Doctor Who: THE KROTONS Audiobook Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE KROTONS Audiobook Review

Chris Morley listens to a unique one-man double act from Frazer Hines...

Is there a case for saying The Krotons might have worked better on audio than television? Even in its televised form it sounds in places more like an extended Radiophonic Workshop demo, taking nothing away from Brian Hodgson's original score & special sounds. But take away those particular bells & whistles (among other noises, as those evocative old-money synthesisers were capable of), quite another instrument is allowed to shine. It belongs to Frazer Hines, his voice doing double time as both the Doctor & Jamie in the recent BBC Audiobook release, and quite incredibly Hines doesn't miss a beat - some reflection on the bond between the two & a fine tribute to the late great Patrick Troughton, whose every nuance is captured almost note-perfectly.

The impression you're left with is that Hodgson, having tried to jam-pack seemingly the entire harvest of the fruits of his sonic labours into the originally broadcast story of The Krotons, has been taken aside & told his services won't be required for today. As a result, Hines' sparsely augmented performance absolutely zeroes in on the heart of the story - the Gonds' mental slavery to the Krotons, and the Doctor's absolute opposition to any & all such endeavours whatever spin is put on them.

That's not to say there isn't a place for sound design. Frazer's sonically treated dulcet tones turning him into a convincing Kroton where required. Shut your eyes and allow your mind to wander & you could almost believe yourself to be a fly on the wall during the original recording process - Terrance Dicks' 1985 adaptation for Target Books, as read here, is in the most part faithful to Robert Holmes source material (of course, it helps to have such a wonderful interpreter available). Keep those peepers closed & you really might be fooled into thinking Pat's been roped back in to help for an afternoon, the McCartney to his Lennon.

An audio medium thusly becomes the perfect playground. You can resurrect old stories as well as telling new ones - a process that arguably in a sense comes full circle retrospectively in Shadow Of Death as the Second Doctor is given a brief meeting with a future self who's taken more than a few pointers from him, with Hines again bringing Troughton to life. And a large part of why he works so well as both Jamie & the Doctor in that adventure and this is down to the Scot actually being a Yorkshireman!

As Doctor Who Watch observed about Hines earlier endeavor...
“Along with getting the pitch and the tone of Troughton’s voice just right, Hines also gets the very rhythm of Troughton’s voice spot on. He often includes tiny little pauses that would’ve matched perfectly to the way Troughton performed as the Doctor in those classic Sixties stories, and gives us a strong sense of physicality in a purely non-visual medium.“
And Hines does his lines as both Doctor & companion in the same take, hence the feeling sometimes that you're listening to a two-way conversation! Perhaps for him, the pressure is off compared to television. As when Hines was filming the television version of The Krotons he found it...
“...hard work, because we shot it almost as live at Lime Grove, and when that red light went on at night you could shoot maybe three scenes in one go. Whereas now they’d shoot all the interior scenes of the TARDIS in one go, all the baddies in one go, we would shoot it as live from page one, right through to the end in story order, which they don’t do now.

And they didn’t have the wonderful tape editing facilities they have now, and so if something went wrong in scene three they couldn’t cut it and say ‘We’ll go from there’ so we’d have to go back to the first scene, and so the pressure to do that, and luckily we’re all theatre-trained, but the pressure to do that was enormous.“
Pressure hopefully now dissipated, more missing and classic episodes can now - fingers crossed - be given new life in Frazer's hands, which if done as respectfully as it is here in The Krotons could be a real treat. Additional new chapters also welcome.

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