#20BooksofSummer: Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll: 4th Doctor Novelisation

Back in my early days of Doctor Who fandom, some friends caught a few moments of “The Power of Kroll” and incredulously mocked me because the Doctor somehow defeated a giant squid creature using a tiny stick. Of course, I tried to explain to them exactly what was happening in the scene and how it wasn’t really a tiny stick, but my pleas fell upon deaf ears and taunts about the budgetary limitations of my favorite show.

Years later, removed of the mocking jabs of my youth, I’ve come to see that “The Power of Kroll” is a rough draft for Robert Holmes’ triumphant “Caves of Androzani.” And while most fans will be quick to cry that its the scripts that make classic Who so special, the comparisons between “Androzani” and “Kroll” show sometimes there are other elements involved as well.

Pursuing the fifth segment of the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana arrive on a moon of Delta Manga. A revolutionary station is processing protein from the swamp and sending it home to feed the greater population. One obstacle is a group of natives, who were displaced from Delta Magna originally and now stand in the way of full development of the small moon’s resources. Lurking in the swamp is a large creature, worshiped by the natives and known as Kroll. After some time being dormant, Kroll is on the move again — and is hungry.

So, we have a smaller moon that provides a vital resource to a larger population, a character with a vested interest in sustaining the profit margins and a willingness to do anything he can to ensure them, and a guy running guns under the nose of governmental authorities. Sounds an awful lot like “Androzani,” doesn’t it?

And yet, it’s nowhere nearly as nuanced or entertaining as “Androzani” would be six years later. Part of that comes down to the simple matter of Doctor Who trying to realize a giant squid monster on the Doctor Who budget. This late in the season, it was going to be next to impossible to do — and wisely, Kroll is kept off-screen and seen only as a tentacle for much of the first couple of episodes.

With location shooting in swamps, natives who are a metaphor for many native populations on Earth, and Tom Baker so completely immeshed in the role of the Doctor, this one could have been an absolute classic. And yet, it falls short.

The adaptation by Terrance Dicks is another example of a competent enough effort to adapt the script to the printed page, but not offering anything more to the story in terms of character development or background. The image of Dicks chained to his desk and turning out a Target novel every few days during this era is one I can’t quite shake. There is a little prologue that serves as an origin for Kroll, but it gives away some of the Doctor’s discoveries later in the story, so I’m not sure it’s necessarily a huge asset here.

The audio version of this novel features another solid performance by Geoffrey Beavers, who (as I’ve said before, could read a take-out menu and do a great job with it. Beavers is doing his best with the material provided. As usual, the audio effects and music serve the story well enough, creating a nice soundscape.

While it’s not necessarily a classic, I still think I’ve not been as kind to “Kroll” as I could or should be. After listening to this again, it may be time to reevaluate the televised version.

1 Comment

Filed under #20booksofsummer, 20 Books of Summer 2022, audio book, audio book review, audiobook review, Doctor who

One response to “#20BooksofSummer: Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll by Terrance Dicks

  1. Pingback: 20 Books of Summer, 2022 Edition | Nashville Book Worm

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