THE SEEDS OF DOOM

Part One

Sue: Robert Banks Stewart. Does he exist? I recognise the name.
Me: Yes, he exists. He wrote Terror of the Zygons.
Sue: I liked Terror of the Zygons.
Me: I know, but you try telling some of our readers that.

Two men are gathering samples from a glacier in Antarctica when one of them proclaims, “This isn’t ice!”

The Seeds of DoomSue: No, it’s polystyrene, love, but nine out of 10 for trying.
Me: You haven’t knocked a mark off already, have you?
Sue: Don’t be silly. If I knocked marks off for stuff like that, some of these stories would be minus five. A bit like this place.
Me: Very funny.

Three scientists named Winlett, Moberley and Stevenson are examining a pod they’ve recovered from the permafrost.

Sue: I know this is going to be good because the guest actors are excellent. The one in the middle fancies himself a bit, the one on the left is quite dishy, and the one on the right could be played by Toby Jones if they made this today.

“The one on the right could be played by the short Nazi with the glasses from Captain America” is what she actually said. And then we cut to the Doctor larking about at the World Ecology Bureau.

Sue: He’s wearing golf shoes with the studs taken out.
Me: Fascinating. I’d never noticed that before. What would I do without you, Sue?

And then we meet Harrison Chase.

Sue: Didn’t he used to work at the Crossroads Motel?
Me: I don’t think so. You probably recognise him from The Italian Job.
Sue: Oh, who did he play?
Me: Camp Freddie.
Sue: You don’t say.

Back in Antarctica, not only has the pod opened, its tendrils have infected Winlett.

The Seeds of DoomSue: So this is basically The Thing?
Me: Sort of.
Sue: So where’s the dog, then?
Me: Where’s the what?
Sue: The dog from The Thing?

A helicopter arrives at the base. And no, it isn’t chasing a dog.

Sue: The models are impressive. They’re pushing the boat out for this one.

When Moberley welcomes the Doctor to Antarctica, he tells him he was expecting someone older. The Doctor, who’s a little put out by this, says he’s 749 years old.

Sue: This Doctor is always banging on about his age, so 749 must be 39 in human years. He’s definitely going through a midlife crisis.

As the Doctor enters the base, Sue asks me to pause the DVD.

Sue: Right, so where’s the TARDIS?
Me: He arrived in a helicopter.
Sue: Why?
Me: Er…
Sue: His TARDIS doesn’t work, does it? That’s it, isn’t it? It still doesn’t work!

I ignore her. She sighs.

The Seeds of DoomSue: Nice, dramatic close-ups, though. I’m liking this a lot.
Me: And?
Sue: Is it Douglas?
Me: That’s my girl.
Sue: I don’t care if this is six parts any more.

And then, a few seconds later…

Sue: This can’t be Dudley, then.
Me: Well done. You deserve some sort of badge for that.

The Doctor investigates the area where the pod was found and immediately finds another one.

Sue: He should put some gloves on. He’ll catch his death out there.
Me: The Doctor doesn’t feel the cold.
Sue: Since when?
Me: Look at him!
Sue: I suppose the Doctor would have looked a right dick in a puffer jacket. Besides, Elisabeth Sladen is doing enough cold-acting for everyone.

Winlett’s infection is getting worse by the second.

Sue: Is he turning into a tree?
Me: Don’t be silly.

Winlett is actually turning into a savage, meat-eating plant called a Krynoid.

Sue: Tom is on fire this week. I love it when he’s angry. I didn’t like it when Jon Pertwee was in a foul mood, but this Doctor only snaps when the world’s about to end, not because somebody has eaten all the sandwiches.

The Seeds of DoomChase’s men, Scorby and Keeler, arrive at the base, pretending to be lost.

Sue: It’s Boycie!
Me: Lovely jubbly.

And then… Nothing. Sue doesn’t say a word. She’s far too busy biting her nails.

Me: Nothing to say?
Sue: Shut up.

The episode concludes when a Krynoid attacks Moberley.

Sue: Is that it? Bloody hell, that flew by. Hurry up and stick the next one on.

 

Part Two

Me: Are we still on for a 10?
Sue: It hasn’t lost any marks yet. Why?
Me: No reason.

The Seeds of DoomHarrison Chase pays Dunbar for tipping him off about the pod.

Sue: Has he got green fingers under those black gloves? Is that the twist?

The Doctor and Stevenson go hunting for the Krynoid.

Sue: When you consider that this was filmed in a television studio, it looks amazing.
Me: We’re outdoors.

Keeler and Scorby find the pod that infected Winlett.

Sue: It looks like a giant avocado. But I wouldn’t want to eat the guacamole.

They are interrupted by a radio transmission from a nearby base. Scorby tries to bluff it out.

The Seeds of DoomMe: Derek’s fishing. He’s just caught a couple of stripers. We’ll bring ‘em home for dinner, we won’t be long.
Sue: What?
Me: Nothing.

The Doctor snaps at Sarah.

Sue: I’ll let him get away with that because the stakes seem so high. He looks really worried.

But when the Doctor confronts Scorby, his demeanour is entirely different.

Sue: I like the way Tom can be deadly serious one minute, and flippant the next. That’s his Doctor in a nutshell, I think.

