Which One : Crystalline based Robots rule, select – and murder intelligent humans.
Cast : The Doctor : Patrick Troughton
Jamie : Frazer Hines
Zoe : Wendy Padbury
Selris : James Copeland
Beta : James Cairncross
Thara : Gilbert Wynne
Eelek : Philip Madoc
Abu : Terence Brown
Vana : Madeleine Mills
Axus : Richard Ireson
Custodian : Maurice Selwyn
Student : Bronson Shaw
Written By : Robert Holmes
Produced By : Peter Bryant
First UK Broadcast : 28 December 1969 – 18 January 1969.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe travel to a planet, where a humanoid race of Gonds are ruled over by a race of crystalline robots – known as ‘Krotons’. The Krotons select the most intelligent Gonds through a series of I.Q. tests. They then spirit the most intelligent Gonds away, with promises of advanced learning and “companionship”; before murdering them with disintegrators. In an attempt to keep the Gond race under control – through bred ignorance.
Whats good : Interesting eugenics plotline. Robots created from vats of crystals. Philip Madoc.
Whats bad : Slow and boring. Not enough variety in sets and scenes. Some character motivation is suspect. Zoe is annoying.
Review With Spoilers : The Krotons is the 4th episode of season 6 of Who and features – The Krotons; a crystal based robot lifeform.
The Krotons rule over a race of humanoids, called “Gonds” – who have been intentionally bred to be ignorant and submissive by selective eugenics.
They do this by testing the most intelligent Gonds and removing them from the group, with promises of furthering their education. But then secretly murdering them with a disintegrating ray.
It’s a Scientist and laboratory rat type relationship, or to be more controversial – perhaps it has a Nazi deathcamp-type undertone to it.
The Krotons are different monsters from the usual megalomaniac Who robots, in that these robots are crystalline based entities. Or to be more specific – ‘terrilium’ based lifeforms. Who rise out of huge vats of bubbling liquid and take their robotic forms. It’s definitely an interesting twist on the robot format.
The Kroton’s thenselves look a tad ridiculous in retrospect, with their music juke-box bodies and huge diamond heads. They also carry huge hairdryer guns which shoot deadly dry ice.
Jamie is a bit out if his depth here – being of below average intelligence. So the Kroton robots are not a threat to him. Zoe on the other hand, willingly takes their tests to be chosen as the next “companion”; as if consumed by her own ego that she can beat the questions.
Which is a bit of an odd character trait, considering she witnesses – first hand what happened to a new companion called Abu – painful death by disintregration ray!! It’s an out of place trait and equates to bad character writing. Why not just have Zoe forced to be a companion by the Krotons? At least that would be believable.
“Yes, well, Zoe is something of a genius. Of course it can be very irritating at times!” The Doctor
The Krotons also has a decent role for Who regular Philip Madoc, who impressed so much as Dr Solon in The Brain Of Morbius. In this, he plays a senior Gond – called Eelek; a manipulative and cunning Gond looking to placate the Krotons whilst maintaining his own powerbase.
The Krotons, aside from having the prestige of being one of the few remaining full Troughton episodes to survive deletion. Is not a particularly memorable episode of Who. There are better Troughton examples out there – The Mind Robber, Tomb Of The Cybermen and Moonbase spring to mind.
The useful-ness of the eugenics subplot, doesn’t transcribe The Krotons into a good episode on its own. For long periods, we just have a lot of talking between the Doctor and the Gonds about their predicament on the 2 to 3 studio sets – featured in the show.
There is not alot of variety or cut-away from these setups. Which means The Krotons – for long period; is quite boring. The Kroton robots themselves, hardly feature at all until the second half – apart from mostly just voices on the intercom.
Zoe comes across as really annoying in this aswell. As if she has a point to prove about how intelligent she is. But infact, she is quite stupid for taking the “test of death”, knowing fine well what the outcome will entail.
It’s not a classic Troughton episode by any means and there were better examples, even from the same season. Overall, though just the fact that The Krotons survived deletion is kudis enough for it. Even if the rest of it is lacking