Friday, 25 January 2019

232 The Seeds of Death: Episode One

EPISODE: The Seeds of Death: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 25 January 1969
WRITER: Brian Hayles
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 6.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who Revisitations Box Set - Volume 2 (Seeds of Death, Carnival of Monsters & Resurrection of the Daleks)

"You saw what happened to your superior. You would do well to co-operate!"

On Earth in the future all transport is made by T-Mat. Soon after Controller Osgood returns to T-Mat control on Moonbase the base is invaded by an alien force. Osgood sabotages the equipment and is killed. The remaining technicians are set to work repairing it by the aliens. The Doctor and friends arrive in a space museum and are being held as trespassers by Professor Eldred, the owner, when the Commander Radnor from T-Mat control arrives to request a rocket to take a team to the moon. A communication from technician Locke on the moon is received saying they're in trouble and then swiftly cut off. Locke is killed by the alien invaders: The Ice Warriors!

1 y 1 z

Seeds of DEATH, not Seeds of DOOM. That's the one with the plants. Easy mistake to make though.

In many ways episode 1 of Seeds of Death does it's job setting up the situation, where all transport has been superseded by T-Mat, a form of teleportation controlled from a base on the moon and the status quo has been disrupted by the arrival of an alien force. I first saw Seeds of Death years ago while I was still at school and thought episode one was as boring as anything. I still don't think it's great: The Doctor's hardly in it and you don't see the monsters till the end. But there's some lovely point of view shots used during the episode to avoid revealing them though. Indeed Steve Peters, playing the Ice Warrior here, was billed as "alien" in that week's Radio Times. Alan Bennion was billed as Slaar, his character's name but is never listed as an Ice Lord, the name that's stuck to the ruling Ice Warriors that we'll see in charge from this story onwards.

It's amazing what odds and ends you find lying inside computers and machinery when you're trying to fix them. While Locke & Phipps are trying to fix the Moonbase communications machine they've pulled this out to get it working again and it looks rather familiar....

048 Circuit 046 Cerebration Mentor

It's the Cerebration Mentor from The Invasion, two stories previous!

And is that one of our old friends, the Tenth Planet spacesuits I see hanging in the museum?

1 spacesuit 1 Osgood

Three of the cast have left us already Harry Towb plays Osgood here and returns as McDermott in Terror of the Autons where he suffers one of the series more memorable deaths. He's been in loads of things but the only thing I'm sure I've seen him in The Professionals where he plays Harry Spence in Blood Sports.

Martin Cort previously played a Voord, a Warrior, and Aydan in The Keys of Marinus. He returns to the series here as Locke. You can hear him interviewed by Toby Hadoke in Who's Round #11.

1 Locke 1 Harvey

Making his brief Doctor who debut, uncredited as Harvey, is stuntman Alan Chuntz. He becomes part of Derek Ware's Havoc group and regularly returns to the show. IMDB has him down as playing a Thug in The Ambassadors of Death, a Technician in Inferno, a UNIT Soldier in Terror of the Autons, a Prisoner in The Mind of Evil, Omega's Champion in The Three Doctors, a Security Guard in The Green Death, a Guard in Planet of the Spiders, a Kaled Soldier in Ravon's HQ in Genesis of the Daleks, the Chauffeur in The Seeds of Doom and Guard in State of Decay but I'm sure he's done a few more than that. He worked as a stunt adviser on Gangsters, a series that has a big influence on 80s Doctor who, and performed stunts on several movies including the Sean Connery James Bond film You Only Live Twice, The Dirty Dozen and one of my all time favourites The Italian Job.

The vast majority of this story was sitting in the BBC Film & Video Library during Ian Levine's initial visit in 1978: They held episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6 with just episode 3 missing which BBC Enterprises soon supplied.

Friday, 18 January 2019

231 The Krotons: Episode Four

EPISODE: The Krotons: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 January 1969
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 7.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Krotons

"Where are the high brains? The two alien creatures are needed. Where are they?"

