THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN

Part One

The Doctor and Adric are chilling out in N-space.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: Tom Baker is knackered. Is this the story where they had to re-perm his hair? He looks terrible.

The TARDIS is heading for an empire where everybody is terribly nice to each other.

Sue: Traken sounds lovely. Boring but lovely.

Adric doesn’t understand why the TARDIS has decided to orbit Traken. And neither does the Doctor.

Adric: Well, you should know. You are a Time Lord, aren’t you?
Sue: I’m with Adric. He always asks the right questions.

Without warning, a decrepit old man appears in the console room.

Sue: The Doctor needs to get his locks fixed. Anyone can waltz into the TARDIS these days – even when it’s flying! The TARDIS definitely needs a good service.

The old man is the eponymous Keeper of Traken.

Sue: He’s got a hard-boiled egg for a head. Is Traken a planet of egg men? You know, like in the Beatles song?

The Keeper has a special task for the Doctor.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: It’s yet another wise old man in a stupid chair. Maybe it’s the Beige Guardian?

The Keeper gives the Doctor and Adric a potted history of Traken.

Sue: Is he showing them his home video collection? Is he trying to sell the Doctor a time-share apartment on Traken? It does look very nice, mind. What’s the weather like?

Evil shrivels up and dies whenever it reaches Traken – and that’s exactly what happened to a naughty Melkur when it landed in a grove one day.

Sue: Poor Mr Wonky Face.

On Traken itself, a wedding is taking place.

Sue: This is very nice. There are lots of extras, some interesting costumes, and the set design is very interesting. The budget for the plants alone must have run into the thousands of pounds.

A middle-aged scientist named Tremas marries a young woman named Kassia.

Sue: He is definitely punching above his weight.

But Kassia is obsessed with the calcified Melkur in the grove.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: Isn’t there a chocolate bar named after this guy?
Me: That’s Milka, love.

At this point in the proceedings, Nicol walked in.

Nicol: Why are you watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Sue: We’re watching Doctor Who.
Me: Just for a change.
Nicol: Are you sure this isn’t The Crystal Maze? They’re filming in the Aztec Zone again.
Me: Go away, Nicol. Don’t you have a cake to bake? And this time, can you make sure there are no horrific side effects, please?
Nicol: It wasn’t my fault! It won’t kill anyone, it’ll just give them a bit of a shock, that’s all. It’s nothing to worry about. Honestly.

Photos of Nicol’s TARDIS cake are still available on our Facebook page. Thankfully, no one has posted a photo of what happens to you once you eat a slice.

Meanwhile, back on the TARDIS.

The Keeper of TrakenNicol: And now we are in the Futuristic Zone! Even the background hum sounds exactly the same. The producer of The Crystal Maze must have been a Doctor Who fan, it’s the only explanation that makes sense.
Sue: Don’t you think Adric looks like your ex-boyfriend, Nicol?
Nicol: Mother!

And speaking of mothers…

Nicol: It’s Mumsy!
Me: What?
Nicol: The woman with the white hair – it’s Richard O’Brien’s Mumsy from The Crystal
Me: STOP IT! You’re obsessed!
Nicol: Says the man who’s been running a blog about Doctor Who for two years.

Sue has other things on her mind.

Sue: Nice fretwork on that gate. Very nice.

And then, to Sue’s surprise, the Melkur starts to move.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: The lighting is excellent in this scene. The design of Mr Wonky Face is very distinctive and creepy, too.

The Keeper materialises in the sanctum.

Sue: All that power at his disposal and he can’t even cut his own fingernails. That’s shameful.

The Doctor and Adric are brought before the Keeper, but just as he is about to speak, Melkur pokes his head into the room.

Sue: That’s very funny. It looks like a giant glove puppet.

The Keeper senses pure evil in the sanctum and the episode concludes with the Doctor and Adric condemned to death.

Sue: Clever monster.

 

Part Two

The Keeper of TrakenHis job complete, Melkur returns to the grove.

Sue: It moves very well, considering. Nice firm arse, too. And who would ever suspect that a statue could be a monster?
Me: It’ll never catch on.

Tremas and the Doctor decide to team-up.

Sue: His ego got the better of him. Two seconds ago he wanted to execute the Doctor and now he’s his best mate. Bloody scientists.

The Doctor and Tremas take breakfast together.

Sue: I feel as if I’m watching a stage play. A lot of the old Doctor Who‘s feel like stage plays but this one isn’t bothering to hide the fact. It’s very unusual.

Interestingly, Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa doesn’t engage Sue at all. She may as well be a kitten fart in a dress.

The Keeper of TrakenAnthony Ainley on the other hand.

Sue: He reminds me of somebody.

Oh no, here we go.

Sue: Christopher Eccleston.
Me: What have you been smoking?
Sue: I’m serious! It’s his eyes and nose. If you took that beard off – I’m telling you!

Thankfully, she gets off this subject pretty sharpish.

Sue: Nice bit of crockery, there.

Finally, Nyssa provokes a response.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: Is she Adric’s love interest? He could do better.

In the sanctum, the Consuls of Traken can’t agree on which course of action to take.

Sue: For a planet that’s supposed to be harmonious, they can’t half bicker. It’s never how they describe it in the brochure, is it?

Melkur gives Kassia a dog collar to wear.

Sue: Kinky.

And then the big twist is revealed.

Sue: Ahhh, so somebody is operating the Melkur by remote control, eh? That’s interesting.

It doesn’t cross her mind that somebody could be inside the Melkur.

Sue: Hang on, is it…?

