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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on June 7, 2004
While Kroll is not a fondly remembered Dr. Who story, the truth is that Tom Baker can make even the most pathetic adventure highly enjoyable with his witty humor and goofy smile when he cracks a joke. "SH. Maybe it's saving you for pudding!" I love that quip to the megalomaniacal Thawn after Thawn reasons that if the squid wanted to attack them, it would have done so already.
Here's another one, and perhaps my all-time favorite: "If they catch us loitering in here... they'll put two and two together..." Then he notices Thawn had snuck up behind him, without missing a breath, (to Thawn) "You are putting two and two together I can tell by the expression on your face you're putting two and two together..."
Despite poor special effects, this story is worth watching because of the great Tom Baker.
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on December 5, 2002
This really is something of a disaster, and is by far the worst story in the Key to Time Series. Green coloured men running around, random tentacles grabbing various cast members - it's all a bit duff. The story tries to put forward a commentary on the bad things that happen when a country/place is colonized and it's original inhabitants (read: native-americans in this story) are ousted. Problem is, it just doesn't work due to deficiencies in script, effects, acting (swampies don't act well), you name it.
Overall, it was a poor choice for the penultimate key to time story, and you can't help but wonder whether, had they swapped the stones of blood and kroll around, it wouldn't have been so bad.
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on December 3, 2002
I'm going to admit to something that may not make me very popular in Doctor Who circles. But here goes anyway. I like THE POWER OF KROLL. Go ahead; call me a sick man, a twisted fan, a Swampie-Lover and a reject from the Sons Of Earth. I don't care what you think. Yes, KROLL may be a outrageously silly adventure featuring some of the most awful special effects imaginable, but it's a story that I have fond memories of. The biggest flaw, and I mean this in all seriousness, is that Kroll completely fails to breathe fire, stomp through downtown Tokyo, or fire laser beams out of his eyes. If only he had, we would have been looking at a near perfect adventure.
Okay, I don't know how anyone on the production team ever thought that they could possibly get away with attempting to realize a sea-monster that's supposed to about a mile across. Doctor Who could rarely even get human-sized creatures looking right, and the result that appears onscreen here is both far better and far far worse than one would expect. Better, because the Kroll monster itself actually looks quite alien and strange. Worse, because whenever this surprisingly good alien creature has to interact with the rest of the story, it does so on the wrong side of a horribly obvious special effect line. The DVD production notes go into detail about what went wrong on the production side, but the long and short of it is that it looks absolutely terrible. It's a pity they didn't realize how flimsy and shoddy the creature effects would being and go completely over to the side of making this a comedy. One imagines that if the production team had tried this a season later, the monster and the Swampies makeup would have looked even more pathetic, but would have been infinitely more entertaining.
Still, while the Kroll monster is a particularly poor effect, one can never watch Doctor Who for its production values. What I like about this one is it's effective use of the Base Under Siege mentality. When I first saw this story, I was a young fanbaby and had no idea that this sort of thing was supposedly a worn-out Doctor Who cliché. I liked it then, and that enjoyment has stayed with me. The few sets and small cast help convey the feeling of claustrophobia. KROLL is just a pure adventure. Running around, avoiding the giant monster, getting captured by aliens, escaping from aliens, etc. It's just simple fun. The only downside to this sort of silly/fun adventure is that Kroll doesn't eat nearly as many innocent bystanders as he could have. Oh well.
POWER OF KROLL works well as a simple children's adventure. Sure, some aspects of the plot carry all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but one shouldn't really expect subtlety in a television program featuring a gigantic, evil, angry squid as the main villain. KROLL appealed to the part of me that enjoys Godzilla films. So what if I'm laughing at it rather than with it? At least I'm laughing.
The DVD commentary lacks the behind the scenes know-how that had been displayed on other discs. Tom Baker and John Leeson don't really remember much about anything to do with POWER OF KROLL, though to their credit they do manage to make an amusing performance. I enjoyed listening to them once, but I doubt that I'd go out of my way to listen again. It's a pity that there are no production staff members on this commentary track; perhaps they could have jogged the actors' memories. Still, even without any actual recollections of the story, Tom Baker manages to bring a laugh, although he did seem to get a little too excited during each of Kroll's onscreen appearances.
THE POWER OF KROLL is a story about a giant squid that made it big and decided to eat a lot of people. Treat it like a cheap monster flick and you can have a fun time with this one. This is pure silly entertainment, and while Doctor Who on TV could often do far more, it's important to consider that entertainment was one of its most important priorities. But just remember what it says on that box. If you know the adventure is featuring a giant, enraged octopus and you go in expecting a detailed, textural, tear-jerking story about Kroll seeking therapy and anger-management classes, then I'm afraid that you're going to be profoundly disappointed. Just break out the popcorn, take a drink every time Kroll eats somebody, and you'll be fine, just fine.
