Part One

The Power of KrollSue: The Power of Kroll. I don’t think much of the title. It sounds like some sort of B-movie. Oh, wait, Robert Holmes is back again. When Robert Holmes is good, he’s really good.
Me: And you’ve got Philip Madoc as well.
Sue: That definitely helps.

The episode begins on a high-tech mining refinery where four men – Fenner, Thawn, Harg and Dugeen – bring us to speed with the sociopolitical situation on the third moon of Delta Magna.

Sue: I think I understood most of that but the exposition was very clunky. It didn’t sound like they were having a natural conversation. The actors are okay, though, so I’ll have to blame the script.

The TARDIS materialises in the middle of a swamp. Unfortunately, because this place is waterlogged, the Doctor and Romana have to leave K9 behind.

Sue: Poor K9. I’m taking a mark off this story straight away. They should have put him in a little boat. I do like Romana’s outfit, though. Very Emma Peel.

The Power of KrollRomana searches for the fifth segment while the Doctor crafts a flute out of some reed, which he then uses to play JS Bach’s Badinerie in B minor.

Sue: He’s so much better than Patrick Troughton. He could give James Galway a run for his money.

Romana is kidnapped by a gun runner named Rohm-Dutt. At exactly the same time, Thawn and Fenner arrive to kill the blighter.

Sue: How did the Doctor not hear their hovercraft coming a mile off? It makes one hell of a racket.

Fenner mistakes the Doctor for Rohm-Dutt and he shoots him in the head.

Sue: Bloody hell, he can shoot straight! I’m a fan of this story already. One shot – bang – and he’s down.
Me: He just shot the Doctor in the head and you are congratulating him?
Sue: Sorry, that is a very good point. I’m just so excited to see someone who knows how to aim a gun for a change.

Romana is led to a Swampie settlement where Rohm-Dutt sells a crate of weapons to their leader, Ranquin.

I’ll put everybody out of their misery right now: no, she didn’t recognise John Abineri. Sorry, Toby.

The Power of KrollSue: The green make-up is very good. Aliens might find it a bit racist, but in this instance, they didn’t have a choice.
Me: By all accounts, it was murder to get it off their skin. The BBC forgot to buy the dye remover and the Swampies had to be driven out to an RAF base where they were forced to use chemical showers. Interestingly, no one who worked as a Swampie ever went on to have children.
Sue: Really?

My wife, ladies and gentlemen.

Sue: It was worth it, though. It looks excellent.

Rohm-Dutt interrogates Romana.

Sue: What is that accent supposed to be? American? Irish? Australian? All of the above?

It becomes clear that the Swampies are being oppressed by the greedy bastards working at the refinery.

Sue: This is basically Greenpeace against BP. Or Green hair pieces against BP. No? Oh, please yourself. Anyway, it’s very political. I like Robert Holmes when he’s got an axe to grind.

The Doctor (he was shot in the hat, not the head, which makes Fenner a terrible shot after all) is taken to the refinery for questioning.

The Power of KrollSue: I like the little ducks on his jacket. He’s obviously been inspired by Hilda Ogden.

Romana is chosen to be the victim in a ritual sacrifice. As she is led to the sacrificial altar, the Swampies chant the name of their god.

Sue: It’s King Kong. No, wait… King Kroll.
Me: What makes you think its name is Kroll?
Sue: Just a wild guess.

The Swampies chant, and chant, and chant.

Sue: There are loads of extras playing the Swampies. I’m surprised they didn’t rise up against the BBC when they couldn’t get the paint off. Oh, and that one in the middle can’t dance.

Back at the refinery, Thawn tells the Doctor that the Swampies worship a giant squid.

Sue: Giant squid? Is that wise? They’re not going to show us a giant squid, are they? Remember what happened with the giant prawn.

Meanwhile, the Swampies are still chanting.

The Power of KrollSue: Is Kroll deaf? They must be knackered by now.

The episode concludes with Romana threatened by a pair of claws.

Sue: Oh dear. That doesn’t look like a giant squid to me.

She sighs.

Sue: Oh well, apart from that terrible cliffhanger, that wasn’t a bad start. There was nowt wrong with that.


Part Two

We eventually get a proper look at the monster attacking Romana.

Sue: You are having a laugh! It’s ridiculous! What the hell is it supposed to be? Did a clam have sex with a mushroom? Oh, wait… that’s clever.

Yes, it’s supposed to look rubbish on purpose: the monster is just a Swampie in fancy dress. I decide to rub Sue’s nose in it.

