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The Keeper of Traken
Well that was more of a chore than it used to be. The thing is that I've probably seen this episode more than any other episode and probably know most of it by heart and better than the others. I've gone into why elsewhere. It was the first "NEW" ep I saw after years and years of Tom Baker reruns from ROBOT to INVASION OF TIME and then ROBOT to ARMEGGEDON FACTOR or possibly HORNS OF NIMON. And then I saw just this ep and it was back to the rerun of RIBOS.
Anyway ALL the Adric/Doctor scenes are amusing, clever, and fun. This Doctor gets on so well with Adric, who's maybe just trying to cope with him being so bossy (like in real life between Baker and Waterhouse maybe?) and the one in charge, that he's holding back some of his criticisms. There are factions of fans who think Adric works better with Tom Baker and I think it was THE UNFOLDING TEXT that also claimed this. Certianly this ep shows that but it's debateable. Had Adric only been the only companion with the Davison Doctor (who's himself alot like Adric) perhaps Adric would have had his day or days longer with the Davison Doctor too.
Anyway the story ably sets up the world of Traken and for once, it's a fully realised world but frankly the set up is boring but it had to be changed to be different than MEGLOS..and is all the better for it, I say. Nyssa DOESN'T impress in this ep, not yet anyway and her acting...the others act their socks off and Anthony Ainley is impressive and solid as Tremas. The actress who plays Kassia is fine. The others all make their presense felt. THing is: as peaceful as Traken is supposed to be, it's not. In fact, I cannot believe that it's ever been the peace planet it's claimed to be, even by the Keeper (who cannot be the same person who played Prof Chronitis in SHADA can he? He is!). it turns out maybe it is the evil that comes to the planet that slowly infected it but I suspect it's been a bunch of evil to begin with. In fact, in future episodes, we find out that Nyssa doesn't mind knocking people out, others plot and have political agendas, and even here Tremas and the friend (forget his name but he played the Duke in TERROR OF THE ZYGONS way back in Tom's first season!) seem to tell white lies and whisper in order to keep truth from others. Kassia seems obsessed with Melkur and the Tree Masters or Guards as they are called here, carry guns! So it seems to me to be a more hypocritical messed up culture, planet than even Alzarius was.
Again, Tom's jokes don't really register ("I thik I've been to Traken, it's so difficult to keep track of'). But his rapport with Matthew is apparent, despite whatever it was he was thinking. To his credit, years later in THE TOM BAKER YEARS he seems to wish Matthew well, possibly feeling guilty as how awful he treated Matthew ("why don't you go piss off!"), a true blue Doctor Who fan. In any event, the whole "as for your handwriting" and "Alot of the time you don't really seem to make a lot of sense" and "on this page it says..." bits come off well and Mattahew comes off well in this. This may be his best story, bar EARTHSHOCK, where they had something for him to do but unforutunately there is was the goal of having him die and making it meaningful. I also like how the Doc is trying to get through the gate but Matthew just opens it on the other side. Tom apparantly forget about this and had to be reminded by Waterhouse to do it that way in rehearsal or after that, not sure.
The Keeper is an interesting make up job and the costumes and sets quite nice. It is a bit...claustrophobic, not having anything really outside and makes the whole planet seem like an indoor planet but you can't have everything. Nowadays exterior location stuff would have added to the gardens and the whole planet but what they had is nice.
The cliffhanger is pretty cool and Melkur...well more later. A good episode, setting up the rest and doing it's job and not at all bad, just a little slow when the Doc and Adric aren't on screen...talking...