Monday, 4 November 2013

Review: Doctor Who Classic: The Seeds of Doom
The Doctor is attacked by a hard-line Carnivore.
Doctor Who - Season 13, Story Six - The Seeds of Doom
Written 28/5/13

As is the tradition for the vast majority of his era, this season ends with a six-parter, a straightforward story that uses the well-worn sci-fi trope of evil man-eating plants come to reclaim the Earth. There's nothing particularly special about the serial besides the quality of its execution, which incorporates a delightfully insane Big Bad, a famous-faced Anti-hero and the last appearance of UNIT for the next 13 years. The UNIT era of setting every other story in an ancient manor or a scientific research facility is about to come to a swift end, and Seeds feels like a worthy tribute.
      While on an expedition in the Arctic, three scientists discover what appears to be an alien seed pod. The pod opens while The Doctor and Sarah are en route to examine it, and it infects one of the research team, turning him into a planty humanoid monster. The Doctor recognises it; it is a Krynoid, an infectious alien plant with a murderous hatred for animals that can control the plantlife surrounding it. Although the first Krynoid is destroyed, another seed pod is found and, due to the machinations of stooge Corby, it ends up in the hands of fanatical plant devotee Harrison Chase. The new pod infects another scientist and Chase is posessed by its influence, but The Doctor summons UNIT and they manage to destroy the creature with short-range missiles before it does too much damage.
      As far as plant stories go, I really can't think of a sillier premise. I know that's kind of the point - that plants are angry at us for taking advantage of their resources - but there really is nothing sillier than seeing someone attacked by a hedge. One of the only stories of the JNT era that I dislike is Terror of the Vervoids, which is a plant story (although it has a few other ridiculous features that drive it into the murky depths). The Seeds of Doom, however, is the Who story I would hold up as a successful example of this plot, simply for how devoted it is to wringing the fear and paranoia out of the situation. If the plants are attacking, then of course being trapped within the largest plant collection in England is going to be shit-scary.
Always water your Geraniums...
     Helped, of course, by this week's master-and-servant duo Chase and Corby. Corby, played by John Challis (Only Fools and Horses' Boycey), develops from dangerous villain at the beginning of the story into a reluctant anti-hero as he is forced to question the wisdom of allowing the Krynoid to wreak havoc upon Animalia. Chase (Tony Beckley) is a fun main villain and, comparisons to Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy aside, has a marvellous decent into madness that may even rival that of last week's Solon.
    Season 13 has thoroughly redeemed itself. After a run of three stories that really didn't do much for me, the last 16 episodes balanced a fun streak with well-executed concepts, getting us good and ready for the next season, where the comfortable era of Sarah Jane comes to an end after three and a bit years. The Seeds of Doom, the first of Baker's six-part final├ęs, doesn't fall into the six-parter trap of going all saggy in the middle and manages to sustain the evil plant concept with much vigour.


NEXT WEEK: One hopes the acting isn't as wooden as the new Console Room... it's Season 14, and The Masque of Madragora.

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