My favourite story of season 18, and one of my all time favourites, The Keeper Of Traken is one of the classiest and most stylishly made stories in the show's history. The world of Traken is simply beautiful to look at. The art nouveau set designs are amazing and give the production a much higher budget look than it normally has, and this extends to the gorgeous costumes of the Trakenites and the stylish direction which makes the sets appear unusually large and spacious (the Keeper's throne room is one of the largest looking sets I can recall in the series). From the tilted corridors of the citadel, to Tremas' stylish living quarters and the ornately elaborate throne room, in terms of sets , this story is light years ahead of most other sets in the series. The incidental music is also gorgeous, and unlike some of the other scores for season 18, isn't overbearingly loud and intrusive, instead complementing the almost fairytale- like feel of the story. Easily Roger Limb's best score. There is also something of a Shakespearean feel to the story, from the Traken's dialogue (Tremas' s poetic speech about if all the sky were silver and the sky a giant purse in his fist is lovely), and Nyssa's dress wouldn't look out of place in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Despite the fact that you can tell the set for the Grove is just that - a set - it still somehow has an 'open air' feel and the scenes with Melkur in the Grove have a lovely magical atmosphere. Little details like the sounds of birdsong and the changing light to reflect the dawn coming up add greatly to the effect of drawing the viewer into a believable alien world and culture.
The concept of the Keeper and The Source and a planet where evil gets calcified if a marvellous notion.
The re-introduction of The Master is wonderfully done, casual viewers at the time must have been genuinely surprised at the revelation of the Melkur's identity. Geoffrey Beevers oozes evil and the decayed make up is quite disturbing to look at (far better than the 'fried eggs' of The Deadly Assassin). Speaking of Melkur - what a superb piece of design work, although it looks better as an imobile statue than when walking about.
Coming straight after Romana and K-9's departure, Tom Baker's Doctor seems rather subdued and forlorn looking but stil gives it his all, and his confrontation with Melkur/The Master proves there was still plenty of life left in him. Adric and Nyssa make a cute double act to. It's also strange seeing Anthony Ainley playing such a nice character and I actually think he is better as Tremas than the Doctor's arch enemy.
The final unexpected twist at the end of the story adds to the impact of this excellent tale ( I love the clock with the hands stuck at 4 minutes to midnight - the same number of episodes Tom has left), and sets the scene for Tom's swansong Logopolis.
The Keeper Of Traken has aged far better than most of Tom's other stories and I think it's one of his best.