Thara finds the injured Doctor but is injured helping him to safety. Jamie takes advantage of the situation to escape the confused Krotons before they restore the balance of the Dynotrope. The Doctor finds a leaking crack in the Dynotrope. Finding out Jamie went into the machine they race to the back door to help him escape. Eelek and Selris argue but as they do a Kroton emerges from the machine demanding the Doctor & Zoe. They need them to operate the drive mechanism of the Dynatrope. Eelek says he will find them. The Doctor & Zoe rescue Jamie who the Doctor sends to get Beta to make more acid. Vana sneaks away to warn the Doctor but is captured by Eelek's guards as are the Doctor & Zoe who are taken to the Krotons. The Krotons start the preparations for lift off. Selris dives into the closing door of the Dynatrope to give the Doctor the acid he needs but after doing so he is soon slain by the Krotons. The Krotons need the Doctor and Zoe to replace two of their crew who were exhausted before they crashed. Zoe tips the acid into the tank which the Krotons are connected to which causes the Krotons to dissolve.

4 melt 1 4 Melt 2

The Dynotrope starts to melt to as Jamie, Beta, Thara and Vana tip acid on it.

4 Melt 3 4 Melt 4

The Doctor explains that since the machine was mainly Tellurium it was susceptible to sulphuric acid. The Doctor, Jamie & Zoe make their exit.

Eelek is a nasty piece of work isn't he?

EELEK: The strangers are coming back. You two stay here, the rest come with me.
VANA: They're going to walk into a trap.
SELRIS: Yes. Eelek claims to act for the people, but he's only concern is his own skin.
He spends the first episode obeying the Krotons: he's floating around in the background of the ceremony, is absent for the second, turns up in the third wanting to attack the Krotons and then is all to willing to surrender the Doctor and Zoe to them as soon as they ask.

4 Eelek 1 4 Eelek 2
EELEK: If we give you the strangers, will you leave us in peace?
KROTON 2: The high brains will enable us to operate the drive mechanism of the Dynatrope.
EELEK: You mean you will go? You will leave our world?
KROTON 2: Yes. But if the two high brains are not brought to the Dynatrope, you will all be dispersed. Do you understand?
EELEK: Very well. If you leave us, you shall have them.
SELRIS: But why, Eelek? It's only a few hours since you wanted to fight the Krotons.
EELEK: If we give them the strangers they will leave us in peace.
SELRIS: But the Doctor and Zoe are our friends. They risked their lives for us.
EELEK: I put the interests of our own people first. Now, keep them all under guard.
A thoroughly dislikable character and one that's still alive and at large at the end of the story.

I like the Krotons as a story, I think it distils one of the essential Doctor Who storylines down quite well: The Doctor arrives on a planet, finds something is wrong, which is usually caused by a monster, and does something about it. There's nothing wrong with this story that changing some slightly dodgy monster legs wouldn't fix.

4 Kroton 2 4 Kroton 1

Serial WW, the production code assigned to the Krotons was originally intended to be “The Dreamspinner” by Paul Wheeler. When this fell through it was replaced by Dick Sharples' comedic “The Amazons” which was renamed “The Prison In Space” and would have seen the exit of Jamie. Fraser Hinds announced his intention to leave early in the season having been persuaded by his agent that now was the time to go and not to get typecast despite Hinds wanting to stay. When Patrick Troughton decided to leave at the end of the season he spoke to Hinds and persuaded him to stay until he too left. It's possible that Dick Sharples' script Prison in Space may have been re-worked as the Two Ronnies mini serial The Worm That Turned. Both feature strong female lead societies. I know Sharples was a comedy writer by trade but research hasn't been able to tell me if he worked on the Two Ronnies or wrote that segment. You can find out more about Prison in Space by by buying the Nothing At The End Of The Lane scriptbook which contains the script for that story and looks at the intended next story for this season.

