The Keeper Of Traken: Doctor Who: Season 18
The Keeper Of Traken SYNOPSIS:
The Doctor and Adric return to N space and the TARDIS is infiltrated by the keeper of traken and omniscient being who controls the power of the source that maintains peace and harmony in the Traken Union of planets.But he prophesies of an evil connection to his successor Tremas possibly through his wife's association to the Melkur.
Melkur is a creature of evil that became a calcified statue in Traken's grove. When the Doctor and Adric arrive the Keeper warns his consuls of great evil approaching and immediately the travellers are suspect especially when murdered men are found in the grove. Tremas' wife Kassia comes under the mental control of Melkur through a neck band and does his bidding to save her husband becoming the next Keeper.
The Doctor,Adric, Tremas and Nyssa are soon discredited and hunted by the Fosters on the orders of Kassia who eventually takes Tremas' place at the Keeper succession ceremony. The Doctor believes the Melkur is using Kassia to gain direct access to the Keeper's source and though he suspects he doesn't yet know that his old enemy the Master is really the Melkur and is seeking a new set of regenerations.
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The Keeper Of Traken DETAILS:
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The Keeper Of Traken CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton - Nyssa
Anthony Ainley — Tremas / The Master
Geoffrey Beevers — The Master / Melkur
Denis Carey — The Keeper
Sheila Ruskin — Kassia
John Woodnutt — Seron
Margot Van der Burgh — Katura
Robin Soans — Luvic
Roland Oliver — Neman
Liam Prendergast, Philip Bloomfield, Ralph Morse — Fosters
Production Staff for Serial 5T:
Writer - Johnny Byrne
Director - John Black
Script editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer - Barry Letts
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The Keeper Of Traken REVIEWS
Yes, don't know what it is about the Keeper of Traken, maybe for reasons described below it's very ummm pedestrian compared to the previous couple of stories. Remember liking the fact that the Keeper summons the Doctor & Adric to help him out and even brings a DVD copy of the story's background to show on the TARDIS scanner screen, nice of him.
The story isn't too bad though but there is a lot of talking. The Melkur looks creepy, just on it's own as a creature with it's odd art deco design it actually looks eerie when it finally moves proving to no longer be just a statue. The central morale is really about the fact that evil can flourish anywhere particularly in a supposed paradise. Nice to see that the council on Traken acts as the template of character types for all future appearances of the council of Gallifrey. There's Luvic, the humble thinker, the old, wise woman, the charismatic trouble shooter, Kassia the young traitor and the all round benevolent nice guy leader in Tremas. They are all played well, Kassia being more misguided than evil and easily to manipulate by the Melkur and Tremas who is so likable and nice and gets on so well with the Tardis crew you can't imagine him becoming the Doctor's arch nemesis.
To answer your questions Grob seem to remember the Melkur giving a Kassia a "present" in the form of a neck band that acted as a mind control device and when she had seized control of the council she ordered all the fosters break open the age old weapon stores and be armed. Though it doesn't explain why the guns worked after being locked away for so long. There's a lot of running around in over lit studio sets but the set design isn't bad. Plus think this is one of the few times the Doctor goes round with a gun like device zapping people unconscious, seems he's resorting to violence again in his old age.
Nyssa is a nice addition, she's so sweet and innocent but distant. Though why they didn't just have her joining the TARDIS crew at the end of the Keeper Of Traken is a mystery. Also a mystery is why the wise old council members are so easily convinced by Kassia their youngest member and so easily turn on the Doctor & Tremas. The reveal of the Master was totally unexpected as was the scene where he controls the Keeper's power and can control the Doctor's mind. However Beevers' version of the decayed Master with a lisp and teeth drawn on his lips is not as good as the Deadly Assassin version (why not get Peter Pratt again?) least he uses the same cloak though and again no one was expecting him to suddenly reappear at the end and use Tremas to regenerate.