She’s also drawn to the actor playing Stevenson.

Sue: I’m sure I’ve seen him before. Wasn’t he a pianist?
Me: No, it isn’t Richard Stilgoe, Sue, it’s Hubert Rees.

When Scorby leads Sarah away to be shot, the Doctor erupts with anger.

Sue: Bloody hell! I’ve never seen the Doctor like that before. Boycie has sent him over the edge. Even the Daleks aren’t yelled at like that.

Meanwhile a Krynoid prowls the arctic wastes…

Sue: You know, I’m sure I’ve seen this before.
Me: Well, there are four possibilities. Either you saw this when it originally went out…
Sue: Unlikely.
Me: I made you watch it during our honeymoon period 20 years ago…
Sue: Possibly.
Me: You’re confusing it with The Claws of Axos
Sue: I can’t remember anything about The Claws of Axos.
Me: Or you’re thinking of the time John Williams came over to watch it and we made you leave the room.
Sue: Yeah, that’s probably it.

Scorby and Keeler make off with the pod as the base is consumed by a massive fireball.

Sue: Well, the Doctor and Sarah are completely ****ed now.

 

Part Three

The Seeds of DoomSue: This story is way ahead of its time.
Me: In what way?
Sue: The ice caps are melting.

This is a sly dig at the sandpit that’s currently doubling for Antarctica.

Sue: I bet the designer had a stroke when he read the script. Look, they’ve missed a bit…

The Doctor and Sarah take a car to the Botanical Institute, but their chauffeur drives them to a deserted sandpit instead. The Doctor reacts to this subterfuge by ramming the driver’s head into the car door.

Sue: Why didn’t the Doctor just scoop up his gun and finish it there and then? Why all the running around? Ooh! The Doctor just punched him in the face. And he enjoyed it, too. You don’t see that very often. Jon Pertwee would have been appalled at that. Not even a “Hai!”

The Seeds of DoomThe Doctor and Sarah discover a painting in the boot of the would-be assassin’s car, and they trace it to Amelia Ducat.

Sue: She’s wonderful. I could watch her all day.

When the Doctor informs Amelia that he found her painting in the boot of a Daimler, I just can’t help myself…

Me: “The car is immaterial!”
Sue: Stop that, Neil.
Me: Sorry.

The Doctor disguises himself as a chauffeur and drives to Chase’s mansion. Thankfully, the guard only gives him a cursory glance before letting him in.

Sue: I don’t think much of their security. Nice guardhouse though.

When the Doctor and Sarah are eventually apprehended, Chase decides to execute them. But first, some music…

The Seeds of DoomSue: He’s a megalomaniacal Jean Michel Jarre.
Me: Is there any other kind?

The Doctor is appalled by the music, too.

Me: It sounds like one of Tangerine Dream’s atonal phases.
Sue: Is there any other kind?

When the Doctor and Sarah make a run for it, and Scorby gives chase, the Doctor breaks the henchman’s neck and kills him.

Sue: No!

It’s okay, Scorby’s fine. In fact, he’s never felt better.

Me: It was a chiropractor move, not a death move. It probably cleared up some sciatica that was nagging him.
Sue: I think I preferred it when the Doctor used his finger.

Keeler examines the pod.

The Seeds of DoomSue: Keeler looks like Robson Green. He’s a great actor.
Me: (Appalled) Robson Green?
Sue: No, this bloke.
Me: Thank **** for that.

Sarah is captured by Scorby (he’s really earning his money today) and the Doctor heads for higher ground.

Sue: Chase could do with a new roof. It’s a mess. And if this roof fell in, it would **** his plants right up.

Chase wants to use Sarah as a guinea pig in a horrific experiment. The pod begins to open and Sarah’s arm is pinned to the table by the mad millionaire.

Sue: That was a great cliffhanger. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

Part Four

The Seeds of DoomThe Doctor jumps through the conservatory’s skylight and saves the day.

Sue: Nice stunt double.
Me: That’s Tom!
Sue: Is it really? In that case, they should have filmed him from the front. It looked as if they were trying to hide his face.
Me: But you wouldn’t knock any points…
Sue: Shut it.

Chase wants to know what the Doctor does for an encore.

Me: “I win!”
Sue: Neil!
Me: Sorry. I couldn’t help it.

The Doctor and Sarah leg it.

Sue: Shoot the pod! Shoot the pod!

The opportunity is missed and Keeler is infected as a result.

Sue: Shit.

The Doctor and Sarah escape through the grounds.

Sue: Nice topiary. Very formal.

Keeler turns bright green.

The Seeds of DoomSue: We have a Hulk. He’s a skinny Hulk, but we have a Hulk.

Scorby introduces the Doctor to Chase’s favourite recycling machine.

Sue: I think I can see where this is going.

But Chase’s murderous machinations are interrupted by Amelia Ducat.

Sue: Excellent. I’m glad she’s back. Is she the new companion? Please tell me she’s the new companion.
Me: I’ve never seen any ashtrays in the TARDIS, so don’t hold your breath.

Amelia tells Chase that he owes her a thousand guineas – a significant increase on the 750 guineas it cost him when he originally bought it.

