appearing with Maurice Colbourne in Howards' Way as Jack Rolfe.

Frank Jarvis plays the swampie Skart, who was previously a Corporal in The War Machines and Ankh in Underworld. He'd been in The Italian Job as Roger, one of the drivers, The Sweeney episode Contact Breaker as a Prison Officer and three episode of The Professionals as Patterson in Look After Annie, Musgrave in Not a Very Civil Civil Servant and Dale in Stopover.

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The Swampie Varlik is played by Carl Rigg who was in The Sweeney as Det. Sgt. Kent in The Placer and also has a Howards' Way as a stain on his CV playing Eckhardt Sahnn in the third episode of the fifth series.

The swampie on the refinery, Mensch, is played by regular stuntman Terry Walsh In a long career he's been a Militiaman in The Smugglers, a Soldier in The Web of Fear, a UNIT Soldier in The Invasion, The Ambassadors of Death & Inferno, an Auton Policeman in Terror of the Autons, a Stangmoor Man in The Mind of Evil episode three and a UNIT Motorcyclist in The Mind of Evil episode four, IMC Guard Rogers in Colony in Space, Castle Guard Barclay in The Sea Devils, an Overlord/Solos/Skybase Guard in The Mutants, the Window Cleaner in The Time Monster, a Guard in The Green Death, a Warehouse Looter in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Jack in Death to the Daleks part one, the Burning Exxilon in Death to the Daleks part three and a Zombie in Death to the Daleks part four, the Guard Captain in The Monster of Peladon, the Man with Boat in Planet of the Spiders part two, S.R.S. Meeting Security in Robot part three, a Wirrn Operator in The Ark in Space, Zake in The Sontaran Experiment, a Thal Soldier/Muto/Kaled Scientist in Genesis of the Daleks, a Crew Member in Planet of Evil, the Executioner in The Masque of Mandragora and a Guard in The Face of Evil. He'll be back as Doran in The Creature from the Pit. He has served as a regular fight arranger and stunt man in the series, notably doubling for both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

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In amongst the Swampies are Philip Bird who'll feature as Sharpe in the Sapphire & Steel story The Man Without a Face.

Another of the Swampie extras is Mark Hardy who we'll see more of shortly as the Cyber Lieutenant in Earthshock, The Five Doctors & Silver Nemesis.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

496 The Power of Kroll: Part One

EPISODE: The Power of Kroll: Part One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 23 December 1978
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 6.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"Tell me, would you let a small band of semi-savages stand in the way of progress?"
"Well, progress is a very flexible word. It can mean just about anything you want it to mean."

The Tardis lands on the moon Delta 3, where the indigenous inhabitants "the swampies" are being armed for insurrection by gun-runner Rohm-Dutt who is being hunted by refinery workers Thawn and Fenner. The Tracer gives Romana very odd readings and while attempting to take some on higher ground she is captured by Swampies, dropping the tracer. The Doctor meanwhile is shot at & captured by Thawn & Fenner and taken to the methane refinery where they work with Dugeen & Harg. Romana is taken to the temple of Kroll for sacrifice and tied to a stake. One of the Swampies working on the refinery signals his brothers on the shore. The Doctor escapes and makes for the Swampie settlement as the monstrous thing approaches Romana....

This episode is the only one from this story I can remember seeing as a child, on a small Black & White set at my Uncle Brian's house in Woking. The scenes of Romana being tied to what I thought was a bonfire stand out for me!

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What I couldn't see on a black and white TV set was just how green the Swampies were!

I quite enjoyed the episode this time round!

