Doctor Who: The Krotons (s06e04, pts. 1 – 4)

3 out of 5

Directed by: David Maloney

In which the plot is kind of focused on proving that Jamie is an idiot.  But for real: I love four-part Whos – most of the early era plots tend to boil down to repetitive instances of separating the team in order to waste time, no one believing that the Doctor is there to help, and then probably revealing that it’s the Cybermen behind the whole thing with some backwards, dumb plot for taking over the planet; and while there’s obviously charm that kept this running for 20+ seasons, some of the six to eight part serials from the Hartnell and Troughton time are very, very obviously padded.

So The Krotons benefits from being short (though we still get separated; and we still have a rather Cybermen type foe with the eponymous baddies), and it actually has some moderately sciency and sci-fi elements as well, with the Doctor crew discovering the primitive (i.e. as smart as Jamie, apparently) ‘Gon’ race acting subservient to the unseen Kroton race, partly kept primitive as the Krots ask them to sacrifice the smart kids to ‘the wastelands.’  Early on, Doc and Zoe – smart kids, both of ’em – piece together that the Krotons are, for whatever reason, sucking up brain power for energy, which is interesting, but then the episodes sort of putt around while they… come to that same conclusion again, three episodes later, only this time with some chemistry tossed in to throw at the machines and make ’em explodey.

It’s all a bit simple and silly beyond its good setup, with some literally head-spinning robots to boot, but that simplicity, and the shortened runtime, make it pretty enjoyable.  And to be clear: I love that the main conceit is that Jamie is dumb; Zoe is smart.