Sue: Yes, yes, very good. Big round of applause. But you can’t get away with making things look shit on purpose every week. There’s only so many times you can get away with that. Actually, hasn’t Doctor Who already pulled that gag before? I’m sure it has.

Back at the refinery, Dugeen is tracking a mysterious shape on his scanner. Thawn tells him to keep an eye on it.

The Power of KrollDugeen: Right, sir.
Sue: I bet he wishes he could say affirmative. I must say, I prefer him when he’s a dog.

Reader, I told her.

Sue: This is just like Avatar, but with a different colour scheme and no chance of a sex scene. I hope. You know, Rohm-Dutt reminds me of Quint from Jaws.
Me: If Quint was shit. Someone on Twitter said he reminded his wife of a fat Indiana Jones.
Sue: A fat Han Solo, surely? He’s smuggling guns.
Me: Yeah, good point, but he was wearing a hat and –
Sue: I can’t believe we are having this conversation.

Meanwhile, Romana has some important news for the Doctor.

Romana: Doctor, there’s something that I have to tell you.
Sue: I’m pregnant.

Romana suggests that they find the Key to Time and scarper.

Sue: I couldn’t agree more. This situation is going to get very messy.
Me: Yeah, they might get some green paint on their clothes.

Back at the refinery, Thawn, Dugeen and Fenner are gathered around a monitor.

The Power of KrollSue: It looks like they can’t tune in their Binatone games system. How are they getting so much data from a picture like that? An Etch A Sketch has a higher resolution.

The Doctor finds the sacred book of Kroll. He opens it up near the beginning and reads aloud.

The Doctor: Great was the lamentation of the people but Kroll returned to the water and slept.
Romana: I do like a happy ending.
Sue: Ending? You are only a few pages into the book, love. You’ve got a long way to go before that story finishes.
Me: I know the feeling.
Sue: What do you mean? This is pretty good. The script is more than okay – although it isn’t as funny as the last two – and the plot is easy enough to follow. The acting is fine, the location is interesting, and the direction isn’t bad, either. What’s not to like?

The Swampies attack the dryfoots (dryfeet?), but a gun explodes in one of their faces.

Sue: Was he pointing it the wrong way? Even UNIT are laughing their arses off at that.

And then the mighty Kroll appears!

The Power of KrollSue: Wow. That’s big. Too big, probably. I don’t know, though, it’s a pretty good attempt; they’ve given it all they’ve got.
Me: What about the split screen effect?
Sue: Of course it’s a split screen effect. It’s 1978 and they are working with a shoestring budget. No, that wasn’t bad at all. The kids would have loved that and the concept is pretty scary. It could come up and eat you any moment. If you lived near Seal Sands, it would have given you nightmares.

Things get so bad, the refinery staff wake Dugeen up from his nap.

Sue: Blimey, couldn’t he have got dressed when he was still in his quarters? Thanks for that. I bet he was dreaming of dogs when they woke him up.

And the praise keeps on coming:

Sue: It’s very good, this. The script is typical Robert Holmes: clever and a bit cynical. It’s a bit slow, though. That’s the only problem I have with this story. The last one galloped along nicely but this isn’t in much of a hurry. Oh, hello.

A tentacle grabs Harg and the episode concludes with Kroll pulling him into a pipe.

Sue: That was a terrible cliffhanger.
Me: Was the rubber tentacle too much for you?
Sue: Not at all. The tentacle was fine. I just don’t care about these guys. They are the bad guys, aren’t they? Imagine a cliffhanger where a Nazi gets killed. Who gives a ****? It doesn’t make any sense.


Part Three

The Power of KrollKroll hasn’t just eaten Harg, he’s also caused a gas leak.

Sue: It that supposed to be methane?
Me: I think so.
Sue: Christ, it must stink of cow farts in there. No wonder they can’t wait to get out.

The Swampies tie Romana, Rohm-Dutt and the Doctor to rack.

Sue: That’s handy, it’s just the right size. It’s as if they were expecting to kill three people today. Unless they have really good carpenters and they just knocked one up.

Ranquin explains how the seventh ritual works – they will be torn to death by ivy.

Sue: I’m not convinced. They just have to get the ivy wet and they’ll be fine. Just spit on your feet!

The Doctor notices a round window in the ceiling.

The Power of KrollRomana: Will you stop babbling about the architecture? We’re having a serious conversation about death.
The Doctor: Well, architecture’s quite a serious subject.
Sue: Absolutely right. This story just went up a mark.

