Oh no, I spoke to soon. What is amazing about ‘The Power of Kroll’, is not that after four great stories we are sadly let down, but that this script came from Robert Holmes. There are several reasons why this story gets a fail, but some of the blame must be attributed to the author sadly. ‘The Ribos Operation’, his previous contribution, is wonderful. The characters are rich in that story – even the rogues are likeable. Iin this one they are either functional, insignificant or just angry. Take the two main characters in point – Rankin, leader of the ‘swampies’ played by John Alberni, back again for his third story, and Thawn, in charge of the methane plant, played by Neil McCarthy (who was also in ‘Mind of Evil’). They are just angry characters, who remains unchanged by any circumstances, wanting to kill either the humans or the Swampies.
|Kroll towers over the Swampies|
Then we have John Leeson and sadly Philip Madoc in purely functional roles, and Glynn Owen as gun-runner Rohm Dutt, who could have been quite a character but the character isn’t fleshed out, and then is killed at the end of the second episode. A character that could have been interesting is reduced to a purely functional part.
|Swampies in the ... swamp.|
As for the swampies, you can’t help but feel sorry for the actors. They couldn’t afford costumes apparently, so they just stuck them in crappy wigs and painted their bodies green. Holmes has not devoted any time into making any of the Swampies interesting characters with considered motivations. It’s a pity - these are the rightful inhabitants of Delta Magnor (they’ve been moved to this moon because it was overrun by humans), and it would have been good to show them in a better light rather than just moronic savages.
There was the potential to make this very political as well, another comment on colonialism which we have had in stories such as ‘The Mutants’, but it
|The Doctor, Romana and Rohm Dutt get stretched to the limit.|
On a positive side, I think Kroll looks ok. It must have been difficult to do, and it is done by splitting the screen horizontally and some shots are more successful than others. It is clearly the story of the season where they’ve had to save money. There is a fair bit of location shooting for it, but aside from that it seems very cheap. There’s a limited number of sets, three sets for inside the refinery, and the room where the Doctor, Romana and Dutt were to be sacrificed to Kroll. So it’s a pity they could devote a few more pounds to make the Swampies look better, because they are seriously embarrassing.
So in short, it falls short. Very short.