Our Doctor Who expert, Tony Cross, is journeying through all of time and space to bring us his thoughts on every available Doctor story. Today is the Fourth Doctor adventure The Seeds of Doom...
|You know, Doctor, I could play all day in my green cathedral.|
It is a simple tale of human meet pod, pod turns human into plant, plant tries to destroy mankind. The fate of the two characters who get turned into Krynoids: Winlett (John Gleeson) and Keeler (Mark Jones) is pretty horrible. Not dissimilar to what happens to Noah during 'The Ark in Space'.
|Alas Poor Winlett|
In fact Tony Beckley's Harrison Chase is one of the best bits about this story. He's a plantaholic, posh & totally bonkers but to Beckley's eternal credit he never quite crosses the boundary into silliness, even when given some barmy dialogue.
|Harrison Chase - He's bad|
It's actually a surprisingly violent story. The Doctor himself gives Chase's chauffeur a mighty fine right-hook - the second Baker's Doctor has thrown; Scorby slams the Doctor down; people get composted or threatened with composting via a large unpleasant piece of machinery & Chase shapes up to punch Sarah (which happens off screen but the implication is pretty clear & nasty). Sometimes it feels more like an episode of 'The Sweeney' than Doctor Who.
Oh and Chase uses one of the world's most obviously fake giant spanners to knock someone unconscious, which is delightful.
Douglas Camfield's direction is great except one thing. He makes the mistake of filming the feet of both the almost Krynoid monster - which is an Axon costume re-used and painted green fact fans - & the larger beastie when it attacks Dunbar (Kenneth Gilbert), the Doctor & Sarah.
One day I shall write a long treatise on why feet are the biggest weakness in Doctor Who monster design but for now let me just say it is better to film pretty much everything except the obvious shoes or waddling feet of some poor actor. It's only a minor quibble I admit in a story that is well-paced for a six parter (the only one in Season 13 thankfully) & well-directed.
The scenes in the house in the last episode with the plants threatening to break in through the window & roof feel tense enough & I had a flashback to watching this as a small - I would have been 5 - child because the scene where the vines smash through the window whilst Sarah is watching had the chill of recognition.
I was genuinely terrified then. What on Earth were my parents thinking of, letting a 5 year old watch this! Fortunately my Mum would always reassure me, as I peeked through the crack in the door, that 'it was only television' so that probably makes it OK.
I should also give credit for two other performances. Firstly, Michael Barrington (as Sir Colin Thackery) whose an amusing change to the usual Doctor Who civil servants because he's friendly, polite & gently witty. Secondly Sylvia Coleridge as painter Aemila Ducat, a sort of cross between Lady Bracknell & Miss Marple but with bohemian additions. There's a lovely scene between Barrington & Coleridge in episode four, which was one of the highlights for me even though it does nothing much to advance the plot.
What more can I say. It's yet another brilliant story in a Season filled with them. If you're introducing yourself to old school Doctor Who you can't go wrong with any of Season Thirteen (even Android Invasion is fun if you forget the eye-patch).
Tony Cross is the creator of the wonderful Centurion Blog's found HERE and HERE.
Image – BBC.