I brace myself.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: Is it a Sontaran? I’m sure I saw a Sontaran’s hand pushing all those buttons. It sounds like a Sontaran, too.

And then she changes her mind.

Sue: No, is it… is it the Ice Warriors? They have the same eyes.

And then she gives up.

Sue: I’m over thinking this, aren’t I? It’s just the Melkur, isn’t it? That’s what the alien is called. I know you want me say it’s the Master, but I won’t do it. And it can’t be him anyway: the Melkur has been there for a thousand years. I can’t imagine the Master hanging around that long to do anything. I’ll shut up now.

Mumsy warns Nyssa not to enter the grove.

Sue: I’m getting a very strong Downton Abbey vibe from this episode.

Adric listens in on the conversation.

Sue: If Adric had a cape and mask, he’d be Robin.

And then the ennui sets in.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: It looks good, the direction is good, the acting is alright… It’s just… boring. There isn’t enough action. I bet the kids were bored shitless. I think I miss Romana, too. She would have sorted this out ages ago.

The Doctor, Adric and Tremas are rounded up by the Fosters.

Sue: For a planet that’s supposed to be peaceful, they are very heavily armed.

The episode concludes with the Melkur promising Kassia that more is yet to come.

Melkur: It is only beginning.
Sue: We’re already halfway through this story, mate! Get a ****ing move on!

 

Part Three

The Doctor and his companions are placed in a cell.

Sue: I hate it when the sonic screwdriver conveniently doesn’t work. Why draw attention to the fact? Just pretend that he’s left it behind in the TARDIS. He’s always doing that. This just makes his sonic look shit.

I can tell that Sue’s mind has begun to wander.

Sue: The women on this planet have great dresses for shoplifting. You could cram loads of stuff into those arms.

Sue is not a shoplifter, just so we’re clear on that.

The Keeper of TrakenThe Consuls of Traken gather to discuss the state of play.

Sue: Oh great, another ****ing meeting. That’s just what this story needs.

Nyssa rescues the Doctor and her father but she still fails to elicit a response from Sue.

Sue: This is a typical Part Three. Lots of running around and not much happening. I don’t have anything else to say.

As the meeting draws to a close, Sue is struggling to stay awake.

Sue: It’s two o’clock in the afternoon and I can feel my eyes getting heavy. I’ve seen recons that move faster than this.

A few seconds later, she’s gone. I think it’s the first time she has fallen asleep since The Evil of the Daleks.

I don’t fancy watching Part Three of The Keeper of Traken again so I nudge my elbow into her ribs.

Sue: …what? …urmm…. nice sets.
Me: Come on, love. We’re almost there.
Sue
: Did I miss anything? I bet I didn’t.
Me: They are going to choose a new Keeper.
Sue: Will the new Keeper have to sit on a chair for a thousand years?
Me: Yes.
Sue: Are they given any magazines to read?

The old Keeper is dying.

Sue: Why can’t he just come back and tell them all that he made a terrible mistake in Part One and the Doctor is the good guy after all? It would save everybody a lot of time and effort.

The Keeper dies and all hell breaks loose.

Sue: It’s all kicking off now. It’s only taken them an hour.

The Keeper of TrakenThe Doctor tries and fails to enter his TARDIS.

Sue: It’s only a bit of wind. Get up, you wimps!

Kassia becomes the new Keeper of Traken.

Sue: Has she discussed this with her husband? I bet he won’t be thrilled when he discovers that his new wife has to sit on a chair for the next 1000 years.

And then – finally – we get a good look at the decaying creature who has been controlling the Melkur’s actions.

Sue: So that’s what the Melkur looks like?

I face palm.

Sue: What’s wrong?
Me: I do not believe you.

And then, just like Warriors’ Gate, the penny finally begins to drop.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: Is it the Master?
Me: Halle-****ing-lujah!
Sue: Is it really? You’re not winding me up, are you?

The Melkur materialises in the Keeper’s chair, accompanied by a very familiar sound effect.

Sue: It’s his ****ing TARDIS!

The episode concludes with the Melkur in control.

Sue: Ooh, I’m all excited now! I’m glad I didn’t sleep through that bit at the end, now. Thanks.

 

Part Four

The Keeper of TrakenSue: Okay, let me get this straight: there’s a TARDIS sitting in a chair.
Me: That’s right.
Sue: And the Master’s TARDIS can walk, talk, and fire weapons from its eyes.
Me: That’s about it.
Sue: ****ing hell – the Master’s TARDIS is so much better than the Doctor’s!

Tremas is taking things rather well, all things considered.

Sue: He’s just lost his new, young wife but he’s only mildly annoyed. They must have really good life insurance policies on Traken.

Adric and Nyssa head for the TARDIS.

Sue: Is Adric allowed to bring chicks back to the TARDIS with him? Doesn’t the Doctor have rules about that sort of thing?

Back at the sanctum, the new Keeper is laying down the law.

Sue: Why is everybody falling for this shit? I suppose it helps that only six people are living on this planet – it doesn’t take you very long to conquer it.

Nicol, who has been snoozing on the sofa throughout Part Four, wakes up as soon the Doctor starts talking about the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Nicol: Entropy increases.
Sue: Boredom increases.
Me: It’s this season’s theme.
Sue: What? Boredom?
Me: No, entropy.
Nicol: So this is a concept season?
Me: If you like. You must join us for tomorrow’s episodes – it’ll be right up your street, I swear.

The Doctor escapes from the Fosters by banging their heads together.

Sue: Oh my God, that was so naff. That was the worst example of pretend violence I’ve ever seen. They weren’t even trying.

