The Doctor and Charley arrive in the far future, on a far-flung human colony world. What they find there is troubling: the colony’s command structure is breaking down, and the colony’s leader is directing all of his attention toward the hunt for an elusive but valuable mineral called K7…even to the point of disposing of those who question his all-consuming obsession. When the Doctor and Charley show up asking questions, they find themselves at the top of the shortlist of people likely to disappear without a trace. An attempt to dispose of them via a convenient (but, of course, regrettable) underground explosion doesn’t kill them, but instead reveals a spacecraft that’s been buried on this planet for centuries. The spacecraft’s technology is crystalline, much like K7, and only then does the Doctor realize that he’s up against not only a despotic colony leader, but a very old enemy indeed.
written by Nicholas Briggs
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Nicholas Briggs
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Philip Madoc (Rag Cobden), Matthew Burgess (Ned Gillespie), Susan Brown (Eleanor Harvey), Glynn Sweet (Professor Lyle Woodruff), Ian Brooker (Romilly), Andrew Dickens (Security), Nicholas Briggs (The Krotons)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Released as a special one-off story for subscribers only – Big Finish’s equivalent of the BBC’s annual special Christmas episode of Doctor Who – Return Of The Krotons is a nice present for the faithful: the return of an enemy whose presence would befuddle the casual audience (if, indeed, Big Finish audios even have such an audience) or new-series-only fans.
The plot isn’t terribly complicated, though this is one of those instances where one would think that the returning enemy would’ve been better served by a story title that didn’t give away their presence; the Krotons don’t make a proper appearance until the second half of the story, and that appearance would’ve been more dramatic and welcome had the surprise been preserved; however, at the same time, the subscriber specials are also dangled before the eyes of prospective customers by Big Finish, as a carrot to get them to subscribe in the first place (see also the announcement, very early in the year, that 2009’s subscriber-only special will feature the eighth Doctor’s reunion with Susan, the first Doctor’s granddaughter).
The Krotons aren’t the only throwback to the Patrick Troughton era; the isolated-outpost-under-siege plotline hearkens back to the second Doctor’s era as well. Showing his colors as a die-hard Doctor Who traditionalist, writer/director Nicholas Briggs sticks with the clunky Krotons of old, rather than the re-imagined, almost insect-like Krotons from the novel “Alien Bodies” (which assumed that the famously clumsy Krotons we’d seen on TV were actually Kroton spacesuits, for lack of a better way to put it). The result of sticking with the Krotons’ original appearance, however, is that they’re defeated very easily; the only real prize gleaned from this story is yet another tiny breadcrumb on the “will Charley reveal her true origins to the sixth Doctor” trail…and in the end that’s not the most satisfying prize, especially not after the leap forward made by that plot thread in Brotherhood Of The Daleks.
For only an hour of listening though, it’s not a bad romp, even if it does romp through numerous Doctor Who storytelling cliches.