Episode 4 of this story is a 16mm film print sourced from the British Film Institute which was offered film copies of three Patrick Troughton stories when BBC Enterprises were finished with them - they also had the Dominators and the War Games, Patrick Troughton's final serial. As it turns out the BFI were given negatives for these three stories too which proved very useful in the creation of the DVDs.

This is the Krotons only onscreen appearance in Doctor Who. They don't even feature in The War Games, which had the other three Monsters this season The Quarks, The Cybermen and The Ice Warriors and is also directed by this story's director David Maloney. Their one real return is in the Eighth Doctor Adventures book Alien Bodies by Lawrence Miles where they play a crucial and more menacing part.

The Krotons was repeated as part of the Five Faces of Doctor Who season on the 9th - 12th November 1981. At the time it was the only surviving 4 part Second Doctor story. Four years later the story was novelised by the onscreen version's script editor Terrance Dicks, who had been most vocal over the years in his dislike for the monsters in the story, as Target Books #99. A VHS release of the Krotons followed in 1991 and a DVD version was released in 2011.

Twenty Two episodes into season six, we're half way through Troughton's last season, but there's just three stories to go.

Friday, 11 January 2019

230 The Krotons: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Krotons: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 January 1969
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 7.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Krotons

"You have no value. You will be dispersed!"

The Krotons cut the power to the machine interrogating Jamie. They track the Doctor & Zoe to the Tardis. Eelek, the council deputy, goes to see Beta hoping to recruit him help them fight the Krotons. He tells Beta that the Doctor & Zoe then Jamie have gone into the Krotons' machine. Eelek tells him not to obey council chief Selris but to obey him instead. One of the two Krotons is dispatched from their ship, the Dynatrope, to fetch the Doctor & Zoe. Jamie is interrogated about the Tardis, but it decides that he has no value. Selris tells Thara that the Doctor, Zoe & Jamie have all have gone into machine. Thara tells him Eelek has taken over as council leader and is going to try to overthrow the Krotons. The Kroton explains to Jamie that the Dynatrope needs high brains for it's power transfer. It tells him that they do not die, merely exhaust and revert to their base compounds. The Doctor emerges from the Tardis having analysed the liquid he took from the Krotons' ship and deduced that it's based on Tellurium. Outside the Tardis the Doctor is looking for sulphurous rocks when the Kroton finds them demanding that they return to the Dynatrope. Back at the Krotons' ship Jamie seizes the Krotons' weapon and attacks the remaining Kroton with it, which causes the other Kroton to loose contact with the Dynatrope which is directing it. Hearing what has happened, the Doctor realises that the Krotons can't see in bright light. Once communication is regained the Kroton attacks the Tardis with it's gas weapon leaving no trace of the Doctor's ship then returns to the Dynatrope reversing it's course. A short while later the Tardis materialises a short way up a hill. The Doctor says he has set the Hostile Action Displacement System. At the Gond city Eelek plans the Gonds' attack on the Krotons. Inside the Dynatrope the Krotons' decide that the high brains must be recaptured before they exhaust time in 3 hours time. The Doctor & Zoe return to the city and learn from Vana and Thara what is happening. The Gonds start to attack the machine's supports. The Doctor gets Beta to process his collected sulphur using instructions he has left. An alert sounds in the Krotons' ship, the Dynatrope is now out of balance. The Doctor goes to stop the Gonds but their work has undermined the cities foundations which starts to collapse burying the Doctor under rubble.

A nice little episode that made an impact on me the first time I saw it with the sequence where the Kroton attacks the Tardis

ZOE: Oh Doctor, the Tardis!
ZOE: Well, now what shall we do?
DOCTOR: Well, there's nothing we can do till that wretched Kroton moves away.
3 T1 3T2

It causes you for a brief moment to think that the Tardis has actually been destroyed by the Kroton before it rematerialises on a nearby cliff ledge!

