C085 The Seeds of Doom



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“The Thing” meets “Day of the Triffids” with elements of 007, and perhaps the greatest Doctor Who serial ever



Some antarctic scientists have just discovered a pair of seed pods in the ice and naturally make the fatal mistake of thawing one of them. What they don’t know is that these are Krynoid pods and that they just sent mankind to the bottom of the food chain.

Smooth move, science! While one of the antarctic explorers is taken over and turned into a homicidal vegetable, plant aficionado and Bond-villain-wannabe, Mr Chase, sends two of his hardest henchmen to reclaim the second pod and preserve the green glory of garden variety goodness at the expense of all things flesh. Four roots good. Two legs bad.

 

Oh, and here’s the Axon-Krynoid comparison mentioned in this episode:

Check out our review of The Claws of Axos as well, by the way!

7 Responses to “C085 The Seeds of Doom”

  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    ‘The Seeds Of Doom’ is the best example of how Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and Script Editor Robert Holmes linked two and four part stories to create six part serials. Its first two episodes introduced the characters and the threat, a pair of carnivorous Krynoid seed pods unearthed after 20,000 years. The first pod wiped out an Antarctic expedition mercenaries destroyed while recovering the second. The worried Doctor and Sarah Jane chased it to England and tried to prevent all animal life on Earth from being wiped out.

    This story was the third featuring UNIT in DOCTOR WHO’s 13th season, but no soldiers familiar to fans appeared. Instead of the Brigadier, who was in Geneva, civil servant Sir Colin Thackery summoned the Doctor, triggering the paramilitary organization’s minimal but crucial role. UNIT stories often featured a foe like the Master allied with an alien threat until the tale’s climax.

    Writer Robert Banks Stewart provided a virtual Bond villain, Harrison Chase, who was driven to obtain the Krynoid, a unique, extraterrestrial plant, at any cost. He had everything except a bouquet of beautiful blooms to help him pursue his insane love of plants. A fleet of vehicles enabled him to send scientists like Keeler and mercenaries like Scorby to Antarctica while corrupt government informers, guards, and servants like his butler, Hargreves, helped him at home. The grounds of his mansion were a huge, lush gardens into which organic matter, including his enemies, could be pumped after being composted and shredded in a gigantic grinding machine. His failure to pay Amelia Ducat, the artist through whom the Doctor traced him, might simply have been characterization. This fact, though, became a plot point enabling her return for much needed comic relief.

    The story’s tension built as the Doctor and Sarah Jane tried to escape Chase and combat the Krynoid while it grew powerful enough to withstand a UNIT laser attack and control nearby plants, turning them into off screen killers.

    ‘The Seeds Of Doom’ was a well paced, action-packed story, perhaps intended for Jon Pertwee, with Tom Baker in the lead. Its structure followed Hinchcliffe and Holmes’ blueprint in which an ancient threat entranced a human to do its will. The narrative employed memorable characters like Harrison Chase, Amelia Ducat, and Scorby as it cranked up tension until the Krynoid threat level became global. UNIT, even without the Brigadier and his team, fought the alien plant, against which the Doctor’s knowledge was essential for victory and survival.

    Reply
  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    This is jD’s worst nightmare. Giant plant monsters and possibly an inspiration for John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Seeds of Doom was just one more story to go along with this darker season and probably the best way to top off this season filled with gothic horror.

    The Krynoids, though simply Axon costumes sprayed green, are great. Just like in Carpenter’s The Thing, they can take you over and turn you into these grotesque monsters. Unlike The Thing, however, we get out of the polar setting and see what might happen if these things get loose. The entirety of Earth would be taken over by the plants! You wouldn’t be able to trust that flower in your back garden.

    Harrison Chase was a wonderful villain. Unlike the other world dominators and destroyers, his plan is centered around sympathy for the plants. Unlike Solon from Brain of Morbius, he’s slick and calm and isn’t as violent as Solon. He’s almost like the War Lord in that respect. However, I could also compare him to Poison Ivy from Batman. With the exception that Chase has no power over the plants.

    This is Tom Baker at his finest. He’s charming, funny and clever. This is basically the first third of his era in a nutshell right here. Elisabeth Sladen is great as always, too. Definitely the height of the show’s golden age here.

    Overall, Seeds of Doom is great. Like Brain of Morbius, it’s got that horror movie feel that movies from Universal and Hammer can give off. jD, keep a weed wacker handy, because this serial is getting a 4.3/5 from me.

    Reply
  3. Peter Zunitch

    I feel I shouldn’t like this story. It’s silly. Whenever I reflect on it I convince myself that it just wasn’t that good. But I’m wrong, because whenever I watch it I find it incredibly enjoyable. There, I said it, I’m a “Seeds” fan. I’m glad that’s now out in the open.

    The characterizations are so monochromatic that they actually come full circle and border on believable. Scorby, is so simple minded, Hargraves is stuffy and loyal, and Chase is such a lunatic you just gotta love him. I could go on and on about Dunbar’s betrayal, and the playful Ms. Ducat, and Sir Colin’s straight up-edness, but you get the picture. It’s the seriousness with which the actors take on these roles that make this joke of a story successful. It’s a miracle that Tom and Liz still somehow manage to outperform them all. They steal every scene.

    Of course these characters would be trivial if it weren’t for the tiny bits of humanity , and the backstories worked so subtly into each character that it makes us care for one and all.

    The music drives the somber tense mood. The makeup of the transformation is better I would have expected, (exception: the man-sized wobbly chrinoid in Antartica.)

    I love this story, it’s dark, it’s got great locations. It’s got a giant self-cleaning people-eating compost machine. It’s only missing one thing, and we all know what…or who that is. Get Bagles out of Geneva. I reluctantly give this story a, “feed me, Seymore… no really, I mean feed me Seymore” 4.3.

    (then again, in retrospect, it couldn’t have been THAT good).

    Reply
    • Yo Peter, sorry we didn’t have time to record your mini this time. Excellent stuff as always!

      Reply
      • Peter Zunitch

        And I rushed so hard to finalize it the very minute I finished listening to the previous ep! I always worry about emails getting lost when they sit around but from now on I’m sending mine in early dang nabit! I’m up to city of death and I’m gonna send em all!

        No trally it’s no big deal. However maybe I’ll send one ahead from now on. This era is so good I dont want to be left out.

        Reply
  4. Nicholas Davies

    Hi WBW team

    My first review-been listening to you on my long commutes and enjoying the journey through classic Who.

    Seeds of Doom

    This is probably my favourite era of Doctor Who and SOD is one of my favourite stories. Tom Baker is at his best jibing Chase and Boysie from only fools and Horses constantly. I particularly like the exchange when Boysie asks the Doctor what he will do next to which he replies ‘I win’. Massive slapstick chase scene. The actor who plays Chase excels with his impressive plant music and I think this could be the undiscovered genre of music that we have all been waiting for to break all the rehashing of genres over the past few decades. Really it’s a case of a two parter added to a four parter but pacing is pretty much spot on. Love the premise of plants taking over humans-classic Doctor who at its best. 4.7 for me.

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Aloha and welcome aboard!

      As above, I’m really sorry we didn’t get to read our your review this time. We were/are all on holiday, far away from mics and mixers, or tied up at work et al, and so recorded this episode a few weeks ago at very short notice. Making a mental note to play the ‘New Reviewer’ theme in your honour in our next Classic review!

      Thanks for joining us on this epic journey down the temporal road!

      Ciao-Ciao,

      Leon

      Reply

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