Nice how the change of Keeper and the change of the Master accompanying by the line ' The time of transition is always painful' fore bare the biggest and most painful transition the show has had to undergo in a while. Difficult to mark the Keeper Of Traken but maybe a 6.4/10.
Pity we never got to see the sequel story made Guardians Of Prophecy which would have explained the origins of the Melkur in season 22, instead that was bumped for Timelash - go figure!
Production-wise, it seems that A Midsummer Night's Dream is the inspiration for the setting and costumes. A lot of that looks quite good but the exterior scenes in the garden never escape the "videoed in a studio" feel about them.
The plot I of the Keeper Of Traken I find very laboured, probably due to all the talking here. The whole society of Traken depends on everyone being wonderfully nice to each other. Therefore, evil cannot live on Traken. So why do the guards carry guns? How did Kassia fall under the influence of the Master? And speaking of the Master, I was surprised to see him back but in hindsight, Geoffrey Beevers isn't a patch on Peter Pratt in Deadly Assasin. The Master from Deadly Assassin was very creepy, malevolent and oily. This Master is just...well, a bit vanilla really. And he hasn't got the big googly eyes that the DA Master had! I also don't remember too much of a dramatic build up to seeing the Master either, although I may be mistaken there. His regeneration was quite disturbing in theory with him taking over the body of Tremas but I think the production side of it with the shoddy "merging" effect of the Master into Tremas let it down. Oh and Tremas = Master. Geddit? Okay, try the veal.....
The Doctor is quite good in the Keeper Of Traken, and he works well with Tremas which is understandable cos apparently Tom and Tony got on like a jawa on fire. Adric is about as useful as wet cardboard and - if possible - even more irritating. Nyssa however makes a fantastic debut here. She is a very warm and calming presence, but also quite ice-cold and aloof. I remember being quite puzzled back in the day when she was billed as the next companion but the TARDIS took off without her.
The "series arc" for season 18 is change. We had the Doctor age in Leisure Hive, turn into a plant in Meglos, Romana and K9 leave in Warriors Gate and now the Master regenerating into a younger version of Tremas. I wonder what it is all leading to?
Borderline more or less. 5.5/10
I've always loved The Keeper of Traken. Despite the fact there is a lot of talking going on, there was so much to love in this as a kid. The Melkur is wicked! How the hell do you beat a nine foot statue made of frickin concrete (or something)? And the slow reveal of The Master is awesome! I didn't remember much of the Master at that stage - I knew him from the grainy Jon Pertwee episodes they'd show when they ran out of new Baker's to play, but didn't really know much of his kitch ness... or his inane ability to name himself "Master" in another language and wear a dodgy moustache to disguise himself.
Hey, The Melkur doesn't have any of that - this is one of his better plans! And he's even chosen something that has a back story - something with such a strong back story that it's scared the crap out of the all powerful Keeper (Denis Carey ;) ) by its mere presence... ok, maybe that wasn't such a good plan if he was trying to be conspicuous... but it makes for a good Dr Who story! And he shoots stuff from his eyes... come on!!
Another thing I love about the Keeper Of Traken is watching Tremas (OK, so there is an acronym for Master involved) knowing that he's going to be The Master - as a kid this was pretty cool cos he was a pretty nice bloke. And the fact that he was Nyssa's Dad is brilliant plot development. Nyssa is a great character and a good mental match for Adric - of course she'd never go for him cos she's also very hot - but when you add in the fact that her Father becomes the Master... that is brilliant! She's also the right age to make a 9 year old think "how the hell would I react if my Dad got taken over by the Master"... that's pretty heavy stuff for a 9 year old - and some big concepts for Dr Who to be responsible for!
There are many other ideas that make the Keeper Of Traken both enjoyable and memorable - the glass case power thing that they have to go into to become the Keeper, the slow reveal of The Master (and The Doctor getting paralysed in the Master's TARDIS), the necklace that controls Kassia - this is all good solid stuff.
This doesn't really have much to do with Traken - it's all about The Master... and it's definitely one of his better stories.