Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll by Terrance Dicks

Published: May 1980

Edition read: Target third reprint, 1984

Coolest Cover: Andrew Skilleter’s Tom is distinctly lopsided (and strangely smooth-skinned) but I do like the way he’s done the storm clouds.

The BBC Budget Wouldn’t Run To: Ahem.

The TARDIS materialises with... "a wheezing, groaning sound"

...and dematerialises with..."a wheezing, groaning sound".

Ramblings: Having come so far with the Target novels, I’ve noticed that nothing encourages Terrance Dicks to pull his socks up like a Robert Holmes script to adapt. Given that by the time that Dicks was adapting ‘The Power of Kroll’ their professional relationship would have gone back some twelve years, and given their shared understanding of what makes good, workable Doctor Who, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Dicks should respond so readily to another of Holmes’s stories, and for a story like ‘Kroll’ with an unenviable reputation, definitely to the story’s advantage. And so it proves- shorn of the ambitious but ultimately limited visuals and lapses into Season 16 light entertainment, what emerges is perhaps closer to what Holmes envisaged; it’s not a story which deals in moral certainties, as on one side Thawn starts off borderline obsessive and ultimately descends into insanity, while on the other Ranquin and the Swampies are shown are intolerant and vindictive, with minor characters like Rohm Dutt and Dugeen balancing uncertain loyalties. Although it’s difficult to pin down exactly why, Dicks is excellent at drawing the reader into the story so that it becomes a really involving read, so much so that one almost forgets the Key to Time and the inadequacies of the TV production. Not for the first time, it feels as if Dicks is trying to do justice to Holmes’s scripts and by and large he succeeds- what we’re left with on the printed page is tighter, more atmospheric and a better story overall than what went out on television.