Back at the refinery, Dugeen is worried about Kroll.

Dugeen: We were just trying to decide what it’d look like out of the water.
Sue: It’s a giant Brussels sprout with arms. Don’t get your hopes up, K9. Sorry, I mean, that guy.

They discuss the best way to deal with the threat posed by Kroll.

The Power of KrollSue: DeWalt.
Me: What?
Sue: DeWalt ear protectors. You can tell by the colour.
Me: Mind wandering much?
Sue: A bit.

And then the rain comes.

Sue: See! They just need a bit of water on that ivy and they’ll be sorted. I could have written this.

The Doctor uses his voice to smash the window.

Sue: They would have gotten away with that if they’d overdubbed it with a real soprano. As it stands, it’s a bit silly.

As they make their escape from the Swampies, Rohm-Dutt is dragged away by a tentacle.

The Power of KrollSue: It’s just like the end of Jaws when Quint gets dragged under the sea. Even the music reminds me of Jaws. Listen… der der, der der, der der –
Me: Everything by Dudley Simpson goes der der, der der, der der.
Sue: Oh yeah.

The episode concludes with Kroll in a very bad mood.

Sue: You know, this isn’t bad at all.


Part Four

The Power of KrollSue has been very forgiving of the split screen effect. Until now, that is.

Sue: Oh dear. Yes, that is bad. It’s so obvious. They should have stuck with the tentacles. The tentacles are great.

Thawn decides to throw a hundred tons of hydrogen peroxide at Kroll.

Sue: At the very least, it will bleach its hair.

Thawn is becoming more maniacal by the second.

Sue: I’ve definitely seen him in something else. Didn’t he play a bad guy in a Bond film?
Me: You’re thinking of Jaws.
Sue: No, James Bond, you idiot.

The Power of KrollI only wish I were making this up.

Me: It’s Neil McCarthy, he’s been in loads of stuff, including Doctor Who.
Sue: I’ve seen him in something else. Something bigger.

I press the pause button and pull up Neil McCarthy’s IMDB credits on my phone:

Me: Zulu?

Not a glimmer.

Me: The Hill? Doubtful. Where Eagles Dare? Nothing? Steptoe and Son the Movie
: Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, it’s a shame that Philip Madoc is blowing him off the screen without even trying.
Me: He was sulking at the time, I think. When he agreed to work on this story, he thought he was playing the bad guy with all the meaty lines, but when he turned up to the rehearsals, he discovered that he was playing second fiddle instead. He wasn’t very happy about it.
Sue: It could have been worse, he could have been covered in paint.

Kroll continues to rampage through the baygule (whatever the hell that is).

Sue: The split screen is starting to do my head in a bit. It’s a shame. It if was set on a beach, you could get away with it because the horizon is flat. But grass is never that flat. Not unless the Swampies spend their spare time trimming it with shears. But what else could the BBC do? They didn’t have portable green screens back then. They’ve got green everything else, though.

Thawn shoots Dugeen for sympathising with terrorists.

Sue: Poor bloke who plays K9.
Me: You know, I don’t think I’ve seen this episode since it was broadcast in January 1979. I’ve never made it past Part Two when I’ve tried to watch it again.
Sue: It’s not that bad, is it?
Me: Actually, you’re right, it isn’t. I’m actually enjoying this, despite my expectations. Tom Baker is very good.
Sue: Yes, he’s probably worried that Philip Madoc would think less of him if he fooled around on the set too much. He’s having fun with it, but he’s still taking it seriously enough for me to believe him.

Fenner drags Dugeen’s body away.

The Power of KrollSue: No blood on the floor, I see. Were they told to tone down all the gore?
Me: Yes.

A little later, the Swampies invade the refinery and Thawn is speared in the chest. He goes down, blood gushing from his wound.

Sue: Somebody didn’t get the memo.

The final five minutes, where Kroll attempts to eat the refinery, is accompanied by rapt silence. At one point, Sue even bites her nails. The Doctor heads outside to defeat the monster with his little stick.

Sue: The fifth segment, eh? Not far now.

And then, just when you think it’s all over, the Doctor has to stop the refinery from blowing up.

The Power of KrollSue: That was very funny. Was the script under-running?

The Doctor and Romana leave Fenner to the Swampies.

Sue: He’ll be dead by lunchtime.