The Keeper of TrakenBack in the TARDIS, Adric has cobbled together a servo shut-off.

Sue: Adric is so practical – he’s basically the Doctor’s apprentice. His acting is getting better all the time as well. I still don’t see why people have a problem with him.

The Doctor races back to the sanctum.

Sue: The Doctor is a bit gung-ho in this story.
Me: He’s just stunning the guards with an ion bonder. He’s not committing genocide or anything silly like that.
Sue: Then why doesn’t he just carry a stun-gun around with him all the time, then? **** the sonic screwdriver – this is much more handy.

Melkur forces Tremas to kill Proctor Neman in cold blood.

Sue: That was horrific. And the Doctor must be hypnotised for real or he would have stepped in and stopped that. That’s a worry.

Melkur orders the Doctor to come closer.

Sue: How will he get into the Master’s TARDIS? I hope the entrance isn’t through his bum-hole.

The Doctor finally confronts the Master.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: He doesn’t look like the Master.
Me: This is what he looked like the last time we saw him on Gallifrey, remember?
Sue: He didn’t look like that. It isn’t even the same actor, is it?

But the Master’s plans go tits up, thanks to a plucky Alzarian and his homemade servo shut-off.

Sue: So Adric killed the Master? I told you he was good.

Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor admits that his TARDIS could do with some repairs, but it’s beyond him.

Me: This type’s not really my forte.
Sue: Very funny.

Two years ago, Sue wouldn’t have got that joke. That’s how far we’ve come.

And then we suddenly return to Traken.

Sue: Oh no. It just won’t end.

The Master emerges from a grandfather clock.

Sue: Eh? What the…?

And then he takes over Tremas’ body.

The Keeper of TrakenSue: ****?
The Master: A new body at last!
Sue: But that’s impossible. He can’t just take over another person’s body like that.
Me: He used the power of the source.
Sue: No he didn’t. Adric shut it off. He didn’t have that power any more. And how did his TARDIS escape at the end?
Me: The Master had two TARDISes.
Sue: What?
Me: Yes, if you look carefully, you can see the grandfather clock TARDIS inside his Melkur TARDIS.
Sue: So the Master had a TARDIS in a TARDIS?
Me: Yes.
Sue: But that’s just ****ing stupid. You can’t do that. Can you?

 

The Score

Sue: That was tedious. The first three episodes were so boring, I almost lost the will to live. Things picked up when the Master turned up but it was too little too late. Not that he did very much except cock it up at the end. At least he looks like Roger Delgado again. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait before he turns up to have another go? Maybe he should team up with the Black Guardian. Wherever the **** he is.

3/10

 

Coming Soon

 

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Comments

  1. wholahoop  August 30, 2012

    Harsh but fair I suppose. Nothing basically wrong with the story, albeit perhaps it’s a bit written-by-numbers (for want of a better cliche) and apart from actually very good cliffhangers at the end of parts 3 and 4 probably little else that stands out

    • Jane  August 30, 2012

      It’s a pity Sue isn’t a fan of chairs.

  2. wholahoop  August 30, 2012

    Also Wis, it may be spoilers but please be careful saying things like “I wonder how long I’ll have to wait before he turns up to have another go?”

  3. Ozzy Baxter  August 30, 2012

    About exactly what I expected. However, I face-palmed with you when she didn’t recognize The Master. LOL! Come on Sue! But, yeah, don’t blame her for sleeping. Hope she makes it through the entire next episode without spoilers. Great stuff. Keep it up! 🙂

    • Jane  August 30, 2012

      Unfortunately, now that Ainley’s taken over the role, we won’t get to play that guessing game anymore.

      • Nick Mays  August 30, 2012

        Exactly! More a case of “Oh Gawd! It’s the Master again! I’d never have guessed from the credits….”

  4. Noodles  August 30, 2012

    I love “The Keeper Of Traken”. Sue’s right that it’s not the most dynamic story, but do they all have to be? It’s a gentle foot-rub of a story.

  5. moogthedog  August 30, 2012

    I’ve always liked this one, as it’s the first one I can definitely say that I was watching Who regularly when it was transmitted… (I remember a snapshot of Destiny and being terrified by the Marshmen… but I drew Melkur for ‘What I did at the weekend’ at primary school) But I guess she’s right. Not a lot actually happens… Keeper fetches Doctor, Master tricks Keeper, Doctor in peril, Master triumphant, Big blammo. If it weren’t for the twist at the end, I reckon this would be thought of as a lot more of a dud.

    I’m particularly looking forward to Sue’s opinions on Castrovalva.

    • Spee No-Huyger  August 30, 2012

      Same with me re. this being the first I remember watching regularly. I have a lot of fondness for the atmosphere of it, and the general nostalgia, but the last time I watched it, it was a little on the ponderous side. I thought she’d have marked it higher than 3, but then Warriors Gate is a hard act to follow.

  6. Dave Sanders  August 30, 2012

    They really try for the fairy-tale ambience here, which the studio-bound stage quality enhances a great deal, but two things conspire to ruin it; first is the indigestible mass of Johnny Byrne’s meaningless technobabble (which he’ll do again in exactly the same way a couple of seasons from now), and second is that this utopia of peace and harmony is held together by Blue Peter safety scissors, glue and string. If evil supposedly shrivels up and dies, then how does bribery and corruption work here, and what would be the point? Why does your all-powerful god require armed guards to back him up? This story must have a precedence or the guns wouldn’t be ready and waiting like this. But nobody’s learned anything from the last time it seems, because the law enforcement at work here is absolutely SHOCKING at its job. The Keystone Kops of Traken.

