‘THE SEEDS OF DOOM’
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Krynoids with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane
This has to be one of the best stories ever made in the Tom Baker era of ‘Doctor Who’!
‘The Seeds of Doom’ is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the 1970s! It’s a six-part adventure by Robert Banks Stewart and it served as the season finale for Season 13 in 1976. I purchased the 2-disc DVD of ‘The Seeds of Doom’ at around Christmas time in 2010. It was worth it!
Like I said, ‘The Seeds of Doom’ was released on a 2-disc DVD with the story on Disc 1 and the special features on Disc 2. The story stars as Tom Baker as the Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane work well together as they’re one of the tale’s highlights.
Robert Banks Stewart has contributed to ‘Doctor Who’ before in Season 13’s opening adventure, ‘Terror of the Zygons’. Very pleased with his writing efforts, producer Philip Hinchcliffe invited Robert Banks Stewart to come back to write another TV tale to finish off Tom Baker’s second season.
I like Robert Bank Stewart’s writing in both ‘Terror of the Zygons’ and ‘The Seeds of Doom’. He prefers to write contemporary Earth stories and this works well in the case of ‘Doctor Who’. I especially like it in how he builds up the story of Earth being invaded by a carnivorous plant monster.
‘The Seeds of Doom’ begins in the icy, snowy world of Antarctica. A team of scientists discover a seed pod in the snow before bringing it back to their base. The Doctor and Sarah Jane then show up, sent by U.N.I.T., as they investigate the seed pod before they soon discover a second seed pod.
The Doctor concludes that the seed pods are the deadly Krynoids and his fears are brought to life when it’s revealed they’re parasitic, dangerous and can cause harm to human life. The terrible situation escalates when one of the scientists gets infected by the seed pod and turns into a Krynoid.
Meanwhile, a ruthless botanist billionaire named Harrison Chase seeks to acquire the seed pods himself. He sends his mercenary Scorby as well as botanist Keeler to retrieve the pod by any means necessary. They get the second pod, almost having the Doctor and Sarah Jane killed in an explosion.
Fortunately the Doctor and Sarah Jane are alive after the Antarctica base explodes. They soon return to England where they find Harrison Chase about to cause trouble when he intends to release the Krynoid from the second seed pod. Hell is unleashed as the Krynoid’s to infect and destroy the world.
The atmosphere of this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure is very fast-paced and exciting to watch. It’s also pretty violent and gritty drama. I found myself thrilled into the action when the Doctor and Sarah Jane were in peril and tried to stop Harrison Chase and his minions from causing trouble in the story.
There’s also something about a carnivorous alien in the form of a plant monster wanting to destroy human life that’s very classic storytelling in ‘Doctor Who’. I was gripped into the story from start to finish, wanting to find out what’s to happen and whether the Doctor and Sarah Jane will win the day.
The story is superbly directed by Douglas Camfield. This is sadly his last story as director on ‘Doctor Who’, which is a shame as he directed some fine action-packed adventures like ‘The Invasion’. The action sequences in this adventure are brilliant throughout as well as the high tense drama featured.
Tom Baker delivers a brilliant performance as the Doctor in this adventure. This is actually a story where the Doctor isn’t so goofy and bonkers as he tends to be in other stories. He brings on a serious edge to his performance, especially since he’s concerned about the Krynoid destroying Earth.
He gets really agitated when he deals with Scorby. When he’s angry, my goodness he is angry! He even punches people like the chauffeur trying to kill him and Sarah Jane, getting violent. There are moments of humour in the Doctor’s character in this story, but it’s all underlined in the seriousness.
The Doctor easily gets impatient with the likes of politicians such as Thackeray as well as U.N.I.T. Major Beresford when trying to get what he wants to stop the Krynoid. The Doctor furiously works hard to save the day by stopping the Krynoid, even if it means going to extreme limits in this TV tale.
Elisabeth Sladen is equally brilliant as Sarah Jane Smith in this adventure. Sarah Jane shares a great chemistry with the Doctor and gets to be resourceful and adventurous as ever. I liked it when she and the Doctor brave dangers together when in Antarctica and heading to Harrison Chase’s mansion.
Sarah Jane provides extra support for the Doctor, especially when they defy Scorby and Chase and try to make them hear reason about the Krynoid’s deadly nature. I liked it when Sarah Jane was without the Doctor. She defies Scorby when trapped under siege inside the mansion by the Krynoid.
It was tense and rather frightening when Sarah Jane was about to be used as in a horrible experiment by Chase to have the Krynoid latch onto her when released from the seed pod. Thankfully the Doctor smashes through the window just in time and I was pleased he saved her life.
Tony Beckley guest stars as Harrison Chase, the villainous and ruthless botany millionaire in this adventure. I found Chase pretty insane and a madman who’s obsessed with collecting plants. He especially wants the Krynoid seed pod and will go to any lengths to acquire it, not caring who suffers.
It was fascinating to see how Chase’s villainy went in this adventure. Tony Beckley’s performance is superb in this story. Sometime he would go from calm to berserk when things don’t go his way. He becomes insane towards the end when he loses his will and he succumbs to the Krynoid’s influence.
It was frightening when Chase has the Doctor being put through his own compost machine before Sarah Jane manages to save him. Chase later puts Sarah Jane through the compost machine when he becomes completely mad. That scene where the Doctor’s saving Sarah Jane from Chase was intense.
