on March 17, 2004
Is this the best episode of Baker's seven-year run as the Doctor? Quite possibly. Certainly it is up there with "Horror of Fang Rock" and "The Talons of Weng Chiang" on my list of personal favorites. All of the elements which made the series so good are here -- terrific chemistry, Gothic horror, campy dialogue, over the top villainy, and of course that all-purpose English manor, which appeared in about 17 episodes and which I think actually belonged to Mick Jagger (it gets blown up at the end, but that doesn't mean we've seen the last of it).
I have to say the criticisms of this episode that I've read seem silly to me. Bad special effects? When were the effects in this series ever good? In my view it has only two flaws -- it's too long to watch comfortably in one sitting and there are way too many escapes and recaptures, the Doctor & Sarah spend half the episode getting tied up and the other half escaping, and there is a ridiculous Dr. Evil moment where the villain, Chase, devises an elaborate and horrible death for the Doc and then leaves the room, allowing him to escape, instead of just shooting him....sigh...don't these crazy bad guys ever learn?) -- but they are pretty minor in compared to what works.
"Seeds" begins at a lonely scientific research station in the Antarctic, a la "The Thing." And just like "The Thing" the bumbling scientists unearth something from the ice that would better have been left alone. In this case, a large seed pod. They send pics back to London, where the Doctor identifies the pod as a sentient alien plant called the Krynoid, which has unlimited growth potential and a big appetite for human flesh. He and Sarah make tracks for the South Pole to make sure the ticking green bomb stays frozen and harmless. Unfortunately, the bumbling scientists put the thing under a lamp, and before you can say "Good god, what is that thing?" one of them is infected.
More unfortunately, a flora-crazed English millionaire named Harrison Chase (beautiful performance by the late Tony Beckley) has also learned of the pod's existence and sends a sneering mercenary named Scorby (another terrific turn by big John Challis) and a biologist named Keeler to collect it by force.
"Who" always excelled at loosing multiple plot elements at each other like bumper cars, and the crash-bang of the first two episodes of "Seeds" is great, creepy fun, as the good and bad guys square off while the infected scientist, now essentially a large angry yucca plant, wanders around strangling people and not caring whether they are good or bad. And just when you think it's over -- bingo, another pod appears. D'oh!
Eventually the action shifts back to England, where Scorby has delivered the second pod to the crazy Chase. He orders Keeler to feed it, and poor Keeler ends up doing just that, in a nasty case of "being consumed by your work." Meanwhile, the Doctor and Sarah blunder around the huge mansion and grounds, getting captured and escaping so many times, you wonder why Scorby doesn't just shoot them. Eventually, however, the Krynoid (nee Keeler) gets loose, grows to gigantic proportions, and starts eating Chase's employees en route to germinating hundreds of pods which will destroy the world (or at least everything not made of salad materials). The climax comes with the Doc, Sarah & Scorby trapped inside the crumbling mansion being hunted by the completely loco Chase, while UNIT soldiers fight the Krynoid outside. One small drawback is that while this is another UNIT episode, once again, there's no Brigadier and no Benton -- that's kind of like a peanut butter sandwich with no jelly. You can do it, but why?
"Seeds" is a great episode with some tremendously wonderful dialogue ("Don't be silly, Sarah -- of course he has to kill us, we keep interfering!") that also brings up nostalgia/horror for 1970s fashion -- c'mon, where else can you see a bad guy in zippered platform boots, a turtleneck shirt and a jacket with a butterfly collar....without a time machine, that is?
on February 27, 2004
The final story of Season 13 more or less ends the Gothic motif of Doctor Who--well, not quite; there would be Season 14's Jack The Ripper story, The Talons of Weng Chiang. The Seeds Of Doom is a take on The Thing From Another World crossed with The Day Of The Triffids (murderous plants). It's also the last UNIT story until Battlefield (1989).
A mysterious pod found by a research team in the Antarctic draws two parties. One is the Doctor and Sarah Jane, sent there by Richard Dunbar of the World Ecology Bureau. He feels sure he recognizes the pod, and says "it might still be ticking." The other is Scorby and Keeler, respectively a ruthless and armed thug and squeamish botanist. However, an accident has happened. Winlett, one of the base personnel has been attacked by a shoot from the pod and transformed into a monster, half man/half plant. Actually, Winlett was halfway towards turning into a Krynoid, an alien plant. And that's bad, because as the Doctor says, "On most planets, the animals eat the vegetation. On planets where the Krynoid gets established, the vegetation eats the animals."
After a narrow escape, the Doctor and Sarah trace another pod back to England and to the estate of millionaire Harrison Chase, someone's who boasts the finest collection of plants in the world. He's such a plant-lover he calls bonsai "mutilation and torture" and calls it "the hideous, grotesque Japanese practice of miniaturizing shrubs and trees," and his mission is to protect the plant life of Mother Earth. Not only does he play some hideous music to his plants, but he has a composting machine that pumps all organic matter into the garden. As Sarah says, "I've heard of flower power but this is ridiculous."