THAWN: You've shot the wrong man!
DOCTOR: Not quite. You shot the wrong man's hat, though!
There might be a little joke when The Doctor first meets the refinery workers but there's quite a serious idea at the centre of this episode. Enslaved populations rebelling are at the heart of many a Doctor Who story, the difference here being that the humans are the ones doing the enslaving, which I suppose invites comparison with The Mutants. There's a racist streak running through the humans too towards those they're sharing the Delta 3:
THAWN: We produce a hundred tons of compressed protein a day and then shoot it into Delta orbit every twelve hours.
FENNER: That's what makes the operation viable. If we used freighters it wouldn't be a commercial proposition.
THAWN: Of course, the plant is fully automated. The computer controls the orbit shot, but we like to double check.
DOCTOR: Very sensible.
FENNER: If there's a misfire then we have a manual override system.
DOCTOR: And just the six of you here?
THAWN: No, five.
DOCTOR: Oh no, I make it six. One, two, three
THAWN: Oh, you're counting Mensch. He's a Swampie.
DOCTOR: Doesn't he count?
DOCTOR: Ah. Why are his friends attacking you?
THAWN: Because they're ignorant savages.
DUGEEN: They were the first on Delta Magna.
FENNER: I don't think we owe them very much for that.
DUGEEN: We took their planet. Now they're afraid we'll take what they've got left.
This last comment would seem to indicate the humans have invaded the moon but the situation is worse than that:
MENSCH: My people are calling Kroll. They're making a blood sacrifice.
DOCTOR: Who's Kroll?
THAWN: Oh, it's their name for a giant squid. Centuries ago, when we resettled the Swampies from Delta Magna, we shipped along a couple of specimens just to keep them happy.
DOCTOR: Yes, but just the same, a blood sacrifice. I don't like the sound of that.
THAWN: Don't be stupid. You'll never cross those swamps on your own.
DOCTOR: What? Look, I have a shrewd idea who it is that might be being sacrificed, and Romana's not the easiest of guests.
So the humans took the Swampies original world, Delta Magna, from them, exiled them to it's moon and are now oppressing them there now they've found a natural resource to exploit!
THAWN: Don't you worry about the Swampies. We'll look after them, provided they see reason.
DOCTOR: What, teach them to carry trays?
FENNER: Why not? Tell me, would you let a small band of semi-savages stand in the way of progress?
DOCTOR: Well, progress is a very flexible word. It can mean just about anything you want it to mean.
The Doctor is very rightly not happy about this!

But to jump back briefly:

DOCTOR: And just the six of you here?
THAWN: No, five.
DOCTOR: Oh no, I make it six. One, two, three
THAWN: Oh, you're counting Mensch. He's a Swampie.
DOCTOR: Doesn't he count?
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I count just FOUR human refinery staff: Thawn, played by, Neil McCarthy, Fenner, Philip Madoc, Dugeen, John Leeson and Harg, Grahame Mallard. Who's the fifth?

ROMANA: Was it absolutely necessary to land in a quagmire?
DOCTOR: Well I told you it was a bit swampy. It's not the Tardis' fault, anyway. These marshes go on for miles. A little water doesn't hurt.
ROMANA: Try telling that to K9. He's marooned.
DOCTOR: Yes, well, we won't be here long enough to need K9. Come on.
This episode, bar the refinery scenes, was nearly all filmed on location in Suffolk over a period of 18th-28th September 1978. Director Norman Stewart, who previously directed Underworld, sacrificed one of his studio recording sessions to get extra time on location and from this episode that looks like a decent decision.

The Maltings, an area of marshland on the bank of the River Alde, near to the village of Snape, forms the location for the scenes set in long grass and open water!

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With the number of boats and hovercraft used their this almost feels like a Jon Pertwee episode!

Iken Cliff provides the location for the majority of the scenes with the Swampies, both the daylight scenes with Rhom-Dutt and the night time sacrifice seen at the end of the episode.

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Sunday, 16 December 2018

495 The Androids of Tara: Part Four

EPISODE: The Androids of Tara: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 16 December 1978
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"Next time I shall not be so lenient!"