John Challis guest stars as Scorby, Chase’s henchman mercenary in this adventure. Scorby’s a nasty piece of work. He’s pretty vicious and violent happy when he works for Chase. He’s cruel-hearted when he and Keeler get the Krynoid seed pod in Antarctica and mistreats the Doctor and Sarah Jane.
It was pretty shocking when Scorby was beating the Doctor up in this adventure. John Challis clearly relishes playing a villain in this adventure and delivers an equally brilliant performance as Scorby. Even when Scorby’s working with the Doctor and Sarah Jane, he can still be mean-spirited and cruel.
Scorby clearly shows he’s selfish and doesn’t care for anyone except himself. When strange things go on with the Krynoid attacking, he becomes terrified and is out of his depth. He feels sorry for himself and soon runs out into the open like a coward before he gets his horrible just deserts by the Krynoid.
Mark Jones (who I discovered had also been in ‘A Family At War’) guest stars as Arnold Keeler, the botanist who accompanies Scorby to Antarctica to get the seed pod. Keeler’s the opposite of Scorby as he’s nervous, doesn’t want to cause violence and has more compassion than Chase and Scorby.
It’s unfortunate then that Keeler get infected by the second seed pod instead of Sarah Jane and becomes a Krynoid. It was shocking to see how Keeler slowly transformed into a Krynoid and became mad. Mark Jones also provided the terrifying voice of the Krynoid in ‘Part Five’ of the story.
The story also features Kenneth Gilbert as Richard Dunbar, one of the politicians at the World Ecology Bureau. Dunbar unfortunately worked with Chase in the early part of the story, selling him information about the Krynoid seed pod in Antarctica, not realising the implications this could cause.
Eventually Dunbar realises the error of his ways; regrets it and tries to stop Chase from carrying out any more plans concerning the Krynoid seed pod. Unfortunately however, Dunbar runs out into the open and gets killed by the giant Krynoid at the end of ‘Part Four’. Even Dunbar did not deserve that.
The story also features Michael Barrington as Sir Colin Thackeray of the World Ecology Bureau, who becomes a helpful if skeptical ally to the Doctor and Sarah Jane. There’s also Sylvia Coleridge as Amelia Ducat, one of the world’s leading flower artists and she also helps the Doctor and Sarah Jane.
There’s Seymour Green as Hargreaves, Harrison Chase’s butler. In Antarctica, there’s Hubert Rees (who also appeared in ‘Fury From The Deep’ and ‘The War Games’ with Patrick Troughton) as John Stevenson, Michael McStay as Derek Moberley and John Gleeson as the unfortunate Charles Winlett.
I liked when the Doctor, Sarah Jane, Stevenson and Moberley consider having Winlett’s arm be amputated before the Krynoid infection becomes worse. Moberley, who is most qualified, is hesitant but eventually agrees to do it. It’s a well-played scene and it’s a shame regarding Moberley’s demise.
In the Brigadier’s absence, U.N.I.T. is represented by John Acheson as Major Beresford and Ray Barron as Sergeant Henderson who come to the Doctor’s aid in the last two episodes. There’s also Alan Chuntz as the chauffeur who tries to kill the Doctor and Sarah Jane in ‘Part Three’ of this story.
The Krynoid as a monster is brilliant in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. The first Krynoid is the unfortunate Charles Winlett at the Antarctica base and it almost looks like a green version of an Axon. The second Krynoid is Keeler as he is soon this giant plant monster attacking Chase’s mansion.
The visual effects sequence of the Krynoid attacking Harrison Chase’s mansion are pretty impressive for its time. It’s even frightening when the Krynoid takes control of all plant life inside and outside the mansion, which almost gets the Doctor and Sarah Jane killed when they’re attempting to survive.
The music composed by Geoffrey Burgon for this story is very good. Geoffrey composed music for ‘Doctor Who’ before in the story ‘Terror of the Zygons’ as well as in the BBC versions of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. I recognised his style of music, finding it so enchanting, beautiful and creepy.
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a commentary with Tom Baker, John Challis, Kenneth Gilbert, Michael McStay, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Robert Banks Stewart, designer Roger Murray-Leach and Joggs Camfield, son of director Douglas Camfield. There’s also an isolated music score option by Geoffrey Burgon as well an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
On Disc 2, there’s the making-of documentary ‘Podshock’ featuring behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There’s also the ‘Now and Then’ featurette looking into the locations of ‘The Seeds of Doom’ as well as the enjoyable ‘Playing in the Green Cathedral’ interview with composer Geoffrey Burgon and the ‘So What Do You Do Exactly?’ interview with production assistant Graeme Harper.
There’s the ‘Stripped For Action – The Fourth Doctor’ documentary that looks into the comic book adventures of the Fourth Doctor and some can be found in ‘The Iron Legion’ and the ‘Dragon’s Claw’ graphic novels. There are also trailers and continuity for the story and a photo gallery of the story.
There are PDF materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and Douglas Camfield’s Paper Edit. There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Meglos’ with Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and K-9 and two Easter Eggs to look out for on this DVD disc.
‘The Seeds of Doom’ is definitely one of the best Tom Baker ‘Doctor Who’ stories ever made. I enjoyed watching it again when I took the DVD of the story on a summer holiday in Scotland, August 2012. I found myself riveted and engaged throughout, enjoying Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane as well.
The villains in Harrison Chase and Scorby are brilliant, the monstrous Krynoid is superb and the action, pace and high tension drama is thrilling throughout. If you’re a fan of the Tom Baker era, you won’t be disappointed with this one. This is a pretty thrilling ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to immerse in.
‘The Seeds of Doom’ rating – 10/10
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