They return to the TARDIS and the Doctor’s reaction upon opening the door suggests to Sue that K9 is waiting for them with a pair of slippers stuck to his nose.

Sue: Awwww, K9 wants his din dins.


The Score

Sue: That was pretty good. It was a bit slow but the actors gave it their all and the idea was sound. The location was interesting and you could believe that you were on an alien planet –
Me: Moon.
Sue: Whatever. **** off. Anyway, it was well above average. If K9 had been in it, I might have given it an eight.


Sue: What’s the next one called?
Me: The Armageddon Factor. Why? Are you excited?
Sue: I am a bit. I like a good story arc. I just hope they don’t do a Lost and **** it up at the end.


Coming Soon




  1. P.Sanders  July 21, 2012

    SUE YOU BEAUTY x x x

  2. Lewis Christian  July 21, 2012

    All I seem to remember from this story is “Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll Kroll” going on for about an hour. I think I even fell asleep at one point and, when I woke up, they were still chanting.

    In any case, it’s a damn sight better than what’s about to come IMO.

  3. Rob Shearman  July 21, 2012

    Hurrah! Oh, it’s lovely to see how much Sue is rolling with the Key to Time season. (And just as lovely to see Neil won over to the charms of Kroll. It does have a few.)

    I’m a big Armageddon Factor apologist – well, a man has to have a hobby – so fingers crossed this becomes a season that gets a complete thumbs up. (It’ll make a nice contrast to season fifteen…!)

    • Dave Sanders  July 22, 2012

      There’s a lot to like in Armageddon, particularly the meaty concepts about the dehumanisation and pointlessness of computer-controlled warfare (years before War Games, I might add) but it’s mainly in the first half.

      Agreed, Kroll could have been a lot worse, but it’s very slow and for me, the definitive example of why Robert Holmes doesn’t normally ‘do’ monsters. Looked at in an unkind way, Kroll is basically the split-screen cousin of the Magma Beast from Androzani, in that it’s just kind of *there*. It doesn’t have any character, and it doesn’t actually represent any particular idea, like the Drashigs do, for example. It’s just THERE. But it’s to the story’s credit that Robert Holmes doesn’t actually try (let’s face it, you KNOW Terry Nation would have turned it into another Slyther), and that the realisation is about as good as it could have been in 1978. But you can tell that Bob knows as well as we do that ‘we want the biggest monster ever seen in Doctor Who’ is a crap brief for a story that’s in no way guaranteed to inspire any kind of memorable results. Nobody really hates The Power Of Kroll, the naysayers just tend to shrug, forget about it and move on. We’ll be seeing a lot more of that, for the same reasons, a lot later on.

      Also, does anyone else get the impression that Robert Holmes turned out his best material when he was edited or guided by his close proteges and admirers – Terrance Dicks, Phillip Hinchcliffe, Chris Boucher and Eric Saward? There are exceptions – when Eric Saward stopped caring, even Bob’s work became more or less unsalvagable – but I never got the impression that faced with Bob’s repuation, Anthony Read ever dared to change one word of his scripts, even when they plodded (this) or not very well paced (Sunmakers).

      • John G  July 22, 2012

        You may well be right about Anthony Read, though Ribos is certainly up there as one of Holmes’ best scripts. Regardless of Read’s influence (or lack thereof) I think creative tiredness is the chief explanation for Holmes’ overall dip in form at this time.

    • Nathan  July 22, 2012

      I’ve always said that Armageddon Factor 5 is the worst single episode of Doctor Who ever made so it will be interesting to see her thoughts on that particular segment.

      • encyclops  July 22, 2012

        I’ve just watched the first half of Planet of Fire, so even if she agrees with you now she might change her mind later.

        • Dave Sanders  July 22, 2012

          I beg to differ Time And The Rani 1.

          • Bestbrian  July 22, 2012

            I’ve always liked Time and The Rani. It just always seemed like good, fun, bonkers, bad Doctor Who; it’s an enjoyable stinker.

          • encyclops  July 24, 2012

            Good point. Planet of Fire episode 1 isn’t awful in its entirety, and there are a couple of, er, good bits in it. But there is one scene that I’d heartily support as the worst-acted dialogue in the entire series. Makes Rick James look like Olivier.

          • Matt Sharp  July 24, 2012

            ‘I beg to differ Time And The Rani 1′

            Actually, as the TARDIS Eruditorum recently pointed out, Time and the Rani 3 is much worse than episode one, consisting as it does of Pip n’ Jane flavoured padding. Yuck!