Romana is returned to Castle Gracht where the count intends to marry her to the Prince, kill the Prince, marry Romana, kill her and inherit the throne. The Doctor, Farah & Zadek plan an assault on Castle Gracht. Grendel has one last attempt to persuade the real Princess Strella to cooperate telling her she has become dispensable. Grendel uses the Princess' life to blackmail Romana into cooperating. Under cover of darkness the Doctor crosses the castle moat in a boat with K-9 who begins to cut their way into the castle. Romana & The Prince are taken to their wedding ceremony as the K-9 breaks through the wall, being left in the boat by the Doctor. As the wedding ceremony begins the Doctor searches the palace finding the Key To Time segment that Romana had confiscated from her. At a crucial moment the Doctor interrupts the ceremony and engages the Count in a sword duel, allowing Romana & Reynart to escape admitting Zadek, Farah & the Prince's troops to Castle Gracht. Romana saves Strella from one of the Count's guards. The sword duel takes in much of the castle, finishing on the battlements with Grendel diving in the moat to escape promising that next time he will not be so lenient. Strella is reunited with Reynart as the Doctor & Romana take their leave, suddenly remembering that poor K-9 is still stuck in the boat!

Another fab episode, albeit one with a very slow start before the sword fight. But even then there's some great dialogue as Reynart & Romana figure out Grendel's cunning plan!

REYNART: Romana!
ROMANA: Are you all right?
REYNART: I thought you'd escaped.
GRENDEL: She had, but I knew Your Majesty couldn't live without her, so I brought her back for you.
ROMANA: Why do you torment him?
GRENDEL: Oh, now that's really most unfair, my dear. I'm really quite hurt. All I'm doing is to restore to His Majesty his bride-to-be.
GRENDEL: You'll make a lovely couple.
ROMANA: What's his idea? Is it a joke?
REYNART: Oh, no. Grendel doesn't joke about political power.
ROMANA: Then what's his plan?
REYNART: To become legal, rightful King of Tara. You see, if you marry me you will automatically become Queen, but five minutes after the wedding you would almost certainly be a widow.
ROMANA: He'd kill you?
REYNART: He would. And the moment you're widowed, Count Grendel, that well-known champion of widows and orphans, would step in and marry you, thus becoming Consort of the rightful Queen of Tara.
ROMANA: And then it would be my turn for an unfortunate accident.
REYNART: Precisely.
Sure enough:
GRENDEL: Ah, Archimandrite. Welcome.
ARCHIMANDRITE: What is so urgent that I must leave my duties and hurry here like this?
GRENDEL: I'm sorry, Archimandrite, but there is a ceremony you must perform.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Here? What ceremony?
GRENDEL: A marriage.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Your own chaplain could have done that.
GRENDEL: Not this marriage.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Why? Who is to be married, and to whom?
GRENDEL: The King to the Princess Strella.
GRENDEL: He has placed himself under my protection, your Eminence. Sadly, I have to tell you he is sick. In fact, he's very near to death.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Oh, dear, dear, dear. He did not look well at the coronation. Not himself at all.
GRENDEL: No. No, I did note that, Archimandrite.
ARCHIMANDRITE: But near to death, you say?
GRENDEL: Indeed he is. It would be as well if you stayed here. I fear he will be in need of the funeral rites very soon after the wedding.
GRENDEL: Mmm, yes. And after the funeral rites, there will be a second wedding for you to perform.
ARCHIMANDRITE: A second wedding? May I ask whose that will be?
GRENDEL: My own. I shall be marrying the poor King's widow.

Unfortunately the flaw in the plan comes in the form of an unexpected wedding guest:
GRENDEL: Remember the Princess.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Do you, Reynart, King of Tara, take this woman, the Princess Strella, to be your lawful wedded wife? Your Majesty?
ARCHIMANDRITE: And do you, Strella, Princess of the Royal House of Tara, take this man, Reynart, King of Tara, to be your lawful wedded husband?

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ROMANA: Doctor!
DOCTOR: No, she doesn't. Hello, everyone. Sorry I'm late. If there's something I always enjoy, it's a good wedding, isn't that true, Romana? Now, listen. Have you got to the bit where you ask them if there's any just cause why they shouldn't be joined in
GRENDEL: You seem to make a habit of interfering in my affairs, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Yes, yes, I do really.
GRENDEL: Well, you've done it for the last time.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Stop! This is a solemn ceremony!
ROMANA: Not any more, it isn't.
GRENDEL: Leave him, leave him. he's mine. Defend yourself, sir.
DOCTOR: I haven't brought my sword.
GRENDEL: Well, I've no wish to kill a man without a weapon in his hand. Here.
ROMANA: Doctor, he's the best swordsman on Tara.
DOCTOR: Is he?
ROMANA: Do you know what you're doing? Good luck.
GRENDEL: I shall give you a fencing lesson before you die. En garde!