Me: Inflation was rampant in the mid-‘70s. That was a nice in-joke for all the depressed adults in the audience.

Amelia bumps into Sarah on her way out. Luckily, the old lady arrived with Dunbar and Sir Colin Thackeray, and Sarah’s report forces Dunbar to do the right thing for a change.

Sue: That’s nice. He’s going to turn over a new leaf.

The Seeds of DoomI glower at her.

Sue: Sorry.

Sarah rescues the Doctor from Chase’s crusher in the nick of time.

Sue: I’m surprised that wasn’t the cliffhanger. That would have been a great cliffhanger.

Dunbar tells Chase their deal is off.

Me: “Scorby! Get Dunbar!” … Sorry, that’s the last time, I promise.

Dunbar is killed by the Krynoid, and the episode concludes with a rampaging monster making a bee-line for the Doctor and Sarah.

Sue: That wasn’t the best cliffhanger in the world. It was a bit wibbly-wobbly. Like a fat Triffid. They should have gone with the crusher instead.

 

Part Five

For the first time since An Unearthly Child, Sue watched an episode in complete silence, although Nicol did walk in halfway through to yell, “Feed me, Seymour!”

Sue: That was excellent. What else do you want me to say?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we won’t be covering the David Tennant and Matt Smith eras on this blog, as every single update would end up like that.

The Seeds of DoomMe: I vividly remember that cliffhanger, thanks to a cow.
Sue: Okay…
Me: I didn’t see this story when it was originally broadcast in 1976. I think my bed-wetting had something to do with it. Anyway, it wasn’t until the late 1970s, when I lived in New Zealand for a while, that I finally got to see it. In fact, thanks to the New Zealand Fan Club Webpage, I know I saw this episode on the 7th July, 1979 on channel SPTV at 4.05pm. And I’m pretty sure it was in black and white.
Sue: So how does the cow come into it?
Me: Well, we were living with my aunt and uncle in the rural South Island, somewhere between Queenstown and Arrowtown (where I went to school for a while), and it was getting dark outside. Then, just as the plants started to go mad, I noticed a big scary face at the window. Turns out it was a cow from a nearby farm. I screamed the place down.
Sue: Thanks for that.
Me: Do you want to say anything about this episode?
Sue: I’m not happy about the Brigadier being stuck in Geneva again. Are aliens attacking Switzerland? If not, where the hell is he? And Benton should have been there at the end with the weed killer. But apart from that, it was great. It’s proper drama. There aren’t many characters in this, but the ones we do have are brilliant. We get to spend lots of time with them, and the actors are playing it totally straight. I love their back-stories and quirky mannerisms; I really care about them. Even the Butler is great. It reminds me of a Hammer Horror film with loads of really good character actors in it. I can’t fault the direction, the music, the lighting, the performances… Anything, really. You could repeat this on BBC1 tomorrow and I bet people would still enjoy it.

 

Part Six

The Seeds of DoomSue: I didn’t mention this yesterday, but why are they stacking the pot plants outside in a nice, neat row? Why don’t they just chuck ’em through the doorway?
Me: The BBC must have hired the plants and they didn’t want to lose their deposit.

With the Krynoid bearing down on the house, UNIT unleash their new-fangled laser gun. It’s completely useless, naturally.

Sue: They’d be better off with one of Benton’s rocket launchers. Or maybe some concentrated Roundup.

The tension is almost unbearable as the Doctor and Sarah search the house for Chase. Or is it?

Sue: That’s a very nice cabinet. Elm, I think.

She finally stops admiring the furniture when Scorby starts freaking out.

Sue: It’s a subtle performance. I almost feel sorry for him.

The Seeds of DoomWhen Scorby is drowned by the Krynoid, Sue is both impressed and depressed.

Sue: Maybe he swam away? He could still come back again one day. He could…

The Krynoid almost brings the house down.

Sue: They are just about getting away with that special effect. And anything’s better than CSO, I suppose.

Chase feeds Sarah to his recycling machine.

Sue: At least he’s hanging around to watch her die. You have to give him credit for that.

The Doctor fights with Chase inside the hopper.

Sue: If his scarf gets caught up in that, it’s all over.

The Doctor gets the upper hand and Harrison Chase is pumped into the garden.

Sue: That’s easily the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen in Doctor Who.

The Seeds of DoomThe Doctor and Sarah make a run for it, but some pernicious foliage impedes their escape.

Sue: It’s The Evil Dead, now.
Me: Don’t worry, they don’t go that far.

The air force bomb the Krynoid into next week.

Sue: I can’t complain about that. Well done.

After a little light relief at the World Ecology Bureau, the Doctor and Sarah decide to take a short holiday on Cassiopeia. Unfortunately, the TARDIS takes them to Antarctica instead. It’s especially unfortunate for Sarah as she must have ended up with third-degree frostbite.

 

The Score

Sue: Finally. A story that didn’t fall apart at the end. I know the suspense is killing you, so…

10/10

Me: You’re not giving it a 10 just to keep me happy, are you?
Sue: Trust me, I’d love to give it a nine just to piss you off, but I can’t. It can’t get any better than that, surely?