    • John G  August 30, 2012

      If Sue thinks this one is boring, I fear for her sanity when we get to Byrne’s next effort, though one must never discount her capacity for bucking expectations…

    • Jane  August 30, 2012

      The all-powerful god’s decided people can’t really be good if there’s always an intervention around the corner?

    • John S. Hall  August 30, 2012

      Dave, I believe it’s mentioned in the script somewhere in passing that as the Keeper approaches the end of his life, things start getting not-so-nice, so you get venal guards who can be bribed, corruption in the ranks, Consuls more interested in squabbling with each other than with getting anything done, and a Melkur who can lurch around and corrupt impressionable young women (over a course of twenty years, mind)…

      • Dave Sanders  August 30, 2012

        So why doesn’t the Keeper, with all his powers, have some kind of emergency system put into place, and TELL people about it, BEFORE the shit hits the fan?

        • John S. Hall  August 30, 2012

          This Keeper *does* have an emergency plan — it involves the Doctor saving the day — but yeah, he should’ve definitely sent the memos on to his Consuls! 😉

        • PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

          Does explain why the “military” are so rubbish. On Traken, a career in the guards must be like being a librarian. Here’s your pikestaff, now stand there in ceremonial fashion and doze til relieved.
          Suppose the Keeper could say: “Look, I’m not getting any younger and I now have to get up 873 times a night to pee, so perhaps we should beef up the soldiery a bit? Or hire some Ogrons from G4S?”
          But then he does break into the Tardis and effectively “hire” the Doctor, so the old git can’t be all that daft.

          • John G  August 30, 2012

            Oi, I’m a librarian and we do get enquiries – sometimes…

          • PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

            Shhhh. I’m trying to read…

    • DPC  August 30, 2012

      I first loved the story for the decor and atmosphere.

      A few rewrites had the ideas as to why the law enforcement is so rubbish finally made sense – as the Keeper’s powers started to wane and die off, the system began to destabilize, with corruption taking hold and keeping it. The story does make mention of it, albeit mostly in part three. Until the explanation, and again it took me more than one viewing (and I was a kid originally so it wouldn’t have clicked in at the time, 30 years ago 😮 ) but it eventually made sense as to why bribery and corruption could take hold in the Traken union… and why they would have weapons of any sort. In case, every thousand years or whenever, that a succession would have to take place. The Master’s arrival only added to the problems…

      …and the fact the Master’s TARDIS could somehow shield the effects, leaving the Keeper unsure about this particular Melkur — the Master’s TARDIS was always of a more recent build than the Doctor’s, and thus had more abilities…

      How the Master takes over Tremas’ body, with lingering powers of the Keepership is a tad woolly and there has to be more going on behind the scenes, which sadly isn’t mentioned…

      8/10 for me, but there are some nitpicks, and it is the type of story one will find engaging or boring – I’ve never known anybody to rate it evenly in the middle with a neat beige 5/10… 🙂

      I do like Byrne’s ideas, but the script editing of his next two stories would be less-than-rewarding for me… but, who knows…

  7. Ian  August 30, 2012

    It’s definitely one of those “just THERE” stories, and I was not a big fan of Bidmead’s attempt to lecture the audience about science, even if it made the program’s tone less ridiculous. I also never hated Adric like most people do but his character is one of several things in the program that loses vitality once Tom Baker leaves. Peter Davison may give a good effort running around breathlessly looking handsome but I think Sue may miss Tom’s innovation by season 20.

    • AST  August 31, 2012

      And the’re so little humour in the show (a trend that started hereabouts) that they eventually panicked and hired Sylvester McCoy. A juggler.

  8. Paul Mudie  August 30, 2012

    “How will he get into the Master’s TARDIS? I hope the entrance isn’t through his bum-hole.”

    This made me chortle! And Sue is quite right – when I was a kid, this one bored me shitless. There was something quite disturbing about the Melkur and I was excited by the Master’s return, but apart from that, this one is a bit of a snooze.

    • DPC  August 30, 2012

      Great points, and great quote by Sue as well! 😀

      As a kid, it bored me as well. It’s definitely more for teens and older, and if one can flow with the story’s execution…

      Tom Baker, as usual, excels… especially when chiding Tremas over the schematics for the Source Manipulator… Antony Ainley readily wins the “steal every scene” contest as well. As a duo they’re fantastic…

  9. Chris Lindsay  August 30, 2012

    I properly discovered Doctor Who as a teenager in the 90’s – so all old Doctor Who felt slow and Traken has never stood out as particularly sluggish – Castrovalva or Four To Doomsday have always felt far slower to me than this. Lovedthe atmosphere of The Keeper of Traken and the final twist is brilliant.

  10. Milco  August 30, 2012

    I have to say, I would have thought Sue would have at least approved of the fact that Nyssa actually zaps the bribable guys, before they get the weapon off her in their usual “oh, you silly girl-thing, superior maleness will take that nasty dangerous thing off your weak little hands” way… zing, zing, and doesn’t miss – given how much she moans about people who can’t hit anything!

  11. John G  August 30, 2012

    “I’m getting a very strong Downtown Abbey vibe from this episode.”

