The Seeds of Doom – Starring Tom Baker (Season 13)
The Hinchcliffe/Holmes Years. Hammer Horror. The Gothic Era. All these well worn terms refer to a period, still relatively early in Tom Baker’s tenure as the Fourth Doctor, that is commonly regarded as the golden age of Doctor Who.
In Phillip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes you had a Producer and a Script Editor who had decided they were going to frighten their audience which was largely made up of children, or in their vernacular “scare the little buggers to death”. They were going to achieve this by using many Hammer horror film pastiches which had been very popular throughout the previous decade. In the case of The Seeds of Doom they clearly chose Day of the Triffids.
The plot is fairly straightforward. A group of scientists discover a pod in the icy climes of Antarctica which they calculate has been buried there for over twenty thousand years. Sure enough the pod opens and infects the scientists who then turn into the Krynoid, an alien carnivore intent on destroying all human life. The Doctor and Sarah have to fight in a race against time to stop the insane Harrison Chase, a wealthy botanist and plant life sympathiser, from helping the Krynoid to achieve its aim.
The Seeds of Doom is often referred to as a classic and this is a term well deserved. The plot is not complicated but the pacing is excellent with the first two parts set in Antarctica and the next four back in England. The guest cast are uniformly excellent with Sylvia Coleridge as the eccentric Amelia Ducat, John Challis as the thuggish lout Scorby and Tony Beckly as the genuinely unnerving Harrison Chase all deserving of special praise.
Lis Sladen is excellent as always but Tom Baker gives a different spin on his incarnation in this story. The Doctor is much more violent in this tale, punching a chauffeur, throwing Scorby around and waving a gun at the evil protagonists. He is also much more short tempered when dealing with the beurocrats at the World Ecology Bureau when they are resistant to take action against Chase, famous telling Sir Colin Thackeray that that a Krynoid takeover will mean the end of everything, “even your pension!”. This gives the Fourth Doctor a fascinating edge which is uncomfortable to watch at times but makes for gripping television because of this.
Overall The Seeds of Doom is a wonderful exciting romp that has images that will long live in the memory such as the first time a character turns into a Krynoid or the full grown alien sat atop Chase’s mansion. Yes even the special effects are pretty good in this one if you squint when the Krynoid is roaming the ground of Chase’s home. They didn’t quite get away with that one.
Overall story rating: 8.5/10
The commentary track is extremely entertaining with Tom Baker, John Challis, Philip Hinchcliffe, Robert Banks Stewart (Writer) and Roger-Murray Leach (Designer) popping in and out of the recording booth. Joggs Camfield (Director Douglas Camfield’s son) even features giving some insight into the military style operation that his dad used to run on location. Baker and Challis are like two old mates meeting up for the first time in a while and this gives the overall track a friendly, fun and accessible feel.
“Podsock” is essentially “The Making Of....” feature and contains interviews and recollections from all the main players in the show. It is perfectly acceptable but nothing on this one really elevates it above the norm.
We also have the usual Stripped For Action and Now & Then features as well as a Photo Gallery, Coming Soon trailer and Production Information Subtitles.
Two additional features include “Playing the Green Cathedral” which features the music of Geoffrey Burgon which is integral to this story. Most interesting though is “So What Do You Do Exactly?” – a feature looking at Graham Harper who at the time was a Production Unit Manager or PUM. Harper is as excitable as ever and gives an interest insight into the responsibilities and skills needed to carry out that role. It he also displays the sort of knowledge and drive that has made him such an integral part of Doctor Who both old and new. More extras of this nature would be welcome on future releases.
Overall Extra’s Rating: 7/10
Seeds of Doom Overall Rating: 8/10
– A must for any Doctor Who DVD enthusiast. Tom Baker and Lis Sladen at their very best together saving the world once more.