by Mark Greig
Last time writer Robert Stewart Banks and director Douglas Camfield worked together we were treated to the sublime 'Terror of the Zygons'. Amazingly, they were able to bottle lightning twice.
'The Seeds of Doom' is the final Doctor Who story either of them worked on and it makes for one hell of a swan song. This is just a brilliant story, one of the series' all time greats, and a perfect example of how to do a six-part story right. As has become the norm at this point, 'The Seeds of Doom' is a fusion of various popular sources - Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World (expedition battles alien plant monster in the Arctic), The Quatermass Experiment (alien parasites infect scientist) and The Avengers episode 'Man Eater of Surrey Green' (killer alien plant on the loose in an English mansion). It may be derivative, but that is never a major issue thanks to a cracking script by Banks and Camfield's reliable direction.
The Doctor is back in action man mode, crashing through skylights and knocking out henchmen with a good thumb. He hasn't been this driven and intense since 'Pyramids of Mars'. He is very shouty, quick to lose his temper and snap at people, and more quick to use his fists than usual. But he still draws the line at using a gun, not that he has any problem with pointing one at people (they don't know that he would never use it). But he is still able to laugh and makes jokes when someone like Scorby shoves a gun in his face (love his 360 twirl when ordered to "turn around").
The Krynoids is what has got the Doctor all worked up, but it is never more than a problem for him to solve. It might have intelligence and be able to communicate, but it has no character or personality. As a monster for our heroes to battle it is effective. Mostly. The FX for the various stages of its growth are a mixed bag. It is up to the actors to sell us on how big a threat the Krynoid is and by this point Tom Baker has got this down to an art form. No matter how silly something may look, he convinces you there is some horror from the deepest, darkest depths of Lovecraft's imagination roaming around the grounds of Chase's estate.
Just as in 'The Brain of Morbius', it is the villain who steals the show here. Tony Beckley's Harrison Chase is one of the best villains the series has ever given us. Camp, eccentric and very strange, he's the most Avengers-like villain the Doctor and Sarah have ever gone up against. All he is lacking is an organisation with a suitable acronym like F.L.O.W.E.R. or P.L.A.N.T. He's the sort of villain who gives the people he is about to have killed educational guided tours of his house. And then tortures them by playing the horrendous electronic music he composes for his plants. Yes, he composes electronic hymns and requiems for plants. I bet Davros never did that for the Daleks. Or maybe he did, and that is why they are so angry.
Notes and Quotes
--The Krynoid costume is just an Axon costume spray painted green.
--The Doctor doesn't seem to be bothered by those Arctic temperatures. Sarah, on the other hand, is so cold she has her hands in the Doctor's pockets to keep warm. Awww...
--Chase gets a death worthy of the best Bond villains.
--That snow couldn't look more fake if it had Made In China on the side.
--UNIT are back, but this time without any of the regular characters, just poorly written substitutes like Major Whatsit and Sgt Thingy (who is unlucky enough to end up in the compost machine).
--At one point it looks like the Doctor snaps Scorby's neck. Ouch!
The Doctor: "I suppose you could call it a galactic weed, though it's deadlier than any weed you know. On most planets the animals eat the vegetation. On planets where the Krynoid gets established, the vegetation eats the animals."
Harrison Chase: "What do you do for an encore, Doctor?"
The Doctor: "I win."
Harrison Chase: "You know, Doctor, I could play all day in my green cathedral."
Harrison Chase: "The plants must win. It will be a new world. Silent and beautiful."
The Doctor: "Have you met Miss Smith? She's my best friend."
Amelia Ducat: "Where did you say you found it?"
Sarah: "We found it in a car boot."
Amelia Ducat: "A car boot?"
The Doctor: "Yes, a Daimler car boot."
Amelia Ducat: "The car is immaterial!"
Scorby: "Okay, start talking."
The Doctor: "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had perfect pitch..."
Scorby: (referring to corpse) "What happened to him?"
The Doctor: "Who, Wolfgang Amadeus...? Oh, him. Oh, he died."
Major Beresford: "I've been telling Sir Colin that without the proper authority, I will not launch a raid on someone's private property!"
The Doctor: "Waffle! Waffle, waffle, waffle!"
Four out of four green fingers.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.