            I’m going to go for whichever episode of ‘The Twin Dilemma’ it is that includes That Scene as the worst ever. You know the one.

            Despite several attempts including watching the DVD with both the commentary and the Production Subtitles on, I’ve not yet managed to stay awake for episode five of ‘The Armageddon Factor’ so I’m probably not qualified to comment on that one.

          • Neil Perryman  July 24, 2012

            Why are you discussing Time and the Rani on a post about The Power of Kroll?

          • Dave Sanders  July 24, 2012

            That’s how far our collective minds wandered during Armageddon, when it had barely started. 🙂

  4. Tim Cook  July 21, 2012

    Sue seems to veer from being quite forgiving of the special effects to the exact opposite. And if Sue liked ‘Kroll’, she’ll love Robert Holmes’ second go at the script in a few months’ time.

    By the by, why is Tom looking so pleased on the cover of the novelisation?

    • BWT  July 22, 2012

      Because he managed to finally get rid of his scarf…?

    • encyclops  July 22, 2012

      It’s a rendition of the moment where he turns Kroll into the fifth segment, if I recall correctly.

      I’m glad Sue enjoyed this! I think it’s got an undeserved bad rep. I actually really like the Etch-a-Sketch monitor scenes — there’s a fine Jawsy tension to watching them figure out exactly what kind of beast they’re dealing with. It’s a relatively dreary story and you wouldn’t really put it on for fun, but I loved it as a kid and I think Kroll looks terrific in and of himself. I can tell you that the split-screen effect works just fine on an iPhone, especially while you’re on the elliptical machine.

      The only thing that really bugged me this time around was trying to figure out how a squid that size could ever submerge into a swamp. Even an ordinary giant squid would have some trouble with it. I guess this is some special Delta Magna squid that burrows? Well, whatever.

      • Dave Sanders  July 22, 2012

        I seem to recall from the script that that’s exactly what it does – it normally lives under the sediment, which shields the main body from the scanners.

  5. Iain Coleman  July 21, 2012

    Kroll scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. I have a very vivid memory of watching a scene with the giant Kroll from behind my Gran’s armchair.

  6. wholahoop  July 22, 2012

    Wis never ceases to amaze me – my 3/10 may have to be re-evaluated. I was always prepared to forgive RH for the odd clunker but now I will have to re-watch this to determine how much of a clunker this one may be (yet again the experiment achieves one o its unwritten aims!)

    Next one – will be interesting, I like it but it is just too long

  7. AST  July 22, 2012

    Am saving this edition to read in bed tonight (once the booze runs out), but just a quick message of appreciation: I love WiS – it’s always a hoot. I’ve managed to get my own not-we wife to read it too – result.

    Thank you both.

  8. Paul Mc Elvaney  July 22, 2012

    Hi, I’m a long time reader, first time commenter. I’ve been following this site for ages now and the quality and fun is as great as ever! Very glad that Sue’s enjoying the Key to Time season, a season you just can’t help but like…even with the Taran wood beast…and Kroll…and the walking stones…and the beeping pyramid computer thing. Yeah, sorry, I’ll stop now.

  9. Jazza1971  July 22, 2012

    Yay! I do like Kroll, so it is nice to see it getting a positive review from Sue.

    Something I would like to get off my chest from the DVD commentary (and I think it even turns up in the production notes) – in that they claim that there is a continuity error in that Tom Baker’s boots change without him returning to the TARDIS, and yet it is obvious to me that he is wearing waders which are then folded down, thus exposing the interior of the top of the boots. That’s what I think, anyway.

    PS:- Loved the “Steptoe and Son” moment!

  10. Simon Harries  July 22, 2012

    “Gotten” away with it? I didn’t realise Sue was from the Bronx…. Best quote pertains to cow farts! Like others, I’m chuffed to see the season scoring highly so far. But what will Sue make of the next one? Mmm, if I was a betting man I’d go for a 3/10…..

    • BWT  July 22, 2012

      Hehehe… cows can’t fart, Sue. They can belch but they can’t fart. And methane is odourless – that’s hydrogen sulphide you’re thinking of there…

      Sorry… I’ll get me coat…

      • Matt Sharp  July 22, 2012

        ‘Hehehe… cows can’t fart, Sue.’

        I assure you that they can! Eh, ye city folk dun’t know nothin. It be like that thur Arthur Darvill standing in a field of wheat insisting that it be goin to be growin up to be sweetcorn. Made oi laugh, it did!

