Tuesday, 31 January 2017

4th Doctor 6.1 - THE BEAST OF KRAVENOS

Where do I start with this one? It has all the makings of a bit of a classic. Lets look at the evidence – It has one of my favourite classic era Doctor/Companion combinations in Tom & Lalla, it features those investigators of all things infernal Professor George Litefoot & Henry Gordon Jago AND (and it is a very big AND) if features a victim of an horrific murder who may or may not (lets face it its “may not”) be a Great Grandfather of mine in Theodore Watkinson. Mr Watkinson only appears as a corpse but my imagination was well and truly fired when I heard the name – spitting out of breakfast tea & choking on toast nearly ensued as Mrs W laughed out loud at my nefariously nobbled namesake :-)
 And so after that trip down my fictional family tree, I finally come on to the actual story of The Beast Of Kravenos – and not only does it have the makings of a bit of a classic – it actually is a bit of a classic. The Doctor (tom Baker) has been detecting some strange energy readings at Jago (Christopher Benjamin) New Regency Theatre and has loaned K9 (John Leeson) as an act so that he can stay there in deep cover and trace the source of the energy spikes. On top of this a mysterious thief known only as “The Knave” is committing a series of utterly impossible robberies from locked rooms AND (and yes it is another big AND) a medical man called Dr Theodore Watkinson has been found murdered by an unknown and particularly vicious beast – all in a days work for those investigators of infernal incidents Jago & Litefoot, but add the Doctor, Romana & K9 into the mix and you have the makings of a classic caper. Because thats what this is – a great big jolly caper, a runaround with all protagonists acting at crossed purposes whilst all investigating the same thing with often unintentionally hilarious consequences. The dialogue sparkles with the dry wit of Romana 2 (Lalla Ward) & George Litefoot (Trevor Baxter) & the more silly comedy of The Doctor & Jago, even Inspector Quick (Conrad Asquith) is in on the caper and his scenes with Tom Baker are laugh out loud funny. In fact the whole cast feels like they all contribute to making this one of the very best Fourth Doctor adventures.
 What about the Knave, the villain of the piece? His (or her) identity remains a secret for most of the story, but it wont take a genius to work out who they are and how all the happenings are inked together – in fact it is this tight plotting mixed with the beautiful interplay of the characters that really makes this something special – it doesn’t feel like a Jago & Litefoot adventure with the Doctor as guest of a Doctor Who adventure with JAgo & Litefoot as guests, both ranges contribute to make this story work building on their particular strengths – heck even K9 gets a comedy turn as an act at the new Regency :-)
 And while this story is very funny, it is a “Season 18” story so isn’t as silly as the “Season 17” season of last year – Tom hasn’t hit the morose characterisation that dominated the latter part of his last year and retains a lot of the joy of his Williams era persona (albeit with a burgundy outfit) thanks mainly to messers Jago & Litefoot, the actors all seem to love working together and the sense of fun, camaraderie & mischief that these elder statesmen of the Whoniverse bring to the table. Again the bar has been set very very high with this release, sometimes things just work and The Beast of Kravenos is one of those times – I have no hesitation in awarding a this classic Kravenos caper a congratulatory 10/10.