 

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Comments

  1. Simon Harries  May 11, 2012

    ****ing brilliant!! So pleased that Sue liked The Seeds of Doom – and so pleased about the score too!

    • Frankymole  May 12, 2012

      T-Shirt of the week: “If he gets his scarf caught in that, it’s all over.”

      Bit I didn’t understand of the week: “Sue: Is it really? In that case, they should have filmed it from the front. It looked as if they were trying to hide his face. Oh well.”
      Me: “But you wouldn’t knock any -”
      Sue: “Shut it.”

      ??? Knock any whats?

      This story is one of my few 10/10s as well – up there with “The Green Death”, “Vincent and the Doctor”, “Midnight”, “Robots of Death” and “Marco Polo”.

      • Neil Perryman  May 12, 2012

        …marks off.

        • Frankymole  May 12, 2012

          Thank goodness.

          I hope the mention of Benton gets a big cheer in Serial 6F (sorry, I don’t do asterisks), as much that it comes from you-know-which-splendid-chap himself.

    • Jane  May 12, 2012

      It helps that the story doesn’t fall apart at the end. Good endings are very important to Sue.

  2. Ian Marchant  May 11, 2012

    It’s all downhill from here

    • Lewis Christian  May 11, 2012

      Y’know, I have to agree. Just looking at the DVDs in a row, and this is the peak of the Baker years.

      • django  May 11, 2012

        I don’t think you’re right there, there are still plenty of high points to come. I don’t think his stories go downhill, (Though there are some stinkers) it’s just the overall style of the stories change.

        • John G  May 12, 2012

          Talons is the peak as far as I’m concerned, and overall I prefer Season 14 to 13 – it marries the style of 13 with more substance in the stories.

          • Jane  May 12, 2012

            I bet Sue knocks Talons down for the racism.

          • Frankymole  May 12, 2012

            Yes, it’s horrible that such a bloodthirsty villain is from Australia (not to mention the treatment of the Filipino (sic) Army – attacking Iceland indeed!).

          • PolarityReversed  May 12, 2012

            I find the whole Krynoid horror thing utterly vegetist. Back in the day, we used to say plantist, but that would imply that the living organism in question was subservient to cultivation.

  3. JimmyCarringtonColby  May 11, 2012

    Filpping hell! A 10/10! I’m absolutely gobsmacked, especially since I loved this story as a kid (on VHS – I was a child of the Wholess generation) but on seeing it when the DVD came out I found it a complete yawnfest. Nowadays I’d rather watch the Android Invasion instead! 😀 Glad Sue liked it though, wonder what she’ll think of Mandragora!

  4. wholahoop  May 11, 2012

    and no mention of Mr Venables. Fletch and Godber would have been the double act heavies instead of Scorby if Robert Holmes had written this 🙂

  5. Rob Moss  May 11, 2012

    10/10 – quite right too. Although I’m surprised Sue didn’t knock off a mark for “Or, are we yet to come?”.

    • Glen Allen  May 14, 2012

      Oh yes indeed. The “or are we yet to come” line is a bit of a clunker for me. It’s just not normal speech, but as Baker himself calls it “audible print”

  6. Lewis Christian  May 11, 2012

    My *only* gripe about this one is the “oh, just blow it up” ending. Sure, the Doctor’s angrier than normal and there isn’t much else they can do, but, really? Just blow it up. Not something the Doctor would usually do. And UNIT aren’t much cop.

    But I can wave that away because it’s a brilliant 10/10 story!

  7. django  May 11, 2012

    Woo-Hoo, a 10! The Krynoid pods scared me rigid as a child, but I still loved it.

    • Charles Norton  May 11, 2012

      You’ve got to tell her about Benton not coming back. She’s going to keep looking for him otherwise. I’m surprised you didn’t say anything during Android Invasion. Break it gently, but she’s got to know. Probably best not to mention the second-hand car dealership though. That’s just tragic.

      • Richard Lyth  May 12, 2012

        Hard to imagine Benton running a second-hand car dealership. I bet Scorby would have done a good job of it though…

  8. RATBAG  May 11, 2012

    This was the last time Who genuinely scared me. To be fair, I was 6. Still one of my all-time favourites though – I maintain that Tom’s first two seasons were the best Who ever.

    • Dan  May 11, 2012

      I think it’s the second and third!

      • PolarityReversed  May 12, 2012

        Seconded and thirded. But the first was a pleasant enough amble in the right direction.

  9. Leo  May 11, 2012

    Sue is right, she has seen the actor playing Stevenson before, he played Ransome in The War Games.

    • BWT  May 12, 2012

      And… she may have seen a photo of him as the chief engineer in “Fury from the Deep”.

  10. James P. Quick  May 11, 2012

    Ah, Sue, you blew me away! I figured you’d give it a 7. 😛 Best story for a while, IMO… Until “The Invasion of Time” or “The Leisure Hive”.

  11. Jazza1971  May 11, 2012

    ” It’s not Richard Stilgoe!” – now that has to be a t-shirt, with the appropriate photo, of course.