        You’re thinking of kangaroos. Stephen Fry said so, so it must be true!

  11. AST  July 22, 2012

    I reckon that this story crystalises a lot of themes that pre-occupy Who of this era. While Star Trek was about West Coast 1960s groovy American exceptionalism, this show was obsessed with the fallout from colonialism.

    In how many shows around this period have we had human sacrifice in one form or another? How many have featured bronze-age savages implausibly co-exisitng with shiny technology? This story at least tackles it most obviously by greening everybody up and adding a contemporaneous ecological edge to it, but, for me, the themes of ‘us vs the fuzzy-wuzzies’ is wearing very thin by this stage in the programme’s evolution.

  12. John S. Hall  July 22, 2012

    Neil McCarthy also played Calibos in “Clash of the Titans” (the original) — maybe that’s what Sue recognises him from??

    • StevieH  July 22, 2012

      Sue could also remember him from being Barnham in ‘Mind of Evil’….or maybe not…

      • Dave Sanders  July 23, 2012

        Or Harker in Horror Of Fang Rock? Pretty sure that was him.

        • Leo  July 23, 2012

          Different actor, that was Rio Fanning.

  13. Jason Miller  July 22, 2012

    I disagree with Sue about the quality of this story — just because his name is Philip Madoc doesn’t mean that he did a particularly good job in this story, and chronologically it’s probably the weakest story of the “Key to Time” season thus far. I also don’t see how this gets 7 more points than “Invasion of Time”… but, I read this blog to see Sue come up with opinions independent from years and years of Fan GroupThink, and she’s certainly doing that lately. Keep it up! Give a great rating to “Armageddon Factor”! Say great things about Davyd Harries!!

    • Wholahoop  July 22, 2012

      Davyd Harries – his is a Marmite performance IMHO – Sue’s reaction could be interesting

      • Thomas  July 22, 2012

        Harries is disliked? Wow, I had no idea about that, he’s one of my favorite things about the episode (aside from a couple embarrassing moments, he plays the character like a sci-fi Jeeves, contrasting perfectly with Woodvine’s overacting).

        • Simon Harries  July 22, 2012

          I think Harries (no relation) and Woodvine are terrific in it. If only episodes 4 and 5 could just be obliterated….

        • Wholahoop  July 23, 2012

          It’s the embarrassing moments that do it for me – but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

          I must resist the urge to comment on future stories – apart from Season 24 which was sh*te

        • Dave Sanders  July 23, 2012

          Yes, why do people have it in for Shapp? Alright, he’s a bit Terry Scott and executes the odd comedy pratfall, but he gets to act on his own initiative, and his bewilderment at developments over his head are more realistic than Merak’s constant whining at them like a piece of wet cardboard.

          • encyclops  July 24, 2012

            Shapp’s one of the reasons Armageddon Factor is watchable.

  14. Bestbrian  July 22, 2012

    Thanks for the smiles. After a long day/night of running around with the NYPD, it’s nice to come home, have a drink, and unwind with some fun, undogmatic, Who.

    And what’s the matta wit Sue soundin’ like she’s from the Boogie Down Bronx? Hater’s gonna hate. 🙂

    • Simon Harries  July 22, 2012

      Don’t bring me, man! I was only layin’ it on straight – this blog solid gives me the kicks!!

      • PolarityReversed  July 22, 2012

        Simon – don’t.
        No, really, don’t…

        • Bestbrian  July 22, 2012

          @Polarity: 🙂

  15. DPC  July 22, 2012

    The last time I watched this story I liked it… even if it does contain elements to a story that Robert Holmes would write some 4 years later…

    Kroll’s rating is absolutely well-deserved. There are better stories, but “Kroll” is often underrated.

    • P.Sanders  July 22, 2012

      Yes let’s not forget we can’t really accuse Kroll of over-resembling a story written over 4 years later – if anything Androzani is a rip-off/second draft/revision of Kroll….

      • encyclops  July 22, 2012

        I must be dense, but I don’t see much resemblance between the stories, apart from the double-crossing gunrunning operation, which I don’t see as the distinguishing element in either case.

      • Dave Sanders  July 22, 2012

        Even down to the somewhat superfluous monster, though here at least, since Kroll was the brief from the start, it doesn’t come across as quite so pointless. Even though Bob’s six-year ennui clearly thinks it is.