We've seen the Doctor use a sword before, he fought with The Master during The Sea Devils and I'm pretty certain this Doctor used one as some point in Masque of Mandragora.

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The episode is dark right the way through and the night time setting, plus the addition of a helmet, helps disguise that a stuntman is playing Grendel through the extensive sword duel!

It's a decent end to the story with some action to entertain us in which we also get to see Romana meeting her double for the first time.

STRELLA: Who are you?
ROMANA: Well, that's a very long story.
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By the end of the episode they're getting on like a house on fire with Strella teaching Romana the fine art of Tapestry making!

ROMANA: But there are so many different types of stitch. It must take years to learn the art.
STRELLA: It's really only a question of patience and a certain delicacy of touch. I'm sure you can manage it. Go on. That's right. Very good.
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FARRAH: You know, you almost have to admire the man.
ZADEK: Admire him? I should have killed him when he walked in here, flag of truce or no flag of truce.
FARRAH: You've got to admit, sir, it takes courage to walk in here, to distract our attention while his men kidnap Miss Romana. I mean, it takes nerve.
ZADEK: Nerve is one quality Grendel has never been short of.
Peter Jeffrey has obviously had the time of his life with this part and leaves us with one of the greatest departing lines of any villain in Doctor Who!

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DOCTOR: It's all over, Grendel. That's Zadek and his men. Listen! You might as well surrender now.
GRENDEL: Surrender? You forget, Doctor, I'm a Gracht. We never surrender.
GRENDEL: Next time I shall not be so lenient!
DOCTOR: Grendel, you forgot your hat!
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Of all the fourth Doctor tales I've seen so far this one has been the one that's stood out as being better then I was expecting..... which is a little odd as I recall it quite fondly from when I saw it twice as a child! It's the first time I've seen it episodically for a bit and I'm guessing this is one of those that work better one episode at a time rather than watched all the way through like we tend to do with DVDs.

< Androids of Tara was the second story from this season, after The Pirate Planet, to be repeated during the summer of 1979, broadcast for a second time on Thursday at 6.55 from the 9th to 30th August that year. Androids of Tara was novelised by Terrance Dicks and released in April 1980. Androids of Tara was released on video in May 1995 on the same day as Stones of Blood to form the second pair of stories from the Key to Time season released, with The Ribos Operation & The Pirate Planet coming out the previous month and Power of Kroll & Armageddon Factor the next. The Key To Time season was a set of releases which came with a specially designed spine picture that ran over all six title. While there has never been a video boxset release of the Key To Time, it's only ever been available as a boxset on DVD. In October 2002 all six Key To Time stories were released in Region 1 with minimal extras & restoration to help satisfy the American demand for Tom Baker stories. The Key to Time was then released as a special edition, numbered & limited to 15,000 with brand new extras in Region 2 on the 24th September 2007, which sold out very quickly with this set commanding a premium price on eBay for quite some time. The Key to Time Box Set was reissued in a non limited edition in November 2009 and can now be had for a very reasonable price.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

494 The Androids of Tara: Part Three

EPISODE: The Androids of Tara: Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 09 December 1978
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"You can't trust androids, you know."

