Doctor Who: The Krotons (part two)

“They don’t even have faces!” Our son was a little more baffled by the Krotons than frightened. These are an example of Doctor Who monsters who aren’t actually scary, even though they do scary things, like almost flatten Zoe and the Doctor with a force field that draws mental energy from them.

From an adult standpoint, nothing about the Krotons really works as a visual, least of all their bizarre rubber skirts. Legend has it that the outside company that built the Krotons missed part of the memo and didn’t provide lower torsos or legs for the suits, leading to a hasty fix by the costume department. This is why David Maloney shot the silly things in close-up as much as possible.

There’s a lot that can be done with the concept of crystalline aliens, though. About thirty years later, writer Lawrence Miles included a Kroton in his tremendously entertaining novel Alien Bodies and gave a lot more thought into how a race that reproduces its entities and technology through crystal growth could be amazingly threatening. I know that “you should read this book for how it redeems the Krotons” isn’t much of a recommendation, but Alien Bodies really is one of the all-time great Who adventures, and is just full of surprises.

Behind the scenes, turmoil continued. Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines had decided to leave. The week before part two of “The Krotons” aired, they were talking about going in March, probably after the conclusion of the following serial, which was in production. On the Monday after this episode was shown, producer Peter Bryant negotiated with them to stay into June and the conclusion of the season, hoping that Wendy Padbury would stick around into the next year. This was announced to the press on the Tuesday (Here’s the notice in The Daily Mirror). On top of all this, Peter Bryant was himself also planning to leave the show and do something else instead of season seven. Interesting times.

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