Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Keeper of Traken

The fact that it took me a couple of weeks to watch "The Keeper of Traken" should by no means be an indication of the quality of the episode.  As I mentioned, new Arrested Development, Denver Comic Con and life have all conspired to keep me from my duties.  I'm pleased to say that, after the mess that was "Warrior's Gate", "The Keeper of Traken" returns to much of what I love about Who.  We've got a civilization suffering from untold peace and harmony for generations thanks to the titular Keeper, who somehow bonds with some sort of advance technology called the Source to become an all-powerful but benevolent ruler.  Of course, since the Doctor shows up, you know their way of life is in serious peril.  To be fair, the Keeper bypasses the TARDIS security and appeals directly to the Doctor and Adric for help, but the evil lurking on Traken knows the Doctor and wants revenge.

We get a fairly wide but manageable cast of characters in this one, including companion-to-be Nyssa, her scientist father Tremas (spot the clue!) and her mother Kassia, which I thought was a kind of cinnamon.  And of course we have the aforementioned Evil, going by the name of Melkur.  Melkur appears to be neutralized early on in the serial but while he appears powerless, he's anything but.  The Doctor and Adric save the day, however, with a good mix of action and intelligence.  While the budgetary constraints show in a few sequences, the story is good enough that I didn't mind filling in some of the gaps with my imagination.  The biomechanical integration of the Keeper to the Source to run Traken made me think of one of the hardest of those old Infocom games, "Suspended".

And with "The Keeper of Traken" we come to the last serial that ends with Tom Baker as the Doctor.  I can't say enough good things about his take on the role, but I look forward to seeing what Peter Davison brings to the character.