Strella is revealed to be an android, which the Doctor believes had been sent to kill the king. Grendel makes accusations that there may be more androids present and the rest of the ceremony is postponed. Lamia enquires of Romana as to what her stone is but refuses to return it. Lamia is ordered to prepare another android as the Doctor works to repair the Prince's android. K-9 reports he has detected Romana in Castle Gracht. A message is sent to the Doctor from Madam Lamia bargaining Romana's safety for safe passage for the Count. The Count sends an android copy of Romana to kill the Doctor, but while being copied Romana steals a tool from Madam Lamia. The Doctor & K-9 go to the arranged meeting place, Pavilion of the Summer Winds, as Romana frees herself and escapes. The Doctor meets Lamia, who brings "Romana" in but K-9 detects the android and destroys it. Lamia flees the scene but is accidentally killed by the Count's guards who open fire on the Pavilion. K-9 blasts a hole in the back allowing them to escape and meet Romana. They meet Farrah, Zadek & the Android Prince at the hunting lodge where Romana tells them the the Count is holding the real Prince. Grendel comes to see them under a truce, but destroys the android prince and escapes, seizing Romana!

This episode is an extended version of escape & recapture for Romana starting with her escaping from the cell and ending with her being carried off on horse back!

Seemingly the only reason for Romana to escape is to convey the information that Grendel is holding the real Prince..... Hmmmm, don't the Doctor and co all but know that anyway? Apart from destroying the Prince's android the plot doesn't advance much in this episode but it's all done so well. I remember the laser crossbows the guards were using as well as the electrically charged swords: the story's marriage of a medieval society with high technology worked well for me at the time and I still like it today.

The start of the episode sees The Doctor meeting the story's villain, Count Grendel, for the first time:

ARCHIMANDRITE: Seize him! He's killed the Princess.
FARRAH: Stop! That's not the Princess.
ARCHIMANDRITE: It's an android.
ZADEK: How did you know?
DOCTOR: A circuit must have been faulty. I heard it spark.
GRENDEL: And who might you be, pray?

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ARCHIMANDRITE: But it doesn't make sense. Why send an android to swear loyalty to the King?
DOCTOR: To get close enough to kill him.
ARCHIMANDRITE: But who would want to kill the King?
GRENDEL: My dear Archimandrite, what are you suggesting?
ZADEK: Treachery against His Majesty.
GRENDEL: Take care what you say, Zadek. Your Eminence, I suggest we postpone the oath-taking for the time being. Who knows how many other programmed androids there may be.
ARCHIMANDRITE: You think there are more?
GRENDEL: It is a possibility we must face, your Eminence. I shall leave my own personal guard here to protect His Majesty.
ZADEK: I'm afraid I cannot permit that, Count.
GRENDEL: It is not for you to say.
ZADEK: As Commander of His Majesty's bodyguard, it is my decision and mine alone.
GRENDEL: You presume too much, Zadek. Well, what does His Majesty have to say on the matter? He is very quiet.
DOCTOR: Ahem. His Majesty is very tired. Can't you talk about this tomorrow?
GRENDEL: Who the devil are you, sir?
DOCTOR: I'm the King's Doctor.
ARCHIMANDRITE: Is His Majesty ill?
DOCTOR: No, nothing a nice rest won't cure. He'll be all right tomorrow.
ARCHIMANDRITE: I understand, Doctor. Come, Count. We must allow His Majesty to rest.
GRENDEL: But what of the danger?
DOCTOR: What possible danger can His Majesty be in from his own personal bodyguard, Count?

They get another scene together later in the episode and it's obvious both actors are having a great time!
DOCTOR: Horseman approaching.
FARRAH: Under a flag of truce. It's Count Grendel! I'll kill the traitor!
ZADEK: Not if he comes under a flag of truce. You know the articles of war, Swordsman.
FARRAH: I'm not sure Count Grendel does, sir.
ZADEK: Disarm the Count, then, and bring him in.
GRENDEL: Good day, gentlemen. I come to you under a flag of truce and expect to be treated according to the usages of war.
ZADEK: What do you want?
GRENDEL: How are you, your android Majesty?
GEORGE: I. Am. Well.
GRENDEL: He doesn't sound it. Power packs need recharging, I expect.

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DOCTOR: Nothing that can't be fixed, Count.
GRENDEL: Oh, Doctor! Well, there you are. I was glad you managed to escape safely.
DOCTOR: Yes, well, so was I.
GRENDEL: Tell me now, where is the charming Romana?
ZADEK: What do you want, Count Grendel?
GRENDEL: Only a word with the Doctor, according to the usages of war.
GRENDEL: Shall we?

