Doctor Who: The Seeds Of Doom by Robert Banks Stewart (DVD TV series review).

February 18, 2016 | By | Reply More

A discovery in the Antarctic of an unknown plant pod and a photo to Whitehall has the Doctor (actor Tom Baker) notified who immediately recognises it and he and Sarah Jane Smith (actress Elisabeth Sladen) are off there by human transport. Meanwhile, the same bureaucrat Dunbar (actor Kenneth Gilbert) notifies botanist Harrison Chase (actor Tony Beckley) for financial gain, who in turn arranges for his henchman Scorby (actor John Challis) and botanist Arnold Keeler (actor Mark Jones) to get there as fast as possible to get the pod.

DW-SeedsOfDoomCD

What neither team knows is the pod has thawed and infected Charles Winlett (actor John Gleeson) who is slowly transforming into a plant. Scorby and Keeler arrive first, posing as people lost after their plane runs into a blizzard. The Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive and the Time Lord assesses the situation, goes out in the snows and finds the second pod and thinks Winlett might be saved if his infected arm is amputated. The only one with the nearest qualification is zoologist Derek Moberley (actor Michael McStay) but is killed by the mutated Winlett, who escapes into the snow. The Doctor, Sarah Jane and John Stevenson (actor Hubert Rees) go to the base power shed, thinking it’s the nearest source of heat but the creature isn’t there.

Meanwhile, Scorby and Keeler search for the pod and as the Doctor and Sarah Jane return are captured first and then Stevenson. Only when Sarah Jane faces being shot, does the Doctor tell them where the second pod is. Scorby takes Sarah Jane to the power shed and left tied up with a time bomb to destroy the entire base. The Doctor and Stevenson free themselves and the former goes to rescue Sarah Jane. What the Doctor doesn’t see is the Krynoid get into the base and kills Stevenson. Rescuing Sarah Jane, they then face the Krynoid themselves before fleeing just as the power shed explodes, taking with it the base.

Fortunately, members of another base get there and rescue them and they return to London and tell Dunbar and his boss, Sir Colin Thackerey (actor Michael Barrington), about the problems and that the pod is in the UK. Dunbar informs Chase who arranges the Daimler to take the Doctor and Sarah Jane to the Botanical Gardens but side-tracked by the chauffeur who fails to assassinate them. They in turn examine the Daimler and find a painting by Amelia Ducat (actress Sylvia Coleridge) whom they visit. She reveals that she had sold the painting to Harrison Chase but he never paid for it.

Knowing where to go, the Doctor disguised in the chauffeur’s hat drives in. Inside the grounds, they are chased around before being caught, escaped and caught again. During all of this, Keeler gets infected by the plant but because of the nitrogen treatment, grows rapidly. With the Doctor captured and Sarah Jane on the loose, she espies Amelia with Scorby on the way out after getting her cheque from Chase and with a little distraction is able to pass a message to her. Out of the ground, Amelia meets with Thackerey and Dunbar and passes the message. Thackerey thinks it’s time to call in UNIT but the guilty Dunbar says it’s about time he does something and enters the grounds, determined to undo what he started. Sarah Jane rescues the Doctor and they discover the dead Dunbar and the giant Krynoid.

To evade the Krynoid, Scorby and two guards have to join forces with the Doctor and Sarah Jane in the cottage. The ever growing Krynoid wants the Doctor but he persuades Scorby to make a petrol bomb to distract it so they can get to main building while he gets to the ministry and get UNIT involved. Thackery has already got things moving but, with the Brigadier in Geneva, his stand-in is a bit reluctant to go onto private territory. It is only the evidence that other plants are killing people that gets things moving but is it too late. For that, you’ll have to watch the rest of the DVD yourself.

This tale borrows heavily from ‘The Thing From Another World’ and ‘Quattermass’ with a touch of ‘Triffids’, contrary to what is said in the commentaries who only mention the latter. Hardly surprising in these series when the horror genre was pilfered from so much. What is odd is not a word about the demise, let alone how, of UNIT Sergeant Henderson. Although its commented that there is a need to show what awaited either the Doctor or Sarah Jane, no wonder in the story wonders what happened or even feels sorry for his fate. Such is fate of the briefly cast extra with only a couple lines of dialogue.

When I met Tom Baker at a small convention back in the late 1970s, I was a little puzzled why he was struck by me enough to loan me his costume hat (yes, I did look inside and it says ‘Property of the BBC’ in case you’re interested) for a good part of the afternoon. Re-watching these stories I can see why. I don’t have his height, beak nose, big teeth and at least 20 years younger and I’m fair-haired not dark-haired but when he doesn’t go pop-eyed, occasionally it’s almost like watching myself in the part. Must be something about my eyes, cheeks and how I focus on things.

The audio commentary is musical chairs of actors Tom Baker, John Challis, Kenneth Gilbert and Michael McStay with producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Robert Banks Stewart, designer Roger Murray and director Douglas Camfield’s son, Joggs Camfield. As such, there’s a lot to take in. I love Tom Baker saying he can say anything he half believes in with sincerity. He also says he only ab-libbed in rehearsals as to do so on set would have put off the timing with the other actors. His pay per week at that time was £70 although he did get a raise after the second season. Back in the 1970s, we still thought that was a lot of money before inflation kicked in with a vengeance. Baker also admits to reading obituaries and always concerned as to which people are still alive. There is much discussion on acting pace and how the mobile phone has made things even faster in stories. Rather interestingly, at the beginning of episode 5, John Challis comments that he never had a chance to fire his pistol and a minute later shoots at the Krynoid.

The extras are immense. A 37 minute look behind the scenes and how ‘The Seeds Of Doom’ was a replacement story. The problems of chickenpox and rearranging schedules to get the cast in position as well as outside filming and John Challis’ dilemma of a second take in muddy water amongst other things. ‘Now And Then’ looks at Athelhampton House that was used for Harrison Chase’s home. About the only thing omitted was only a brief look at the model that was destroyed by Krynoid because, if memory serves, people did think at the time that it was the real thing. The interview with composer Geoffrey Burgon covers both ‘Terror Of The Zygons’ and this story and how to create unusual sounds. ‘So What Do You Do Exactly’ has Graeme Harper explain all the production titles and what they mean in producing a series back in the 1970s and how some of these have changed today.

‘Stripping For Action’ is not Tom Baker doing a strip-tease to show how fit he was playing the Doctor but the start of Marvel UK’s ‘Doctor Who Comic’ back in the mid-1970s before it evolved into the ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ monthly we know today. I have copies of the first year or so in the attic still. I hadn’t realised that ‘TV Comic’ had taken back the strip after ‘TV Action’ had ended, although I agree with their sentiments about the poor art quality. Oddly, ‘TV Action’ was only mentioned once but it is covered in more depth in one of the Jon Pertwee ‘Doctor Who’ DVD extras.

Oddly, the ‘Photo Gallery’ didn’t have as many behind the scenes from outside broadcast that I would have thought it might have, considering that they did 14 days work that way. Nevertheless, ‘The Seeds Of Doom’ is a worthy edition to your ‘Doctor Who’ DVD collection and shouldn’t be overlooked.

GF Willmetts

February 2016

(region 2 DVD: pub: BBC. 2 DVDs 144 minutes 6 * 24 minute episodes with extras. Price: about £6.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: BBCDVD3044)

cast: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Tony Beckley, John Challis, Mark Jones, John Gleeson, Kenneth Gilbert, Michael Barrington and Sylvia Coleridge

check out website: www.bbcshop.com

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Category: Doctor Who, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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