Retro ‘Doctor Who’ Reviews – Vol. 4.14


The Keeper of Traken

keeper of trakenThe TARDIS crew, made up of only the Doctor and K9, have found their way back into N-Space but it isn’t long before trouble comes their way. The Traken Union is an empire of planets that have built their ideology on peace and harmony. A holographic projection of the ‘Keeper’, the leader of Traken, appears in the TARDIS to unleash a solid ten minutes of exposition on everyone. We’ll try and sum things up.

Long back in the day an evil creature called Melkur was tearing stuff up on Traken before he calcified and became an inanimate statue. These days the harmony on Traken is maintained through a powerful machine that requires a living human attached to operate. This person is the ‘Keeper’ and the role of the Keeper is about to be passed onto Consul Tremas. His wife Kassia is tasked with maintaining the Melkur statue that has become a religious icon.

Bringing us up to the current happenings. Kassia has, in actual fact, come under control of the statue and is assisting it is a coup. It could’ve been played as a psychological issue but it’s revealed very early on that Melkur is moving around and doing things on his own. Instead the (immensely well played) twist is that someone else is controlling Melkur. Eventually we learn that the statue is actually a TARDIS and none other than the Master is puling the strings.

tumblr_lkes24t2j51qh21rc

This is a very dense plot with different factions working on different angles. We have Melkur/Master taking control of increasing numbers of people and taking control of Traken, the Doctor and Consul Tremas trying to put a stop to the coup once they discovered what was happening and Adric teaming up with the Consul’s daughter Nyssa. The twists are clever and well paced and the final chapter in which the Master takes the role of Keeper really does throw you for a loop.

01 Keeper of Traken

Although it wasn’t intended at the time Nyssa does become a companion. With her introduction in this story she’s shown to be an aristocrat but without the airs that go with the position. She’s independent and exceptionally bright, and shows a streak of quick thinking even when faced with the menace of the Master.

As we begin to wind down the Fourth Doctor’s very impressive seven-year run this episode is big and impressive. We’re re-introduced to one of the greatest foes in Doctor Who history and get a bunch of great new characters. Plus the design of Melkur is just downright funky.

Melkur

Logopolis

logopolisIt’s strange going into this episode, because you have no idea what is going to go down. For one thing the title gives nothing away. Seriously, that’s not even close to being a word. Then we have the added knowledge that a new companion is going to join, the Master is still lurking about and the Doctor is going to regenerate before the end of the serial. So what does happen?

Thinking that the Master has been dealt with the Doctor and Adric head back to Earth with a goal in mind. The Doctor intends to repair the chameleon circuit, which should allow the TARDIS to adopt any shape. It’s been jammed since the beginning of the series, leaving the ship in the guise of a London police box. As they are collecting the specifications of a police box from Earth the Master turns up by landing his own TARDIS inside the Doctors’, trapping the travellers in a recursive loop. Meanwhile an Australian wannabe air hostess (Tegan) gets stranded on the side of the road and goes into he TARDIS looking for help, catching her up in the mess.

The Doctor makes his escape and heads to Logopolis, a planet of powerful mathematicians who were to help the Doctor fix his TARDIS. Again the Master is on their heels, and begins murdering the mathematicians, not fully understanding their role in the greater universe. The people of Logopolis control the excising excess entropy from their universe into E-Space to prevent the entire universe from succumbing to heat death. With the Master unwittingly putting this threat into motion the two rival Time Lords are forced to join forces to save the day.

Adricontaerdis

Like the previous episode the writers do manage to slip another clever twist under our noses. Without giving everything away the Master is more clued in to what he’s doing that he lets on and does get one over the Doctor. Throughout the episodes the Doctor does occasionally confer with a mysterious ‘watcher’ who turns up every now and then. Turns out that this is the future Doctor, and the Doctor is fully aware of how things would play out. He eventually sacrifices himself and prompts his regeneration himself.

Logopolis 4

This particular regeneration is a big deal, with Tom Baker having been an immensely popular actor for the role. We get strange little montages of all his enemies and his allies before he does die. It’s hokey, but not uneffective. Like ‘Keeper of Traken’ this is a very good episode that doesn’t hold back on complicating matters. The main characters are operating on a different level than they used to, with the Doctor facing some true struggles and having to compromise by allying himself with the Master. Fantastic conclusion to what is the longest running version of the Doctor.

Soon we’ll be posting the Top 10 Fourth Doctor Episodes. In the meantime, let’s see what this new chap has to offer.