GRENDEL: Ah, excellent.
GRENDEL: Oh, Doctor, you're a remarkable man.
GRENDEL: Yes, a man after my own heart.
GRENDEL: Here you are, new to Taran politics, and in no time at all what have you become?

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DOCTOR: I don't know. Go on, you tell me.
GRENDEL: Kingmaker extraordinary. Thanks to you keeping that micro-circuitry going, Zadek has his king. But have you thought what would happen if something went seriously wrong, like an overload on the circuits?
DOCTOR: What would happen?
GRENDEL: Your usefulness ceases.
GRENDEL: You know too much. You become a dangerous embarrassment to Zadek. An embarrassment to be got rid of, and don't think he wouldn't.
DOCTOR: What's the answer?
GRENDEL: Suppose we both unmade our kings. No more King Reynart at all.
DOCTOR: What? What would that achieve?
GRENDEL: A vacancy for a new king.
DOCTOR: Ah. You, I suppose?
GRENDEL: No, no, no, Doctor, no. There would be opposition. No, I was thinking you'd make an excellent king.
DOCTOR: Me? Just a moment.

DOCTOR: The Count's just offered me the throne.
ZADEK: That's treason, Count.
GRENDEL: Only so long as the King is alive!

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Playing Count Grendel of Gracht is chief guest star Peter Jeffrey! Prior to this story he'd appeared in Doctor Who as the Pilot in the second Doctor's fifth story The Macra Terror. He does have another, slightly more tangential, link to the show: he appeared in the, sadly missing, third season Out of the Unknown Get Off My Cloud as Marsham Craswell. This rather odd episode famously features The Daleks in their first colour appearance! He's appeared in The Sweeneyas Det. Supt. Pringle in Thin Ice, the Survivors episode Garland's War as Knox and By the Sword Divided as Oliver Cromwell. By this point he's a famous name: I caught him on TV over Christmas in the Yes Minister Christmas Special Party Games as Eric, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who leads "an active life away from the House of Commons".

AOT1 Grendel AOT2 Reynart

Playing both Prince Reynart and his android double "George" is Neville Jason. He's got Paul of Tarsus, the series of biblical stories starring second Doctor Patrick Troughton on his CV where he plays King Agrippa II in Herod the King and To Rome. He was in the 1963 Sean Connery James Bond film From Russia with Love as Kerim's Chauffeur. Science fiction fans may have seen his as the Black Guard Captain in The Tripods series 2 episode 11.

Simon Lack, playing Swordsmaster Zadek, was previously Professor Kettering in The Mind of Evil. He also appears in the Doomwatch episode In the Dark as Andrew Seton. This episode also features features Second Doctor Patrick Troughton

AOT3 Zadek AOT4 Farrah

Rounding out Prince Reynart's party is Paul Lavers who plays Swordsman Farrah.

Count Grendel's gateman/servant Till is played by Declan Mulholland, previously Clark in The Sea Devils.

He can also be seen in the 1979 Quatermass What Lies Beneath as a Security Guard, Hawk the Slayer as Sped, Time Bandits as a Robber, The Tall Guy as the Rubberface Doorman and the Father Ted episode New Jack City as the Shouting Priest.

But Declan Mulholland is probably best known for not appearing on screen as Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars: his role in the film was cut. The character was later shown in a completely different form in Return of the Jedi, so when the footage featuring Mulholland was reinstated into The Star Wars Special Edition, Mulholland found himself replaced by a computer generated effect. However the footage showing him has been shown in several making of features over the years!

AOT5 Till AOT6 Lamia

Finally Count Grendel's surgeon and engineer Madam Lamia is played by Lois Baxter.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

493 The Androids of Tara: Part Two

EPISODE: The Androids of Tara: Part Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 02 December 1978
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Michael Hayes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 10.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"Hail to the King! Hail to King Reynart of Tara!"

