Sunday, 23 December 2018

496 The Power of Kroll: Part One

EPISODE: The Power of Kroll: Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 496
STORY NUMBER: 102
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 23 December 1978
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Norman Stewart
SCRIPT EDITOR: Anthony Read
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.
DOCTOR: Ah.
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?
THAWN: No.
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?
THAWN: No.
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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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