3T3 3T4
ZOE: Look, it's all right again!
DOCTOR: Yes, what a stupid place to land. You can tell that the Captain is not at the helm, can't you?
ZOE: You knew it would vanish like that, didn't you?
DOCTOR: Well it only does that, you see, if I remember to set the HADS.
ZOE: The what?
DOCTOR: The HADS. The Hostile Action Displacement System. If the Tardis is attacked, it automatically dematerialises. Now, I think it's safe for us to move now.
ZOE: Oh, to move where?
DOCTOR: Well, er, we've got to tell the Gonds that we're all right, haven't we? And Jamie'll be worried. Come along, now. Carefully.
We also find out why The Krotons have been taking the Gonds brightest & best:
JAMIE: Zoe and the Doctor, what are you going to do with them?
KROTON: They are needed for the Dynatrope.
JAMIE: Dynatrope? That's this machine, then?
KROTON: One six eight vector four.
JAMIE: Well, why does it need them? And why have you been killing the Gonds?
KROTON: The Dynatrope needs high brains for transfer power. The Gonds have no high brains.
JAMIE: Aye, and that makes it all right to kill them, does it?
KROTON: That is procedure. Radius one six three vector four.
They're using the intelligent being to somehow power their spaceship!

This serial introduces us to the acting talents of Philip Madoc.


He'd already been in Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the second Doctor Who film, as Brockley and one of my earliest Doctor Who memories is of him being exterminated in the shed.


In this story he plays the treacherous Eelek, deputy leader of the council.

BETA: Selris should be here. He's still the council leader, or am I mistaken.
AXUS: You are mistaken.
EELEK: Selris is old. In time of war we need a strong leader.
AXUS: And Eelek has taken command.
BETA: So at last you've achieved your ambition, eh?
EELEK: Yes, and I have the support of the whole council.
BETA: It must be quite a change for you to feel popular.
EELEK: And there is a limit to what I will take from you.
BETA: I'm wondering just how popular you'll be when hundreds of our people have been killed. Do you want a repetition of the massacre we suffered when the Krotons first came here?
EELEK: Today we have slings and fireballs. Weapons that will destroy the strongest building to rubble
BETA: Have you ever looked at the wasteland? Nothing grows there even to this day. It smells of death. Compared with their kind of weapons, I tell you we still only have clubs and stones.
After this story he'll be back as two of the most memorable Doctor Who villains. First he's the War Lord in two stories time in The War Games which is also directed by David Maloney, taking charge of his second story here, and then as Doctor Solon in The Brain of Morbius before appearing as the less villainous Fenner in Power of Kroll.

3 Eelik 7e vlcsnap-2015-05-19-09h41m27s71 3 Kroll

He's been in loads of television including UFO as Straker's ex wife's new partner in A Question Of Priorities and the first episode of Space: 1999, Breakaway, as Koenig's predecessor Commander Gorski. I recently saw him in Midsomer Murdersplaying Barnaby's former (Welsh) DCI in The Axeman Cometh, a barking episode involving a rock group. But not half as barking as Country Matters is! Those are just the ones off the top of my head: checking IMDB also found me an Out of This World, as George Mathias in Target Generation, five roles in The Avengers, another UFO as Captain Steven in Destruction, The Sweeney as Det. Supt. Pettiford in Golden Fleece, Porridge as Williams in Disturbing the Peace and Survivors as Max Kershaw in The Chosen.

He's got a talent for playing German officers and in this role he can be seen in one of the most repeated clips on television. He plays the commanding officer of the U-Boat crew captured by the Walmington-on-Sea home guard in the Dad's Army episode "The Deadly Attachment".