    Is that some kind of Petula Clark vehicle? Sue’s failure to recognise the Master made me chuckle a lot, but I must respectfully disagree with her about this story. The excellent set design helps to make it very atmospheric, and it has an intimacy that puts me in mind of the early Hartnell stories – a good thing, in my book. The Master himself is reintroduced effectively, and I like the “calm before the storm” feel to the piece. Kassia excepted, the acting is also very good, and Waterhouse arguably produces his best performance, particularly in those early scenes with Tom. His chemistry with Sarah Sutton is pretty good too, though I would agree with Sue that Nyssa is not the most dynamic character ever devised (I still quite like her, though). Also, a special mention to Anthony Ainley who probably gives his best Who performance as Tremas, showing he can do subtle and serious; just a shame he was so rarely allowed to bring those qualities to the Master…

    I assume Sue missed Tom’s dripping nose – maybe her eyes were falling shut at the time. Also, what on Earth was in Nicol’s fabulous looking cake?

    • Thomas  August 30, 2012

      I noticed the ‘dripping nose’ too, though I’m inclined to think that’s an errant piece of dust, given how dusty his jacket looked.

  12. John S. Hall  August 30, 2012

    Sue’s right — as a kid, I switched off this story the first time I saw it cos it was boring. But I only made it until part-way through the Keeper’s infodump in episode one… 😉

  13. Alex Wilcock  August 30, 2012

    Ooh, harsh. I’ve been a bit grim the last few weeks and only reading along (and listening the lovely Glen’s trailers, of course), but I love this one and thought I’d go back to weighing in for a bit, seeing as even Neil’s tweets were pouring scorn on it – shame Sue seemed to have forgotten she’d liked the first episode by the end. And with the fretwork’s so nice in this one even I go on about it, not just her!

    If they let you get away with a picture of the Melkur (much more interesting design than…), I’d buy a mug of:
    “And who would ever suspect that a statue could be a monster?”
    “It’ll never catch on.”

    I laughed at “Is she Adric’s love interest? He could do better.” Poor Sarah Sutton. Though I have to admit that while I think this story’s fantastic, Nyssa bores me to tears – probably not Sarah’s fault. And the Doctor may not have rules about the people in the TARDIS, but the Producer did (perhaps he thought she was safe with Adric).

    Well, now… At least Sue liked the design, and it’s one of my favourites for that for a start, but there’s a lot more to it, surely? Back when I reviewed The Keeper of Traken in depth, I called it “A fairy-tale love story turned Faustian pact, it’s like a film noir Shakespeare” and particularly praised the way a utopia falls apart because if no-one’s allowed a sense of right and wrong, what happens when god dies, or gets replaced by the other fella? And Geoffrey Beevers has an absolutely gorgeous voice here, “pan-fried in evil with extra goose fat,” as my husband in space puts it. The writing of how he uses everyone’s fatal weaknesses and their own words to turn them is superb, too – it’s the persuasion that’s deadly, not just the strong-arm hypnosis in the final episode. Part Three’s cliffhanger has to be one of the greats, as well, not for the reveal of the Master (though that’s a bonus) but because it’s such a cracking turnaround moment.

    All that said… There’s one thing I was surprised Sue didn’t jump on, and it’s the one thing that lets it down for me. Terrific idea to have it all hinge on a despairing love story rather than a sudden desire for power for its own sake, but not only does Tremas have no chemistry with Kassia, Kassia’s performance is the crucial one that the whole story pivots around.

    So it’s a miracle that I love it so much, then – it means the rest of it must be really good!

    Now I must get back to the other end of that season and writing about The Leisure Hive

    • PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

      Hello again.
      Wonder what the tax regime is like on Traken…
      Their parliamentary terms and immigration policy seem pretty clear.

      PS Enjoy conference.

      PPS Goose fat only for roasting, please! If your OH has been frying the bacon and eggs in it, no wonder you’ve been feeling grim!

      • DPC  August 30, 2012

        Must all governmental systems be identical to early-21st century US?

        • PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

          It was a UK reference actually, but I do take your point.
          I see the GOP’s personality equivalent of a Silent is gearing up to take Tampa by, erm, storm…

      • Alex Wilcock  September 1, 2012

        I imagine there are less taxes than tithes – it has a definite whiff of feudalism, combined with making divine right pretty much literal through the deus in machina bloke. And any peasant who feels like disagreeing either gets their brain turned to obedient mush or, if stubborn, their body turned to stone.

        Following on from your “why the “military” are so rubbish” comment above, they’re not even librarians (which might involve thinking): the Fosters are gardeners, and haven’t had to do anything resembling peacekeeping for a millennium. It says something about Traken that the police force’s main duty is keeping vegetables in check.

        PS I will! And who can afford goose fat for fried eggs (except the Master’s face)?

    • Frankymole  August 31, 2012

      The Melkur on the move… – 1913’s Emberto Boccione bronze was the inspiration for the design – and it has a very “Who” title (“Unique Forms of Continuity in Space”). If you thought the Melkur was tight, check out these buns!:

      http://www.royal-painting.com/largeimg/Umberto%20Boccioni/48876-Umberto%20Boccioni–Unknown.jpg

      http://rosswolfe.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/c-unique-forms-of-continuity-in-space-1913-umberto-boccioni.jpg?w=700

  14. encyclops  August 30, 2012

    I’m trying to cut down on the commenting, but I couldn’t let this one pass without a tip of the hat to my favorite moments in today’s post:

    1. I’d never really made the “statue monster” connection before.

    2. I’ll never be able to watch this again without thinking of the Keeper as “the Beige Guardian.” Brilliant.

    • moogthedog  August 31, 2012

      The Beige Guardian is, and will always be, David Hyde Pierce with a duck on his head. Seek out ‘Happy Deathday’ in DWM #272 🙂

  15. Graeme C-G  August 30, 2012

    I’ve got a soft spot for Traken – It’s a “Sunday afternoon dozing in the chair with a bit of a cold and it’s pissing down outside” kind of story.