        • P.Sanders  July 22, 2012

          But Kroll is fabulous and the central focus to this story – Kroll swallowed the 5th segment, Kroll is creating the gas that brought the refinery there in the first place, etc. Whereas the magma beast was there for a quick cliffhanger and cos “we need a monster for kids inbetween the talking and guns”. Plus I always loved tentacled, Lovecraftian horrors more than boring dinosaurs.

          • Dave Sanders  July 22, 2012

            Plot device != character or concept. Soz.

  16. John Callaghan  July 22, 2012

    The cliffhanger/resolution for episode 1/2 is, in my opinion, one of the cleverest the show ever did. “It probably looked more convincing from the front”!

    Another great line, when Romana gets off the rack: “Oh, *now* my nose stops itching!”

    Only thing I’d change – have the two crises running concurrently. The Doctor is trapped reaching for the tracer; Romana stops the rig exploding, which shakes the tracer into the Doctor’s hand; the Doctor returns in triumph to find everyone’s cheering Romana instead. Give her her moment.

  17. Leo  July 22, 2012

    Did Sue ever watch Catweazle? As Neil McCarthy played Sam Woodyard in the first series. He’s also in the Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em episode where they stay in a hotel.

    • Matt Sharp  July 22, 2012

      He was in a long running advert as well, but I don’t remember what for.

      I do remember, however, sitting behind him when I was about six on a boat trip while I was on holiday, and my grandad felt compelled to sing the jingle for whatever the advert was. It proved very well that Neil McCarthy was VERY good at doing murderous looks…

  18. chris-too-old-to-watch  July 22, 2012

    Well done Sue for not falling for the old complaint of “the effects are rubbish, so the story is”. Read years ago that the bad effect of Kroll was due to an inexperienced cameraman on location using a matte shot, and this was the best they could do – may have been a squid apologist however…..

    • SpaceSquid  July 22, 2012

      Actually, we were just concerned that were we to show ourselves in all our majesty, the human mind would break as easily as those ridiculous “bones” of yours.

      • encyclops  July 22, 2012

        Comment of the week!

        • AST  July 22, 2012

          Agreed. Nice one.

          I, for one, would like to welcome our new Squid Overlords.

          • Neowhovian  July 23, 2012


          • charles yoakum  July 24, 2012

            except for them stopping the consumption of calimari, the change over from free will to the Squid Overlords has been relatively smooth.

    • Dave Sanders  July 23, 2012

      Most of the split-screen effects are perfectly alright for the time, because the horizon preserves the sense of scale between Kroll and those beholding it. It’s only when Kroll attacks the settlement, with its perfectly flat grass, that the scale completely breaks down – it looks for all the world like Kroll has popped his head up to ask ‘hello, can I borrow your hedge clippers?’

  19. matt bartley  July 22, 2012

    I’ve always quite liked Kroll, mainly for the location shooting and an inexplicable fondness for huge monsters. It’s much like the previous story, ‘accepted fan wisdom’ had me prepared for eight episodes of awfulness, but Androids of Tara is a rollicking hoot and Kroll isn’t bad at all.

    A shame I feel that Sue is going to be let down by the next six, however…

  20. Paulmosley  July 22, 2012

    I did grow up near Seal Sands and Kroll did properly get me scared, got a bit giddy to see a mention on here.

    The trailers are great, another lovely thing that exists because of Wife In Space. You’re a force for good in the world, keep on keeping on Perrymans (Perrymen?)

  21. Thomas  July 22, 2012

    Glad to see she enjoyed the story (not a huge fan of it myself, but it’s not awful by any stretch of the imagination). Here’s hoping she ends up giving high marks to the next one as well (which is really excellent if you look at it more as a giant subversion of epics and a sort of predecessor to what Douglas Adams would end up doing in the next season- it’s a lot of fun, and the cast seems to be having a hoot, Woodvine and Squire especially).

  22. Richard Lyth  July 22, 2012

    That went a lot better than I expected. I’ve always thought of Kroll as being the weakest of this season, but I guess if you take it on its own merits it’s entertaining enough to pass the time, just lacking that spark of genius that you’d expect from a Robert Holmes story. And I find it hard to think of the title without imagining it being sung by Frankie Goes To Hollywood…

    • CJJC  July 23, 2012

      # The Power of Kroll/Arrives in a bowl? #

  23. Jimbotfu  July 22, 2012

    Not a huge fan of this story….but never understood the criticism of the splitscreen Kroll effects. I always thought it worked well. Comparable to the Krynoid in gigantic eff-off monster terms.