U-Boat Captain: I am making notes, Captain, and your name will go on the list; and when we win the war you will be brought to account.
Mainwaring: You can write what you like, You're not going to win the war!
U-Boat Captain: Oh yes we are.
Mainwaring: Oh no you're not.
U-Boat Captain: Oh yes we are!
Pike: Whistle while you work, Hitler is a twerp, he's half-barmy, so's his army, whistle while you work!
U-Boat Captain: Your name will also go on the list! What is it?
Mainwaring: Don't tell him Pike!
3 DadsArmy

A special feature about Philip Madoc's career can be found on the Power of Kroll disc in the Key To Time DVD boxset. He died on 5th March 2012.

Richard Ireson plays Eelek's henchman Axus. He'd been in The Mind Robber as a Soldier. You can hear him in Star Cops voicing Mike in Conversations with the Dead.

1 Axus 1 Beta

James Cairncross plays Beta, described as the controller of science in the first episode. He'd previously appeared as Lemaitre in The Reign of Terror.

3 Beta 1 3 Beta 2

Beta is involved in a horrendous continuity mix up towards the end of this episode when it appears that Beta is in his lab working on the sulphur and under the city undermining the Dynatrope at the same time!

Friday, 4 January 2019

229 The Krotons: Episode Two

EPISODE: The Krotons: Episode Two
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 January 1969
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
RATINGS: 8.4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: The Krotons

"Whatever else they are, these Krotons are certainly not friendly!"

The Doctor realises the eye is working on pattern recognition fixed on his face. When one of the Gonds attacks the machine and is gassed, the Doctor realises that the "stupid machine mistook him for me". The Gongs ordered out of learning hall by the machine. The Doctor & Zoe realise that there are gaps in the Gonds knowledge: they use solar energy but have no knowledge of chemistry. They decide to visit the learning hall, but on the way the Doctor finds that there are chambers under the hall and goes to have a look. Zoe uses the learning machines and passes the tests with the highest scores ever recorded. She says Krotons were pleased with her. Vana wakes and is distraught, talking of a flashing ball burning her mind. The Doctor says the foundations of the machine were like a root structure, and speculates if the machine is organic, a living thing. Zoegond (Zoe) is summoned by Krotons to be a companion. The Doctor takes the test too, and feels that the Krotons were pleased with him. He too passes and Doctorgond too is summoned as a companion. The Doctor and Zoe enter machine just as Jamie arrives to stop them. Inside it becomes apparent that the machine is a spaceship. The Doctor and Zoe sit down, where they are restrained by a forcefield. A glowing ball appears subjecting the travellers to a painful bright light and a level in a machine rises. When the gauge reaches a certain level two tanks start to bubble. The Doctor and Zoe wake drained, theorising that the machine has transferred their mental powers into energy for it's own purposes. The tanks bubble away attracting their attention. The Doctor takes a sample of the liquid, which he thinks is slurry composed of suspended crystals. A form begins to coalesce in each of the tanks. Jamie tries to enter the Krotons' machine to help his friends. Awakening the Krotons search for the missing "Gonds", the Doctor and Zoe, who have left the control chamber and are trying to escape. The Doctor opens the ship's rear door. They jump out to the sides of the door to avoid the gas guns which the Krotons refer to as he dispersion unit. The Krotons track them and decide to order the Gongs to trap them. The Krotons see Jamie on their screen and realise he's not a Gond so admit him to the machine. His mind is tested, but he is ruled to not be a high brain but a primitive at which point the Krotons state the power will kill him.

2y 2z

Oh that's lovely that is. The Doctor scolds Zoe for playing with the teaching machine, but I suspect using the Teaching Machines to gain access to the Krotons was on his mind all along as is obvious by the way he leaves Jamie behind giving him a not 100% satisfactory explanation.