The process starts all over again when Keeler gets attacked by the pod, and here, Chase's fanaticism to his plants is evident, as instead of taking Keeler to the hospital, keeps him under observation, feeding him raw meat so he can evolve into a full-grown Krynoid. And how large do those things get? About the size of St. Paul's Cathedral, according to the Doctor, and when that happens, the Krynoid will germinate, and it's up to the Doctor to prevent that.
There is one unforgivable goof at the end of the story. Sarah mentions the Doctor forgetting to reset the TARDIS coordinates, but they arrived in Antarctica by helicopter, not by TARDIS.
The giant-sized Krynoid and the humanoid variation are well-realized design effects. The latter kind, where the human features are totally gone and tentacles sprout, is actually one of the costumes of the Axon monsters from Claws Of Axos painted green.
Of the guest stars, Tony Beckley comes out on top as Harrison Chase, a totally ruthless plant-lover who puts the survival of Krynoid above his fellow man. "Yes, the plants must win. It will be a new world, silent and beautiful" he says, which is topical to the 70's with its smog, traffic jams, and noise. His trance-like communication to the plants shows him totally gone.
Chase's mansion was actually Athelhampton House in Dorset and was also the same place used in Sleuth starring Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, and the on-location shooting on the grounds made a good change.
This is one of the more violent stories, with guns fired, brandished, or pointed in threatening positions, mostly by Scorby, and even the Doctor carries a gun (though he doesn't use it). And the Doctor gets embroiled in some action and fisticuffs. In one scene, he crashes through a glass skylight to prevent Sarah from being tortured, punches Scorby, and rescues his friend. Chase wryly asks, "What do you do for an encore, Doctor?" The Doctor answers, "I win." Which he does, of course. Still, a great story with good location and the end of a season that consolidated Tom Baker as the Doctor.
on April 4, 2002
Set entirely on present-day Earth, this episode features Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and the Doctor (Tom Baker) at the height of their partnership. Gone is the tired old plot element of trying to get Sarah back home; by now these two are an inseparable team -they take on gunmen, sneak past armed guards, finish each other's sentences, and almost seem to enjoy taking turns rescuing each another.
The serial is longer than your average Doctor Who episode -six chapters instead of four. The premise is nothing new but is still downright creepy -slow but inevitable alien possession of a human being. The Krynoid itself, though at the low end of the BBC's already low-budget monster scale, is photographed in such a way as to make it far more terrifying -a glimpse of writhing tentacles in the moonlight. The suspense elements are played up -the hissing rattle in the dark just outside the window, the dark halls of an Elizabethan manor house, curling creeper vines that strangle their victims, and an eerie violin soundtrack. Besides the Krynoid and its supporting army of killer Earth plants, you get two center-stage villians: Chase (Tony Beckley), the eccentric millionaire who fancies himself the great protector of the entire plant kingdom; and Scorby (John Challis), the hired mercenary-turned uneasy ally. Sarah's verbal dressing-down of Scorby is priceless.
Tom Baker is in top form in this episode -he bullies civil servants around, crashes through skylight windows, coldcocks armed henchmen, and even packs both a sword and a gun (though Sarah points out he would never use the latter, he grins and replies, "True. But they don't know that, do they?"). Though the story does briefly feature an appearance by UNIT forces, none of the Pertwee-era UNIT regulars are included. My favorite character in this serial is the scatterbrained floral artist Amelia Ducat (Sylvia Coleridge), who goes from comic relief to vital plot link and back to comic relief again. The miniature visual effects are, by Doctor Who standards, actually quite impressive -you get not one but two climactic moments in which entire buildings are obliterated. Not a milestone episode for Doctor Who overall, but a must-have for Tom Baker fans.
on December 1, 2001
This really is a great episode, combining aspects of "The Thing" with a gloriously improbable story about plants taking over the world that would have seemed ridiculous under any other circumstances. But as described by Tom Baker's Who, it is a believable and convincing threat and we are actually concerned about the characters involved who get trapped in the Meglomaniac's gothic mansion in a scene borrowed from "Night of the Living Dead" as they nail boards over the windows. As with the best of the Who stories what makes this one click is not the Monster [looking at various times like a man who has been smeared with Gardenburger and a huge, quivering glob of vegetable lasagne] but the concise characterizations of the principal players. My favorite is the wonderfully named Scorby [he doesn't even have a first name], a mercenary type that would just as soon kill everybody and be done with it. His final crackdown isn't too convincing -- anyone who has seen combat in "Africa, the Middle East, you name it ..." wouldn't go spare if a few creeper vines started cracking the glass, but his exit scene is a true inspiriation. Parts of the story rely on what can be referred to as an Idiot Plot where people wander off to be locked outside with the monster or idle by the examination table to be contaminated by something they already know is dangerous, but whatever. I love the arctic research base set and the general air of apocolypse, and hearing Baker recite lines like "Waffle ... Waffle! Waffle! Waffle!" is exactly why I watch this stuff in the first place. Highly Recommended.