  24. John G  July 22, 2012

    Glad to see some appreciation for Kroll from both Sue and other commenters here. While it does lack the energy and imaginative dynamism of Holmes’ best work – no doubt reflecting his dislike of the brief and a cerain amount of creative exhaustion when it came to Who – it is still a very solid story. I really like the location, which makes a refreshing change from a quarry, and the acting is generally strong, though it is slightly unfortunate that actors of the calibre of Madoc and Abineri don’t have much to really get their teeth into.

    Onwards, then, to the “grand” finale. I do find it hard to believe Sue will regard it as a worthy conclusion, but she always has the capacity to surprise! As for rogue paint, I hope Sue keeps an eagle eye out when you get to Warriors of the Deep…

  25. Warren Andrews  July 22, 2012

    It’s always nice to see a reaction from Sue that goes against general fan “wisdom”.

    I’ve always enjoyed this story, it’s a nice simple tale and Mary Tamm looks gorgeous throughout.

    I’m enjoying Glen’s little trailers, very witty:)

  26. tom harries  July 23, 2012

    I watched the DVD of this after reading the blog and it’s not as bad as I remember (as an adult; I loved it as an 8 year old). There’s nothing wrong, exactly, it’s just a bit by-the-numbers; there’s that little bit of DW magic missing, IMO.

    The DVD says they only had one studio session (instead of two; two episodes per fortnight was the norm) and had an extra week on location. What a lovely place to spend an extra week, although it does look great as an alien world.

    “The Doctor and Romana leave Fenner to the Swampies.

    Sue: He’ll be dead by lunchtime.”

    Yeah, the Swampies don’t look too happy with him at all; I reckon Fenner was already dead by the time the Doctor and Romana got back to the Tardis!

    • Dave Sanders  July 23, 2012

      I like to think that Fenner does survive, chiefly because he’s the only one who can explain on the Swampies behalf what actually happened, when the company taskforce arrives to, er, ‘clear up the mess’.

      • tom harries  July 24, 2012

        Good point! He could even claim the credit for disposing of the notorious Rohm-Dutt.

        • Leo  July 24, 2012

          He could probably do with some people to talk to anyway, as the alternative is spending several weeks in a Refinery with only two dead bodies for company.

  27. fromEssex  July 23, 2012

    I’ve just ordered this box set by clicking on your link. Your review has inspired me to rewatch season 16, which I always thought was pretty dismal. I’ve also treated myself to Revenge of the Cybermen/Silver Nemesis box set at the same time. Hopefully, my other half will understand..

  28. Person  July 23, 2012

    I love Sue’s non conventional scores! Kroll – well, it’s as good as Unearthly Child and Zygons, MUCH better than The Daleks! It’s opinions like that which make this blog so funny.

    • Dave Sanders  July 23, 2012

      Won’t seem quite so funny once season 17 kicks off.

  29. Glen Allen  July 23, 2012

    Having seen most of these while I was at UK Gold, and having had my past returning to haunt me, I genuinely get confused as to what my initial thoughts were and my TV comments were, but I do remember being appalled (even by my childish 1978? standards) by the tentacle coming through the pipe to carry off some poor sod.. If it looked bad to me as a kid then gawd help what people watching it now must think

    Thanks for the kind words about the trailers. I wasnt too sure but they sem to be going down ok. If I’m too hammy it’s because I’ve gone to the Paul Darrow school of acting. LOL I apologise 🙂

    • encyclops  July 23, 2012

      I think the tentacle looks great, but then I just watched Spearhead from Space again a few weeks ago, so that’s what I’m comparing it to.

      And I love the trailers. But then I also love Paul Darrow, so make of that what you will. 🙂

      • Frankymole  July 24, 2012

        Darrow’s still doing some great Glen Allen-style voice/trailer work on Jack FM. As well as announcing the temporary sandy beach in our local shopping centre, which my daughter fell in love with today, his latest laconic interludes include the following: “Fancy recreating that long, lazy summer holidays feeling? Then apply to the website… G4S security careers.” He must record the humorous links in the week(end?) before transmission, I think.

  30. Utallan Menticom  July 24, 2012

    When my little sister was 7 or 8, she called this one Boredom Of Kroll.

  31. Ratbag  July 24, 2012

    Nice to know I’m not alone in liking this story. OK, by modern standards the FX are a bit shonky. I don’t care. It’s a good little tale.
    I just had a Key To Time blitz myself this weekend. Be interested to see what Sue makes of The Armageddon Factor…