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on June 8, 2002
Power of Kroll, Horns of Nimon, and Meglos... The most underrated shows in Dr. Who. I am reviewing the three of them here as Meglos and Nimon aren't on DVD -or!!- VHS. Sure, the special effects are paper mashe' monsters that stand still for five minutes doing nothing, but if one had half an imagination one could suspend thier disbelief. Dr. Who is not to be watched as a Box Office movie or a deep emotional TV series with heavy serious issues. No, these stories are simply fun to watch. And the stories interesting because they are unique and sometimes surreal. And the enjoyment they bring is the bottom line, isn't it...
Think of the sets as a play. That is how this is done. The opratic costume designs of Nimon and Meglos. Ignor the fact that Kroll looks like a paper mashe'. If you see a play the sets aren't there to be 'realistic' they are there as a simbol of what they represent. I think the monster is quiet good in Kroll if you ignor the fact that special effects are better now than then. People are too spoiled by special effects in shows that I find pale in comparison to Dr. Who as far a story and characters. Star Trek Next Gen, Farscape, Lexx, all a bunch of over-glorified soap opra filler with mush and sex and special FX.
Dr. Who, an entertaining story with beautiful sets, even if they aren't 'realistic' or 'believable'. Surreal is what outer space is all about.
And on a final note: PLEASE RELEASE MEGLOS AND HORNS OF NIMON ON DVD(or at the very least VHS.) Tom Baker, Lalla Ward, and K-9(John Leason) are in both of them. Thank you!
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on May 11, 2002
This story is from the age when the Tom Baker era was going downhill, but I'd say it's the best I've seen of the Key to Time season. Okay, so the special effects aren't all that awe-inspiring, but who watches Dr Who for the special effects? The story, involving tribal worshipping of a god who turns out to be an outsized squid-like beast and the invasion of a primative culture, is well-written and entertaining. Tom Baker is at his best, and the final episode is a blast.
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on March 9, 2002
On Delta 3, the Doctor and Romana get involved with four employees at a methane catalyzing protein refinery, the blue-green Swampies, transplanted from their Delta Magna home, and their god, a leviathan of a giant squid called Kroll. A gun-runner named Rohm-Dutt has delivered guns to the Swampies so the natives can attack the refinery. The Swampies capture Romana and plan to sacrifice her to Kroll.
Meanwhile, Thawn, controller of the refinery, and Fenner spot the Doctor. Fenner mistakes the Doctor for Rohm-Dutt and shoots the Doctor's hat, narrowly missing him. Thawn and Fenner take the Doctor at gunpoint, whereupon the unruffled Time Lord pipes up, "Will there be strawberry jam for tea?"
A few things become apparent in the first two episodes. Thawn immediately tells Fenner, "You've shot the wrong man." How could he know? And when Ranquin, the Swampie chief, tells Rohm-Dutt of Thawn's plan to attack them, he says, "That wasn't what---" before catching himself. Things start to become clearer when Rohm Dutt calls out during the attack, "Thawn, it's me, Rohm Dutt!"
The Doctor has his share of humorous and good lines. Puzzled by the low gravity, he deduces that they are on one of Delta Magna's moons. He licks his finger, holds it up, and says, "I'd say the third." Romana replies, "Doctor, sometimes I don't think you're quite right in the head." Romana on the Swampies' holy book: "A sort of holy writ?" Doctor: "It's atrociously writ."
Romana's moment of psychiatric analysis comes when she tells Rohm-Dutt, "Emotional insultation is indicative of psychofugal trauma." When she tells him she and the Doctor were out hunting butterflies, Dutt says, "Oh, I like a joke." Romana shoots back, "I'll try and think of one."
Ranquin tells Romana, "You will wish you have died on the stone of blood." Pardon me, Ranquin, but that was two stories back, and it was the Doctor who nearly died on it.
The plight of the Swampies, evicted from Delta Magna and onto Delta 3, is reminiscent to that of the Native Americans, who were pushed off towards the west, only to suffer further loss with the onrush of Manifest Destiny and industrialization, what white men would call "progress." When Fenner asks the Doctor, "would you let a small band of semi-savages stand in the way of progress?" the Doctor replies, "Progress is a very flexible word. It can mean whatever you want it to mean."
Four Who-guest star alumni make their appearance here. Neil McCarthy (Thawn) came out in The Mind Of Evil, Philip Madoc (Fenner) was in The Krotons and The Brain Of Morbius, John Abineri was in The Ambassadors Of Death and Death To The Daleks, and John Leeson is seen in human form for the first time as opposed to voicing a certain mechanical dog who doesn't appear here.
I sure hope the actors playing Swampies didn't get any skin allergies or cancer from that blue-green paint on their bodies.
Kroll is realized well, not bad for a titanic squid 140 feet high and five miles across-the only trouble is the obvious vertical line separating Kroll from the actual footage. And the colonization theme involving a corporation oppressing a less-developed species works here.
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