When the Doctor comes round Swordsmaster Zadek & Farrah discover the prince is missing. The Doctor proposes using the android as a substitute at the coronation and summons K-9 from the Tardis at which point he realises Romana is missing. Zadek & Farrah surmise the count is holding her. The revived Romana is taken to the cells by Count Grendel and shown his captive, Princess Stella, Romana's exact duplicate. The Princess refuses to cooperate with Grendel's plan to marry her and gain her titles & position so the Count wants to use Romana as a substitute. He imprisons her with his second prisoner, the feverishly sick Prince Reynart. The Doctor's party gain entrance to the palace via a secret passage. Madame Lamia begins to take an interest in the crystal that Romana had taken from her. The Doctor's party's presence is detected when a guard they stunned is found. Grendel has his guards assume duties at the coronation ceremony and tries the throne out for size. The hour approaches and the prince has not arrived, to the worry of the Archimandrite, the Taran official in charge of the ceremony. The Doctor's party are ambushed in tunnels under the palace with Zadek sending the Doctor & Android on ahead. As the bell tolls at the appointed hour the party enters the coronation chamber and finds prince, which we know is the android duplicate, on the throne to Grendel's disbelief.

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The Archimandrite crowns "Reynart" as King. Princess Strella arrived to make her vows but as she kneels the Doctor attacks her with the royal sceptre!

Another fun little episode with Peter Jeffrey positively twirling his moustache as the evil villain Count Grendel of Gracht.

GRENDEL: And how is our guest?
GUARD: She's well, my lord.
GRENDEL: Good. Let's see for ourselves: Take a look, my dear.

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ROMANA: Oh! It's incredible!
GRENDEL: Yes, the resemblance is extraordinary, isn't it?
ROMANA: Is it an android?
GRENDEL: Good heavens, no, my dear. That's the Princess Strella. First Lady of Tara, a descendant of the Royal House, Mistress of the domains of Thorvald, Mortgarde and Freya. In fact, Tara's most eligible spinster, shortly to become, in rapid succession, my fiancée, my bride, and then deceased. Yes, it will be a tragic accident. A flower blighted in its prime. And naturally, as her husband, I shall claim her estates and her position as second in line to the throne, as provided for under Taran law.
ROMANA: I see. But since you've already got a princess, what do you need me for?
GRENDEL: Well, the Princess does not entirely agree with my plan.
ROMANA: I can't say I'm wildly surprised.
GRENDEL: In fact, she quite refuses to cooperate.
ROMANA: Good for her. But I still don't see what all this has got to do with me.
GRENDEL: Don't you, my dear? I should have thought that was obvious. If she goes on refusing, I can marry you instead in front of the great assembly of the nobles of Tara, who won't know the difference.
ROMANA: What happens if I refuse, too?
GRENDEL: Oh, but you won't. Aren't I a lucky man to have two such beautiful women as my bride?

Now we get to find out why everyone was so interested in Romana: She's the exact double of the Taran Princess Strella!

Here we go again....

We've had duplicates of The Doctor in The Chase, The Massacre, The Enemy of the World and the Android Invasion, plus we would have done in the last story too if Tom Baker hadn't objected to "The Doctor" being seen to push Romana off a cliff! His companions are duplicated in Terror of the Zygons and Android Invasion as well. And don't forget the "mirror universe" versions of UNIT in Inferno as well! So it's well covered grounds for Doctor Who, and it's not done doing it by any means, but the idea of doubles is embedded in the original source for the story, The Prisoner of Zenda, and set up in the first episode with the price and his double "George" so we'll let it pass here.

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Besides it has been three years since the Android Invasion so it's about time we had another go at a duplicates story, but maybe it was for the best that Tom Baker eliminated that scene from Stones of Blood with this story due next!

One of the great things about this episode is the amount of background information it tells us about Tara and his inhabitants. For example, there's more to the relationship between Lamia and Count Grendel than servant and master as becomes apparent when she hears the plan to marry Strella/Romana:

ROMANA: Apparently your staff doesn't agree.
GRENDEL: She's prejudiced, my dear, just because I once showed her a certain courtesy. That's the trouble with peasants these days. They don't know their place any more!