    Now regarding the often commented on apparent continuity error regarding the TARDIS landing in Antartica at the end. I’ve never seen this as a problem, indeed the fact that it is seen as an error annoys me more than if it had been a mistake in continuity. The thing is that no helicopter would have the fuel capacity, and therefore the range, to make it from London to Antartica – therefore the Doctor had to have made the journey to Antartica some other way, the helicopter would just be for the last leg of the journey. Surely it isn’t beyond the realm of imagination to surmise that the Doctor travelled to a base somewhere in Antartica before getting a lift from a helicopter to take him on the last leg of the trip. His obvious mode of transport to Antartica would be the TARDIS, followed by a helicopter ride to get him to the precise location. It is therefore quite logical for Sarah and him to end up back in Antartica at the story’s conclusion. So there!

  12. P.Sanders  May 11, 2012

    Yay! I thought the ending might lose a point, but no!

    So here’s my theory on the whole TARDIS in Antarctica debate: they arrive by helicopter, which means they’ve been flown in from another base. And they seem to get back to the UK pretty sharpish after the rescue. So I reckon he flew in to the other base as it was as close as he could manage with a temperamental TARDIS – or maybe arrived at the other base for a briefing and supplies – then got the helicopter the rest of the way. That would explain why the TARDIS comes back to Antarctica at the end.

    Case closed.

    • Jazza1971  May 11, 2012

      I agree entirely (see my post above). 😀

      • P.Sanders  May 11, 2012

        Looks like great minds think alike – at almost exactly the sane time 🙂

        • P.Sanders  May 11, 2012

          Same, even.

        • Jazza1971  May 11, 2012

          My thoughts exactly!

  13. Robert Shearman  May 11, 2012

    I know it’s silly of me – but I feel really moved by Sue’s 10/10 for this. I love it to bits, and it’s wonderful to read how it won her over too.

  14. Ludwig Wittgenstein XI  May 11, 2012

    Hellz yeah …!!! Can I get an Amen …? (and I’m an atheist)
    Cheerio …!

    p.s.: stories like this, Talons & Fang Rock are what being whisked away by DW’s mystique is all about …

  15. encyclops  May 11, 2012

    I Agree With Sue.

    At least that’s my recollection. I need to get this DVD sharpish, and since I need Region 1, I don’t think my badge-design skills are going to help.

    I’m not sure I’d agree that this is the best for a while. Next season ends with a one-two punch (marred perhaps by certain elements of the second punch, but still), the season after that has one good one and one of my very favorites ever (not the one James P. Quick mentioned, though, I’m afraid), the season after THAT has the main Doctor Who story that scared me the most as a kid (with polystyrene, though, and it does end with a somewhat anticlimactic courtroom farce), and then we all know what’s waiting for us in the season after that. But I can see how, if you’re the sort of fan who regards Holmes’ 1984 story as the pinnacle (and I don’t blame you one bit), you might see this as its precursor in tone.

    I think it’s fascinating that Tat Wood cited this in About Time as his least favorite pre-JNT Tom Baker story. All the violence, I guess? and perhaps an objection to Harrison Chase’s camp villainy? Say what you will about Lawrence Miles, at least his choices made sense to me.

  16. jsd  May 12, 2012

    I watched this recently when the DVD came out and I loved it. Glad Sue did too!

  17. Andrew Bowman  May 12, 2012

    With regards not watching New Who (for want of a better term) after this experiment. I would be interesting for Sue to do a compare-and-contrast experiment; maybe things that didn’t annoy her before, due to the production standards disguising any perceived plot-holes, will stick out like a sore thumb? Obviously, this would make it an ongoing concern, and I appreciate the fact that the time taken for such an endeavour could be put to better use, but it would be interesting. Maybe two or three from each season?

  18. Harry  May 12, 2012

    Glad to see a Tom story score 10/10, and I agree that, fashions aside, this is a story that could stand up on TV today.

  19. Josiah Rowe  May 12, 2012

    Bed-wetting, Neil? So you were the target audience for that ad in “Doctor Who Monthly”, eh?

  20. Dave Sanders  May 12, 2012

    A Hulk and a Captain America comment, in the story where the Doctor and companion are the closest they ever get to Steed and Purdy. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Avengers With The Wife In Space.

    …sorry.

  21. James Armstrong  May 12, 2012

    Isn’t it time someone clever and IT literate did us some nice graphy things – scores for each story, averages for each Doctor/season/year etc.?

    • Jazza1971  May 12, 2012

      The number crunching was carried out by myself and others after “Terror of the Zygons”, so I think it is a bit soon to do it again.

  22. BWT  May 12, 2012

    WHOOT! Nice one, Sue – this one has long been a favourite of mine…

    …and, incidentally, the end of Part 1 scared the living shit out of me! Back in the seventies and still does these days! (real, proper horror and shades of “The Thing” five years before it’s time)

  23. Mike Sutton  May 12, 2012

    10/10!!! Can’t possibly disagree, this is a classic.

    My favourite line in the story – “This is Miss Smith. She’s my best friend.”

  24. Alex Wilcock  May 12, 2012

    “Well, the Doctor and Sarah are completely ****ed now.”
    That’ll do me for the next Wife Product Line. Flower pots?

    “That’s a very nice cabinet. It’s elm, I think.”
    Or furniture. I’m amazed you’re not doing any carpentry yet.