    Fair score when it comes to the plotting mind 😀

  16. mr wonkey faces eyebrow comber  August 30, 2012

    The master is indeed the master of disguise and flying under the radar; daintily tip-toeing around in his stone tardisy thing. If Sue cannot recognise him what hope have any of us, he could pop up anywhere, anywhere at all!

  17. John S. Hall  August 30, 2012

    I’m surprised Sue didn’t say, “Oh for ****’s sake — another planet of old men with beards!”

    Still, the bumhole comment, and the statue as monster one, are great! 🙂

  18. David  August 30, 2012

    Boo for 3/10! This also happens to be the first story I remember watching as a kid. Melkur scared the crap out of me.

    Many years later, I wrote what I consider a decent little story expanding on this story and Logopolis.

    http://davidj.richardson.name/drwho/prose_fiction_keeperdemise.html

    • Nick Mays  August 31, 2012

      Loved it. Very sad with poor Keeper Luvic unable to save the Traken Union from Entropy.

      I always thought poor old Traken got a bum deal – especially Nyssa, the sole survivor of that cataclysm AND her Dad gets turned into the Master. I kind of like to think that the Traken Union (and its populace) was restored as a result of the Time War. After all, alternate realties from a single point in time and all that…

  19. Nick Mays  August 30, 2012

    So many wonderful Sue-isms for Traken, but the two which stand out for me are:

    “The women on this planet have great dresses for shoplifting. You could cram loads of stuff into those arms.”

    and

    “Why is everybody falling for this shit? I suppose it helps that only six people are living on this planet – it doesn’t take you very long to conquer it.”

  20. Paul Greaves  August 30, 2012

    Sorry. I have to disagree with Sue on this one. True, it’s not without its faults but, coming straight after Warriors’ Gate, it made a nice change of pace. The set design is great, the Melkur looks cool, there’s a nice quota of actors who play it straight to those who give it 110% (Sheila Ruskin, I am definitely looking at you), the Doctor and Adric work well together, it introduces one of my favourite companions in Nyssa and Anthony Ainley is great as Tremas. Plus a last hurrah for John Woodnut too!

    I have a tremendous soft spot for this story, so it’s 6/10 from me.

  21. PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

    Snore. Pretty enough, though, and not without decent concepts.

    But it does do some cool things with the concept of a TARDIS though. The Doctor uses his as a sort of timespace Transit van, since he can’t be bothered to fix it (he doesn’t even have a decent satnav FFS). The Master, OTOH, would do something like materialising in the shape of your TV remote or a cute kitten.

    A lot of these Tardisy-wardisy and Mastery-wastery ideas, plus some to come, strongly channel the Pertwee era for me.

    For those of us who are A***book and Tw*tter refuseniks, could you post a picture of the famous (and hopefully low voltage or RCD-protected) Tardis cake please?
    Or were the side-effects to do with it being bigger on the inside?

      • PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

        Thanks.
        That girl’s a genius with icing.

        • Dave Sanders  August 30, 2012

          The Marzipan’s already at work… and I’m going to scoff it if it’s the last thing I do.

          • Alex Wilcock  September 1, 2012

            Superb punning! And I don’t even like Marzipan (I suppose it mightif it stared into my eyes and hypnotised me).

  22. Simon Harries  August 30, 2012

    I’ve always liked Traken. I have very vivid memories of seeing this at the age of 9, sat on my haunches in front of the TV set and wheeling round on my haunches at the episode 3 cliffhanger to shout, “IT’S THE MASTER!” at my confused and bored parents. I love episodes 1+4… I love the atmosphere and the sets and most of the acting (except for the woman in the ginger wig) but I concede that the middle section sags… It doesn’t bore me, but I probably cut it too much slack.

  23. Gavin Noble  August 30, 2012

    I don’t have anything of note to say about the review (probably lower than I’d score it but I’d only give it a five) – I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Glen’s trailer for Logopolis!

    Also, my very first crush was on Nyssa. I was pretty besotted for a couple of years. I was only six or seven at the time but I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world.

    • Nick Mays  August 30, 2012

      Did you love Nyssa more in her Traken costume or in her, um, more adult gear?

      There’s a blog right there – Top Companion Totty… ;o)

      • Gavin Noble  August 30, 2012

        I was only six or seven so it didn’t matter to me what she was wearing at that age. I just thought she was beautiful.

  24. Paul Mc Elvaney  August 30, 2012

    What, no snot mention?? Disgraceful! The score might be a bit harsh but now I can’t look at Ainley in that photo above without seeing Eccleston’s face, which is something I never thought I’d ever say. I find it interesting that Sue seems to agree with JNT on one thing: that pesky sonic screwdriver. Oh, and look at the time! 5 minutes to 12, folks!!

    • Leo  August 30, 2012

      It’s not snot, it’s a piece of large cobweb. There’s part of it visible hanging on his head in the same scenes.

      • Jazza1971  August 30, 2012

        I concur!

      • Paul Mc Elvaney  August 30, 2012

        Is it really? I must have another look, I always thought it was snot! If your right, I stand corrected! Oh God, I’m having a conversation about Tom Baker’s snot. What has happened to me??