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Then there's why Androids are here at all:

DOCTOR: What were these tunnels built for?
ZADEK: They were plague tunnels built about two hundred years ago to allow the royal court to move in and out of the palace without having to pass through the contaminated city.
ZADEK: The great plague wiped out nine tenths of the population.
FARRAH: That's when the survivors started using androids to replace the people.
DOCTOR: I see.
The technological levels on Tara seem quite advanced for the medieval looking feudal society portrayed here. There's the electronic swords and crossbows:
DOCTOR: It fires electronic bolts. How very quaint.
FARRAH: It's a peasant's weapon.
Influenced by the recent Star Wars perhaps?

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Then there's the clock, with time measured out in 16ths rather than out 12ths! That's not likely to get used again anywhere!

Returning for a fourth & final Doctor Who appearance is Cyril Shaps as the Archimandrite. His previous roles were in The Tomb of the Cybermen as John Viner, The Ambassadors of Death as Dr. Lennox & Planet of the Spiders as Prof. Herbert Clegg. I think this his only appearance in the series where his character survives the story! There again Michael Sheard appears in the show six times and his character always gets it! Elsewhere in a long career he appears in Quatermass II as a Control Assistant in The Destroyers and has an Out of the Unknown to his name appearing as Dr. Duval in the missing second season episode Too Many Cooks. He plays the convict Jackdaw in the Porridge episode The Harder They Fall and Turner in The Sweeney episode May. He's briefly onscreen in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me as Dr. Bechmann, one of the two scientists killed in the helicopter explosion near the start. He was in the fondly remembered children's series Into the Labyrinth as Kadru in Cave of Diamonds and famed early 80s comedy The Young Ones as the Old Man Next Door in Demolition. I saw him in the cinema in Erik the Viking as Gisli the Chiseller. One of his later roles is in Dark Season, the future Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies Children's series, as Mr. Polzinski in the first three episodes.

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Martin Matthews, playing Grendel's henchman Kurster, was in The Tripods as the Games Captain in season 2 episode 4.

There's plenty of extras playing noblemen & women but I can only find two listed on IMDB. Barbara Bermel, listed as a Court Lady against the wrong episode, was a Villager in Planet of the Spiders, an Android Villager in The Android Invasion, a Masquer in The Masque of Mandragora, a Sevateem in The Face of Evil and a Rebel in tunnel in The Sun Makers. She'll be back as a Lazar in Terminus. She's also been in Doomwatch as a Woman in Flood and in Space: 1999 as a Thulian in the superb Death's Other Dominion,

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Brychan Powell, playing a Noble, is one of a number of the series regular extras in this story. We last saw him as a Mentiad in The Pirate Planet and he'll be back as a Logopolitan in Logopolis.

Most of the rest of the extras are employed as Gracht Guards. Derek Suthern was also last seen in The Pirate Planet as a Mentiad. He returns in The Armageddon Factor as a Mute. Mike Mungarvan was in the previous story The Stones of Blood as a druid and returns in Destiny of the Daleks as a Dalek Operator.

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Peter Roy has worked on the program for years: his last appearance is a Gallifreyan Guard in Invasion of Time and he returns as a Guard in The Armageddon Factor at the end of this season. Finally there's Steve Ismay who we've not seen for a little while. He'd previously been a BBC3 TV Crewmember in The Dæmons episode two, a Guerilla in Day of the Daleks episode three, a Stills Cameraman in Day of the Daleks episode four, a Presidential Guard in Frontier in Space episode two, a UNIT Soldier in The Time Warrior part one, an Exxilon in Death to the Daleks parts one to three, a Zombie in Death to the Daleks part four, a Guard in The Monster of Peladon, a guard in Planet of Spiders and a guard in Deadly Assassin. He'll return as a citizen in Full Circle and a Cyberman in Earthshock. He appears in Blake's 7 as a Scavenger in Deliverance, a Guard in Dawn of the Gods, a Convict in Moloch and a Hommik in Power. He's got two Porridge appearances to his name in A Night In as a Prison Warden and Happy Release as a Gardener.