    So, looking at the other 10/10, does Sue really love the most blatant Quatermass homages? I don’t suppose you could get away with showing her some of those… No, too black and white. But she even gave the Krynoid a free pass for speaking, which amazed me.

    “I’m glad she came back. Is she a new companion? Please tell me she’s the new companion.”
    Tom Baker agrees with Sue. Though at this point he’s probably less keen on the cabbage.

    And I don’t blame you, Neil. I don’t like the story nearly as much as you two do, and I can never resist snarling, “Scorby! Get Dunbar!” either. I’ll even go with the episode over Sue – no, the Krynoid doesn’t look very good when it gathers up its skirts and wobbles onto the Doctor and Sarah, but the cliffhanger still works for me because we’ve just had Dunbar’s sweaty last scream, which was disturbing enough to last.

    Rather than the usual ‘this isn’t suitable for kids’, which I always see as a good review for the pair in charge, Sue just seems to be shocked by the violence, with her “mortified gasps”. I’d rather have the horror than the brutality, which is why I’d have given this one a lower mark – shock! – than she did. But I’m still delighted she loved it. It’s much easier to cheer a high mark for a story you love less than go ‘Yeah. OK’ for a low mark on a story you love more, I find, so yay! Now, does it bode well for the next season, or will she think the series goes downhill after the last of [have you told her yet]…?

  25. Alex Wilcock  May 12, 2012

    I loved this story more when I was a boy, probably because I was much more bloodthirsty then. And it does feel like the natural conclusion to Season 13, doing everything else the season did but turned up to 11. I just prefer the greater wit in the following year, while having as much horror. The end’s always a let-down for me; not a lot of plot or suspense, and the Doctor doesn’t even rig up his own big bang, just dials the RAF. It’s weird, but the ‘climax’ seems like padding, while the middle episodes, with sympathetic Keeler grappling with his horrible fate, are far more involving.

    For me, The Seeds of Doom is very like C*** of D**** [that looks worse than it is], which I expect lots of raving for when that comes along. With everyone but Miss Ducat and Chase playing it like The Professionals, it’s brilliantly done but a bit much, and I feel the same about the later story going completely the other way. I still love ’em both, though, but more 8s for me these days than 10s.

    Though having said all that, The Avengers is much wittier and my other favourite series, and shamelessly as The Seeds of Doom rips that off as well, Seeds does it a lot better and even looks more expensive, which is impressive. My own review of The Avengers – Man-Eater of Surrey Green unsurprisingly joins a few of the dots to Tom Baker (and back to Quatermass, too)…

  26. Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 12, 2012

    Glad Sue liked this: seen episodically, once/week, it was terrifying, although it did seem to drag about epiosode 4 (as i remember).

    Can’t agree with the “downhill from now on” sentiments: M***** of M*********, T***** of W***-C***** and R***** of D**** are yet to come….

  27. Matt Sharp  May 12, 2012

    Of course, if you say to someone that who did the thing first, you just get a funny look.

    People today, I dunno…

  28. John G  May 12, 2012

    “Sue: Keeler looks like Robson Green. He’s a great actor.

    Me: Robson Green?

    Sue: No, this bloke.

    Me: Thank **** for that.”

    Can’t really argue with Neil’s sentiments there! I’m glad Sue enjoyed this, but to me Seeds sums up the problem with most of S13. It looks great, and has some memorable characters (Harrison Chase stands out in particular – he may be camp, but he still manages to ooze genuine menace) but the story is pretty superficial. My favourite Who stories generally have something to say, a deep subtext, but this season largely lacks that. It’s entertaining, sure, but for me at any rate not all that dramatically satisfying. The penchant for physical violence the Doctor displays here also doesn’t feel quite right.

    I notice Neil has not broken the news to Sue that this is Camfield’s swansong. He was easily the greatest director the show has ever had (his work in the Hartnell era is particularly innovative) and it’s such a shame that JNT’s pathetic insecurities prevented him working on the show again before his tragically early death. At least he went out on a high – this story may have its faults, but it is another Camfieldian masterclass of direction.

    • Leo  May 12, 2012

      I’m not sure that’s entirely fair to JNT. He did once ask Camfield to direct a story, I think, but it wasn’t possible because he was working on another project. I think Camfield was also quoted in interviews as saying he didn’t want to keep going back to Doctor Who anyway.

      • John G  May 12, 2012

        Well, I can only go on what I have read, but as I understood it JNT rebuffed Camfield when he expressed an interest in returning to the show, because of his determination at the start of his reign to avoid using any of the veteran directors (who he allegedly feared would undermine his authority). Camfield was so hurt by this that, when JNT did later offer him The Five Doctors, he turned it down. JNT did initially ask Waris Hussein to direct that story, but he refused because he was working on another project.

        • Leo  May 12, 2012

          According to Eric Saward, Camfield was assigned the project ‘Missing From Home’ in October 1982, and was only offered ‘The Five Doctors’ by JNT about a month later. Hence his being unavailable at that time.

          • Frankymole  May 12, 2012

            Camfield agreed with his wife, Sheila Dunn, that he would not do any more Whos after this. They were too stressful, given his heart condition.

          • John G  May 12, 2012

            This is one of the fun things about being a Doctor Who fan, there always seem to be several different accounts of contentious behind the scenes developments!