SELRIS: How is she, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well I think she's better. It's difficult to tell. Selris, is it safe to enter the Learning Hall yet?
DOCTOR: Zoe and I want to have a look round, don't we, Zoe?
ZOE: Oh, do we?
DOCTOR: Yes, that's right. Jamie, hold out your hand, will you?
JAMIE: What for?
DOCTOR: These pills I got from Beta.
JAMIE: There's nothing wrong with me.
DOCTOR: No, no. They're for Vana. I want you to stay and look after her.
JAMIE: Oh, now why can't I go with you?
DOCTOR: Because I particularly want you to give her those pills the moment she wakes up.
JAMIE: Ah, well.
ZOE: Well, why are we going back to the Learning Hall?
DOCTOR: To learn, Zoe. Why else?
Our Jamie isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer as evidenced by his assessment by the Krotons later!
KROTON 1: Have you damaged it?
KROTON 2: No. It is alive. Animal tissue is weak.
KROTON 1: It is recovering. Test its mind.
KROTON 2: This is not a high-brain. It is a primitive!
However even Jamie can see the Doctor's up to something ....
JAMIE: Zoe, watch him. You know what he's like.
ZOE: Oh don't worry, Jamie. I'll make sure he doesn't do anything rash.
Our first glimpse of the Krotons is of something bubbling away in a tank of fluid.

2 Kroton 1 2 Krotons 3

We're then teased with a metallic claw emerging from the tank, followed by a shot of their bodies before we see their heads.

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However you never get to see all the Kroton at once! Script Editor Terrance Dicks has made no secret for his dislike of the Monsters in this story and for many years they were rumoured top be the winner of a Blue Peter Design A Monster competition, which Patrick Troughton helped to judge, but this just isn't true. Nowadays Blue Peter have contributed not just a monster to the series, the Asorbalof in Love & Monsters, but a Tardis console as well in The Doctor's Wife! I suspect Dicks' dislike for them may have been shared by some of the rest of the production team, hence keeping them concealed. I don't mind them, the heads and bodies look quite imposing. Maybe the arms could be better but the only thing that's really wrong is the rubber skirt, concealed throughout this episode.

The Krotons are played by Miles Northover, who was a Man Carrying Caskets in The Invasion Episode 3, and Robert La Bassiere, who appears as Cmdr. Bill Jackson in two episodes of Moonbase 3, Departure and Arrival & Behemoth. Their voices are supplied by two actors: Roy Skelton is a frequent voice artist for the series who we've already heard as Monoids in The Ark, Cybermen in The Tenth Planet & Wheel in Space, Daleks in Evil of the Daleks and the computer in The Ice Warrior. The other voice comes from Patrick Tull. Like several of the cast of this story he has a Dad's Army to his name playing The Suspect in Man Hunt.

James Copeland as plays the Gond council leader Selris. He also has a Dad's Army episode to his name appearing in Operation Kilt as Captain Ogilvie. This episode, along with The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage, was missing from the BBC archives for many years before being returned in 2001. His Out of the Unknown appearances have been less fortunate however. The audio for Beach Head, in which he plays Oliver MacDonald, survives and was reconstructed for the Out of the Unknown DVD Set but nothing remains of the final broadcast episode of the series, The Shattered Eye, in which he plays Randall.

1 Selris 1 Thara

Selris' son Thara is played by Gilbert Wynne. His return to the world of Doctor Who came many years later when he played an Old Man in The Gathering, the penultimate episode of the fourth Torchwood series Miracle Day

Episodes 2 & 3 of The Krotons existed as 16mm prints at the BBC in 1978 when Ian Levine visited the Film & Video library. I'll be honest: this episode looked rubbish when I saw it on VHS. As to why .... well some internet comments on the creation of the Krotons DVD might throw some light on the matter!

ClassicDW (Dan Hall) said

Restoration work on The Krotons going better than expected, thanks to help from @BFI providing original negs for selected eps
which Steve Roberts of the Restoration Team translates as
Or to put it another way, "Restoration work on The Krotons ground to a dismal halt when it was discovered that half of the BBC negatives were poor quality dupes, thank **** the BFI hold the originals instead!"
At the time I said
I await the forthcoming crystal clear DVD with interest.
Indeed viewing this episode now it looks much, much better than it did before!