on November 15, 2001
I have to admit that I'm partial to the Seeds of Doom because the fifth segment was the first episode of Dr. Who that I ever saw. I was only seven or eight at the time and the sight of evil, intergalactic plants taking over unwitting human beings was one of the most terrifying that I had ever seen. Well years later, the image isn't quite as scary but the story and the performances still hold up remarkably well as the Doctor (played here by Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (one of my favorite companions -- an opinion that is apparently shared by many fans) confront insane, plant-obsessed millionaire Harrison Chase (played to cold perfection -- and with an admirably serious air -- by Tony Beckley) and the evil alien fungus that he has unwittingly brought back to life. This seriel was written by a veteran of the Avengers and, as such, doesn't play so much as a traditional installment of Dr. Who but instead as an especially elaborate Avengers episode in which Patrick McNee has been replaced by Tom Baker and Diana Rigg by Elisabeth Sladen. As such, the Doctor is willing to engage in hand-to-hand combat with Chase's henchmen and more time is spent on espionage than the usual fantasy and philosophical metaphors than longtime Dr. Who fans might expect. No matter for the change in pace is handled well by both Baker and Sladen and the seriel comes across not as an abberation but instead just a rare chance to look at another side of the Doctor's universe. Even with a longer running time than most of the Tom Baker seriels, the Seeds of Doom is still a remarkably quick paced adventure that holds up remarkably well and is a great deal of fun for both fans of the show and, dare I say, nonfans as well. With its many twists and compelling cliffhangers, the Seeds of Dooms is reminiscent, in many ways, of the classic seriels from the early days of cinema and, for me personally, ranks closely behind The Talons of Weng-Chiang amongst the best of the Tom Baker years.
on November 14, 2001
...Brigadier Alastar Gordon Lethbridge Stewert. And the regular Units. All we see of UNIT(interacting with the Doctor) is some guy that gets chopped into plant food.
Except for the first part, this show has no good guys(except the Doctor and Sarah and the Krenoid at early stages of transformation). The 'story compagnion' is a hitman and somewhat of a bully and want's the chance to off the Doctor and Sarah. I do like the main villan, Chase, however. He is definitely that, and this makes it easier to have a virtually goodguyless show because everyone looks like saints compaired to the mad man, Chase and his faithful butler. Both are tollerent of each other and want to put everyone into the compost heap and kill all the animals so plants can take thier rightful place.
This is a good story with the exception that thier is a lack of good guys to help the Doctor. Two Government officials eventually come around at end of part six, however. It does show the Doctor can always prevail, regardless of the circumstances. He has, after all traveled the Universe.
on July 23, 2001
This isn't a terribly traditional Tom Baker story - it's six episodes long, it's got an unusually high quotient of action, and the action take place in plain old modern-day (well, modern at the time) England. It actually feels rather more like a high-quality story from Jon Pertwee's era, thanks to all of those elements as well as the environmental slant.
Even if the story is segmented (the first two episodes take place in Antartica and form a 'mini-story'), it's a rollicking good tale with lots of fun and excitement. Tom Baker is on the top of his game as an unusually fist-happy Doctor, and even Lis Sladen gets a good piece of the action. The guest cast are also of a high standard, and the music by Geoffrey Burgon is again a welcome change (his scores for both "Terror of the Zygons" and "The Seeds of Doom" are on the "Terror of the Zygons" soundtrack CD).
There are a few downsides to this adventure. The bridge from the Antartica episodes to the England episodes is rushed at best, leaving you wondering why the Antartica material was so necessary. UNIT is called in - for no readily apparent reason - in episode six, without any of the regular UNIT characters...and that's UNIT's last semi-regular appearance! What happened there? Also, the various growing forms of the Krynoid plant creature are rather negligible, particularly the gigantic version.
Overall, though, this a great story and well worth giving your time.
on July 3, 2001
Don't go into that forest! ,which I guess that line could count for this adventure. The story has a great feauture, a plant that takes over it's host. Then we have a guy who's trying to preserve the Krynoid plant. A guy named Keeler who becomes one of the hosts of the Krynoid becomes gigantic plant. Then we have a few of the Doctor's friends who tell him about many of the things going on. And we can't forget the Doctor and Sarah Jane. This Review is short because I don't want to give any of this away. Overall one of Tom Baker's best.
on May 1, 2002
This is classic Dr. Who, but it had some props against it. The first two episodes were hastily added on to a standard four-parter because a previous story idea fell through at the eleventh hour. Despite the quick addition of material(how does the Doctor finally get the TARDIS to go where he wants for a change?)it blends together well. It is one of my favourites on many levels, the cinematography, makeup, effects, plot, acting, i remember it fondly- except when eating my broccoli.
on May 25, 2001
I'm not usually fond of the first three seasons of Tom Baker, but this episode is one the best episodes with Tom Baker as the Doctor.
This episode delves into the possibilty that plants may actually have feelings. However, these are the theories as discussed by a megelomanic. But, it does get one thinking and is an interesting theme for Doctor Who.
Whether you are a first-time viewer, or a die-hard fan, you will love this serial! Purchase it!