          • Josiah Rowe  May 13, 2012

            According to John Challis (I think — my memory is a bit fuzzy) on the DVD’s behind-the-scenes documentary, Camfield’s wife actually made him swear on the high altar of Ely Cathedral that he would never direct another Doctor Who. “And he never did.”

  29. PolarityReversed  May 12, 2012

    Going to have to rewatch this. I remember it being good, but not John Innes No 10 good, as so many seem to think. Nice to see something from the era getting such a resounding thumbs-up though.

    • PolarityReversed  May 16, 2012

      Been back to it and can’t say I’d give it 10. It’s probably one of the best-paced 6-parters – or rather 2+4 (which really helps from a tonal POV), nicely worked generic stew, credible monster and villains (strikes me as a bit of a rejigged Master scenario), good direction and performances. Tom now totally at home in his (golf!) shoes. The chasing around the house and grounds got a bit repetitive for me though, and I love the action-Doc stuff, but not mad keen on him doling out right hooks and headbutts. I’d have preferred a more “scientific” solution – perhaps the Doctor figuring out that he can use Chase’s Rick Wakeman rig to do something clever with sound frequencies.

      The Krynoid pods certainly put me off gardening as a kid.

      Finally the Doctor actually *wants* UNIT to blow something up and the Brig is busy with the stuffed shirts in Geneva and misses all the fun. Ho ho.

      • Professor Thascales  May 17, 2012

        “but not mad keen on him doling out right hooks and headbutts.” I’ve always felt that way about this story too.
        From what I’ve read, it’s sort of a recycled Avengers script–which is why the Doctor and Sarah are somewhat out of character.
        “I’d have preferred a more “scientific” solution – perhaps the Doctor figuring out that he can use Chase’s Rick Wakeman rig to do something clever with sound frequencies.” That does sound like a better ending.

  30. Jet Simian  May 13, 2012

    Hooray!! 10/10 AND more of the NZ story.

    Neil, we lived so close to each other it’s almost like stalking. I’ve a feeling your cow story would even impress Gary Russell.

  31. Matthew Marcus  May 13, 2012

    A well-deserved score for maybe the finest example of the Hinchcliffe era doing its thing while firing on all cylinders. So glad Sue is capable of unironically enjoying Doctor Who this far into what is by anyone’s standards a pretty gruelling endeavour!

    I’m a bit disappointed by the implication that, to a non-hardline-fan, the only thing that separates 10/10 Doctor Who from the rubbish is good production values and a lack of cringeworthily embarrassing bits. (The Tennant/Smith eras would be one long parade of 10s with nothing noteworthy to say about them… really?!) Maybe that is how non-fans see the show (they either sneer and turn it off or let it play out with a grudging “I guess it not as bad as everyone says, some of the time”) but I’d have thought that by this stage in the game even Sue might be able to conceive of a great Doctor Who story in spite of some shoddy moments, or an expensive-looking and adequately-directed stinker. I guess we’ll find out in due course…

    • Andrew Bowman  May 13, 2012

      “I’m a bit disappointed by the implication that, to a non-hardline-fan, the only thing that separates 10/10 Doctor Who from the rubbish is good production values and a lack of cringeworthily embarrassing bits.”

      Isn’t that true of Doctor Who fans in general, though. If I told you that my favourite story was The Twin Dilemma and I thought The Caves of Androzani was a pile of tosh, you’d think me mad, and I would be defending myself left, right and centre for ever more (or until some else says something equally sacrilegious). I’m not saying they are, but to suggest that hardline fans are able to separate dodgy storylines from decent production values is erroneous in the extreme. OK, so certain stories may not appeal, but I have a soft spot for Love & Monsters, Fear Her, Closing Time, anything with River Song in it and countless other points of contention for other fans. I wonder, is it the overanalytical mind of the uberfan that spoils their own enjoyment, rather than any faults in the production itself? Sorry to labour the point, but I have long felt that us fans seem to use attack as a form of defence, getting in there before the dissenters get a chance to. It could be I’m wrong, and it would be wonderful to be proved so, but I fear I am not.

      Anyway, I’m not suggesting for one minute that any of the fans reading this do anything like that; it’s those others, obviously 😉

      • Matthew Marcus  May 13, 2012

        It seems unlikely that there are any fans who rate The Twin Dilemma as the best Who story of all time (though, now you come to mention it, umm… I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone makes out? Maybe I’d better brush that fact under the table…) but aren’t there canonically quite a few who say they can’t truly love Caves because of the Magma Beast? It always drives me a bit mad when fans qualify their reviews with “but then again, obviously it can’t be an all time classic because of the giant rat/Magma beast/mutant clams”. Maybe it’s idealistic of me but I like to think that there must be such a thing as a perfect Doctor Who *script* that is perfect just from the audio? Maybe this is just naivety born of having read pretty much all the Target novelisations long before I’d seen more than a handful of the actual programmes, but I still have a yearning for Doctor Who to be about more than a slick(ish) production; for its wonderfulness to lie in some anarchic, irrepressible British sensibility that the Americans could never match, for all the cash they threw at ST:TNG or what have you…