        • Simon Harries  September 1, 2012

          On the commentary at that point, Ainley comments that Tom Baker looks as if he needs a Kleenex, so he thought it was snot as well… But it’s a cobweb. Have you ever had a bogie like that hanging from your nose? You wouldn’t be able to act with such a thing hanging in front of you…

    • DPC  August 30, 2012

      I thought it was 4 minutes to midnight… 🙂

      And, yup, that rubbish sonic screwdriver…

  25. Spee No-Huyger  August 30, 2012

    Ignore the visuals and listen to the lyrics – I’ve always been convinced that this song by They Might Be Giants is about Keeper Of Traken:

    • ohmywordness  August 30, 2012

      You’ve got a point there. Love that song/video and also tmbg. I also quite liked Keeper of Traken. I guess it was kind of slow, but I thought it had enough going for it to not be boring.

  26. Alice80  August 30, 2012

    “She may as well be a kitten fart in a dress.”

    First time posting, long time reading…Neil, you made me spit my tea! Can we have this on a mug?? XD

    And I must say I agree with the score…I can’t remember what I thought of it at the time, but watching it again with my husband I was surprised by how mind numbingly tedious it was…which was a little side thought that distracted me from being bored by the story, along with how nice the costumes are…

  27. Leo  August 30, 2012

    As Sue is stil asking the question of whether this is the story where Tom had to have his hair permed, it might be as well to tell her it was State of Decay. As I understand it, there were two studio sessions for that story, as for most of the stories of that length, and in one his hair was as normal, and in the other it was curled for him.

  28. chris-too-old-too-watch  August 30, 2012

    Loved this when transmitted, only on re-watching back-to-back do you realise how tedious and padded it was, but I suppose that’s the problem with weekly episodes that link together.
    Shame that Nyssa doesn’t become a companion, or else Sue might have been more interested in her……..

  29. Jazza1971  August 30, 2012

    I love how a typo in the write-up makes Sue seem like she has a split personality as she argues with herself about how the Master looked the last time we saw him! 😀

  30. matt bartley  August 30, 2012

    KoT is much like Nyssa herself – pretty, but dull.

  31. Thomas  August 30, 2012

    I really like Traken, personally- always view it as a sorta “Doctor Who does Shakespeare” sort of thing (seriously, the way the characters act and the whole thing plays out is totally Shakespeare- the Master even acts as an Iago here). And I dearly love the early scenes in the TARDIS, and the way the story introduces itself, too. It’s a very stylish story, though obviously not in the same way as its predecessor (or its successor, for that matter).

    Fingers crossed that she enjoys the next one- that one can be polarizing.

    • PolarityReversed  August 30, 2012

      Who as Shakespeare has been done before. Mainly during Hinchcliffe, as I recall.
      From a design POV, I wouldn’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they hadn’t arranged to sneak in and squeeze some extra mileage out of the sets and costumes from the Beeb’s Shakespeare cycle during most of Tom’s tenure.

      • Thomas  August 31, 2012

        What stories are you thinking of, exactly? ‘Cause I can’t think offhand of any others that are written quite in the style of this one.

        • John G  August 31, 2012

          The Crusade is VERY Shakespearean, particularly the dialogue. During Hinchcliffe’s time, The Masque of Mandragora has echoes of Hamlet with the uncle-nephew power struggle.

          • Thomas  August 31, 2012

            I guess, but the difference between something like Mandragora and Traken is more how it’s written- Mandragora is just your standard DW story in terms of its story and how the plot progresses, but Traken’s entire focus is on its dialogue and most things are developed through it- notice how many of the characters speak in asides and are very deliberate in describing actions and all (the only thing missing is Cassio or Melkur taking a couple minutes to explain their plan in a soliloquy).

            I haven’t seen Crusade, so I can’t comment on its approach.

          • John G  August 31, 2012

            Yes, I would agree that Mandragora is “Shakespearean” only in some of its incidentals. The Crusade feels much more like something the Bard might actually have written, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it (and listened to the two missing episodes).

          • PolarityReversed  August 31, 2012

            Fair point. I must rewatch this one with that thought in mind.
            I find the design and dialogue of a lot of early Tom very Shakespearean generally. Clear influences, off the top of my head:
            Planet of Evil – Tempest
            Masque – Hamlet
            Ribos – Macbeth
            Androids of Tara – Richard III, anything involving twins

            Most of Holmes’ celebrated double acts have a fair dollop of the Dogberry/Verges or Rosenkrantz/Guildenstern to my mind.

            Granted, Shakespeare’s themes are so universal it’s probably possible to see them just about anywhere. Perhaps Tom’s penchant for quotations (scripted or not!) tends to draw attention.

  32. grufaine  August 30, 2012

    Youch. I can see where she’s coming from, it can be pretty hard to sit through. I noticed on about third or fourth watch that it takes an awfully long time for Johnny Byrne to get to the twist, and the same goes for his next story. It seems like like he has a problem with leaving the ace in his sleeve for too long. I wonder if he’d have revealed the Master at the end of part two, if it would have made Keeper an easier watch?

    I love it for it’s atmosphere and the theme of a Utopian society collapsing and breaking apart. And also for introducing Nyssa, one of my favorite companions. I think she’s adorable, and the science-y companions tend to be the ones I gravitate towards the most. (Zoe, Romana, and Liz are other favorites) But with how crowded the TARDIS becomes she’s sadly under-used.

    Also glad I’m not the only one who thinks Adric has a crush on Nyssa, hah.

  33. John S. Hall  August 30, 2012

    Oh and I forgot to mention — I think it was either “State of Decay” or “Meglos” where Tom had to have his hair permed because he was so run-down from that mystery illness he was suffering from throughout Season 18…

    • Leo  August 31, 2012

      It was State of Decay, yes. One of the two studio recording blocks.

  34. Broton  August 30, 2012

    3/10?
    Generous.