        • Andrew Bowman  May 14, 2012

          Of the, admittedly few, novelisations I have read, it certainly does suggest that the stories themselves aren’t the problem, but the scenery/props/effects/acting (in some cases) that distract from what’s trying to be achieved. Going back to The Twin Dilemma, the novelisation of that is wonderful, and although it says a lot for a TV story that it works best in book form, the plot is still the same. I’m not for one minute suggesting that we should all sing the prasies of The Web Planet (which I happen to rather enjoy; the Zarbi bumping into the camera a genuinely scary moment, if you imagine a child lying on the floor, on his stomach, chin in hands, and suddenly this bloody big ant threatens to crash out of the telly and come after you; an effect RTD uses, of cousrse, in The End of the World, when a Spiderbot (or whatever they’re called) does exactly the same thing), but surely the story is the thing.

          Of course, I can’t see past the Auton Mickey in Rose; it looks bloody awful. What does that say about me, I wonder? 🙂

          • Merric Blackman  May 16, 2012

            I really, really loved the novelisation of Nightmare of Eden. I think it’s going to be a bit of a shock when the DVD is released and I get to see it again… oh wait, it’s probably waiting for me in my local DVD shop… Eep!

  32. Doc Whom  May 14, 2012

    I’d always assumed that they travelled in the TARDIS from the UK to some main base in Antarctica (where the helicopters are based) and were taken on the last leg of the journey to the plot base by helicopter.

  33. Nebutron  May 14, 2012

    I actually enjoyed this one, too. My only complaint is the weird atonal, yet perky, music. When we’re shown a shot of fighter bombers zipping along with a deadly payload, chirpy piccolos and tom toms are not my first choice for mood music. Still, nice to see the Doctor getting some serious action moments, including a bit of fisticuffs.

  34. charles daniels  May 14, 2012

    Seeds of Doom has always been a favourite. A bit Avengers in the beginning, a big wallop of The Thing, and a good showing for Tom (“turning into vegetable soup.”)

    Definitely deserves the 10/10, one of the best.

  35. Michael  May 14, 2012

    Shameless manipulation to get a 10 there Neil. You were determined to get a 10 for your obvious favourite. Well done 🙂 Can you do something similar for Robots of Death please? Also, can you distract Sue when the rat appears in Talons?

    My lad was 6 when he watched this a few months back and absolutely loved it. A Doctor who is eccentric but can also be a bit James Bond is perfect for him. Whilst the smashing of a chair over Scorby’s head can be justified it’s not very Doctorish. When my son is whooping with joy at heroes bashing the baddie I’m always reminding him that the Doctor wouldn’t do that. He does in this one though!

    • John Callaghan  May 15, 2012

      I quite like the rat. It’s rather sweet. I’m surprised the rat, clams, Mandrels, Gastropods etc. haven’t been released as toys (possibly cuddly ones) in a themed box for collectors…

      • John Callaghan  May 15, 2012

        Although they’d have to think of better promotional blurb than “action figures complete with cuddly clam”.

  36. Paul Mudie  May 15, 2012

    This is another of my all-time faves. It’s wonderfully written, directed and performed, and is one of the pinnacles of Tom Baker’s “cosmic horror” era.

  37. Paul Greaves  May 16, 2012

    Sue’s bang on with this one. Always been one of my favourites and permanently in my Top 5…

  38. John Hancock  May 16, 2012

    Can’t wait to see what she thinks of the amazing story that follows The Hand of Fear!

  39. encyclops  May 17, 2012

    We saw a screening of The Thing From Another World tonight. I’d only ever seen it once before and that was years ago. I’d forgotten not only how directly this story borrows from it, but also how much of TTFAW’s DNA is in the first two Alien movies (along with Ark In Space, of course) and pretty much every “base under siege” story Doctor Who has ever done. Is there an earlier or stronger precursor I’m ignorant of?

    • Frankymole  May 22, 2012

      Try the Avengers story “The Man-Eater of Surrey Green”. It even has the violent chauffeur and the batty old lady.

      • encyclops  May 22, 2012

        Sorry, I meant an earlier and stronger precursor of the “base under siege/infiltration by alien creature” template, not of “The Seeds of Doom.”

  40. Tim Lister  May 31, 2012

    “Sue: Is he turning into a tree?

    Me: Don’t be silly.”

    Neil, you’d better hope she forgets that before you get to Colin’s era.

  41. hayleyscomet  June 4, 2012

    I promised my husband that I’d watch any story that Sue gave a 10/10 to. I’ll have to check and see if he owns this one. He’s gotten me to watch a few classic episodes (most recently, all the ones he owns with Peri), and some of the Sarah Jane/UNIT stories are slotted to be next since I adore Elisabeth Sladen.

    (I even watched a few Patrick Troughton serials, including (unbeknownst to me beforehand) an animated version of one of the lost episodes. I never, ever, ever would have watched those before I became a fan of Wife in Space. Sue, it’s all your fault!)

    Anyway, I bet I’ll enjoy this one, since I’m a plant ecologist. How do I send my resume to the World Ecology Bureau, by the way?

    • PolarityReversed  June 6, 2012

      Um – all the ones your husband owns with Peri in?
      Right.