  35. Lewis  August 30, 2012

    Miles better than any E-Space yawnfests. This is slow-paced, but it’s got a great mix of ingredients. Roll on the next one, though. One of my favourites.

  36. Glen Allen  August 30, 2012

    I have a soft spot for TKOT but I think it was probably more a case of remembering what happens at the end.
    If you watch Baker when theres all that stuff with the plans and the hidden safe, Tom just stares at the floor and its really obvious he’s just not interested.

    Sue fell asleep… well sadly yes it is VERY wordy (not the one from Words & Pictures- Magic E anyone?) but it looks lush.

    A disappointing score but understandable
    Anyway I have to go now. The dawn’s coming up and there are secuity guards outside…

    • Jamie  August 31, 2012

      Wordy, the Petr Cech lookalike, didn’t appear with The Collector in Words & Pictures.
      He was thinking big,big,big at the beginning….well in the middle sections actually….of the classic BBC School’s programme Look & Read.

    • tickle a traken  August 31, 2012

      That Magic E song would often get into my head when picking up, erm, stuff 😮

  37. Philippa Sidle  August 30, 2012

    Really funny as usual.

    I always really liked Keeper of Traken, but to be honest what appealed to me about the story when I was a teenager was the fact that it had a love story in it. Not exactly a usual thing for a Doctor Who episode in those days. I thought Kassia’s desperation to stop Tremas becoming Keeper, at all costs, was incredibly romantic, and I was deeply disappointed when Tremas just didn’t seem to care when she died. Nobody reacts emotionally to this event at all, so for me it all fell apart in episode four.

    • DPC  August 30, 2012

      True, one could say “Trakens act different than humans”… but I wouldn’t buy it because they clearly show familial love for each other at the start of the story. Can’t have one without the other… A coda would have been nice, but they would have gone on with their lives at some point… the story did seem to focus more on the event than everybody wailing at the end… not that there’s no place for emotion, but Tremas did seem to quickly thank the Doctor for saving all and without even a hint of any other emotion… even the most clarity of minded person would still emote somehow…

    • Alex Wilcock  September 1, 2012

      Yes, I’m with you on that (here’s one I prepared earlier: http://loveandliberty.blogspot.co.uk/2007/03/new-beginnings-keeper-of-traken.html) – it’s just a shame that Kassia’s not up to it, either in performance or in some of the scripting, and that kindly old buffer Tremas has no spark for her. But I think the idea of a story built around trying to avoid power at all costs, rather than take it, is a brilliant one.

  38. Mark Postgate  August 30, 2012

    Adric can do better than Nyssa?! Seriously? How vast the difference between a male and female perspective.

    So many great one-liners in this latest addition to the blog – touche, Nicol for the obsessed comeback.

  39. Fiona Tomney  August 31, 2012

    I definitely think it’s snot. It’s the right colour & looks the right texture, and Tom does say, “Lovely day!” and then sneeze loudly before it appears. Looks seriously disgusting whatever it is, and there is no way I could have kept a straight face acting opposite him!
    I actually loved this story as a girl of 11ish because of the costumes & set designs. I thought that Nyssa was incredibly pretty & adored her fairy princess dress. Watching it as an adult though, I find it slow, tedious & find the characters difficult to like or care about. Tom Baker looks tired & bored.

    • Leo  August 31, 2012

      It’s definitely cobweb, the rest of it is visible hanging on his hair, head and collar in the same scene.

  40. DamonD  August 31, 2012

    Finally – The Master! After so many misses, not surprising Sue couldn’t quite believe he’d finally turned up again.

    Keeper has a lot of good things but its rather stately and lacking in energy too often. Tom’s also running on pretty low power too, compared to his much stronger performances in Full, Warriors’ and next story.

    Adric, however, probably has his best chemistry with the Doctor here. The dynamics would quickly change for the worse, there.

  41. BWT  August 31, 2012

    I hadn’t watched Dr Who since “The Hand of Fear”; I guess I’d just grown out of it or forgotten it was on. And then one day, completely by chance, I saw “The Keeper of Traken”. I never watched it again for half a decade. Anything in that…?

  42. Ryan Hall  August 31, 2012

    Very very marvelous sets and costumes for this one , i remember the cliffhanger with them being caught in the net and being an excited 6 year old waiting allday to see it as they were on Swapshop the same day .
    i dont think i really noticed its slowness as a kid watching it really , still enjoy it today .

    I imagine if Romana was still in it she would have wore something in tweed and K9 would of proberly faced death by plant pot .

  43. nick-pm  August 31, 2012

    Oh no! My fave story gets the Wife’s thumbs down… 🙁

    Ah well, I know it’s not many people’s favourite but I loves it. It entranced me as a child (I remember screaming with rage when my brother refused to surrender the tv (bloody cricket!) and I nearly missed part 4. I don’t find it at all tedious, probably because the characters are all so well drawn and Melkur so mysterious and sinister…

    • PolarityReversed  August 31, 2012

      The Melkur is a beautiful design.
      I want one for the garden – wonder if it would work as a deterrent to passing herons with a beady eye on my shubunkins…

  44. Frankymole  August 31, 2012

    “Tom Baker is knackered. Is this the story where they had to re-perm his hair? He looks terrible.” He’s just got married, when making this (in fact during it – the day after his wedding he went back into studio, didn’t he?)

    His hair was re-permed for State of Decay, IIRC.

    • Frankymole  August 31, 2012

      Oh yes, and for a moment I thought the following remark about the Doctor needing to “fix his locks” referred to a bad perm!!!